Author Archive | majestic

The Culture Wars Invade Science Fiction

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Hugo Award. Photo by Shsilver (CC)

Sci Fi fans, are you pro or anti Puppies? Or if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, the Wall Street Journal reports on the internecine war amongst science fiction aficionados over the Hugo Awards:

Theodore Beale had a big day when the nominations for science fiction’s annual Hugo Awards were announced last month: He received two nominations for his editing work, and nine stories and books from Castalia House, the tiny publisher where he is lead editor, won nominations.

Quite a feat, since Mr. Beale—better known in the science-fiction world by his pen name, Vox Day—is probably now the most despised man in science fiction. In 2013, he was expelled from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America after he used the group’s Twitter feed to link to his criticisms of a black female writer as an “ignorant half-savage.” He has called women’s rights “a disease” and homosexuality a “birth defect.”

So why are he and the Castalia House authors being honored?

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Shade: The Underground Art of the Insult

Tales of “legendary” shade, or the art of the sidelong insult, in the comments please. The New York Times Magazine gets things going for you:

On March 6, 2014, Aretha Franklin paid a visit to the White House for a special event celebrating “women of soul.” Dressed in a brown fur coat, a sequined black dress and a large, glittery pendant, she strode through a dark red door into the East Room, waving regally at a line of well-wishers who stood to applaud her. Among them was another diva, Patti LaBelle, who reached out to grab Franklin’s hand. With a small, swooping motion, Franklin twisted her body away from LaBelle, evading her greeting, and continued walking. She hardly missed a beat.

aretha-franklin-patti-labelle

Video of the apparent dis began to circulate online. Then came animated GIFs that replayed the exact moment on loop, so that it could be relished and examined more closely.

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The Real Teens of Silicon Valley

Nellie Bowles looks inside the almost-adult lives of the tech industry’s newest recruits – the real teens of Silicon Valley – for California Sunday Magazine:

…As the demand for tech labor grows, ambitious teenagers are flooding into San Francisco. There’s no official tally of the number of teens who work in tech, but Fontenot estimates that there are as many as a hundred recent high school dropouts working on startups in the city. Some were too distracted by programming projects and weekend hackathons to go to class. Others couldn’t pay for college and questioned why they should go into debt when there is easy money to be made. Still others had already launched successful apps or businesses and didn’t see why they should wait at home for their lives to start. In Facebook groups for young technologists, they saw an alternative: teens lounging in sunny Dolores Park (dolo, as they call it), teens leasing expansive South of Market office space, teens throwing parties whenever they want.

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America’s Mutant Military

The United States of America is in a state of perpetual war without end, says retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Astore at TomDispatch:

…Think of it this way: a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military is completely uncontained.  Washington’s foreign policies are strikingly military-first ones, and nothing seems to be out of bounds.  Its two major parts, the Cold War-era “big” military, still very much alive and kicking, and the new-era military of special ops, contractors, and paramilitaries seek to dominate everything.   Nuclear, conventional, unconventional, land, sea, air, space, cyber, you name it: all realms must be mastered.

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Except it can’t master the one realm that matters most: itself.  And it can’t find the one thing that such an uncontained military was supposed to guarantee: victory (not in a single place anywhere on Earth).

Loaded with loot and praised to the rafters, America’s uncontained military has no discipline and no direction. 

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Even The FBI Had Privacy Concerns on License Plate Readers

Wired reports on the ACLU’s document request showing that the FBI paused for thought on whether or not the use of license plate readers might violate Americans’ privacy rights. Whatever reservations their lawyers may have had, the bosses at the Bureau clearly ignored them, as evidenced by the fact that the readers are very much in use:

Law enforcement’s use of automated license plate readers has drawn increasing controversy in recent years amid concerns that the devices pose a threat to privacy. Now, internal documents show that the FBI, based on a recommendation from its own lawyers, was told to stop buying the devices for a time in 2012.

Photo: dickelbers (CC)

Photo: dickelbers (CC)

 

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a public records request, show the FBI’s own Office of General Counsel was grappling with concerns about the agency’s use of the technology and the apparent lack of a cohesive government policy to protect the civil liberties of citizens whose vehicles are photographed by the readers.

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How Pedialyte Became The Celebrity Hangover Drink du Jour

Anyone who has had kids knows that you give pedialyte to dehydrated, feverish infants. It’s not known for it’s refreshing taste. So how did it become the hangover drink of choice for celebrities like Pharrell Williams? MarketWatch reveals all:

Pedialyte, that perennially popular oral electrolyte for ailing kids, has a new target consumer in mind.

pharrell

Adult usage of the brand, owned by Similac formula parent Abbott Laboratories has grown by almost 60% since 2012. Adults now make up more than one-third of Pedialyte’s sales, up from a historical average of 10% to 15%, Heather Mason, an executive vice president at Abbott, said in an interview. The Pedialyte brand doesn’t disclose its actual sales, but Nielsen tracking shows retail sales growing 22% between 2012 and last year to $102 million.

The company, citing Nielsen, said that it has a 58.2% share of the $167 million U.S. oral-electrolyte market and that most of its rivals are retailers’ private-label brands.

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Salirophilia, Forniphilia, Cake Farting and other Perversions

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Credit: AJ (CC)


Laura Beck rounds up the most bizarre sexual practices found on the Internet for the Morning News. Personally, I never knew that Salirophilia, Forniphilia, Cake Farting or many other of these practices existed – and I’m kind of regretting that I found out:

Looners
Looners are people who get off on popping, riding on top of, or generally being in the vicinity of balloons. While some relish the sound a balloon makes as it gives up its last breath, others become tearful at the thought of the rubbery playthings exploding into scraps. For those who enjoy the explosion, the balloon burst is often a metaphor for orgasm. For those who fear it, the burst is about death. In relation to other fetishes, looners are considered relatively soft-core and harmless.

Would I try it?

Probably not, and if I did, I would be in the camp of people who find it terrifying when a balloon pops.

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Bill O’Reilly Blames Rap Music for the Decline of Organized Religion

Yesterday Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing a rapid decline in the number of Christians in the United States. Now Fox News bigmouth Bill O’Reilly has pronounced the underlying cause: rap music. Really, as reported by the Washington Post:

A new study from Pew Research shows an increase in the number of Americans who aren’t affiliated with a church. Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly used this tidbit to rail against an unexpected target: rap music.

“There is no question that people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment,” O’Reilly said. “The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people — the group that is most likely to reject religion. Also, many movies and TV shows promote non-traditional values. If you are a person of faith, then the media generally thinks you are a loon.”

So the causality here, in O’Reilly’s mind, goes like this: Young people listen to “rap music.” -> They hear descriptions of “depraved behavior.” -> It sinks into their minds.

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More Bees Are Dying As Colony Collapse Increases

If you thought that honeybees were recovering from the calamitous colony collapse disorder highlighted a couple of years back in the film Vanishing of the Bees, you’d be wrong. A new survey by the Bee Informed Partnership reveals that the problem is actually getting worse:

The Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is releasing preliminary results for the ninth annual national survey of honey bee colony losses. For the 2014/2015 winter season, a preliminary 6,128 beekeepers in the United States provided valid responses. Collectively, these beekeepers managed 398,247 colonies in October 2014, representing about 14.5% of the country’s estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies1.

About two-thirds of the respondents (67.2%) experienced winter colony loss rates greater than the average self-reported acceptable winter mortality rate of 18.7%. Preliminary results estimate that a total of 23.1% of the colonies managed in the Unites States were lost over the 2014/2015 winter.

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