Chip Chantry’s most awkward Philly moments of 2012

December 27, 2012 Personal, Philly / Pennsylvania Comments (0) 122

A funny piece by an occasionally funny friend. Chip Chantry’s most awkward Philly moments of 2012.

Chip managed to get two* positive comments from the worst people in the world, the Philly.com comment crowd. That’s an achievement.

*Okay, maybe one and a half.

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“Wow, that’s quite a scenario!”

December 20, 2012 In The News Comments (0) 197

There was a line early in Dean Karnazes’s Ultramarathon Man in which Karnazes suggests that no one in the ultramarathon sport would ever cheat–no one would take epo or shoot steroids, no one would cut the course–because (at least at the time) there was no real money on the line, and therefore no incentive to cheat. In Born To Run, Christopher McDougall makes a similar assertion about the purity of the sport. These suggestions always stuck in my craw. For many people, winning is motive enough to cheat, and they will go to great length and great expense to do so. I would even posit that for many professional athletes who cheat, it’s winning that is the true motive, and the money is an ancillary benefit. I have no expertise here, beyond knowing a few chronic cheaters. Lots of people argue my point because, they say, there’s no sense of achievement in winning by cheating–the cheater always knows that win wasn’t real. My sense is, and I can’t explain it, to the kind of person who is motivate to cheat (and here I mean really cheat, and invest in it) there is no difference.

On that note, please read this fantastic New Yorker article about Kip Litton, the conniving runner who built a career of cheating at marathons, and the amateur sleuths who figured him out.

(article by Mark Singer; h/t to Doogie Horner at KGB Yard Sale for the link)

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12.29.2012: Gwaihir is a total jerk.

December 19, 2012 Animals, In The News Comments (0) 205

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE0Q904gtMI

This started making the rounds last night, first as a viral video, and then as a viral debunking.

For what it’s worth, I think the people claiming it’s a CGI eagle are full of it. If it’s a CGI bird, it’s the best CGI bird in the history of CGI birds. A lot of people claim the physics seems off, or there isn’t enough individual feather movement, or the kid stays airborn too long. To me, this is proof that the bird ISN’T fake. Any CGI artist talented enough to make the bird look as real as it does isn’t going to miss something like the kid rising after being released–that’s the kind of fluky thing you only get from real-world physics.

That’s not to say I think this is a real, candid incident. I’m a subscriber to the theory that the bird is trained by a falconer, and the baby is fake. Why do I think that? For one thing, it’s fishy that the cameraman is not only filming the bird right before the attack, but he seems totally prepared to follow it on its descent, never losing it from center frame for even a moment. Secondly, the prolonged period where the camera is lowered to the ground (supposedly while the cameraman is running) provides ample opportunity to switch the dummy baby for the real thing. Lastly, if the dummy baby is lighter than a real kid, that could easily explain why the baby does appear to rise for a frame or two after the bird has released it (though there are other possible explanations there, even if the baby were real).

Either way I’m inclined to think the video is at least staged. For one thing, it’s just too perfect. I also assume, if this were real, that the cameraman or the family would have been all over the morning shows and cable news programs by now. That they are keeping a low profile suggests they don’t want to be answering a lot of questions.

ALMOST INSTANT UPDATE: Wow, I stand corrected. And impressed with how far CGI has come. ILM and WETA better fight over those kids, because that eagle is more convincing than any fake animal they’ve ever put on film.

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Alton Brown on Mythbusters

December 19, 2012 In The News, Pop Culture Comments (0) 171

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmEWWszWeCQ

I kinda wish this were a pilot, and not just a special episode.

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12.13.2012: The Hawkeye Initiative

December 13, 2012 Artwork, Comic Books, Gay and Lesbian, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 251

HawkeyeRogueThe Hawkeye Initiative responds to the rampant sexism in comics by producing images of Hawkeye (AKA Clint Barton) in poses identical to those artists choose for female heroes. I did this one based on an image of Rogue that I found via Google search, only to learn that I cannot submit it to the Initiative because I can’t identify the artist or the original publication. I’m not even sure whether it’s fan art or if it appeared in the pages of a comic. That’s also why I’ve linked to the original image instead of hosting it here.

The main, original idea behind the Hawkeye Initiative was to show how the poses and costumes artists choose for females are sexist and ludicrous. John Scalzi, Alyssa Rosenberg, and a few others have raised concern that the audience may be missing the point and instead indulging in a transphobic laugh at the man in the dress. I chose not to put Clint in Rogue’s actual uniform (which, for the record, is no more or less revealing than the modified version of his own that I did use) because for me it’s not about the specifics of the pose or the costume, so much as it is about how sexualized female characters are, compared to the males. That’s also why I altered his physique to make it more masculine, and made sure his uniform gave proper emphasis to his secondary sex characteristics.

I’ve never thought there was anything particularly wrong with sexually objectifying people on occasion–as long as the objectification is equal. Heterosexual males are frequently eager to sexualize women, but enormously uncomfortable with being sexualized themselves. I strongly doubt that the core audience for comics would buy up any title that regularly sexualized male heroes.

Of course, I could be wrong. One of my lady friends, who happens to be a major comics fan, has told me she thinks there’s a big female audience who would buy the shit out of superhero stories with some boy-on-boy action. As far as I know, no major publisher has sought to test that theory.

I’d like to see more contributions to the Initiative that don’t just mimic a pose and a uniform, but actually seek to sexualize Hawkeye the way the parodied artist sought to sexualize the heroine in question; to tailor the male figure as precisely for the female gaze as the original artist did for the male gaze. I think there’s more to this than just “those costumes and poses are silly.”

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Apartment Searching: Philly vs New York

December 11, 2012 New York City, Personal, Philly / Pennsylvania Comments (0) 211

A quick study in contrasts.

Here’s how apartment searching works in Philly:

You find ten apartments on Craigslist that suit your needs. Five of them are fake, and someone asks you to send money via Western Union. You ignore these. The other five you go visit. You pick your favorite, put down a deposit, and you have an apartment. Huzzah!

Here’s how apartment searching works in NYC:

  1. You spend hours perusing listings on the web, finding apartments that meet your needs. On each of these listings is contact information for a broker who reps that property.
  2. You contact the broker about that apartment, at which point the broker says “oh, that apartment was just rented.” This means “that apartment is fake. I use it to get you in the door.” Because you’re already in touch, you walk the broker through everything you are looking for: price range, size, location, amenities, etc.
  3. The broker ignores everything you have just said, looks through his or her records, and sends you to see a few properties that in no way resemble the description you supplied. Likely these are the same apartments they have been trying to move for several weeks by sending every single person to see them. Several of them are broom closets, one is a rooftop with a vinyl tarp and an army cot, and one is literally an old-timey wooden outhouse in an alley behind the United Nations.
  4. For this “service,” should you happen to trip over an apartment that IS right for you (or if the broker manages to get one right, almost certainly by accident alone), you get to pay the broker 15% of a full year’s rent, though most suggest this is negotiable down to 8.4%.

Huzzah.

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American Museum of Natural History Subway Station, New York City

December 10, 2012 Artwork, Travels Comments (0) 162

Subway stations in New York City are filled with inconspicuous art. Less inconspicuous than most is this, at 81st Street Station beneath the American Museum of Natural History.

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