Friday, September 30, 2016

Freaky Friday News: September 30, 2016

ADL Puts Pepe The Frog in their Hate Symbol Database

This week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) added the meme character Pepe the Frog to their hate symbol database.  When I first heard the news, I felt shocked.  Pepe the Frog has been around for years, and the vast majority of the memes I've seen involving Pepe are not racist or bigoted.  So why include him in a hate symbol database?

I looked into it, and found Pepe the Frog's entry on the ADL website.  It's rather long, but at the end the ADL includes this disclaimer:
However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist. However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes.
Ummmm,  yes?  Of course you need to use your brain to determine if something is bigoted or offensive.  That's because anything can be used in a bigoted, racist, or otherwise offensive manner.

After reading this disclaimer, I decided to look further into this hate symbol database.  You know what else I found?  More "symbols" that inherently have nothing to do with hate:
  • Thor's hammer
  • Several individual runic letters
  • Runic writing (not certain why they list both letters and runic writing)
  • Sonnenrad - a stylized sun pendant
  • WP  (which means "wordpress" in my world)
  • 14
  • 88

This doesn't list all of the not truly hate related symbols, just the ones I remember off the top of my head.  And most of them list the same disclaimer as Pepe the Frog.  This bothers me deeply, because the ADL is allowing white supremacists or other jerks to dictate how we as society view and classify various signs of written communication.

Just because someone decides to use a random symbol in a hateful message does not make that a hate symbol.

The 26th First Annual Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony & Lectures

Yes, it's that time of year again when Improbable Research (from Harvard) awards prizes for some of the strangest, funniest research out there.  The winners this year include:

  • Reproduction Prize - for a study on how polyester, cotton, and wool trousers effect a rat's sex life
  • Economics Prize - on the perceived personality of rocks from a sales and marketing perspective
  • Chemistry Prize - awarded to Volkswagen for "solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested."
  • Perception Prize - for determining if the world appears different when viewed bent over and looking between your legs
I suggest you head over to the Ig Nobel website and read the list of winners for yourself. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grecian Gambit: Chapter 1, Part 2

I float out of the office on an anxiety-filled cloud of adrenaline and stress. I swear, my fight or flight instinct is screaming at me to hit the front door and never look back.

Did Patti really hear Apollo’s voice? Or have I been speaking in a low voice and just thinking it’s my imaginary friend talking to me? Great, even thinking that question makes my brain hurt.

A cheer rises up from a large crowd as I walk into the main space of the bookstore. Wow, at least 80 people stand in the store, waiting for me to arrive. My social insecurities decide to show up at that moment, shoving me off of my cloud and almost stumbling into a shelf.

“Calm down, Cece,” Patti whispers to me as she grabs my arm to help me right myself. “These people are here to hear you read from your new book. That’s all.”

Remembering to breathe, I finish walking to a stool next to a microphone. Patti follows me, and takes the microphone before I have a chance to do more than seat myself.

“Attention! Attention, everyone!” Patti calls out over the sound system. People settle down rather quickly. “Thank you for coming here tonight. Without further ado, let me introduce you to Acorn’s very own Cecelia Lewis as she reads from her new book, Apollo’s Gift.”

Patti replaces the microphone as everyone claps for me again. I repeat “I can do this” in my head as I squash down all of my worries and insecurities. When the clapping dies down a bit, I move the microphone closer and begin.

“Hello, my name is Cecelia Lewis. I want to personally thank everyone for being here and supporting me tonight.” A smattering of applause greets my statement, and someone yells out “No problem, darling”. “As you know, Apollo’s Gift is the fifth book in my…”

I pause because the impossible just happened. At the back of the crowd, wearing torn blue jeans and a tight, white T-shirt stands Apollo, or someone who looks exactly like the man on the cover of my book.

He’s here. But that’s impossible. I drew the cover of my book; I draw all the pictures for my books.

“Cecelia, honey, are you okay?” Patti interjects as she walks back towards me.

I start a little bit. “Ummm, sorry, I thought I recognized someone in the crowd.”

I have to say something. Unfortunately, that is exactly the wrong thing to say.

People look around, and it takes less than a second before some young thing yells out, “OMG!! It’s Apollo!!!”

"Why, hello, ladies," Apollo says as he flashes a devastating smile.

Shrieking tears through the people as all the women try to rush over to where he is standing. I guess that this is good, because it means I’m not seeing things. On the bad side, I imagined this guy! What in tarnation is he doing standing here in real life?

A short stampede ensues.   A few women get into a hair-pulling contest trying to get to the front of the store.  Two older ladies in bright pink pantsuits and pearls whirl around and charge towards Apollo.  The lady on the left trips over something, or someone, flails about to catch herself, and manages to tip over one of the freestanding bookshelves.  Books tumble on top of women, including a Gothic-looking teenager, who jumps backwards to avoid the books falling on her.  But in her haste, the teen hits a small reading table next to the Westerns.  The old-fashioned oil lamp breaks, spilling the paraffin lamp oil onto the floor.  A collision I missed causes a floor lamp to crash down into the spilled oil.  The broken bulb sparks, lighting the oil and causing a small fire to break out in the Westerns. This triggers the automatic sprinkler system and the water from it hits the power strip for the microphone.  A large electric spark jumps out and hits my leg as all the lights in the bookstore go out from short circuits caused by the water.  Patti screams and I realize I never heard Southern at such a loud volume before.

Through the pandemonium, I hear Apollo as he laughs and says, “Ladies, ladies, please. There is enough of me to go around. Trust me.”

That's awesome. Please don't point it out. Dedicated volunteer proofreaders will go through the section and correct grammar, punctuation, and copyediting issues. Thank you so much for your help. :)

Thursday Music: Bad Romance Fugue

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

100 Words of Comedy

I joined a new site called Imzy. Here I found lots of communities for writers, including one called 100 Words. Each week, they send out a prompt and then you can respond with 100 words related to said prompt. This week's prompt is comedy, and I like what I wrote so I decided to share.


"Grandma! Get out of there!”

“Sorry, honey, but I need to see how comfortable this is.”

Celia hid her face in her hands. Why, oh why, had she agreed to take her grandmother on her errands today?

“Too hard,” Grandma Culpepper sat up as she rendered judgement. “I swear, you’d think people would be more careful and considerate about this stuff. Now, give me a hand, child.”

Celia helped her grandmother out of the black coffin. “Grandma, people in coffins are usually dead, and don’t generally care about how comfortable they are.”

“And that’s their mistake. I don’t want back problems in my afterlife. Here, let’s try this cedar one next.”

Wordless Wednesday: When the Internet Names Animals...