Sunday, March 1, 2015

Top Ten Offensive Tweets in Only Four Words

So the internet finally gave up with trying to figure out what colour #TheDress is and instead moved one to a delightfully deranged attempt to break the internet through vulgarity and filth.

#OffendEveryoneIn4Words swept like a tsunami of inappropriate ideas, despicable images, and horrifying innuendo across Twitter and only using of course, four words.  And for your viewing pleasure, these were the ten best of the worst:

#10. Snap, take that every kid who's been struck with "rapid aging disease;" - there was usually one of them on Maury Povich every week before he focused on the mating habits of the American poor.

#9. Although Urban Bomb Works looses points for the extra commentary after the hashtag, I have to admit I cannot imagine speaking those words aloud let along typing them one keystroke at a time.

#8. These foodies tied for the sheer audacity. Whereas the first few hours of OffendEveryoneIn4Words were filled with the predictable "Hitler did nothing wrong," this pseudo POTUS almost cut a little too close to the bone.

#7. One of the better religious-themed Tweets, Mrs. Betty Bowers managed to bitch-slap the world with her pie chart and offer a suggestion for those still bickering about the "One Nation Under Goid" line in the Pledge of Alegience." In one Tweet she managed to piss on the Christian majority and rile up a few Islamists simply for being a woman using a computer.

#6. Check out this triple threat of bad taste.  I always thought General Veers was a tough but fair man doing his job to rid the galaxy of Rebel scum. Now I see he's all about victim blaming.

#5. Way to get a little extra mileage out of Dakota Johnson's "omg super offensive ISIS sketch" form Saturday Night Live. This baby was still trending on its own a day after the show aired. Some twits just can't take a joke.

#4. Keeping with the oh so easy task of offending Islamist Extremists, Lalapuj offered this before and after of a Mohammed inspired makeover. Another two-pointer for the praising of a fashion style so controversial not even feminists have an opinion on it.

#3. The @towbinator sure knows how stir shit up with his lady-friends.  This is the kind of image that shows up in the Facebook feed of an acquaintance and depending on whatever your political and social views are this year, you either un-friend or secretly wish you could "like" it but your sister the social justice warrior, completing her masters in gender studies, will crucify you.

#2. Oh snap! Dead celebrity humour- bonus points for the hashtag within a hashtag, very Inception.

And the number one most offensive post trending with the #OffendEveryoneIn4Words goes to Naughty Jim:

#1. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Nobody Gives Good Interview Anymore: PART 1

There was a time before cable news channels. A time when network news programs like 60 minutes reined supreme.  It was the golden age of the interview, before the proliferation of cable news pundits whose interviews dissolve into barking cacophonies of accusations. The world we live in is not much of an exaggeration from the one in which James Franco's impudent Dave Skylark scores an exclusive sit-down with Kim Jong Un.

In our cable wasteland, we're served a buffet of low-hanging fruit. Reality TV stars and rich men who have cheated on their wives used to be a guilty pleasure, an amusing aside to fill the gaps between a coveted sit-down with a head of state, or an author of some work that was shaking up the social consciousness.

Not only has the quality of guests dropped in the last, say fifteen years, now one is hard-pressed to see an interviewer take the guest to task with serious questions. Instead of either backing a cantankerous subject into a corner until they break as did Richard Nixon in his one on one with Robert Frost, or lulling a flighty personality into a state of vulnerable revelations, most appearances are carefully coordinated marketing tools.

That's not to say that TV appearances and the the sit down interview format hasn't always been used by the subject as good publicity (no one would appear unless they thought it was good for them). What used to count as a seismic event on the journalism landscape, now is replicated ad nausea with a journalistic facade.

Perhaps no one person did more to establish an interview style that became a standard than Mike Wallace.  From his earliest days on CBS sparring with Ayn Rand to his seasoned conversations with Louis Farakhan, Wallace developed a technique of questioning that was simultaneously tough and unfiltered; while confrontational, he was never disrespectful.

This was the style that characterized 60 Minutes and colleagues including Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters. While most of their subjects were newsworthy individuals, the distribution was a diverse spectrum of statesmen, celebrities, murder suspects, witnesses to history, etc. Meanwhile it was the style of other programs such as the news format in which Larry King presented guests, along with the rise of daytime talk shows that parlayed the format into info-tainment.

Celebrities visited the The Tonight Show while authors and politicians were the domain of network news specials. The Larry King style of interview differed greatly from the traditional Mike Wallace school of questioning in an important way.  Whereas Wallace was a newsman, Larry King's style was to let the guests, almost all entertainers, ramble on with little guidance and almost completely unchallenged.  It was no different than an appearance on The Dick Cavet Show except it was presented in a news format. 

Since then isn't just the format that's changed for better or for worse, but also the very criteria for who gets to be a "news-maker..."

Up next: The birth of Entertainment Tonight, our obsession with serial killers, sex tapes, To Catch a Predator and the ambush interview.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Auschwitz: Humanity's Darkest Hour

It was seventy years ago today that a Russian rifle division arrived upon a scene of abandoned horror outside the town of Auschwitz in southern Poland. Having fled the camp with nearly 60,000 prisoners on a death march across the frozen countryside, the S.S. had left behind the weak, sick and the dying as the Soviet forces swept toward Berlin.

Although not the first of its kind discovered by the Allies, the city-sized camp at Auschwitz testified to the scope of the Nazis "Final Solution" for the Jews of occupied Europe.  This was a factory for extermination unrivaled in scale and capacity for murder. It remains today a symbol of the pernicious tumult of human ignorance in the service of entropy.

The camp stands today in preservation, a museum open to hundreds of thousands of visitors who walk the grounds. Those who do visit often are overwhelmed not only by the atrocities committed, but by the sheer scale.

At 40 square kilometers, the massive factory of death easily encompassed
the downtown of a major metropolis.

A self-contained city unto itself, the camp was erected first as a concentration camp for political prisoners and gradually expanded in size and mandate over the course of the Second World War. By 1944, the sole purpose of Auschwitz was mass murder in gas chambers upon arrival of prisoners including 1.1 million Jews.

Now 70 years on from the horrors of the Holocaust, what endures are the testimonies of those who survived. Their stories and more importantly, the lives they went on to live, and lives that have come after them down the generations, are the cumulative if solemn victory over the darkness that nearly destroyed civilization.

In the second decade of the 21st century, our world remains rife with ideologies which seek no compromise, premised on irreconcilable absolutes. We face the dilemma of keeping vigilant against the obligation to intervene in the affairs of other nations ravaged by genocide. As we face these horrors in our own time, we can never forget, nor minimize the reality entombed in the soil of Auschwitz.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Nearly ten years ago, a Danish newspaper published "offensive" depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, cartoons reprinted and not unlike the content of French publication Charlie Hebdo. At that time, the world's media abandoned responsibility to freedom of speech and condemned the cartoonists.  The scandal proved that terrorism works, the threat of violence from religious extremists can successfully shut down discussion and solidarity can be thwarted in the Western World.  One of the only voices speaking truth to terror was Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a piece for Slate which has been republished today. That article appears below which stands as a prescient observation of the where we stand ten years later, in the bloodshed of twelve cartoonists, journalists and policemen in Paris, France, January 7th 2015:

As well as being a small masterpiece of inarticulacy and self-abnegation, the statement from the State Department about this week's international Muslim pogrom against the free press was also accidentally accurate.

"Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief."

Thus the hapless Sean McCormack, reading painfully slowly from what was reported as a prepared government statement. How appalling for the country of the First Amendment to be represented by such an administration. What does he mean "unacceptable"? That it should be forbidden? And how abysmal that a "spokesman" cannot distinguish between criticism of a belief system and slander against a people. However, the illiterate McCormack is right in unintentionally comparing racist libels to religious faith. Many people have pointed out that the Arab and Muslim press is replete with anti-Jewish caricature, often of the most lurid and hateful kind. In one way the comparison is hopelessly inexact.

These foul items mostly appear in countries where the state decides what is published or broadcast. However, when Muslims republish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or perpetuate the story of Jewish blood-sacrifice at Passover, they are recycling the fantasies of the Russian Orthodox Christian secret police (in the first instance) and of centuries of Roman Catholic and Lutheran propaganda (in the second). And, when an Israeli politician refers to Palestinians as snakes or pigs or monkeys, it is near to a certainty that he will be a rabbi (most usually Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the disgraceful Shas party) and will cite Talmudic authority for his racism. For most of human history, religion and bigotry have been two sides of the same coin, and it still shows.

Therefore there is a strong case for saying that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and those who have reprinted its efforts out of solidarity, are affirming the right to criticize not merely Islam but religion in general. And the Bush administration has no business at all expressing an opinion on that. If it is to say anything, it is constitutionally obliged to uphold the right and no more. You can be sure that the relevant European newspapers have also printed their share of cartoons making fun of nuns and popes and messianic Israeli settlers, and taunting child-raping priests. There was a time when this would not have been possible. But those taboos have been broken.

Which is what taboos are for. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." (By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.

As it happens, the cartoons themselves are not very brilliant, or very mordant, either. But if Muslims do not want their alleged prophet identified with barbaric acts or adolescent fantasies, they should say publicly that random murder for virgins is not in their religion. And here one runs up against a curious reluctance. … In fact, Sunni Muslim leaders can't even seem to condemn the blowing-up of Shiite mosques and funeral processions, which even I would describe as sacrilege. Of course there are many millions of Muslims who do worry about this, and another reason for condemning the idiots at Foggy Bottom is their assumption, dangerous in many ways, that the first lynch mob on the scene is actually the genuine voice of the people. There's an insult to Islam, if you like.

The question of "offensiveness" is easy to decide. First: Suppose that we all agreed to comport ourselves in order to avoid offending the believers? How could we ever be sure that we had taken enough precautions? On Saturday, I appeared on CNN, which was so terrified of reprisal that it "pixilated" the very cartoons that its viewers needed to see. And this ignoble fear in Atlanta, Ga., arose because of an illustration in a small Scandinavian newspaper of which nobody had ever heard before! Is it not clear, then, that those who are determined to be "offended" will discover a provocation somewhere? We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

Second (and important enough to be insisted upon): Can the discussion be carried on without the threat of violence, or the automatic resort to it? When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against "all those involved in its publication," which led to the murder of the book's Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun. (The menacing Muslim bigmouth on the other side refused to forswear state-sponsored suborning of assassination, and was of course backed up by the Catholic bigot Pat Buchanan.) The same point holds for international relations: There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.  (From

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top 10 Lamest Christmas Gifts of 2014

Let's face it, the holidays suck for adults.  As children we only had a couple chores to every December; Write to Santa Claus and be as good as possible for about four weeks. That was it! As adults, the responsibilities and stresses of Christmas have been handed down from our parents.  

Now it's up to us to make the holiday season full of joy or sheer misery. To help in your shopping adventures this year, we have for you the top 10 Lamest Christmas Gifts of 2014. Shop at your own risk, but if your kids have been little bastards this year, by all means, shop away! 

1. 3D Brachiosaurus Puzzle: Batteries and fun not included.

2. WiiFit: If you loathe sunshine and fresh air and want to stay by the fridge, why not partake in this exercise game from Nintendo. Kick and stretch like an idiot at your TV before you break out Call of Duty after 5 minutes.

3. Clothing: For the fashion savvy person in your life who wants to be unique and make a statement while wearing the same as everyone else making a statement. Also a good choice if your significant others underwear resembles Swiss cheese....or smells like it.

4. The Re-Gift: You probably got this from the office party. It usually smells of vanilla. It's the gift that says “I had the time and money to get you something you actually wanted, but fuck it! This line is too long and Game of Thrones is on in 10 minutes!” You will also re-gift this to a relative who stops by unexpectedly for the sole purpose of receiving a gift. The rest of the year you don't talk.

5. The Chia Pet: You thought they were fucking gone, this gift has been around since the first Christmas. Joseph gave it to Mary, who re-gifted it to her sister, who in turn re-gifted it to Steve the shepherd.

6. Singing a Song: Unless you're Harry Connick Jr, this is probably the douche-baggiest gesture one can pass off as a Christmas gift. If you want to share another Christmas together, stop by Tiffany & Co. Your balls will thank you.

7. Toothpaste: We don't want to hurt your feelings Tom, but we all put our money together and got you this really nice toothbrush gift set because your breath has been killing all the plants in the office as well as making us sick every time we share the elevator. Again, sorry if we've offended you, but this is Canada and we bathe and keep up on our hygiene. 

8. McMillan & Wife The Complete Series on DVD: Nuff said.

9. Home-Made Gifts: Because after a year on Pintrest you think you're an expert.

10. One Direction “This is Us on DVD: Make your season merry and gay!

Whatever wondrous gifts you find for your loved ones and frenenmies, it's best to follow the Golden Rule of quantity over quality. Do your best this year not to get too caught up in the love and instead, remember the importance of getting stuff, because isn't that what the holidays are truly about?