Mixed Media

George R.R. Martin Has 2 Words for People Scared He'll Die Before Finishing "Game Of Thrones" Series

| Wed Jul. 9, 2014 1:38 PM EDT
Ball so hard.

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is 65 years old. Because of this, some of his fans are deeply worried that he won't finish writing his A Song of Ice And Fire fantasy book series (which began in 1996, and is the basis for the hit HBO show) before he dies. (See: the case of fellow fantasy author Robert Jordan.)

Well, he was asked about this during a recent interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. Here's his response:

Well, I find that question, you know, pretty offensive, frankly, when people start speculating about my death and my health. So, 'fuck you' to those people. [Laughs.]

You can watch the "fuck you"—and Martin's accompanying flipped middle finger—here.

This isn't the first time Martin has addressed this concern among his readers. In 2012, he wrote a blog post trolling his fans who are so obsessed with the series that they routinely berate him for working on other projects. It reads:

Reading. I just finished THE KING'S BLOOD, the second volume of Daniel Abraham's "Dagger and Coin" series. Books like this remind me why I love epic fantasy. Yes, I'm prejudiced, Daniel is a friend and sometime collaborator... but damn, that was a good book. Great world, great characters, thoroughly engrossing story. The only problem was, it ended too soon. I want more. I want to know what happens to Cithrin, and Marcus, and Geder, and Clara. And I want to know NOW. God damn you, Daniel Abraham. I know for a fact that you are writing more Expanse books with Ty, and more urban fantasies as M.L.N. Hanover, and doing short stories for some hack anthologist, and scripting some goddamn COMIC BOOK, and even sleeping with your wife and playing with your daughter. STOP ALL THAT AT ONCE, and get to writing on the next Dagger and Coin. I refuse to wait.

"Fuck you" is more succinct.

(h/t Gawker)

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Thailand's New Military Government Is Secretly Vacuuming Up Facebook Data

| Wed Jul. 9, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Despite all the ways Facebook has flouted privacy standards—like how it recently experimented with 700,000 users' emotions by manipulating the positive and negative content of their newsfeeds—the company hasn't yet provided personal data to oppressive governments. But that didn't deter the Thai junta. When Facebook refused to help Thailand's newly installed military government access users' personal information, the junta created a misleading Facebook application to capture its citizens' names and email addresses. 

The military government posted that they were collecting this data to "handle more witnesses which can lead to more prosecutions and will make the online society more clean."

As you might remember, back in May, after months of anti-government protests, Thailand's military staged a coup. Once in power, the military suspended the constitution, installed a 10 p.m. curfew, banned gatherings of more than five people, and attempted to suppress dissidents—including any of the estimated 28 million Thai users on Facebook, a third of the country's population. On May 29, the new government tried to have a meeting with social-media companies, including Facebook, to discuss censoring Thailand's anti-coup dissent, but none of them showed up.

But the Thai junta didn't take this as a sign to give up on tapping into the power of social media. Instead, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports, the junta placed a Facebook login button to track users on more than 200 of the government's restricted websites, like the webpage of Human Rights Watch.

Fast Tracks: Beverly's "All the Things"

| Wed Jul. 9, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

TRACK 4

"All the Things"

From Beverly's Careers

KANINE

Liner notes: Urgent yet dreamy, this breathtaking dose of psychedelia mixes ethereal female harmonies, a soaring melody, and surging beats to dazzling effect.

Behind the music: The Brooklyn duo features singer Drew Citron and noise-pop vet Frankie Rose. Careers falls between the lo-fi buzz of Frankie Rose and the Outs and the cooler electronica of Rose's recent solo work.

Check it out if you like: Vivian Girls, early Dum Dum Girls, or Quilt.

This review originally appeared in the July/August 2014 Issue of Mother Jones.

Quick Reads: "The Skeleton Crew" by By Deborah Halber

| Tue Jul. 8, 2014 5:41 PM EDT
The Skeleton Crew

The Skeleton Crew

By Deborah Halber

SIMON & SCHUSTER

Tent Girl. The Lady of the Dunes. The Head in the Bucket. These are just a few of the nicknames given to America's 40,000 unidentified corpses by amateur web sleuths. For decades, members of this thriving, heroic, and macabre internet subculture have been cracking cold cases that have long stumped law enforcement. But what motivates them to spend countless hours poring over police reports and autopsy photos? Deborah Halber replaces the classic whodunit with what you might call a whosolvesit. She discovers that many web sleuths throw themselves into their dark hobby to escape their own damaged lives. Some find their share of fame and fortune; others, only more demons.

This review originally appeared in our July/August issue of Mother Jones. 

Emma Watson Crashes United Nations Website With Her Goodwill Ambassador Announcement

| Tue Jul. 8, 2014 3:16 PM EDT

Emma Watson—the humanitarian and staunch feminist who you may recognize from such films as The Bling Ring, Noah, and the Harry Potter movies—is now working with the United Nations on gender equality and female empowerment.

On Monday, UN Women and Watson announced that she had been appointed as a celebrity Goodwill Ambassador. The 24-year-old British actress will work on the "empowerment of young women and will serve as an advocate for UN Women's HeForShe campaign," according to the UN Women's press release. (The HeForShe campaign enlists men and boys to stand up for gender equality.) In 2012, Watson became an ambassador for the Campaign for Female Education.

The announcement drew enough web traffic to crash the UN Women website. "We apologize & hope to be back up soon," the UN entity tweeted. The site experienced problems for roughly 12 hours following the announcement. "This is the power of [Watson]; she has such global appeal," UN Women's Elizabeth Nyamayaro told Mother Jones.

"Ms. Emma Watson is someone who is not only smart, but someone who is very passionate about girls' issues," Nyamayaro said, explaining why the UN reached out to the actress in the first place. According to Nyamayaro, Watson is particularly excited about working with HeForShe, and will also support the work of young women across UN Women's strategic pillars, including economic empowerment, ending violence against women, political participation, and peace and security.

Here is Watson's full statement on her new gig:

Being asked to serve as UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling. The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women's rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can't imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience, and awareness to this role.

(Watson expressed her excitement on Twitter with a blushing emoticon.)

Other celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors for the UN include Liam Neeson, "Twitter Nazi hunter" Mia Farrow, and Orlando Bloom.

Below is video of Watson visiting slum homes and a fair trade group in Bangladesh: "I still find it hard to convey what fair trade means to those producing our fashion—it's just so impressive to see how the women have used fair trade clothing to escape poverty and empower themselves and their children," Watson said. "I was moved and inspired."

This post has been updated.

This Is the Best Correction You'll Read All Week

| Tue Jul. 8, 2014 8:16 AM EDT

On June 1, the Sun called Marcus Stead "Britain's biggest whinger." Mr. Stead took issue with the article's accuracy. The resulting correction is an instant classic.

It reads:

In a story 'Britain's biggest whinger' {1 June] we stated that Marcus Stead, who appeard in the Channel 4 documentary The Complainers, 'moans to the council every day for a year.' Mr Stead says that, in fact, the number of complaints is closer to one or two per week. We are happy to put his position on record.

(via Neal Mann)

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Being an Oakland Raiders Cheerleader Just Got a Little Less Awful

| Mon Jul. 7, 2014 5:34 PM EDT

In January, an Oakland Raiders cheerleader named Lacy T. filed a class-action lawsuit against the team with a laundry list of embarrassing allegations: Raiderettes were paid well below minimum wage, fined for things like forgetting to bring their pom-poms to practice or gaining five pounds, prohibited from talking to the press about their working conditions, and required to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket for hair appointments, tanning sessions, and other beauty supplies. Similar lawsuits quickly followed from four other NFL cheer squads: the Ben-Gals (Cincinnati Bengals), the Flight Crew (New York Jets), the Jills (Buffalo Bills), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cheerleaders. (Read Mother Jones' roundup of NFL cheerleaders' allegations here.)

An ad for Raiderette auditions stated that this year's cheerleaders will earn $9 per hour, making the Raiders the first of the sued NFL teams to give their squads a raise.

But last week, the Raiderettes had a small but real victory: In audition flyers that have since been taken off the team's website, the Raiders stated that this year's cheerleaders will earn $9 per hour, California's minimum wage. This makes the Raiders the first of the sued NFL teams to give their cheerleaders a raise. Furthermore, Caitlin Y., a cheerleader waging a separate class-action lawsuit against the Raiders, was invited back to the team after auditions this past weekend, making her the first active cheerleader to have spoken openly to the press against the team's working conditions.

The battle isn't over yet for the Raiderettes: Arbitration in mid-July will address other allegations from the January lawsuit, like the requirement that cheerleaders pay out of pocket for beauty expenses, and will discuss the potential for veterans to receive back pay to make up for lost wages. The lawsuit that Caitlin Y. and teammate Jenny C. filed against both the Raiders and the NFL is still under way. In addition to claims about low pay, it alleges that cheerleaders are ridiculed for the size of their breasts, called "Oompa Loompas" if their skin is too tan, and routinely required to work events where they are subject to the inappropriate comments and groping hands of drunken fans.

Notably, this degrading treatment echoes claims made in other squads' lawsuits: Buffalo Bills cheerleaders allege that they are subject to routine "jiggle tests" to make sure that their stomachs and thighs aren't too bouncy, and that at the team's annual golf tournament the bikini-clad cheerleaders are dunked into pools of water and "auctioned off" to the highest bidder.

The cheerleaders have a long road ahead, but, just maybe, a pay raise for the Raiderettes could be the first step toward NFL teams treating their cheerleaders with some semblance of dignity. If professional cheerleaders can't keep their hopes up, who can?

Corb Lund's Sizzling, Glorious "Counterfeit Blues"

| Mon Jul. 7, 2014 11:12 AM EDT

Corb Lund
Counterfeit Blues
New West

When Canadian country rocker Corb Lund and his longtime backing trio, the Hurtin' Albertans, entered legendary Sun Studio (launching pad for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, et al.) in Memphis for two days of sessions, the result was this crackerjack album. Cut live in gloriously warm mono, Counterfeit Blues features new versions of previously recorded songs Lund and company had performed on stage for years, and it shows—in the best possible way. The band is loose and energetic, but tight as can be, while Lund's spirited vocals are playful and commanding at once. This sizzling brew of honky-tonk, rockabilly, and boogie recalls the '80s glory days of Nashville upstarts Jason and the Scorchers, and that's an impressive achievement indeed.

British Brewer Still Bitter Over American Revolution

| Thu Jul. 3, 2014 7:40 PM EDT

British actor and writer Stephen Merchant, who you can thank in-part for creating the original version of The Office, has a challenge for you this 4th of July: imagine if his people had won the war for independence. He's tired of acting like he's not bloody pissed that each year we celebrate beating his little country. He's so pissed in fact that he's made the following ad for Newcastle Brown Ale. Watch his plea, as he begs of you to image how "great" Great Brtiain 2 would be. And then, enjoy a hoedown, just to spite him:

"Jaws" Is Ridiculous, Say Kids Who Owe Everything to "Jaws"

| Thu Jul. 3, 2014 7:29 PM EDT

Happy Fourth of July! Thirty-nine years ago, Jaws became the first summer blockbuster. In it the town of Amity Island is terrorized by a killer great white shark around July Fourth weekend. In honor of that, we decided to publish a chat we just had about it. This chat has been edited for clarity.

Emily Dreyfuss: I saw Jaws last night in a movie theater.

Ben Dreyfuss: Why?

ED: Because it was playing right by our house and we needed to be somewhere air conditioned.

BD: Okay.

ED:  Two things: 1) You and dad are exactly alike and 2) I forgot that "we're going to need a bigger boat" wasn't his line, which makes me even angrier when people quote that in regard to him.

BD:  LOL, everyone thinks dad said that. He and I have this joke about Roy Scheider being pissed off about it for 25 years.

ED: I would be too! I hadn't seen Jaws since we saw it as a family 20 years ago.

BD: I watched it with mom last year. She was like, "I love Jaws. My favorite part is when dad kills the shark," and I was like, "Uh, he doesn't," and she was all, "Shut up, Ben. I was married to him for 10 years. He killed Jaws." So we watched it and then she was like, "Huh, I could have sworn he killed Jaws. I've been telling people that my ex-husband killed Jaws." "Well, I guess people think you were married to Roy Scheider." "I guess so."

ED: I mean, the way I read it last night, dad kind of fucked up and was semi-responsible for Quint's death. He dropped the dagger, then swam away and hid, and then the shark ate the captain and Roy Scheider was a hero.

BD: Yeah, I mean, he had the pole knocked out of his hand. Then he swims away and hides. He had just gone down in the cage which was a pretty brave thing to do. By the time he hides he had no chance of killing Jaws. Like, either let yourself be eaten or swim and hide. Scheider was objectively the hero though.

ED: Yeah, I mean, dad had no other options, but I just forgot that he wasn't the hero.

BD: Look, look, we love dad.

ED: Yes, to be clear, dad is the best.

BD: No one here is saying otherwise.

ED: I also forgot that his character was the rich kid! I guess I basically forgot everything.

BD: Oh yeah, with his tony, rich boat that they should have taken to avoid the whole death/sinking thing?

ED: I mean, they don't even address that, which is ridiculous. Like, his boat had all the things they needed! Like sonar.

BD: Right? And Quint demands that they take his rickety piece of shit which is just an insane thing to do. The only reasonable thing to say to Quint when he makes that demand is, "Sir, you are insane. We are not putting our lives in the hands of an insane person. You're fired. Good day."

ED: "Also, we should add, you can't catch a shark this big with a fishing pole. It had to be said."

BD: HAHAHAHAHA.

ED: Like, his big plan is that he is going to REEL it in with his human man arms.

BD: I was under the impression that he was using some sort of contraption to leverage the weight of the boat or something? But that might not be how science works.

ED: I don't think so. I think he was using the power of a metal cup to help hold the fishing rod and that is that and then it shows him reeling in and letting out and then being like, "This shark is so smart! I can't pull him in!"

BD: "He's either very very smart or very very dumb."

ED: LOL, yes. That's the line. Then he hands the rod—with the shark on the line!—to Scheider who knows nothing about fishing and isn't even strapped in!

BD: Then at the end he tries to tow him back to shore.

ED: Yeah and that works out well.

BD: Also, the entire notion of the shark following them out to sea seems suspect. Why would Jaws follow their dumb boat? It's just one boat.

ED:  Because of the dead fish and blood trail.

BD: That little bit of dead fish that Scheider throws in there though, it's not much! Like it's just a bit of blood. Jaws can eat that much fish whenever he wants.

ED: Oh oh oh, another thing that makes no sense is when dad and Roy find the boat with the dead fisherman at night and in the scariest moment of the film the dead body pops out and freaks dad out? WHY WOULD THE SHARK KILL THE FISHERMAN AND NOT EAT HIM? He is not a murderer. He's a "maneater!" He would have eaten that body!

BD: Jaws: Actually a story of a shark out for revenge against Ben Gardner. All the other attacks are just to cover up his crime.

ED: HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA.

BD: I mean, maybe Jaws didn't kill Ben Gardner. Maybe someone else did. Maybe they got away with it.

ED: Wow, you remembered that character's name. I am kind of blown away.

BD: "That's Ben Gardner's boat."

ED: Yeah, that is the line but like, what are you? A savant? I barely remember dad's character's name. I'm confused if it's hooper or hopper.

BD: Emily, I know all the lines to almost all of dad's movies. I watched them all dozens of times when I was young…It's Hooper.

ED: Where was I? I watched Always a lot…and cried.

BD: Yeah, Always is sad. I love the bit of that movie when Holly Hunter comes down in the dress dad bought her and that song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" plays. That song makes me cry.

ED: That is a very good moment. Ok, but so, we can agree, Jaws makes no sense.

BD: Yeah. Great film.

ED: Wonderful film.

BD: Makes no sense.

ED: Makes little sense.

BD: It could make more sense.

ED: It could make more sense!

The end.