Pensacola, Florida
Friday December 15th 2017

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News of the Weird 6/15/17

By Chuck Shepherd

Advertisers Are Coming for You The New York Times reported in May that the “sophistication” of Google’s and Facebook’s ability to identify potential customers of advertisements is “capable of targeting ads … so narrow that they can pinpoint, say, Idaho residents in long-distance relationships who are contemplating buying a minivan.” Facebook’s ad manager told the Times that such a description matches 3,100 people (out of Idaho’s 1.655 million).

Smooth Reactions (1) Robert Ahorner, 57, apparently just to “win” an argument with his wife, who was dissatisfied with their sex life, left the room with his 9mm semi-automatic and fired four shots at his penis. (As he said later, “If I’m not using it, I might as well shoot it off.”) Of course, he missed, and police in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, said no laws were violated. (2) In a lawsuit filed against an allegedly retaliating former lover, Columbia University School of Public Health professor Mady Hornig said her jilted boss tried repeatedly to harm her professional standing, even twice calling her into his office, dropping his trousers, and asking her professional opinion of the lesion on his buttock.

The Job of the Researcher From the abstract of California State Polytechnic assistant professor Teresa Lloro-Bidart, in an April academic paper, comparing behaviors of native-California western gray squirrels and disruptive (to residents’ trash cans) eastern fox squirrels: “I juxtapose feminist posthumanist theories and feminist food study scholarship to demonstrate how eastern fox squirrels are subjected to gendered, racialized and speciesist thinking in the popular news media as a result of their feeding/eating practices (and) their unique and unfixed spatial arrangements in the greater Los Angeles region….” The case “presents a unique opportunity to question and re-theorize the ontological given of ‘otherness’ that manifests in part through a politics” in which “animal food choices” “stand in” for “compliance and resistance” to the “dominant forces in (human) culture.”

The Continuing Crisis Japan is in constant conflict over whether to become more militarily robust (concerned increasingly with North Korea) even though its constitution requires a low profile (only “self-defense”). When the country’s defense minister recently suggested placing females into combat roles, constitutional law professor Shigeaki Iijima strongly objected, initiating the possibility that Japan’s enemies might have bombs capable of blowing women’s uniforms off, exposing their bodies. The ridicule was swift. Wrote one, “I saw something like that in Dragon Ball” (from the popular comic book and TV productions of Japanese anime).

Took It Too Far Already, trendy restaurants have offered customers dining experiences amidst roaming cats (and in one bold experiment, owls), but the art house San Francisco Dungeon has planned a two-day (July 1 and 8) experimental “Rat Cafe” for those who feel their coffee or tea is better sipped while rats (from the local rat rescue) scurry about the room. Pastries are included for the $49.99 price, but the rats will be removed before the food comes. (Sponsors promise at least 15 minutes of “rat interaction,” and the price includes admission to the dungeon.)

Bright Ideas Organizers of northern Germany’s Wacken Open Air Festival (billed as the world’s biggest metal music extravaganza) expect the 75,000 attendees to drink so much beer that they have built a nearly 4-mile-long pipeline to carry 105,000 gallons to on-site taps. (Otherwise, keg-delivery trucks would likely muck up the grounds.) Some pipes were buried specifically for the Aug. 3 to Aug. 5 festival, but others had been used by local farmers for ordinary irrigation.