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Why Teens Love YouTube’s Grace Helbig

Posted October 12th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

How YouTube’s “awkward older sister” is ushering in a new era of female friendship and femininity.

Bret Hartman/The Washington Post / Getty Images

If you know a teenage girl, chances are she knows about Grace Helbig. With over two million subscribers to her YouTube channel, Helbig is one of the new class of YouTube superstars whose fame has been slowly, and then all at once, spread into the mainstream. Helbig has a book, a movie, and, starting sometime this Spring, a talkshow on E!. Why, then, have many adults never even heard her name?

The first time I saw a video of Grace Helbig I made a snap judgment: Look at this cool girl. Helbig wore an unremarkable striped T-shirt; her subtle cat-eye makeup was perfect. She had gorgeous skin and that sort of perfectly wavy hair that somehow looks like she just rolled out of bed yet still looks immaculate. So casual, yet undoubtedly calculated.

And this gorgeous girl was staring straight into the camera and telling me about almost pooping her pants on her way home from Target.

Classic Cool Girl: so chill, OK with farting around boyfriends, down to chug a beer, never nagging, the opposite of high-maintenance, the ideal girlfriend…or at least very skilled at performing all of those things in order to seem like the ideal girlfriend.

But as I immersed myself in the sprawling, multimodal world of Grace, I came to a crucial realization: She might seem like a Cool Girl, but it’s a variation wholly absent of the need to attract men. All of her Cool Girl components — her foul mouth, her willingness to talk about bodily functions, her general unruliness, and even her beauty — are never wielded to turn her into a sex object. She might have a great body, but that great body is hidden under what often seems like sleepover clothes, often paired with the sort of weird high ponytail you wear when no one’s around.

The astonishing and frankly refreshing thing about Helbig, who is 29, is the almost total absence of the pursuit of men from her phalanx of web videos, podcasts, Snapchats, and Vines that attract millions of viewers, most of whom are teens. Grace’s world is characterized not by looking hot for dudes, but being weird with girlfriends, both real (friends that show up in videos) and theoretical (you, girl watching the video). When she rates the “sexiest men on the internet,” it’s a farce; when guys do show up, they’re figured not as lust objects, but honorary sleepover guests.

Instead of identity predicated on the opinions and desires of men, Helbig is all about making the labor of femininity, and even friendship, visible. She calls herself the internet’s “awkward older sister” and “BFF,” but she’s also a different type of idol, one whose values and priorities are in stark contrast those proffered by teen idol factories like Disney and Nickelodeon.

Instagram / BuzzFeed

Her humor isn’t “for me” — a phrase I heard echoed repeatedly when I asked others my age about their opinion of Helbig. But as a thirtysomething, it’s not meant to be: Helbig’s comedy isn’t rooted in irony or satire; it doesn’t belong on IFC after Portlandia. And yet, it somehow manages to feel far less pedantic than the laugh track, over-acting, and obvious gags that compose most teen-directed fare.

In a certain corner of YouTube world (read: the part where people make money), Helbig is ubiquitous. She tapes herself as she sits in a bathroom waiting for the train, dyes her hair, wakes up jet-lagged, and dorks around her hotel room. She tapes and produces videos at a grueling clip — three to five times a week — and pops up in the videos of dozens of fellow YouTube stars, as they pop up in hers.

Helbig’s brand of stardom threatens to demolish the untouchable aura that’s distinguished stars (think Angelina Jolie) for more than a century, but she’s setting forth an alternate — and, I’d argue, wholly feminist — model for the millions of young women who follow her.

It’s not that Helbig is offering a different “type” of celebrity so much as an entirely different mode of stardom. Her novelty is rooted in the specifics of her YouTube stardom and attendant technological and ideological shifts in the way that stars are made and consumed.

Since the days of silent cinema, film stardom has been characterized by its aura of distance, achieved by the actual size of the stars’ faces in close-up on the theater screen, tales of their extravagant and glamorous personal lives, and their overarching superlativeness. The spread of television in the late ‘40s and ‘50s sparked a sea change: The appeal of television stars was rooted in the feeling of immediacy (most of early television was filmed was broadcast live), intimacy (these stars were in your living room), and authenticity (none of the close-ups and polish that attended massive Hollywood productions).

The bulk of contemporary programming, from reality television to Oprah, still relies on the same principles of intimacy and authenticity, albeit in slightly different forms. They’re what addicts audiences to Keeping Up With the Kardashians and fostered the cult of Oprah. They’re both scripted, but their production of realness — like you’re part of the family, or privy to Oprah’s inner life — is irresistible.

YouTube stardom takes that same intimacy and authenticity and magnifies it. Television’s intimacy is the product of filming on sets dressed to look like living rooms and projecting into the home; YouTube’s intimacy comes from shooting in the home, often in what tech writer Paul Ford calls “The American Room,” and streaming on your computer or phone screen. When I finished watching a Helbig video the other day before getting on the subway, I felt like I was putting a very little Grace in my pocket.

The webcam, via which so many YouTube videos are shot, produces a lo-fi, generally unflattering aesthetic, especially when the subject films in a room that’s poorly lit. The closer the subject gets the computer — in anger, in excitement — the more you can hear the crackle of his breath, the pimple-scarred topography of his face. Watching a YouTube video doesn’t feel like watching produced entertainment; it feels like Skyping.

Even when a star like Helbig gets better equipment and training, he or she often sticks to the aesthetics that govern the lo-fi video. The goal, after all, isn’t to look like television; it’s to look like a YouTube video, only better. Better-lit, better edited, better scripted, but still with the feeling of spontaneity, DIY, and I-did-this-in-my-bedroom that defines the medium.

Those aesthetics of intimacy contribute to the feeling of authenticity: The more lo-fi the production seems — the less mediated — the easier it is to believe that you are accessing the “real” star. It seems like the star is always taping him or herself, which, by extension, suggests that there’s no one else in the room: no one directing, no one telling the subject to do another take.

There’s just raw, seemingly unfiltered access — an aura maintained, despite the clear evidence of edits, by preserving bloopers, adding outtakes, and unabashed revelry in on-tape fuck-ups. One of the hallmarks of Helbig’s recent videos is her sloppy muting of profanities; her editing, generally speaking, can best be described as that of a 12-year-old, replete with gratuitous slo-mos, sound effects, filters, and loops.

Authenticity and intimacy are always bolstered through the multimedia requirements of YouTube stardom — what technology scholar Liz Ellcessor calls “a star text of connection.” This “connection,” however, is more than the frenzied cross-promotion that places stars in one another’s projects (and, as a result, expands their audiences). Because while YouTube was the birthplace of most of these stars, they’ve expanded their rule to nearly a dozen content streams: In addition to maintaining a YouTube channel, Helbig hosts a podcast, produced and starred in a straight-to-internet film (Camp Takota), wrote a New York Times best-selling book (Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up), sells out national tours, appears at conventions like Vidcon, maintains active accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Snapchat, and will begin hosting her own E! talk show in the spring.

Instagram / BuzzFeed

The core of Helbig’s friend world is the “Holy Trinity,” composed of Helbig, queer vlogger Hannah Hart, and mixologist Mamrie Hart. (The two aren’t related, but the same last name amplifies the feel of sisterhood). They make regular cameos on one another’s YouTube channels and Instagram feeds; together, they produced Camp Takota, a 95-minute meditation on the value of all-girls camp, and documented the three-week shooting process extensively.

Videos of the three have a unique blend of sometimes zany, sometimes deadpan humor that feels exactly like the type of video you might have made with your best friends at 16. There’s an inherent confidence — all YouTubers have some form of it — but it’s mixed with heavy self-deprecation, improvisation, and fits of giggles. They feel preternaturally at ease with other and the camera; they manage to dance like no one watching even though everyone is watching.

The life of the Holy Trinity feels like the very best of sleepovers, punctuated with weird food projects, makeup experiments, watching movies, and overwrought impressions of themselves and others. That the vast majority of their videos are shot in their kitchens and living rooms only contributes to the feeling of a discreet space where you can be a weirdo with your friends. Their humor isn’t juvenile so much as physical: They’re masters of the reaction shot much in the way Lucille Ball was.

Ball’s most famous skit is “Vitameatavegamin,” in which she does successive takes of a cough syrup commercial as she gets increasingly drunk. But it’s drunkenness the way children imagine drunkenness — immediate and hilarious. That’s exactly how “Drunk Kitchen” works: The three have beers in hand, but manifest “drunkenness” much in the way that a teenager does after one beer, when the beer is simply a pass to act weirder, louder, freer.

Which isn’t to suggest that the real Grace, Hannah, and Mamrie don’t drink: I’m sure they do. It’s more that their performance of drinking, like their performance of cooking or makeovers, is all in the service of hanging out together. And that hanging out isn’t about gossiping, or being on their phones, or even talking about boys. It’s a distorted idea of what adulthood looks like — the only people I know whose lives feel like sleepovers are new parents, only those sleepovers lack all of the fun — but Helbig’s shtick isn’t to suggest what her teen viewers will be, but what, in their own lives, they could be: introspective, brave, anchored by friendship, living a life that’s not defined by romance and the desires of others.

In interviews, in her book, and in her videos, Helbig talks constantly about her introversion. That introversion was the catalyst for her first set of videos — which she shot while house-sitting for a friend — but also serve as a point of identification for her fans. It’s not that an introvert doesn’t want friends, or intimacy, after all, it’s that she wants it in particular settings and in particular doses. Helbig might seem like she’s having a nonstop sleepover, but the bulk of her time is spent by herself: filming her solo videos, editing them, and interacting with fans.

Social media is, in truth, an introvert’s dream: a way to feel connected while being alone. That’s not antisocial; it’s nurturing. I get it; I do myself. When I was a teen, I would’ve loved someone like Grace telling me that it’s OK to feel exhausted by the work of publicly performing femininity, and even more OK to enjoy hanging out, alone, in your comfy pants.

Some of Helbig’s fans may be legitimately sad in their loneliness. But I would guess that the majority of them connect with her openness about the real-life negotiations of introversion, recognizing the ways it can liberate and soothe. I developed my skill as a writer and my curiosity as a thinker not by hanging out with other people, after all, but by reading and writing and exploring the early internet alone. Not everyone learns and grows that way, but a large, often unheralded percent do.

That’s the primary point of identification. But even if you’re not an introvert, Helbig’s personality and image is blank enough for most teens to map their desires onto her. Indeed, there’s something about her lanky body and dewy face that feels distinctly teen, despite her 29 years. She grew up with middle-class parents; she was the middle child; she went to a normal South Jersey high school and an indistinctive small public liberal arts college.

There’s very little, in other words, to block fans from identifying with her. Save, of course, her whiteness. And straightness. And it should be said that the vast majority of Helbig’s visible fans — on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media streams — present as white; the “way of being” she’s providing for young women is predicated on the privilege of whiteness, straightness, and straight up middle-classness.

The popularity of Helbig’s book, movie, and television show don’t change the primary engine of her fame: her interactions with teen girls. Because if television fame is predicated on familiarity, internet fame spreads through interaction and accessibility. There’s the interaction among Helbig’s fans, of course, but stars have always had fan groups. What distinguishes Helbig and other YouTube stars is the sheer extent of their accessibility. She regularly hosts Q&As on her Facebook page; she constantly answers reader questions in her videos; she posts entire videos showcasing the fanfic and art inspired by her and Hannah Hart. She talks back on Twitter. She poses for countless selfies with readers, who then make those selfies their Twitter avatars, like hundreds of visual testimonies to her accessibility.

Jennifer Lawrence might seem like a total down-to-earth girl and you may feel like you know all about Kim Kardashian’s waxing routines, but this is a totally different level of perceived intimacy. You don’t just feel like you know Grace; through hundreds of hours of footage and text, you know Grace. Similar to reality stars, there’s no differentiation between “performing Grace” and “personal life” Grace: Her talent is being herself, which, in turn, makes every corner of that self marketable.

Of course, access is not the same as knowledge. Helbig has spoken publicly about her desire to separate her personal life (her boyfriend, her family) from her online life. She calls her vlogger self as “myself heightened.” Fans don’t know everything about “the real Grace” so much as know everything about the segment of Grace that’s offered for public consumption. It’s a testament to her charisma, then, that audiences never sense that disparity.

This type of intimacy and authenticity characterize all of the successful YouTube stars. What distinguishes Helbig, then, is the way in which her image combines the revelry and joyful silliness of friendship with the quirk and self-reflection of the introvert. It might seem contradictory that an introvert would spend so much time recording her life for others to consume, but that contradiction mirrors the push-and-pull of so many teens’ engagement with the world: the simultaneous desire to connect and feel understood while still testing out your identity in private and safety.

Instagram / BuzzFeed

Even Helbig’s videos that focus on putting on makeup somehow manage to send a message of femininity as a dress-up, an everlasting process of becoming than a static standard to which viewers should aspire. Given the sheer volume of content, it’s hard to fit any YouTube star into a precise “type”: They defy circumscription. Helbig may be zany and teen-like, but she can also be sincere and profound, confident and vulnerable, made-up and makeup-less.

Most celebrity idols lack that complexity: They seem to occupy a single, tidy identity; loving them is occupying a constant lack. For some, that gap between self and ideal is simply the driving force of the psyche: constantly striving for what we are not. For others, especially teens, it’s the font of depression and existential despair.

Helbig’s looks are still an ideal. That’s something, for better or for worse, that has helped make her an authority: Teens, ever self-conscious, initially glom to her because she seems to have negotiated that dominant ideal. But hidden within that ideal package is a disruptive, even revolutionary message: Performing for boys matters for less, ultimately, than cultivating your own self.

What’s remarkable, and heartening, is the way in which girls seem to be responding to this message. Unlike the still relatively old-fashioned star-producing apparatuses of film, television, and music, which offer a star up with the expectation that fandom will follow, Helbig’s fandom is wholly organic. She’s not a star because a group of producers and publicists decided she would be, but because teen girls decided she was. Instead of fans molding their tastes and ideals around what’s offered to them — often by older, male executives — they’ve anointed someone who resonates with them.

Bottom-up celebrity, instead of top-down. It’s dangerous to be too utopian about the potential of YouTube stars to usurp dominant ideals — physically, Helbig fits them perfectly — which is part of the reason that E! has hired her as an ostensible replacement for another unruly yet beautiful blonde, Chelsea Handler. And as Hollywood becomes increasingly aware of the potential of these idols, it’s not difficult to imagine a not-so-distant future in which YouTube stardom becomes just as organized, corporate, and inorganic as the Disney star factory.

To be clear, no one should confuse the value of virtual idols like Helbig for actual role models, whether they be mentors, teachers, or other women who demonstrate and speak frankly about the realities of negotiating femininity in the 21st century, in the lives of teenage girls. Still, I can’t stop thinking about how revolutionary Helbig’s weirdo performance of self would’ve been to 12-, 14-, and 16-year-old me.

I’m too old to be a Grace girl now. But I wonder how much more liberated and confident in my own weirdo self I would be if I could’ve been.

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Even If You Don’t Love Football, You Can Enjoy These NFL-Inspired Mixed Drinks.

Posted October 11th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

Football season is finally here! For most people, that means football parties, fantasy football drafts and merrymaking. Although your TV is going to be swamped with Bud Light commercials in between the plays, with the help of we have compiled a list of cocktails that pair well with your favorite team, so he can watch the game without feeling as bloated as a lineman. 

Even if you don’t like watching football, these tasty drinks will surely make your experience a little better.

1.) The Seahawks’ Emerald City: coconut rum, green melon liqueur, blue curacao liqueur, sweet and sour mix, lemon-lime soda.

2.) The Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf: absinthe, angostrua bitters, dry vermouth and gin.

3.) The 49ers’ Barbary Coast Cocktail: gin, whiskey, white chocolate creme de cacao and half and half.

4.) The Cardinals’ Cardinal Coctail: creme de cassis, red wine.

5.) The Buccaneers’ Bumbo: rum, water, brown sugar, nutmeg

6.) The Saints’ Sazerac: rye whiskey, absinthe, peychauds bitters, sugar cube, lemon peel.

7.) The Panther’s Carolina Iced Tea: spiced rum, vodka, peach liqueur, peach schnapps, sweet tea.

8.) The Falcons’ Scarlett O’Hara: Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, lime.

9.) The Vikings’ Purple People Eater: parfait amour, gin, lemon juice.

10.) The Packer’s Brandy Old Fashioned: brandy, angostura bitters, sugar, water

11.) The Lion’s Tail: bourbon, pimento dram, lime juice, syrup, aromatic bitters.

12.) The Chicago Bears’ Chicago Cocktail: brandy, orange liqueur, aromatic bitters, champagne

13.) The Redskins’ Cherry Blossom: brandy, cherry brandy, dry curacao, grenadine, lemon juice, cherry.

14.) The Eagles’ Aviation: gin, egg whites, sugar, lemon juice.

15.) The New York Giants Cocktail: rye, lime juice, sugar cube.

16.) The Cowboys’ Cocktail: whisky, cream.

17.) The Chargers’ Seabreeze: vodka, blackberry brandy, blueberry and rasberry schnapps, orange and pineapple juice.

18.) The Raiders’ Cocktail: silver tequila, black rum, cola.

19.) The Chiefs’ Ice Water: gin, vodka, lime juice, lemon-lime soda.

20.) The Broncos’ Orange Crush: vodka, triple sec orange, orange juice.

21.) The Titans’ Lynchburg Lemonade: Tennessee whiskey, sweet & sour mix, orange liqueur, lemon lime soda.

22.) The Jaguar: bourbon, unsweetened tea, orange juice, black tapioca pearls.

23.) The Colts’ Horse Neck: bourbon, ginger ale.

24.) The Texans’ Longhorn: lemon rum, orange rum, vodka, orange vodka, orange soda.

25.) The Ravens’ Purple Hooter: vodka, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, lime juice, soda water.

26.) The Steelers’ Black & Gold: vodka, gold flaked cinnamon schnapps.

27.) The Browns’ Cocktail, gin, light rum, dry vermouth.

28.) The Bengals’ Cocktail: beer, soda water.

29.) The Jet’s Manhattan: rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, aromatic bitters, stemmed cherry.

30.) The Buffalo Bill: apple cider, bourbon.

31.) The Dolphins’ Mojito: white rum, sugar, lime, mint leaves, club soda.

32.) The Patriot’s Red White and Blue: water, cointreau, campari, cranberry liqueur, triple sec, blackberry liqueur, blue curacao, cherry liqueur, creme de noyaux, strawberry liqueur, grenadine, white creme de cacao, anisette, creme de cassis.

Would anyone mind if we change the Redskins’ name to the Cherry Blossoms? Sure it’s not the most masculine name, but man is that drink delicious.

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after waiting a week and having the cable guy at my house for 4 hours we finally got our internet back.

Posted October 11th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

after waiting a week and having the cable guy at my house for 4 hours we finally got our internet back.

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In Brazil We Use 3d Technology

Posted October 11th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

In Brazil We Use 3d Technology

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Buzzfeed reporter falsely claims Buzzfeed corrects its errors

Posted October 11th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

Conservative media outlets get its facts wrong “all the time” says Kaczynski. As proof, he cites five examples:

Weekly Standard started the fake “Obama’ David Gregory’s kids school have 11 armed guards” meme.…

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard falsely reported Jeep was closing plants in the US and moving to China.…

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Drudge put up this photo as his banner during the election, it was taken in May 2009.…

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Another example: .@danaloesch said Marines at the Cairo embassy were denied live ammo, it wasn’t true.…

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Last Example: Breitbart said Huntsman was going to the DNC.…

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Last point: None of those stories have corrections.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Feel free to put all those tweets on your site Twitchy.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Thank you, we will.

Kaczynski acknowledges that Buzzfeed makes mistakes, too, but claims that any such errors are promptly corrected.

@collegepolitico It’s going thing when we make mistakes we corrected them then.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 24, 2013

Is it true? Is Buzzfeed truly transparent about its errors, as Kaczynski asserts?

Take a look at this Buzzfeed article entitled, “Pro-Gun Hecklers Shout at Father Who Lost Son in Newtown.”

Slate and The Week admitted that the father, Neil Heslin, wasn’t heckled during his testimony. Here’s the video:

After being called out by Twitchy’s Michelle Malkin and others, CNN host Anderson Cooper acknowledged that Heslin “asked for response and audiences members gave it.” But nearly a month later, BuzzFeed continues to cling to the repulsive heckler narrative. No correction, no retraction and the factually-incorrect headline — “Pro-Gun Hecklers Shout At Father Who Lost Son In Newtown” — has not been changed.  The only edit was a pathetic CYA attempt: an “update” at the very end with the unedited video, a transcript of Heslin’s remarks, and this lame rationalization:

Gun rights advocates and others have suggested Heslin was not heckled, since the crowd was responding to a question Heslin asked. Others counter that Heslin’s question was rhetorical. But around the 15 minute mark you can hear shouts such as “Second Amendment” interrupting Heslin’s testimony. An official can then be heard reprimanding those who were yelling.

What a model of journalistic integrity!

Then there’s this article by Buzzfeed DC Bureau Chief John Stanton, headlined “University Of Mississippi Students Riot Over Obama Victory.”

News outlets and others on the scene stated unequivocally that there were no riots — only protests:

Riots HAVE NOT broken out on campus. Only protests. #OleMiss

— NewsWatch Ole Miss (@NewsWatch_99) November 7, 2012

We are defining what happened earlier as protests. “Riots” are violent public disturbances, and that did not occur on the #OleMiss campus.

— Daily Mississippian (@thedm_news) November 7, 2012

Not trying to be flippant, but if you consider “riot” to be a really long line at Subway OKAY it looks like that around Ole Miss. That’s it.

— Alexander Pipes (@alexander_pipes) November 7, 2012

As a student who is currently in Oxford I can guarantee there are no riots. Stop demonizing #OleMiss

— Shea Throckmorton (@SheaThrock) November 7, 2012

A journalism student who was there initially called the incident a “riot” but later backtracked and apologized:

I apologize and should clarify that what happened tonight is better described as protests, not riots. #OleMiss

— Margaret Ann Morgan (@Margaret_AnnM) November 7, 2012

Going to bed after a long night of victory for our president and upset on our campus. Thankful that these were nonviolent protests & hope…

— Margaret Ann Morgan (@Margaret_AnnM) November 7, 2012

To this day, Buzzfeed has neither updated nor corrected nor retracted its story.

Here’s a Buzzfeed article by Dave Stopera entitled, “People Who Say They’re Moving to Canada Because of Obamacare.”

The article attempts to portray conservatives who opposed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare as ill-informed or worse. Stopera’s snarky headline: “I’m sure they’ll like the healthcare just fine there.”

As Twitchy reported at the time, at least one-third of the tweeters featured by Stopera weren’t conservative and didn’t oppose Obamacare:

@nahusn The point is, it was a joke, a ruse. I am a liberal Democrat. (I would love Canada.) The internet is safe. Go smash the right wing.

— James (@15c3PO) June 29, 2012

@chrispeck97 I don’t really have a strong opinion. I was just making a joke. Guess the joke’s on me!

— Lucas Dargis (@LucasDargis) June 28, 2012

@kyrodck Yes, as would have been explained 1,000 times if you would have read my feed. I made a joke and morons couldn’t contextualize.

— Walter Weldon (@WallyWeldon) June 29, 2012

@braunbraun Meaning the tweet was a joke, I don’t think the US is a socialist country, and I support the law in large.

— Walter Weldon (@WallyWeldon) June 29, 2012

People who got pissed that I said I wanted to go to Canada. It’s. a joke. obviously people for understand sarcasm.#someonesmissingabrainlego

— Christian Anderson (@partyatchris) June 28, 2012

One of the women featured in the Buzzfeed article wasn’t even referring to Obamacare:!/Janes_good_sead/status/218405360338341888

Nearly eight months later, her tweet and all the others are still included in Stopera’s Buzzfeed article. No correction. No retraction.

Even when Buzzfeed corrects an error, it rarely if ever uses the word “correction” or “retraction.”

Consider this story, entitled “People Tweeting Hideous Things About Sandra Fluke.”

The tweets were truly disgusting. But the most sickening tweet of all wasn’t even directed at Fluke — it targeted conservative radio host Dana Loesch.

Buzzfeed deleted the tweet from its story and posted this “update”: “We’ve removed a Tweet that was aimed at someone other than Fluke.”

The word “correction” was not used.

Here’s another example: a story by Kaczynski initially titled “Paul Ryan Gets Testy And Walks Out Of Interview”

After a lengthy Twitter exchange and some insults (and apologies), Kaczynski changed the headline from “walks out” to “ends.” That’s closer, at least, but still is not accurate.

And as usual, Buzzfeed called the headline change an “update.” It did not use the word “correction.”

Buzzfeed does not always acknowledge changes it makes to its stories after publication.

Last week, Kaczynski quietly altered a sub-headline (also known as a “deck”), apparently in response to critics’ complaints.

He then pointed to the altered sub-headline as evidence that the critics were mistaken:

@mikebeas Failed to mention? It’s in the deck. I said Fox Host, because no nobody knows who Bob Beckel is.

— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 20, 2013

The article still does not acknowledge that Kaczynski changed the sub-headline after initial publication.


The “erroneous” Drudge photo was tweeted by @BarackObama on September 19, 2012 (International Talk Like a Pirate Day and only eight days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi):

Arrr you in? OFA.BO/FAapT9,…

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 19, 2012

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Paul Revere, a lap dancer and the TSA: Iowahawk tackles Obama’s NSA speech

Posted October 10th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

As Twitchy reported, the president’s speech today featured a comparison of the NSA … and Paul Revere. Obama, meet Iowahawk:

At this point, Iowahawk has to be running out of room in his Internet trophy case.!/iowahawkblog/status/424221672296558592

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7 Ways To Convince People That Evolution Is More Than Just A Theory

Posted October 10th, 2015 by GuestBlogger001 No Comments »

If you’re tired of arguing with people who don’t understand evolution, here’s the ammunition you need.

1) The fossil record.

“The fossil record is incomplete! Where are the missing links?” ask creationists. Yes, the fossil record is “incomplete”. The only way it could be “complete” would be if literally every single living thing had been fossilised after it died. That doesn’t happen, because the process of fossilisation is incredibly unlikely, especially for land creatures.

Ghedoghedo / Wikimedia Commons / Via

But given how unlikely it is, the fossil record is amazingly good. Take any species of large vertebrate alive at the moment, and there’s a good chance there will be fossils which could be its ancestor. In some cases there are lots.

For instance: Whales. We know whales are descended from land mammals. But for a long time, it wasn’t clear which. Darwin thought their ancestors might be something like a bear; later evidence suggested it’s probably a relative of cows and hippopotamuses. But there wasn’t a fossil of a whale-ancestor on the brink of becoming aquatic.

And then, in 1994, a skeleton was found in Pakistan, of a 50-million-year-old animal which is now known as Ambulocetus natans. It’s an ancestor of whales, but it has small hooves: It lived a largely but not exclusively aquatic life, like that of modern seals.

Aetiocetus. Nobu Tamura / Wikimedia Commons / Via

That’s not the only whale ancestor. There’s Pakicetus, a dog-sized predator which lived between 52 and 48 million years ago, and which appears to have been amphibious, perhaps spending a good portion of its time in the water, like a hippo, but still comfortable on land. Or, later, there’s Aetiocetus. While Ambulocetus had nostrils on the tip of its snout, and modern whales have blowholes on the tops of their heads, Aetiocetus has nostrils half-way up its nose. It’s a beautiful example of a fossil which shows how an earlier species evolved into a later one.

“Sahelanthropus tchadensis – TM 266-01-060-1” by Didier Descouens – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Via

I’ve chosen whales: I could have chosen penguins, or turtles, or horses, or, of course, humans. Yes, a “missing link” has been found between humans and apes. In fact, several have. There is Sahelanthropus, an ape which lived around the time that humans and chimpanzees diverged. Then there are the Ardipithecus and Australopithecus ape-men. Then comes the arbitrary line where we start calling them humans: The genus Homo includes, among others, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo ergaster, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neandertalis and Homo sapiens, all of which have several fossil examples.

It’s actually not very helpful to talk in terms of “transitional forms”. All species are transitional. Humans will probably look very different, if we exist, in a million years’ time, but we don’t feel like a “transitional form” between Homo erectus and future humans. Instead it’s worth talking about “transitional characteristics” between older species and more recent ones. Tiktaalik, which appears to be an early ancestor of amphibians, has lots of transitional characteristics between fish and amphibians: Its fins are limb-like and can support it out of water, and it has a lung-like organ. It lived about 375 million years ago, and we know about it from fossils found in Canada.

If anyone ever says to you that the fossil record is “incomplete”, ask them how much more complete they would like it to be.

2) The spread of species.

People sometimes complain that evolution is “unfalsifiable”. What they mean by that is that a scientific idea should make testable predictions, and that evolution, apparently, doesn’t — so, if the theory of evolution is false, you can’t prove it false.

That’s nonsense. There are dozens — thousands — of testable predictions that the theory of evolution implies. Let’s take a look at one subset: The geographical spread of species.

The Virginia oppossum, the only marsupial to live in North America. ThinkStock

Marsupials are a group of mammals that give birth to their young at a much earlier stage than other mammals, and then carry them with them in a pouch on their bellies. The group includes kangaroos and wombats and opposums, among other creatures.

There’s a confusing thing about them, though: They live on landmasses separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Most marsupials are found in Australia and New Guinea and other nearby islands. But 100 species or so are found in the Americas, mainly South America, with a few in Central and one in North America. They’re not found in the Asian landmass which sort-of links the two, so they can’t have walked, and they certainly can’t have swum.

Julo / Wikimedia Commons / Via

The theory of evolution predicts that there must have been some way that the ancestors of the Australasian and American marsupials made it into their respective continents, without having to swim across any oceans. In Darwin’s time there was no available explanation.

But other lines of evidence put the common ancestor of modern marsupials at around 150 million years ago. And in recent decades, geologists have shown that back then South America and Australia were part of one huge supercontinent called Gondwana. Marsupials all lived in the same place, and the two groups were separated by the movement of tectonic plates.

A New World brown spider monkey (left) and an Old World black-footed grey langur. Magnus Manske / Fir0002 / Creative Commons Licence / Via

The theory of evolution predicts that the geographical spread of species will be dictated by whether their ancestors could actually have made it there. Penguins could probably survive in the Arctic, but you don’t find them there, because their ancestors lived south of the Equator. The common ancestor of Old World and New World monkeys lived before South America and Africa had split apart. To falsify the theory of evolution, you’d simply need to show that some species couldn’t plausibly have made it from point A to point B. In the 156 years since Darwin published On the Origin of Species, that hasn’t happened.

3) Anatomy.

Evolution has to work on what already exists. If it’s true, then we would expect to see that, for instance, body parts in one species can be mapped onto those of another, because they share an ancestor.

And that’s exactly what we do find. Look at the human hand. It has five fingers, each with four bones, including the one in the body of the hand. And if you look at the forearms of all mammals, you’ll see the same structure.

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre / Via

What’s really surprising is that it’s true even if the creature in question hasn’t got “limbs” like ours. The flippers of whales and seals, and the wings of bats, have exactly the same pentadactyl (five-fingered) structure. And lizards and frogs have it too. It’s because we all share an ancestor, a creature called Eusthenopteron, which lived about 385 million years ago.

“Venus Flytrap showing trigger hairs”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons / Via

It’s not just limbs: You can see homologous structures in plants (the basic “leaf” structure has been co-opted for things as diverse as onion layers and Venus flytrap mouthparts). The ears of modern mammals include bones that are homologous to the bones of lizards’ jaws. The mouth parts of insects are hugely diverse, depending on the lifestyle the insect has, but every one has the same basic structure. If evolution weren’t true, there would be no reason to expect these signs of common descent.

4) Genetics.

The most striking evidence that all creatures share the same ancestor is this: They all share the same basic genetic code. The gene for an eye in a fruit fly will make an eye in a mouse. DNA is the language that all life talks in (unless you count viruses as alive, and even they use RNA, a simpler molecule, to hijack the DNA in other creatures’ cells).


But the evidence from DNA is subtler than that. By comparing the genetic code of species, biologists have shown that more closely related creatures share more DNA. Humans share about 99% of their genetic material with chimpanzees, our closest relatives, but only about 96% with gorillas, our slightly more distant cousin. By comparison, we share about 35% of our genes with daffodils, our far, far more distant relatives.

As our understanding of genetics has improved, we’ve been able to use it to piece together great swaths of our evolutionary history. For example, the fact that modern humans interbred with Neanderthals was revealed by genetic analysis.

5) Convergent evolution.

The geographical spread of species is limited by their ancestry, as we’ve seen. But sometimes species separated by thousands of miles face similar challenges. A herbivore on the grass plains of North America would have the same sort of problems that a herbivore on the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa would. If evolution were true, you would expect unrelated species to have evolved to come up with similar solutions.

And lo and behold, that’s true. The American pronghorn looks and behaves much like an African antelope, but is not an antelope and is only very distantly related to them. Because it faced fast-moving predators on wide grass plains, it evolved long legs for sprinting and a nervous disposition, like its equivalents in Africa.

Pangolin. ThinkStock / Getty Images

Aardvarks, anteaters, Australian echidnas, pangolins, and armadillos have all evolved to eat ants or termites, and have developed powerful arms for digging into the nest and long snouts with long sticky tongues to swipe their prey out of them. But these groups are incredibly distantly related; the last common ancestor of all five lived about 400 million years ago. For comparison, the most recent common ancestor of humans and pangolins lived less than 100 million years ago. The ant-eating specialities evolved independently, because they’re a good way of solving a problem.

6) We’ve seen evolution happen, in real time.

Normally we think of evolution as something that happens over thousands or millions of years, and it often is. But there are plenty of examples of it happening in human timescales.

The most famous example is the peppered moth, which lives in forests in Britain and is camouflaged against tree bark. Up until the 19th century they were all white, but when the Industrial Revolution blackened the trees in British forests, the white colouring became much more visible. In 1811 a first dark specimen was recorded, a mutant. Against the dark trees they were much harder for predators to spot. By the end of the century it outnumbered the white ones. But as the heavily polluting industries in Britain fell away in the 20th century, and the forests became cleaner again, the white moth became more common.

Biston.betularia.f.carbonaria.7209“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – / Via

Some creationists will tell you that the peppered moth is an example of “microevolution”, and doesn’t represent the “macroevolution” which would explain the creation of whole new species. In that case, point them to the apple maggot. Since the introduction of apples to North America, a whole new species of fly is steadily emerging. Before 1850, the ancestors of the apple maggot fed on hawthorn. Now, the subspecies of maggots which eat apples rarely eat hawthorn, and vice versa. The two are apparently in the early stages of speciation.

“Rhagoletis pomonella” by Joseph Berger, Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Via

More importantly for humans, bacteria and viruses evolve much faster, because they go through so many generations so quickly. There are now dozens of kinds of microbe which are resistant to various drugs. Penicillin, the first breakthrough antibiotic, is largely useless these days, because so many bacteria are resistant to it. That is evolution in action: A bacterium which happened to have a mutation which protects it against an antibiotic will, in an environment where that antibiotic exists, have more offspring than its rivals.

7) Evolution is indeed a “theory”. But “theory” doesn’t mean “hunch”. It is both a theory and a fact.

People who don’t believe in evolution sometimes say it’s “only a theory”, because it’s called the “theory of evolution”. That’s because, in everyday language, we use the word “theory” to mean something like “hypothesis” or “guess”. But scientists use it to mean something much more specific. Here’s how the American Association for the Advancement of Science puts it:

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.

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