Daily Archives: February 22, 2011

19 posts

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Hope you had a great day. Last week, we posted some of our favorite weird articles from the wonderful world of Wikipedia. I thought I’d post a few more for your late night amusement.

The Boston Molasses Disaster. Nice to know corporate incompetence has such a long tradition in America.

Captain Midnight. Best tax protest, evar.

The Beaumont Children. Three Australian children who disappeared without a trace in 1966. A fascinating cold case.

Have a great night.

Boom Bye Bye: Buju guilty!

Boh! Buju Banton:  Dancehall artist/Hip hop collaborator/Batty mon killer/cocaine trafficer was convicted in Florida (Babylon) for conspiracy to traffic cocaine. It kinda dispells the whole Rasta image to get convicted of trying to buy 11 pounds of coke. What? You’re going to tell me that he eats meat and sugar and doesn’t just eat bannanas and yams? Buju’s gawn have to man up in prison, lest the battys get to him.

Here’s some vids: I didn’t embed them because it slows crasstalk.com down like crazy. Hah, what am I kidding, no one reads the articles!

Boom Bye Bye

I don\’t know why – Wayne Wonder & Buju

Damian & Ziggy & Buju – I know you don\’t care

Donald Rumsfeld, World’s Greatest Boss

Check out this actual 2003 memo from Donald Rumsfeld to Doug Feith:

I think my personal favorite line is about how Syria and Libya will “mess up” Iraq. Ha! We’ve got that covered! Fuck off, Al Assad and Qaddafi!

Anyway, here’s some other completely un-fixable shit Rumsfeld thought Feith should’ve been able to take care of sooner:

  • Can we please get a handle on these fucking iTunes updates?
  • When the hell is “Chinese Democracy” coming out?
  • We need to solve the “hos before bros” problem.
  • Magnets, how do they work?
  • The Gawker Redesign does not seem to be going well.

Feel fee to suggest your own.

Crasstalk Evening News Round Up

This news post was compiled by AssembledWrong, ihatediamonds, BBQ CornNuts, KwisatzHaderach, and The Grand Inquisitor. Please give some love to the News Team.

It’s been a busy day, but here are a few of the top stories:

Powerful Earthquake Hits New Zealand

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake rocked New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchuch, yesterday with 65 people confirmed dead and at least a 100 still missing, possibly buried in the rubble. The earthquake is thought to be an aftershock from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the region that occurred in September. Residents, however, feel that yesterday’s quake was much more violent though it was shorter in duration and lower in magnitude than September’s.

People stood in awe as the city’s most iconic piece of architecture, the spire of the Christchurch Cathedral, crumbled. Speaking to the New York Times, one unnamed witness declared it “the most frightening thing of my entire life,” and after declaring a state of emergency, Mayor Bob Parker stated “I think we need to prepare ourselves in this city for a death toll that could be significant… It’s not going to be good news, and we need to steel ourselves to understand that.” Christchurch Airport is scheduled to reopen Wednesday morning for domestic flights only. Meanwhile, hundreds of displaced residents have moved into temporary shelters and the city has organized a number of makeshift triage centers in order to care for injured citizens.

Prime Minister John Key has already declared the earthquake “New Zealand’s darkest day” and “one of the worst natural disasters” on record for the island nation.

Violence Continues in Libya

Mummar Gaddafi continues to defy calls from the international community to step down. The country-wide rebellion continues to be met with violence from the Libyan security forces and mercenaries according to eyewitness refugees in Egypt. Gaddafi has stated, that the only way he is leaving office is in a body bag. “I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr.” said Gaddafi on Libyan State Television.

Human Rights Watch reported that an additional 62 people have died in Tripoli in the last two days bringing the total dead, in Tripoli alone, to 295 after Libyan security forces responded with tanks and war planes in a failed attempt to quell the protests. Reportedly, the protesters have seized control of the eastern region of the country. But with no end to the fighting in sight, many Libyans are fleeing to nearby slightly-less tumultuous Egypt to escape the violence.

The violence is beginning to have a noticeable effect on oil prices as companies like Shell are forced to suspend operations in the country. Italy also faces a gas shortfall; the supply from Libya is reportedly slowing or interrupted as the revolution drags on in the face of Gaddafi’s obstinacy. Today the U.N. Security Council is meeting in private to discuss the situation and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is urging all nearby nations to accept Libyans displaced by the violence. While most of the world has demanded an end to the violence; perhaps the most succinct call came from Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, “A ruling family, threatening its people with civil war, has reached the end of the line.”

Americans Killed by Somali Pirates

Four Americans onboard a hijacked yacht were killed this morning by Somali pirates. Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Ray, California and Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle, of Seattle were captured Friday on the yacht owned by the Adams’. Military personnel had been in hostage negotiations when pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the USS Sterett. The grenade missed and shots were then heard on the yacht at about 1 am EST. Military personnel boarded the yacht and attempted to revive the victims.

There was a brief gun battle as US military took possession of the boat, leaving 2 pirates dead. The 13 remaining pirates were taken into custody. The remains of 2 additional pirates were found on board. Authorities believe the pirates were attempting to get the vessel and hostages to Somalia. The Adams, Macay and Riggle had been traveling with yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand. Rally organizers said the Quest elected to take a different route after leaving Mumbai, India on February 15th. Authorities believe the 19 pirates came aboard the Quest after traveling on a “mother ship” which has been a recent trend in hijackings. As of February 15, pirates were holding 33 vessels and 712 hostages, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Protest Continue over Unions in Wisconsin

As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s show down with public service unions ends its second week, the AFL-CIO has released a polls showing support for Wisconsin’s unions. The poll shows Walker’s popularity and job rating both have down-ticks one week after he announced his “Budget Repair Bill.” Additionally, approval ratings for Wisconsin State Democrats have gone up. However a Rasmussen poll shows support for the Governor’s bill. Walker still refuses to negotiate.

The bill also contains provisions that would create cuts in the state Medicare system. While the governor has said that these cuts are necessary as an emergency measure to offset state budget windfalls, Forbes is reporting that national money is coming in to support the bill via the Koch brothers. Protests have spread into Ohio and Indiana this week in what looks to be a national show down over collective bargaining rights bu public employees.

Up Your Game, Stalk Like a Pro!

So you’re creepy. Okay. You’ve been pining for Mary Beth ever since the second grade when she threw a grape popsicle at your shirt and it got stuck there all through recess. You then went home and hid your popsicle-stuck shirt under your bed so you can revisit it, not much, just every once in awhile when you’re feeling really low. That’s not really weird. It’s just a thing you do.

It’s so frustrating that Mary Beth doesn’t even know you’re alive. It makes you feel all squirrelly in the head, really. You went through junior high with braces and acne, and that rash that made you look like the underside of an avocado — but just seeing Mary Beth’s face got you through the day. Now she’s married to fucking Josh. Of course she’s married to fucking ass-chapper, car dealer, gum-popping, dickfaced Josh. But she should really be married to you, and deep down she knows it. Little does she know, but she friended you on Facebook and you’ve been trading comments about pot pie recipes for weeks now. She probably doesn’t really remember you from high school what with the reduced inflammation and proliferation of the avocado’s ass rash. Lucky for you, you think her marriage to jackal-dicked Josh is on the skids, but how will you know when to make your move? You can’t just ask her when you smell her hair in the grocery store every Sunday.

Dan Loewenherz has designed the answer. The Facebook Breakup Notifier.

This app has one purpose, and one purpose only — to let the user know when the relationship status of those of their choosing has changed. That’s right. Now you no longer have to stumble upon the information by chance. Now you can spin merrily in front of your freaky bedroom shrines once you immediately find out that the, ahem, object of your desire is a single ready to mingle. What will you do? Congratulate them? Offer sympathy? Put that doll away and ask for a phone number? All of them!

The Breakup Notifier lets you log in, check off the friends you’re interested in, and then emails you once they’re no longer taken.

As reported in an interview with the Huffington Post, here’s what Lowenherz had to say about the new app’s genesis.

I got the idea on Friday night when my fiancee and her mom were talking about a guy to set up with my fiancee’s sister. Unfortunately, said guy was taken…so I asked them if they would want to get notified when he broke up. It was kind of a joke actually, but they loved it, and so on Saturday I spent about 4 hours building it out. I didn’t really tell anyone until yesterday.

I hope that people use it for good and not evil – it’s merely practical. If you’re going to check someone’s profile every day [to stalk them], you might as well get rid of the tedium and have the changes get delivered right to your inbox instead. When people don’t list their relationship status, Breakup Notifier reads it as “Unknown”. So if someone changes, you’ll get an email like the following:

“Hi Shirley,
Joe Shmoe has changed his relationship status to “Single” from “In a relationship”. Get on it!
The Breakup Notifier”

We totally needed something like this, because surely the internet and the Fooozebooks doesn’t already give out enough personal information. I suspect in the near future the advent of the “Maybe You Need a Pap Smear,” and the “You Fuck Like King Kong” apps are in the offing.

We can’t wait.

If you’re really interested [I won’t judge you, but I will check your trunk for skulls], here’s more information on the thing: Breakupnotifier.com

Happy hunting!

Notes from an angry teacher – Part II

For those of you who read my last column, I apologize for any confusion. I don’t call my students whales and I’m not happy that they get deported. I was trying to come across bitter. Those of you who know my commenting style are aware that I have a twisted sense of humor. That sense of humor sometimes helps me get through the chaos I encounter at work. To be honest, the kid who was deported hurt because I worked with him for several weeks after our incident, trying to connect with him and had people from various culinary arts schools in the area come in and talk to him because he was interested in cooking.

I will try to write from now on with a little more of that honesty rather than the portrayal of a bitter teacher. I still pray for the future of this country based on my experiences. And I’m not a religious person. I teach high school English.

– Often teachers come across students who lie to them to get out of work. It happens frequently and usually I’m able to dismantle excuses. However, it’s hard to teach classes that include writing elements, when students can’t read cursive. I found this out last fall, when I handed out sample short answer essay examples to my students and they couldn’t read them. They were written examples of how to respond to question prompts from students who took our state accountability tests from previous years. As I was handing these out, students began to look at me in confusion, until one girl raised her hand and said, “I can’t read this. It’s in cursive. I have no clue what it says.” The cursive was very legible. My response to her and to 75% of my other students who similarly couldn’t read it: “It’s in English, try to guess, and I’ll help if you have any questions.” When students have any sort of excuse not to do work, they will do NOTHING and later complain to someone that the assignment was unfair.

I graded their assignment that day and talked to a number of other teachers who said I should’ve know better than to give those examples in cursive, because they don’t teach those skills anymore at the elementary level. I was later told by an assistant principal that all assignments and directions written on the board should be in general text and I had to remove the grades from my gradebook for the assignment. I understand that the students can’t read cursive and we’ve failed them as far as educating them in it, but to me, it’s not an excuse for not doing work or an alternative assignment. Of course, when parents complain to dickless administrators, the teachers get thrown under the bus. And the students win.

– The cursive thing shocked me, but something that has also been shocking is the number of students who can’t read or decipher clocks. We have old-fashioned clocks in our classrooms, with SECOND HANDS and everything, and a good chunk of my kids don’t understand how to tell time using them. Often, when students fill out bathroom or library passes and they have no idea what the clock is reading, so they have to ask me. It’s sad. I’d say about 1/3rd of my students have no idea how to use basic clocks.

– One of the fun things about being a teacher is professional development days, when you get to work with the other teachers and sit through workshops. It’s always fun because you get to talk with people you often don’t get to speak to. For the most part, the workshops are huge wastes of time and often there is an elephant in the room. The elephants are the administrators (superintendents, principals, assistant principals) who cannot control a room full of teachers to give their presentations and lectures. And it’s funny to the teachers, because we are always asked everyday and critiqued by these people based on how well we can control 35 teenagers for an hour.

A few weeks ago, during one of our meetings, an assistant principal started screaming at us for being too loud following her lecture. She actually stopped us and said “Okay, it looks like I won’t be giving out any more information because you guys aren’t mature enough to handle it.” It was awesome!!!!

I will try to write columns weekly as an outlet for some of the madness. I have so many student stories, some of them are very unsettling. I’m considering leaving teaching this year because of the stress and issues our state is facing with funding and the uncertainty that comes with it. Everyday I feel like I’m making a difference, but it’s a huge fight with students, parents, and administrators.

Predicting the Oscars: Best Supporting Actress

Well, hello there! It’s Missing Peace, Ms. Anthropy and Dancing Queen here with Day 2 of our guide to the Oscars.

We are handicapping our picks for the winners in the “big” categories: Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture.  Yesterday, we brought you the Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Today, we get to look at the Supporting Actress race.

Today’s category: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Last year’s winner was Mo’Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. We’re pretty sure that is the shortest name of a winner in combination with the longest movie title, ever! Anyway, she was a force to be reckoned with in a heartbreaking film. While she didn’t need to shave her legs for the part, she probably should have done so for the red carpet. Let’s take a moment to reflect on her odd 2010 Golden Globes red carpet reveal:


But we digress! On to this year’s wide-ranging nominees in a category that engenders a certain scrappiness in its contenders.  Female character actresses sometimes suffer from an also-ran mentality: many of them have never been quite right for lead roles in film (read: not conventionally beautiful), but their talents may far outshine those of the Kidmans and Roberts and Bullocks of the world. Relegated to supporting roles, these talented ladies bring years of pent-up angst and desperation for recognition to Oscar night.  It is not enough to be nominated in this category.  Winning is the only thing that will grant them the blazing spotlight for three glorious minutes.  They are the Jan Bradys of the Oscars, poised at the ready to smother Marsha in her sleep and blame it that dolt, Cindy.

Nominee: Amy Adams for The Fighter

Amy Adams in The Fighter

Advantage: Boy, is this lady versatile! She easily moves from a singing, dancing fairy tale princess to a gritty, “I ain’t scared of you, mother f*ckers” bad*ss chick! In The Fighter, Adams stands by her man, and perhaps more importantly, stands up against the performance turned in by Melissa Leo.  The Academy has had Adams on their radar, even before her stripped-down performance in Doubt erased any doubt that she is nothing more than a modern-day Debbie Reynolds.

Disadvantage:  She maybe this generation’s Meryl Streep but the other performances in this category were bone-chillingly good. It’s not her time.  The Academy expects to see more great work from Adams and will likely wait until she lands a juicy lead role in a classic Oscar-bait film before granting her the statue.

Nominee: Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech

Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech

Advantage: Oh how Hollywood loves a British period piece! The accents! The pretty costumes! Royalty! There is strong momentum behind The King’s Speech but it seems to benefit Colin Firth and the picture itself more than the supporting cast. However, folks seem to love the quirky Ms. Bonham Carter and she is a strong contender. It is nice to see her in something significantly more understated than the maniacally spiteful Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series.

Disadvantage: Is she too quirky for the academy?  Her delicate beauty and fine acting abilities are often overshadowed by her over-the-top antics.  We love her, but are mismatched shoes a dealbreaker?  Also, there may be too many opportunities for her to fall up and/or down the stairs while attempting to accept her award. Actually, that may be an advantage. The Academy likes a wild card and unscripted wackiness. Great fodder for the press for weeks after the Awards.

Nominee: Melissa Leo for The Fighter

Melissa Leo in The Fighter

Advantage: Um, she wins everything. Seriously. She has won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Actress for this role. Plus, Hollywood LOVES a physical transformation and she does that here.  Besides, even Sissy Spacek and Holly Hunter specifically asked Oprah to tell Leo how much they love her.  Yes, they were on Oprah for a pre-Oscar show a few weeks back, and yes, Missing Peace (and Dancing Queen) were watching.  We dare anyone to say they could recognize Ms. Leo on the street, dressed in her civvies, based on her performance in The Fighter. However, she took a major risk that can sometimes backfire by taking out “for your consideration” ads herself. Will the voters forgive her for these?

Melissa Leo does her best Krystle Carrington impersonation

Disadvantage: The cheesy self-promotion campaign may have given the voters another opportunity check the box for HBC. If we were Academy voters (fingers, crossed – someday, we will be!), the poolside fur would have been a deal-breaker. We don’t like gauche self-promotion. Get a blog, Melissa Leo!

Nominee: Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit

Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Advantage: Hailee Steinfeld is the definition of breakout star in this movie.  Young actresses in the Supporting Actress category tend to ruin the party for their, ahem, more seasoned counterparts. See: Patty Duke, Tatum O’Neal, Anna Paquin. Steinfeld held her own among a cast of veteran male actors in a gritty Western; this bodes well for her. In fact, she’s already been cast as the lead in the new adaptation of the novel Forgotten. Steinfeld might benefit from Academy backlash against Leo and a desire to shake things up for ratings.

Disadvantage: Being so fresh and untested can be a huge disadvantage. Many Academy voters may hold off, thinking Steinfeld has a long career ahead of her. She has been nominated for almost every single award possible for this role and hasn’t won yet. The Oscars are not the likely occasion to break this trend, opting for a wait and see attitude on Steinfeld.

Nominee: Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom

Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Advantage: Animal Kingdom centers around the activities of a crime family in Melbourne, Australia, with Ms. Weaver playing the family’s matriarch. The movie made its mark in the US at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010, but has only earned $1 million at the US box office. The movie cleaned up at the 2010 Australian Film Industry Awards where Weaver earned the award for Best Actress.

Disadvantage: Who? Yeah, that’s what we said. We have to imagine that many Academy voters said the same thing, especially given that Weaver has not been in the US promoting Animal Kingdom during the months leading up to the Oscars. The people need face time and she’s off working in the theatre in Australia. Is there theatre in Australia? Other than that white opera house thing-y? We thought it was all outback and beaches and hot volleyball players. People spend time indoors down there? Acting? Huh.

Our pick for Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo. This woman would rip your kid’s gold star off his spelling homework if she knew where you lived. Not that she doesn’t deserve the win – she is a powerhouse performer. But if you are an actress who wants to win an Oscar, you better make darn sure that Melissa Leo didn’t make a movie that year.

Our dark horse contender is Helena Bonham Carter for the upset. Is it wrong that we want to see Melissa Leo’s face when the camera cuts to her tight, fake smile as she watches someone else flounce away with the Oscar and wonders how soon she can break away to call her contractor and cancel the plans for the shrine in the entry hall?

Who do you think will take home the award for her performance in a supporting role? And maybe the better question is who deserves it? Those are two very different questions.

Remember to join us on Sunday, February 27th, for a liveblog of Oscar night, starting with the red carpet arrivals on E! (6 ET/3 PT) and switching over to ABC when the Academy Awards ceremony begins (8 ET/5 PT).

Lara Logan and the Media Ouroboros

I like to imagine Nir Rosen as he typed those fateful tweets last week, smugly pleased at his cynical prediction of the media response to Lara Logan’s assault, yet completely oblivious to the response his own comments would draw – a response that was all too predictable to the chorus of Twitter followers who immediately snapped screenshots. Sophocles himself could not have written a better scene. Not only was Rosen brought down by his own hubris, but his remarks in fact served to catalyze the very attention he was railing against. For as we’ve learned repeatedly in recent years, if there’s one thing that gets more media focus than an awful event, it’s the controversial and insensitive statements that various media figures will inevitably make about it.

Consider the Arizona shooting. Certainly it made sense, in the wake of a bitter and divisive campaign season, to question whether violent rhetoric by politicians and commentators could inspire violent acts. Then, before we knew it, we were somehow talking about whether Sarah Palin had said something anti-Semitic and whether the ADL’s response to the inappropriate choice of words in her response to the liberal media’s response to the shooting should have been more strongly worded. It’s like if David Foster Wallace had been a writer for National Enquirer.

Image by Janet Olevsky

This cycle becomes particularly predictable in cases dealing with race, religion, gender, or sexual assault. Thus, when the Lara Logan story broke, all the stock characters came out of the woodwork. There were the political hacks who can never pass up an opportunity to complain about the attention received by white victims of assault, as if doing so somehow helps minority victims. There were, as always, the delightful internet commenters who were quick to blame Islam (a strange thing to say, considering nearly 20% of the Egyptian population is Christian) or to ‘compliment’ the victim’s appearance in less than ideal ways.

And there were the almost-as-delightful internet crusaders who jumped on comments like “CBS should have provided better security” with cries of “Victim-blamer!” In the near future, someone will create a script that will generate these entire conversations for us, leaving us all with more time to tend to our virtual crops. Until then, despite what some may say, we will continue to air our invaluable opinions. That empty comment box isn’t going to fill itself.

This brings us back to Mr. Rosen. What makes his meltdown somewhat novel is that he was neither remarking directly on what happened nor on what others had said about it but merely on what he thought they would say.  The process is now so familiar that reporting on it before it happens is only the next logical step. But this phenomenon is not limited to talking heads. Take the mini-uproar over the choice of photo in a recent Gawker article, where commenters complained that the picture of Logan in a somewhat flattering dress inappropriately sexualized her and would invite comments to the effect that she deserved it. Whether or not such concern was warranted, expressing it did in fact steer the conversation towards a discussion of her sexuality. And just as some media outlets report every single thing Sarah Palin says and some people follow Jersey Shore under the reasoning that ‘this is what everyone else is going to be talking about’, justifying one’s own reaction or opinion by attributing it to hypothetical future others creates the very situation it claims to anticipate.

In The Precession of Simulacra, Jean Baudrillard described the four successive stages of the image as representation: reflecting a basic reality, perverting a basic reality, masking the absence of a basic reality, and finally bearing no relation to any reality, existing as its own simulacrum and representing nothing but itself. Our media culture has long passed the fourth stage (though it still engages in the second from time to time). But somewhere behind the map, one can still occasionally make out the territory – a real territory where people die, dictators fall, and female journalists face dangers that most of us are only now beginning to imagine.