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Progressive Puritans

23 Mar 2010
Posted by Shannon

I just had the odd experience of reading an Alternet piece supporting views I agree with – that children should be rescued from the clutches of McDonalds and other junk food suppliers -- that left me cheering for the other side. It was so Puritanical and full of misinformation and zealotry that suddenly I saw the good in the faux burger supplier.

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Oh those Twits

21 Mar 2010
Posted by Shannon

I’m immortalized in the Twit-o-sphere this week speaking in tongues.

 At least that’s what the 140 character limit reduced me to. On Saturday I did a short talk on media literacy for skeptics at SkeptiCamp 2010. They asked me to explain why the woo-woo gets so much play in publications that used to do journalism…

 Like I know?

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Posted by Shannon

On his blog at The Guardian Time Out theatre critic David Cote is bemoaning the demise of fellow scribes over at Variety magazine in New York. Film critic Todd McCarthy and theatre critic David Rooney both got the heave-ho due to cost-cutting measures, and Cote is whining about the impact of critic-cutting on theatre itself.

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Posted by Shannon

In a desperate attempt find a use for Twitter that isn’t annoying, a dating service is organizing “Flitter” parties.

Twitter + flirting = Flitter.

As the Globe & Mail reports, singles are now going to Flitter parties where they all sit in low-lit rooms and twit. Messages are displayed on a front-of-room screen for everyone to see.

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PoMo Editor Strikes

12 Mar 2010
Posted by Shannon

Facebook is “threatening to sue” London’s Daily Mail due to a copy editor who decided to spice up a story about how social networking is a hotbed of pedophiles. According to The Guardian, the Mail ran a story on how 14-year-old girls who post their profiles would be approached “within seconds” by dirty old men.

 Alas, this is not true. Jazzy, but not true. Even the writer says so.

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Posted by Shannon

If romance novels are among your guilty pleasures, you can blame it on biology.

That’s what a pair of Canadian university researchers who study evolutionary psychology found.  After surveying 15,000 Harlequin romance titles going back to 1949 they determined that the titles that hook readers highlight evolutionary stars -- men who are physically fit, financially secure, and prone to parenthood.

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Make art not enemies

09 Mar 2010
Posted by Shannon

Inventing all-powerful enemies is how we cope with the anxiety of knowing we have no control in this random world.

That’s what University of Kansas psychologists say in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Their paper, “An Existentional Function of Enemyship” confirms an idea that has been around for about 50 years -- that establishing a single, ridiculously powerful enemy has a comforting function, because it creates an illusion of control. Just defeat that enemy and all will be well.

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Facebook getting old

07 Mar 2010
Posted by Shannon

Facebook is getting old in more ways than one, as I say in the Winnipeg Free Press

Ever since early 2009, when Facebook trumpeted the fact that the female 55+ demographic grew by 550 per cent (while underplaying the fact that the under-30 enthusiasm stagnated) I’ve been amused to see the site evolving into the equivalent of the retirement home’s social hub.

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Posted by Shannon

British bobsleigher Dan Money appears to have suffered a little brain damage along with a gashed calf when his upturned car turfed the brakeman onto the track last week at Vancouver’s Winter Olympics. 

Following the crash, Money played tough-guy and dismissed his injury. 

“It’s just one of those things... but it’s bobsleigh,you know, not ballet dancing,” Money said, displaying the sort of intellect for which athletes are so often celebrated. 

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Posted by Shannon

As Vancouver's 17-day party ended with the pungent aroma of beer-and-urine in the air, I was wondering how the Olympics could have deteriorated into the Eeuuuwww-lympics?

The decline began in week one. I shuddered with revulsion after reading a Globe and Mail TV critic’s smarmy confession about how he gets all warm-and-moist watching female athletes curl. "What's hotter than a woman yelling "hard"? was the hed on John Doyle’s Feb 18 column. What followed was predictable, as he listed the charms of the other Olympic “hotties” like Lindsey Vonn – the Sports Illustrated swimsuit star (and U.S. ski racer) -- against Canada’s Cheryl Bernard.

Maybe it's the image of this old wanker leering at women young enough to be his granddaughter that makes my skin crawl? Or perhaps it's his ranking women athletes according to how much they turn his crank that made for such a creepy read?

“Yeah buddy,” I muttered over my coffee. “That's what matters about Olympic athletes: how hot they make you.”

But what I really wondered as I read his cringe-making copy was why an editor would put it through? Does someone really believe readers are interested in what gets Doyle off? I used to ignore Doyle's TV writing because he's the master of the banal observation.

Now I'm going to have to avoid his column because he's obviously a master of another sort. (Eeeuuuwww.)

 And I do not thank the Globe and Mail for putting that image in my head.

Don’t think I’m blaming men for this. Unlike ski jumping, the race to the bottom is an equal opportunity event. On my weekly grocery-shopping-and-research trip, I was perusing the rags at the checkout and found that Chatelaine was treading the same territory as Doyle. The magazine favoured by aging heifers has a photo spread on Canada’s “hot” male athletes, most of whom are young enough be the readership’s grandsons. - Read more