1 TAKE THAT, FUTURE ROBOT OVERLORDS Google’s AlphaGo is a frighteningly good (and sometimes creative) program that has been beating humans in games of Go. Finally, a human has triumphed. Go champion Lee Sedol managed to force the machine to resign from a game after five hours.
3 WHEN NOT TO CONGRATULATE EACH OTHER Sheriff’s deputies from Coweta County, GA, handcuffed Chase Alan Sherman and tasered him until he died. Then they high-fived each other.
The county coroner has ruled the death to be a homicide.
4 MOVIE NOT SO WHITE 2015’s critical and box-office blip Exposed, a gritty NYC drug crime thriller starring Keanu Reeves, was originally called Daughter of God, a psychologically complex movie about a Latina woman in NYC starring Cuban actress Ana de Armas. The director took his name off the film in disgust after heavy studio editing effectively turned it into a standard thriller. But what was the original film like?
Every week things happen: things: events and people colliding off each other into ever-more complex concatenations of what ends up being just more things happening. And every week, we sit quietly in a corner and wonder whether the ever-expanding cloud of happenstance points to some design, or whether, once again, it’s nothing but a random whirlwind of flux and death and sadness with the occasional ice cream cone thrown in to keep us around for another week. Then we take a nap.
1 IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD (BY DESIGN) In news that shouldn’t surprise anyone, everything from seatbelts to medicine is designed by men – to the detriment of women. If ever there were an argument for more women in STEM fields, here it is.
3 GOODBYE TO MISS DAVIS Nancy Reagan died at 94, reminding us that the Reagan presidency actually happened. But what did she do before she and Ronald entered a life of politics? She was a Hollywood actress from 1948 to 1962. Yes, I’m sure you knew this already.
People ask me if “recondite” is defined as “a reckoning so explosive that it’s like dynamite.” Which is a weird question! The answer, obviously, is no.
1 HAN SHOOTS FIRST, AGAIN For years, it’s been impossible to see the first Star Wars movie (you know, Episode IV: A New Hope) without George Lucas’ CGI tinkering and digital upgrading. Somehow, a group of diehard Star Wars fans calling themselves Team Negative 1 found a print of the original film, and now you can watch a restored version of the film! If you’re willing to go poking around on torrent sites, that is.
1 R-RATED SUPERHERO FILM DOES MASSIVE BOX OFFICE, SURPRISING THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS Deadpool, the film about the eponymous hero with the body of Ryan Reynolds and the soul and vocabulary of a 14 year old boy, is destroying box office records with an opening of over $150 million, or about three times the studio forecasts.
4 HOW TO GET BY IN THE SPANISH CIVIL SERVICE A waste water treatment plant employee in Spain did not show up for work for at least six years. Nobody figured it out until he was due to receive an award for longstanding service. I guess the takeaway here is that waste water treatment plants are so great that they don’t even need monitoring.
THE COYOTES OF NORTH BAY ARE GETTING HIGH Whaaaaat? Traffic-disrupting coyotes near San Francisco are probably getting schwacked on local wild mushrooms. The article is at pains to point out that the mushrooms in question aren’t psylocibin-containing “magic mushrooms” but muscimol-containing fly agaric mushrooms. I’m not sure why reporters are so keen on parsing the source of a coyote’s high, but whatever.
AD BOWL, A BIG BOWL OF ADS Sure, men with helmets and shoulder pads squared off against each other today in a choreographed ritual of symbolic violence, but the real show lies in the ridiculous and entertaining ads that companies pay outlandish sums of money to spread in front of your eyesball eyeballs. But where can you find all those ads now? Here. Spoiler: they’re pretty stupid.
SASKATCHEWAN MAY STILL BE A VAPING PARADISE, BUT FOR HOW LONG? Cigarette smoking looks cool. It has always looked cool. Vaping, on the other hand, makes you look an overheated engine with a sleeve tat. I don’t care how many flavours you can vape in: you’re still vaping. Here’s a story relevant to vapers’ interests though.
WHATEVER HAPPENS/ HAS HAPPENED WITH TODAY’S SUPERBOWL, WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE BEYONCÉ I imagine a team is winning, or has won? I’m not a sports journalist. Anyway, Beyoncé’s “Formation” is great. End of story. But since this is the Internet, there’s always supplemenary material (that is to say, a complete guide to the video below).
FINALLY, SOMEONE WITH THE RIGHT IDEA Slate’s Daniel Engber takes a look at the state of the world and decides that the best solution is to eradicate all of the mosquitoes. What a great idea! Even if they’re not showing up to the party with Zika and malaria and chikungunya and that old dengue fever, they’re still making off with our blood and leaving nothing but itchy bumps behind. Let’s whip these welters.
I’M STARTING TO THINK THAT FLINT IS JUST DYSTOPIA’S TEST LAB You think that lead content in Flint’s water is a disgrace? It’s so much worse than that.
Y IN THE SKY January 28 marked the 30th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle explosion. Jason Kottke has a round-up of stories on the disaster.
HOW THE BIRDS FLY I watched this animated map of bird migration patterns for an embarrassingly long time. Check out the bird that only goes as far south as Cape Breton. What’s that bird thinking? But then, I suppose that if you’re spending your summers at Ellesmere Island, a rocky outcrop at the end of the Maritimes seems like a good deal.
GETTING DOWN WITH THE REPTILE AGENDA Is your spirit dead? If not, take a look at this dating site for Lizard People. This honestly feels like something from the weird old days of the Internet, when bored people had time to code strange sites (instead of going to California and forming a startup).
FILES ARE GETTING X-EY After many, many years, the show that dominated the ’90s is back for a six-episode miniseries. The first episode is apparently not the best? But who cares, it’s X-Files.
Have you ever tried shichimi togarishi? It’s a seven-spice blend of Japanese pepper, nori, black sesame seeds and whatever else. I sprinkled a bit on some corn-on-the-cob today, and I have to say, I’ve had worse things in my life. Why don’t you sit down for a while and think about all the things you haven’t tried and may never get around to trying before your heart reaches its allotted number of beats? It can be comforting. If you’re a crazy person.
The Internet runs on faith. Millions of pages sent from servers to computers every day, each full of clickable links that may or may not be what they promise to be. With every click you run the risk of seeing GIFs of wagging genitals or, even worse, Rick Astley. Lucky for you, Prairie Dog holds to higher standards. Here are some links that – I guarantee – will consist of precisely what I promise.
1. HERE IS A LINK TO PHOTOGRAPHS OF HEAVY METAL FANS IN MID-HEADBANG Although to me they look like they’re sneezing, mostly. Who can say what’s going on in these photos? We think they’re headbanging because we’re told so, but maybe they’re being exposed to pollen. While being punched in the stomach. Whatever, they’re fun photographs.
5. HERE IS A LINK THAT MAKES ME NERVOUS for all kinds of reasons, including our economic future in a resource economy and the state of our climate in a fossil-fuel hungry world, but mostly because I don’t trust any news about engergy prices and global oil reserves. Mind you, I assume that most of the news we see is a smokescreen to keep us from panicking and eating each other in an apocalyptic frenzy, so make of this what you will.
*Prairie Dog Magazine, prairiedogmag.com and all associated corporate and individual entities can not be held responsible for link rot, advertising content on other sites or Rick Astley.
Everybody! I was on my way home from Saskatoon this afternoon and I saw – I swear to God – a small bird landing on a hawk in flight, riding the hawk like a living conveyor belt for 15 or 20 feet, then flying off again. Why did it do that? The convenience of it all? The thrill? Was the sparrow or similar small bird feeling a little tired and looking for an extremely brief rest? Maybe the hawk had a stray seed or bug on its back? Or was it a Nietzschean demonstration of bird world power relations? Who cares? The clearest manifestation of Grace has been vouchsafed to me by chance, and it’s telling me that the lord of the cosmos is probably a bird of some sort. Probably a secretary bird or a piping plover or something.
2. OBAMA’S RESERVES OF GIVE-A-SHIT HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED During a speech at the University of Nairobi, Obama made a birther joke. I’m enjoying Obama’s take on lame duck presidency.
3. A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR THE SPIELBERG FANSBehold the ultimate commentary for Raiders of the Lost Ark, chock-a-block with insight and trivia. Remember when you were 30 years younger and sitting in the theatre, wondering about production design decisions? Give yourself an extra kaddam and listen in. Then take back one kaddam for the Bird God.
5. YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF AND THE BIRD GOD TO READ THIS PIECE ON TA-NEHISI COATES It’s a long read and it’s a few weeks old already, which is five years in Internet terms. But are you doing anything with your life right now that would be as meaningful as the act of reading a piece on Coates, who is doing better and deeper thinking than any of us on issues of race and structural privilege? No, unless you’re fighting a fire in an orphanage right now, in which case the Bird God grants you license to get in there and save those kids.
Alright! Who’s with me on this reckoning thing? I’m feeling good today and I don’t care who knows it! Because it’s not important information! Keep reading!
WELL THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG Darian Durant ruptured his left Achilles tendon in yesterday’s 30-26 loss against the Winnipeg Boobobbers. Aaaand he’s done for the season, which must be a disappointment for fans, except for that one weird friend of yours who’ll say something like “Now this gives the Riders a chance to discover their strengths” as he gnaws off his own foot in despair.
IF YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE RIGHT South Carolina is poised to discuss the removal of the Confederate flag from its legislative grounds, but it wasn’t happening fast enough to suit activist and all-around badass Bree Newsom, who climbed the pole and took it down herself. For a brief moment, Newsom herself became a human flag as she reached the top of the pole and removed the Stars and Bars from its traditional position. Did she contemplate the oddity of that unwitting transformation? This is probably beside the point.
THEY ALSO FOUND AN ISIS OUTPOST LURKING IN A BOOK OF EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY JUST WAITING TO STRIKE CNN recently ran a hot story about an ISIS flag being flown at a London pride parade. It turned out to be pictures of dildos and assorted sex toys.
Welcome to the first Weekly Reckoning with a 100% Ontological Guarantee. No matter what else may happen, this blog post exists. I think. Therefore it is.
1. LET US COMPARE ATROCITIES What happens when adult women bring allegations of sexual assault against a famous CBC radio personality? We know how that goes. How about when 45 Aboriginal youth come forth with stories of sexual abuse at the hands of a prominent Canadian sports figure? That seems to be going differently (hint: no one cares).
2. HEEEERE’S HILARY!Hilary Rodham Clinton for President, y’all! If she ends up running against Jeb Bush, it’ll be like a funhouse nightmare version of the early ’90s, except with resource scarcity and the sobering memory of 9/11 and all that.
3. CHECK YOUR STREET OXY, FOLKS Regina police are warning the public that the baggie of OxyContin pills you bought from some rando in the park may be counterfeit. They are described as having the number “80” stamped on one side and “CDN” on the obverse. Will these fake Oxys give you the amazing high that the real thing provides? Or will you die like a side character from The Wire? Only one way to find out! Which I do not recommend.
4. THE DIFFERENCE It can seem to men that the increased imagery of well-turned male bodies in the media is an indicator that men are becoming the victims of sexual objectification in the same way that women historically have been. Barbara Ellen explains persuasively why this isn’t so.
Viral! Virality! Viralness…ness. It’s all the rage these days, because when you catch that viral fever, it’s a fever of rage! Rage, rage against the bloggers who abuse their doulas or whatever. Let’s look at some stories.
1. DO NOT LEAVE GROWNUPS ALONE WITH CHILDREN. CLEARLY ADULT ARE DEMENTED Well, at least the demented ones are. Here’s a horrific tale of Arkansas State Representative Justin Harris, who adopted children and kept them under surveillance because they were “possessed by demons and could communicate telepathically.” Imagine being a grown-up human being who believes that kind of nonsense and, more crucially, acts on it. Reader, are you such a person? Then you are crazy. End of story. Have this sandwich because it’s made of lithium.
5. ONE LESS TOTO BASSIST TO HANG OUT AND BE COOL WITH Like it or not, everyone you know and love is going to die, including you. That’s the topper to your endless and aimless days: one day you’re standing in line at the Milky Way or driving down to Phoenix for some reason, the next you’re in a box and blissfully unaware of all the people staring down at you. Probably for the best. Famous people die too, which seems strange, but every obituary brings us into brief contact with the truth of our lives, which is that it ends. Anyway, Mike Porcaro, bass player for Toto, died at 59 of ALS.
Terrorists are the Babadook of Canadian politics that lies underneath our collective beds, hides in closets, (get it? The closet reference?), and watches us from the bushes through the windows. We need fear. We need to know that we matter.
We are wetting the bed to cock-block the terrorists that will otherwise penetrate us. The Harper Stain will be hard to get rid of. There is no turning of the mattress or letting it air this time.
I think this bill will pass. I think this is the last rally of freedom fighters before they are deemed terrorists. Free speech and public rallies are now no longer an option. And journalism is at stake too. Here are some pics of people who care from the Bill-C51 rally today.
Welcome, people in love or about to fall in love, people combing their hair in anticipation of love, people zipping up their love preparation jumpsuits, even people drawing up a cost-benefit love analysis, whatever. We’re a week out from Valentine’s Day and love is rumbling towards you over the horizon, its engines belching, its terrible treads grinding the earth beneath, and so on. Here are some timely love links to get you “in the mood” (a mood for donning jumpsuits, that is! Ha ha, just kidding, not really please put on your jumpsuit now and shut the blast doors, love is coming and it’s armed to the teeth).
1. THE ONLY COSMOPOLITAN ARTICLE YOU WILL EVER NEED Krista McHarden and her boyfriend set themselves a task that I can’t imagine trying without either the blessings of youth or some serious pharmaceuticals: try all of the sex from 50 Shades of Grey in one weekend. Read on and discover that the wild sex of 50 Shades is… sort of vanilla.
2. MODERN LOVE The weirdest detail from this article about a woman falling in love over Instagram is a cameo appearance from Bill Cosby. Roland Barthes would approve of the reality-enhancing effect of this detail.
4. QUEER TIMES AT THE STRIP CLUB M.J. Corey, a self-described “lesbian idiot,” decided to celebrate her 25th birthday at a strip club and wrote a tongue-in-cheek email to her invitees about general strip club decorum (I think “bring lots of small bills” about covers it). Then Jezebel got hold of the email and mocked her fairly mercilessly. So let’s read Corey’s side of the story.
5. BUT THE SEXTING IS JUST INSUFFERABLE Yes, there’s a term for the sexual attractiveness of smarts and the people who go ga-ga for grey matter. Behold the sapiosexual.
3. BUT STILL, IT’S A REALLY GOOD RULING A lot of Conservative MPs are opposed to to right to die, but one who isn’t is Winnipeg member of Parliament Steven Fletcher, who’s been championing this from inside caucus for some time.
That’s right: sex bacon. Or should I say, Prairie Dog’s Patented Sex Bacon™ Tonic! Stop not taking Sex Bacon immediately! Guaranteed to increase your SBBL count and put a strut in your step when you swig a swag of Sex Bacon™! Ingredients: ethyl alchohol, sugar, bacon, natural things like twigs and maybe a clove or two of garlic? Hey, that sounds good. Maybe this is more of a lifestyle spray than a medicinal tonic? You know, we’re still in the blue-sky phase of the product launch.
1. TOLLER CRANSTON, THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME, IS GONE Toller Cranston, the greatest skater with the coolest name who ever lived, is not living. Cranston died at age 65 in his Mexico home of an apparent heart attack. There’s no word on whether he was was wearing one of his uber-cool turtleneck sweaters or maybe writing me a letter saying, “Yes Aidan, I really am the coolest Canadian who ever popped up on your TV screen on Saturday nights to make all of the other skaters look like amateurs. I only won the bronze at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics because my athleticism and talent and spangly suit and floppy hair terrified the judges. Keep following your dreams, Toller.”
2. TATIANA MASLANEY MASLANY, WHO IS ALMOST AS COOL AS TOLLER CRANSTON, MAY BE IN STAR WARS Regina’s Tatiana Maslaney Maslany is up for a role in the upcoming 2016 Star Wars film from director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla). Also in contention are Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) but they won’t get it because they’re up against the cybernetic acting machine from the future we have designated as Tatiana Maslaney Maslany.
3. IT’S GETTING HARDER AND HARDER TO FIND BAD FAST FOOD The New Yorker has a fine and thoughtful piece called “The Shake Shack Economy” on the challenge that fast-casual” restaurants like Shake Shack, Chipotle and Panera Bread pose to the traditional junk food slingers of post-war ‘Murica. Traces of this trend in Regina can be found in the $15 poutines of Fatburger or the ongoing bend towards comfort food in high-end restaurants. But don’t worry, there are lots of totally awful fast food experiences available in Saskatchewan.
5. OH SKY MALL, WE BID YOU AND YOUR MOUNTAIN OF OVERPRICED JUNK GOODBYE After 25 years of doing a rip-roaring trade in Bigfoot garden gnomes and electronic litter boxes, Sky Mall has filed for bankruptcy. Slate.com has an explainer piece on Sky Mall’s business model and why it failed, but if you can’t figure out how a company whose brand was founded on selling stuff that nobody could possibly want ran out of money, then I doubt any link can help you (actually, Sky Mall’s chief revenue source wasn’t their catalogue – see the article for details). The website is still up and taking orders, but who knows how long that will last? Better move quick if you want your Night Glow Toilet Seat.
Greetings. The year 2015 has begun. So far it’s been exactly like 2014, but possibly slightly worse. But a few bits of news have stood out. Here are some things made me smile, frown, cry-laugh, cry-eat and sleep-write.
1. GRATEFUL PALESTINIANS MAKE HIGH-VELOCITY DIY OMELETTE FOR JOHN BAIRD Dozens of Palestinians welcomed John Baird to Ramallah by serving him the world’s fastest, least prepared egg dish, pelting his convoy with eggs and shoes as he drove to a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. “We know you’re very busy, so please accept these ingredients for our traditional shoe-egg fritatta!” they shouted as he passed by. Later, Baird napped on a towering midden of children’s skulls.
2. TWITTER NOW FEATURES A ‘CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE’ ADVENTURE Try it out, Twitter people (“tweople”): go to @wnd_go and begin your adventure. It’s relatively short because nearly every pathway in the branching maze of choices leads to horrific death, which is pretty much how i remember those books. Ah, sweet childhood.
4. ALL QUIET ON THE WEEDY FRONT Marijuana legalization is turning a year old this month, and so far all seems well. The dire consequences (rampant pot use, accident fatalities, ‘Reefer Fever’) predicted by legalization opponents have largely failed to materialize. I’d be more worried about the retail supply chain for junk food than anything else.
5. WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? Why did someone (filmmaker Isaac Royffe) make a supercut of Angela Lansbury epiphanies from Murder She Wrote? Why is it an entire hour long? Why did I watch so much of it? Am I going to finish it, and if so, why? What terrible power does Angela Lansbury hold over us? Why is it fascinating to watch hundreds of versions of Lansbury making that ‘a-ha’ face? Why are you watching it right now? If not, why not? Please answer each one of these questions using a standard No. 2 HB pencil and submit to prairie dog magazine. Please print legibly in complete sentences.
What up, people of Internet? It’s 5:30 a.m. (as of this writing), my insomnia’s doing great and I’m feeling just a little punchy. I think it’s all the fatigue toxins goosing my synapses. So let’s proceed right into my Yearly Reckoning, in which I dump out some random opinions on your unsuspecting boots. In current news, another Malaysian plane has gone missing: AirAsia QZ8501 has vanished in heavy weather between Singapore and Indonesia with 192 passengers on board. Cue the satellite hunters and conspiracy mongers.
2. HEY, WHO’S KILLING INDIGENOUS WOMEN? This appears to be a question that the Harper government is still unwilling to answer, because as far as our Skinwalker-in-Chief is concerned, indigenous Canadians aren’t real people and may be dismissed if he shakes his head hard enough. Of course, he’s terrified of shaking his head lest his human face come flying off in public.
3. ACTUALLY IT’S ABOUT ETHICS IN GAMING JOURNALISM By far the most pathetic and embarrassing story of the year: Gamergate, a crusade of misogynistic basement dwellers dedicated to ensuring that women don’t make games and that games aren’t made with women in mind, because nothing’s more unethical than diversity or inclusion or catering to the actual gaming market.
4. POPE FRANCIS, YOU SO COOL Pope Francis continues to make good on his image as a reformer with a wingdangdoo of an address to the Holy See. In a blistering speech, he laid out the ailments plaguing the Catholic Church hierarchy, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He also singles out “working too hard” as a problem, which, good thinking. Francis also promised to bring financial reform to the Vatican, which will probably win him few friends among the Church bureaucracy.
5. BEST THINGS OF 2014
BEST TV OF 2014 Yes, yes, give me your True Detectives, your Hannibals and your Fargos – all of which were excellent, excellent television. But I’m going to propose a few alternates: the hilarious squalor of Broad City, a dirty weed-fogged riff on Girls; Rick and Morty, a deranged stack of inventive madness from Community creator Dan Harmon; and The Affair, which started off as a minutely observed character drama about infidelity and devolved into a fantastically trashy soap opera in only ten episodes. Oh, and from The CW, there’s The Flash, which is the most fun you can have watching a man run fast in red tights, and The 100, which began life as Post-Apocalyptic Hot Teen Soap Opera and is now a frantically paced game of escalating stakes between ridiculously good-looking people on a devastated future Earth. What’s not to like?
BEST MOVIES OF 2014 So many excellent films this year. Under The Skin. The Lego Movie. Boyhood (probably). The Babadook. Snowpiercer, except for the overlong ending. Guardians of the Galaxy. Two Days One Night. And more. Definitely not The Equalizer, unless “Denzel Washington killing randos with home & garden supplies” is the new criterion for great cinema.
DUMBEST MOVIES OF 2014 THAT PEOPLE THINK ARE GOOD BUT THEY’RE NOT Freaking Gone Girl. It’s ridiculous. Okay? And with apologies to Jorge, Interstellar is a movie about a guy who sails beyond the stars to spy on his teenage daughter. It’s creepy. People eat corn, they cry in space and it’s creepy.
BEST SPORTS OF 2014 Over Christmas I watched a lot of football at the in-laws. Then I went to my parents’ and watched an imperial ton of soccer. That was my sports for the whole year, and it was fantastic. I can’t wait for Xmas 2015.
BEST MUSICS OF 2014 Lots of people have opinions, but mine is the one that counts here. LP1 from FKA Twigs, whom I can only describe as an erotic trip-hop anxiety performance artist, is the best thing to hit my ears this year. D’Angelo’s Black Messiah is indisputably great, but you can’t shake my heart. Don’t go shaking it. To give you a sense of what to expect, as Greg Beatty might say, here’s the single “Two Weeks.” Lyrics are a trifle NSFW, but phrases like “higher than a motherfucker” never sounded so sweet and lyrical.
News. What is it? How much is it? Can you pack five or more newses into a backpack? What’s the density of news on the surface of Saturn? These are questions that only a careful application of science can answer. Luckily, I’m a scientist. A scientist of news.
1. THE NEWS IS AT LEAST 500 DISGUSTINGS PER CUBIC CENTIMETRE As if we haven’t had enough of the nonsense surrounding the non-indictment of Darren Wilson (who has unsurprisingly resigned), it turns out that forensics expert Shawn Parcells, who performed a private forensics report on Michael Brown’s body, is a fraud. Apparently he picked up his forensic pathology skills “on the job”.
2. THE NEWS IS TWO GLOVES FROM SAFETY Brandon McKean, a black man in Michigan, was stopped by a police officer because he was walking with his hands in his pockets. If only he’d been wearing gloves, then that officer would have to be racist elsewhere.
4. THE NEWS IS AT LEAST ONE DEFIBRILLATOR OUTSIDE THE LAW Ottawa police constable Jason Mallett has been arrested for criminal harassment, improper storage of a handgun and theft of a city-owned defibrillator. Who looks at a defibrillator and thinks “I’m going to need that”? I’m also curious about improper storage of a handgun. Did he leave it in his Budweiser mini-fridge? Balance it on his hat? Tape it to his partner’s back? The news is hungry for knowledge.