Monday, April 20, 2015

News Briefs 4.20.15

Japanese Military Propaganda: Kawaii Fighter Jets

Vice posted this news story about how Japan has been advertising its military (a term they abhor using, actually, because Japan isn't technically allowed to have a military because of WWII), known as the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) using adorable anime characters:

Which I find, sort of, I don't know—terrifying? The JSDF has produced entire animes that amount to series of advertisements, including this hilarious-until-you-realize-the-implications short:

Apparently, the JSDF (or a Japanese military in general) is a hotly contested issue in Japan, which these advertisements are trying to address by drawing up support for the militaristic efforts through cuteness. Which is, well, sort of, uh, terrifying? While I have nothing against Japan in particular, and I find it somewhat absurd that they're not supposed to be allowed any military at all when Germany seems to be allowed one fine, I have this general fear of military propaganda that's probably clouding my judgment. Throughout high school, seeing military recruiters do pull-ups to show off their strength—competing with students in the school's lobby for recruitment gear like hats and lanyards—left me with a sort of weird feeling. Guns terrify me, I'm a naive kid and wish militaries didn't have to exist, but further than that, to aim the recruitment policies toward young adults and children just seems predatory. In the case of Japan, branding the military as twee seems particularly flag-raising. I know why militaries have these recruiting policies, but it's the same reason Pol Pot had and it leaves a funny taste in my mouth. 


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 A Whale of a Tale!

Sorry for the pun of a title, but really I'm not sorry at all. This professional news brief author is about to break the tradition she has been trying to instate: that of only writing news briefs about black markets. Why, you may ask? Well, because the world is both beautiful and depressing and I want to talk about all of it: how nutrigenomics can drastically increase longevity in humans; how there's a black hole at the middle of our galaxy that all celestial bodies orbit; how Sartre may have become the philosopher he was because of a bad haircut. But then in my black market-related research, I discovered this. And then I very badly wanted a hug. So, having lost faith in humanity for the time being, I started reading about whales instead.

Whale songs have fascinated me since reading Fluke by Christopher Moore (one of the weirdest, most surreal, funniest books I've ever encountered), and for the past few years I've made a point to keep up-to-date on whether we've finally discovered why whales sing (spoiler: we haven't). We have discovered something else, though: a new whale in the Antarctic. Possibly. It's hard to tell, because whales songs are one of the most elusive subjects of study for marine biologists. They're referring to this song as Antarctic BW29, and thus far there are no recorded whale songs that match it.Seeing as a new species of whale was discovered just last year, I'm hopeful that this comes to fruition.

If you're at all interested, the original news articles are here and here. Thank you and good night ("Courtney, you're writing this at 6:30." "Shh.").


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Scary Lucy

Lucille Ball was many things: a comedic genius, a workaholic, a symbol of Old Hollywood beauty, and a fiercely independent and powerful woman. However, for the current residents of Celoron, New York (Ball's hometown), all of this fades into the background when they see the frightening life-size bronze statue of her in a memorial park. I mean, look at this thing: 

If I lived in that town, I would turn around and cross a few state lines because this statue is frickin' terrifying. The statue, which was unveiled in 2009, is supposed to depict Ball in the iconic "Vitameatavegamin" episode of I Love Lucy, but it instead it looks like a deranged serial killer. This is Ed Gein-levels of crazy.

This statue is so freaky that in 2012 a Facebook group entitled "We Love Lucy! Get Rid of This Statue" was created, gaining popularity amongst the people of Celoron and fans of the comedienne. Many felt that the statue does not Ball justice in any way and have compared it to everything from Steve Buscemi to the Beetlejuice snake (which is actually a pretty accurate way to describe it). Last week, Dave Poulin, the sculptor responsible for the heinous monstrosity, offered to redo the statue for free.

"I take full responsibility for 'Scary Lucy' though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image," Poulin wrote in a letter to the Hollywood Reporter. "Yes, in retrospect it should have never been cast in bronze and made public, and I take complete ownership of that poor decision."

At first, I was really glad that Poulin had offered to redo the statue. I was like, "Yay! Now tourists won't think she's a monster!" because this is what Lucille Ball actually looked like:

Fun Fact: Lucille Ball was a natural brunette. She did not start dyeing her hair flame red until she filmed DuBarry was a Lady in 1943.

But then I thought about it. The guy who sculpted Scary Lucy is going to sculpt a statue of Lucy.


Wait a second...

Will something like this happen again?


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