Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Facebook Reportedly Building a New App Where Everyone’s Anonymous

Facebook Reportedly Building a New App Where Everyone’s Anonymous

Facebook Reportedly Building a New App Where Everyone’s Anonymous

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Facebook plans to launch a standalone app that will allow users to mask their online identity, according to two anonymous company insiders speaking to the New York Times.

The two insiders, who divulged the plans to the Times on the condition of anonymity, said that the yet-unnamed app will allow users to sign up under a pseudonym, letting them engage in more candid discussions than they might otherwise have in public.

The report comes amid fallout from Facebook’s decision to boot several drag queens from the network for violating its naming policies by identifying themselves by their alter-egos rather than their birth names. Facebook quickly apologized for that move following intense backlash from several LGBT groups and other advocates.

Facebook’s anonymous app project is reportedly being spearheaded by Josh Miller, who heads the company’s “Conversations” group. Miller’s previous startup, Branch, attempted to foster intimate online discussions around shared interests. Facebook acquired Branch in January.



#WAKEUPCALL Might Be The Next ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Since the unequivocal success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s viral campaign—which sparked $100 million in donations in just two months—people have speculated what charitable cause would capture our hearts and wallets next.

Would it be a testicular cancer awareness group’s #FeelingNuts “crotch grab challenge“? While it picked up steam after Hugh Jackman, um, grabbed his crotch, it didn’t fully catch.

But now there’s another contender that might stand a chance at picking up the Ice Bucket Challenge’s baton. #WAKEUPCALL is the latest uber-sharable charity craze, and it consists of celebrities—primarily based in the UK—taking pictures of themselves waking up first thing in the morning.

Instagram Photo

But the hashtag isn’t only a medium for “I woke up like this” narcissism. Rather it is a call for people to “wake up” and donate to Unicef UK’s efforts to help Syrian children.

And, you know, show off a negligee.

Instagram Photo

#WAKEUPCALL has some elements working for it that might make it stick. First of all, it already has been adopted by celebrities, meaning that it will reach millions of fans wanting to replicate the trend. It is along the same lines of #NoMakeupSelfie, which raised money for cancer research in the UK. And, like the ice bucket challenge, it is seasonally appropriate. As the temperature drops, we’d much rather lull in bed than dump a bucket of ice water over our heads.

Let’s just hope that people lean towards the humorous rather than duckface.

North West Looks Just as Stylish as Her Mom

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 11:02 AM PDT

This toddler has her own stylist, apparently, who doubles as a tailor. Which is fitting, because North West often dresses like mom, Kim Kardashian. From matching black lace outfits at the Givenchy show in Paris to coordinated grey tops for an overnight flight, Nori tends to sport miniature versions of her mom’s wardrobe, whether it be dresses, handbags or shoes. The tot’s outfits are a reportedly planned months in advance so that she and mom can look alike for most public appearances.

FX to Produce Ryan Murphy Miniseries About O.J. Simpson, American Crime Story

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:57 AM PDT

Not content with the passel of Emmys already won by Ryan Murphy’s first three seasons of American Horror Story, FX is furthering its investment in the Murphy brand. The cable network has announced its order of an anthology miniseries entitled American Crime Story, the first season of which will focus on the case of O.J. Simpson, to begin production next year.

The series is to be based on Jeffery Toobin’s true-crime book The Run of His Life and focus on both the Simpson legal team and the case’s prosecutors. While the team involved is prestigious (announced writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski also wrote The People vs. Larry Flynt), it’s not hard to wonder the degree to which Murphy’s particular touch will inflect the proceedings. Murphy’s American Horror Story is indeed horrific, but it aims for screams of campy delight as often as screams of terror. His series Glee and the departed New Normal also sought to balance genuine emotion with self-consciously arch humor.

But the case of O.J. Simpson, hinging as it does on two senseless deaths, will be harder to turn into entertainment. Murphy’s comment, provided by FX, provides as much reason to hope for insight as it does reason to fear whether he’ll stick the landing:

“This is an exciting project for me, as I’ve been looking for the right property which could serve as an extension of the American Horror Story brand I love so much. The O.J. case was as tragic as it was fascinatingit seemed like everyone had a stake in the outcome. It was really the beginning of the modern tabloid age.”

Meanwhile, Murphy’s American Horror Story: Freak Show — about an entirely different sort of spectacle — is set to begin on Oct. 8.

Colorado Allows Clerks to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Colorado county clerks were free to issue same-sex marriage licenses on Tuesday shortly after Colorado’s Supreme Court lifted an injunction against the practice.

The Denver Post reports that three clerks challenged a state-wide ban on gay marriage in June, issuing roughly 350 same-sex marriage licenses despite cease and desist orders from the state’s Attorney General. A Colorado court placed an injunction against the clerks until their case had received a final ruling in the courts. That final decision came Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear all appeals on same-sex marriage cases, deferring to a lower court’s decision that Colorado’s clerks could rightfully defy the ban.

The removal of the injunction on Tuesday was the last legal hurdle for the clerks, several of whom jumped ahead of the decision and issued licenses as early as Monday afternoon.

[Denver Post]

Harry Potter Fans Think This Is The Answer to J.K. Rowling’s Riddle

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Harry Potter fanatics are putting their heads together to try and solve a riddle J.K. Rowling posted to Twitter on Monday that seems to be in the form of an anagram. Rowling is certainly no stranger to anagrams, as they come up often in the Potter series: With Lord Voldemort’s name, the triwizard tournament and the Mirror of Erised.

Speculation swirled, of course, that Rowling was hinting at another Potter novel. Considering July’s short story she posted to fansite Pottermore about Harry and crew in their thirties sparked similar rumors, a new wizarding world book didn’t seem too far off.

Rowling joined in on the fanatic fun by providing a hint, which referenced fictional character Newton Scamander, the author of the book that’s inspiring the film trilogy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, for which Rowling is penning the screenplay.

But fans seem to think the anagram could actually be about the return of Harry himself. Fans posted on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook a solution that reads:

“Harry returns! Wont say any details now. A week off. No comment.”

While this doesn’t quite add up with Rowling’s hint, it does unscramble the words. If Harry made his return to the page, though, the actor who played him in the film series wouldn’t be slipping back into his robes, as he’s repeatedly said he won’t reprise the role. But Emma Watson, who played Hermione, said she’d be up for a cameo in the Fantastic Beasts trilogy.

See if you can solve the anagram yourself with TIME’s interactive solver.

GOP Ad Claims ISIS Plot to Attack U.S. Via ‘Arizona’s Backyard’

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:25 AM PDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee ad opens with grainy footage of black flags and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) holding rifles on military vehicles. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” an ominous voiceover states. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.” The spot goes on to recount how Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), locked in a close re-election fight with Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, has voted against border security legislation, suggesting that she “leaves Arizona vulnerable.”

The claim is clear: The same terrorists targeted by U.S. bombers for destruction in Syria and Iraq are coming to the U.S. to attack the homeland through the Mexican border. Yet federal law enforcement officials have repeatedly stated that there is no active plot against the U.S. from ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, and no intelligence to suggest incursions on the Southern border.

To make the claim, the ad relies on a Sept. 10 writeup of a congressional hearing by the conservative Washington Free Beacon in which a Department of Homeland Security official was understood as telling lawmakers that ISIS “supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the border.”

But a review of the testimony by DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Francis Taylor tells another story. Instead, he said, “there have been Twitter, social media exchanges among [ISIS] adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility.” But that is a far cry from a direct threat, and light years away from a direct plot against the homeland.

Other national security officials have since offered more detail refuting the claim. “We see no specific intelligence or evidence to suggest at present that [ISIS] is attempting to infiltrate this country though our southern border,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Homeland Security Committee a week after Taylor’s testimony. Matt Olsen, the outgoing director of the National Counterterrorism Center told lawmakers at the same hearing, “There have been a very small number of sympathizers with [ISIS] who have posted messages on social media about this, but we’ve seen nothing to indicate that there is any sort of operational effort or plot to infiltrate or move operatives from [ISIS] into the United States through the southern border.”

When asked about the sourcing for the ad’s claim, a spokesman for the NRCC did not back down. “ISIS presents an imminent and dangerous threat to the United States,” says Daniel Scarpinato, a NRCC spokesperson. “Anyone who doesn’t believe that having a porous border made of chicken wire is leaving our country at risk, should go explain that to people in Arizona who actually have to live with this problem and are upset that politicians like Ann Kirkpatrick are ignoring it.”

By juicing the threat of ISIS, Republicans are hoping to take advantage of global volatility and the understandable fear surrounding it for their own electoral purposes. ISIS has been used as campaign fodder since at least the summer, as the terrorist group took control of major cities in Iraq and started beheading Westerners.

In August, GOP New Mexico Senate candidate Allen Weh, a Marine veteran, attracted criticism when his campaign used a screenshot of the knife-wielding man who killed American journalist James Foley in an ad. Over the past few months, New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown has knocked Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) repeatedly over the spread of ISIS, using the image of a fighter carrying a black ISIS flag in one ad and President Obama’s “we don’t have a strategy yet” quote in another. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also featured that quote in an ad, saying he was the right choice in these “serious times.”

Watch Every Simpsons Couch Gag at the Same Time in One Video

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Great news for people who never want to miss an intro of The Simpsons. This minute-long clip shows the famous couch gag from the cartoon’s opener in 554 episodes playing at the same time. YouTube user Omni Verse says there are many repeats, and that other parts of the intro are included to account for episodes that don’t feature the famous scene. At first glance, you might feel like your eyes are glazing over, but it gets much easier to watch as the clips gradually start to end.

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The Link Between Asthma and This Chemical

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 10:04 AM PDT

Bisphenol A, or BPA, lurks in the plastics of all kinds of consumer goods, from can linings to plastic bottles—but its influence doesn’t end with the product. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that can leach into food and is linked to all kinds of health problems from aggression to obesity. Now, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that prenatal exposure to BPA is also linked to lower lung capacity in some young children.

MORE: How BPA May Disrupt Brain Development

The study looked at urine samples of 398 mother-infant pairs, both during and after pregnancy. Every 10-fold increase in the BPA concentration of maternal urine—meaning every time that number went up 10 times—was linked to about a 55% increase in the odds of wheezing. Lung capacity was also affected: Higher BPA concentrations during pregnancy were also linked to decreased lung capacity in four-year-olds, but by age 5, that link disappeared. Once a child was born, the BPA levels in their own urine weren’t associated with wheeze at all.

Exposure during pregnancy, not after, appears to be the critical time for BPA, possibly because it’s affecting important pathways that help the lung develop, says study author Adam Spanier, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

That link between prenatal BPA exposure and wheeze might be reflective of asthma, Spanier says, which would be consistent with what animal models are finding. “Some animal studies out there suggest that BPA prenatally might affect the development of some of the cells in our airway,” he says. Asthma has been on the rise for the past three decades, and environmental exposures like BPA are thought to be a possible link. A 2013 study also found a link between BPA and asthma, and though the mechanism behind the connection is complex and unclear, Spanier sees a definite association. “If my sister who’s pregnant asked me for advice, I would tell her try to minimize her BPA exposure,” he says. “I wouldn’t say let’s do some more research.”

How Nudity Became the New Normal

Posted: 07 Oct 2014 09:59 AM PDT

In an interview for the November issue of Vanity Fair, Jennifer Lawrence finally revealed how it felt to have her nude photos hacked and distributed on the internet this summer. “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense,” she says. “I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.”

“It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting,” she continued.

The photos accompanying the Vanity Fair piece show Lawrence topless, in a swimming pool, wearing only a diamond necklace and holding a cockatoo. Lawrence is certainly not the first actress to sit for a tasteful topless shoot, but the difference between being hacked and choosing to pose for Vanity Fair says something about how millennials think about nudity. Nakedness isn’t about lack of clothing anymore– it’s about lack of control.

When it comes to our birthday suits, young people are more comfortable than ever with seeing and being seen. A 2014 Pew survey found that 44% of people aged 18-24 reported that they received sexts (which Pew defines as “sexually suggestive photos or videos”) while 15% reported sending one. That number is almost double the 2012 sexting rates, where only 26% of that age group reported receiving a sext. A study at Drexel University found that 28% of surveyed undergrads said they had sent photographic sexts while underage.

If these are the photos that young people admit to sending and receiving, imagine how many revealing photos are simply being taken. At this rate, 2028 presidential candidates won’t be trying to bury nude photos– they’ll be debating in nothing but red and blue ties.

Everywhere you look, naked is the new normal. Miley Cyrus’s mostly-naked 2013 “Wrecking Ball” video got over 700 million views on YouTube, and Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit video “Blurred Lines” was viewed over 300 million times despite objections to naked supermodels dancing on leashes. HBO has always been skin-friendly, but the last four years has seen an explosion of casual on-screen nudity everywhere from Brooklyn (in Girls) to Braavos (in Game of Thrones.) There’s even a reality show on VH1 called Dating Naked that features couples courting each other in the buff.

And from the ubiquitous shirtless selfie on Tinder to mayoral candidates’ “dick pics,” sexting works as a vehicle of instant intimacy in a world where genuine intimacy is harder than ever. “It’s our image, it’s not us,” explains sexuality educator Dr. Logan Levkoff. “We’re not engaging with someone face to face, so the perception is that we’re not vulnerable.”

In other words, nakedness can be an expression of strength, as long as you’re in control of the image. That’s the difference between Miley Cyrus’s Instagram of herself wearing ice cream-shaped pasties and Jennifer Lawrence’s selfies distributed against her will. It’s not the clothing that matters, it’s the context.

It’s the difference between posing nude and feeling naked. We use “naked” and “nude” like synonyms, but there have always been differences between bare bodies, even in art history. A naked figure is supposed to have clothes on, but doesn’t (like the naked woman surrounded by clothed men in Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass.) A nude figure doesn’t have to worry about pesky social conventions like pants, because it’s usually some kind of Classical or Biblical hero, like Michelangelo’s David.

The new nudity is even being used for political purposes in some contexts. Some people strip down to defy beauty standards, like the plus-size women who Instagram pictures of themselves in bikinis with the hashtag #fatkini. Others wear their birthday suits to protest censorship, like the Free the Nipple campaign. “We’re in a world where we fight so hard to talk about how how bodies come in all shapes in sizes,” says Dr. Levkoff. “So are there some girls that say ‘this is me, this is beautiful and I own it’ and post it online? Could be!”

But even kids who post nude selfies to prove how secure they are probably still bluffing, Dr. Levkoff says. “The majority of adolescents who are out there naked, its not because they’re necessarily comfortable, it’s because they want to show people they’re comfortable.” And when today’s teenagers are photoshopping out their stretch marks in 20 years… maybe the naked thing won’t be so much fun anymore.

When it comes to naked photos, technology acts as both a fig leaf and an vehicle of humiliation. On the one hand, a nude selfie gives the subject some control over the image—we can use filters, lighting, and specific angles to control how we’re represented. But what feels liberating and empowering at one moment can be mortifying when the photo gets into the wrong hands. And it’s not just risky for celebrities—nude selfies sent to jerk ex-boyfriends could be lurking anywhere on the internet, just waiting to crop up as soon as our future bosses Google our names.

Unless all our future bosses are also naked, holding a cockatoo.


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