Tagged: Jacob Carter

LOLThursday: Talk show host gets monkey-slapped

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

Recently, a local talk show host discovered the consequences of teasing a monkey.

On her show “Great Day Houston,” Deborah Duncan devoted a segment to a Capuchin monkey, which had a role in the film “Dr. Doolittle,” and its trainer. All goes well until the trainer decides to let the host try to feed the animal. She playfully withholds the food from it, and as a result, she is greeted with a firm monkey slap.

The way Duncan handles the situation must be singled out for praise. She does not lose her composure or become flustered with embarrassment. Rather, she laughs it off and says she’s sorry for teasing the monkey.

In reality, the Internet is rife with images and videos of monkeys physically abusing humans as well as other animals. There are monkeys slapping adults. There are monkeys slapping children. There are monkeys slapping cats and dogs. The movie “Night at the Museum” even featured the Capuchin monkey as it wreaked havoc on an unsuspecting Ben Stiller.

No, Deborah Duncan is not the first individual to suffer abuse at the hands of a primate, and she will most certainly not be the last. This is a pervasive problem in our current society, and I intend to be the first to stand up and fight against it.

Monkey slapping cannot be tolerated, and if we all stick together, we can combat the furry-handed violence that threatens to undermine the sanctity of the nation. However, I can’t argue with the comedy that ensues when monkeys go on slapping rampages.

Check out the video below:


Student project aims to combat racism on campus

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

I am too, NYU aims to combat racism on campus./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user DryHundredFear

Despite better efforts, racism still exists./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user DryHundredFear

Nine students at New York University recently banded together to form the “I, too, am NYU” project. The organization’s goal is to bring a voice to the campus’ many racial minority groups and illuminate the discrimination that such students frequently face.

The inspiration for the project originated from similar actions taken by students at universities such as Harvard and Oxford. Involvement in the mission came after the college’s president, John Sexton, proclaimed in a university-wide speech that “there is no racial majority ” on the campus. Needless to say, many students felt insulted by such a remark, as it minimized the importance of race and glossed over prejudices that still exist today.

The project’s most powerful element comes in the form of photos that have since been publicized by means of various social media outlets. In the pictures, each individual holds up a whiteboard on which he or she has written some of the racist or stereotypical remarks that have been addressed to them.

One black female student wrote down a comment made by her white male roommate, which reads “There’s no such thing as a black pretty girl.” Another student wrote down the words of a concerned parent who didn’t think her daughter would get into the school because the school was “letting in a lot of foreigners.”

Along with the photographs, the organization crafted a proposal asking the university’s administration to be more open in regards to issues such as race. Though their efforts are quite recent, the group has been met with large amounts of both support and criticism.

Most of the disapproval comes from those who claim that racial tension has been the only result of this project. Others are upset at how the project represents certain racial minorities better than others. On both accounts, I find these criticisms to be quite wrongheaded.

In regards to racial representation, the group itself wisely pointed out that the project is still in its early stages. Hopefully, as it continues to expand with new participants, it will not be long before a full spectrum of racial diversity is expressed.

However, it is the comment concerning racial tension that I found most disconcerting. By unveiling the discrimination that still exists in our current culture, these students have illustrated a problem that is often thought to be antiquated or irrelevant. Though prejudice is not as blatantly malicious as it once was, it is still an issue that demands to be addressed. Therefore, these students are not causing racial tension. They are simply uncovering an aspect of society that is all too often ignored by many people.

I was deeply moved by the project, and I hope that their efforts are rewarded by the presence of a more racially harmonious campus environment.

1964 World’s Fair reveals both groundbreaking and ridiculous predictions

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

Unfortunately, jet packs still fail to exist outside our wildest imaginations./ PHOTO BY Flickr user David J

Unfortunately, jet packs still fail to exist outside our wildest imaginations./ PHOTO BY Flickr user David J

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The event introduced a number of technological innovations to the general public. It is interesting to see how several inventions acted as precursors to today’s technology, while others are still the objects of science fiction.

One device that made a notable debut at the fair was the “picturephone,” developed by Bell System. As the name suggests, this groundbreaking item allowed people to call individuals and see the party on the other line. Though it was not well-received initially, the “picturephone” is clearly an ancestor to modern video communication services such as Skype.

Another device that proved to be revolutionary, arguably even more than the “picturephone,” was the personal computer. While the idea was nascent at the time, it is hard to believe that such a crucial modern invention materialized only half a century ago.

Of course, far more interesting than remarking on the innovations of the World’s Fair is laughing at its failures. For example, according to the “Futurama 2” ride presented by General Motors, people were clearly ambitious in terms of where humanity’s new frontiers were located. The company presented images of people colonizing the moon and living underwater, two environments that remain just as inhospitable now as they were then.

And no future speculation would be complete without the discussion of jet packs. Constantly touted as the hallmark of technological advancement, these devices also made an appearance at the event, apparently complete with actual flying demonstrations. Sadly, humans have yet to adopt this method of travel, and popular use of the jet pack exists as a reality only in the worlds of James Bond and science fiction.

Despite being a breeding ground for some eccentric ideas, the 1964’s World Fair was still an environment for revolutionary modernizations. As mentioned, some of these devices matured into what are now essential inventions, and their evolution is an indicator of just how fast and complex technology continues to grow.

Jet packs and underwater colonies may still seem laughable today, but as evidenced by the “picturephone,” one cannot even prepare to imagine how the world will transform in another fifty years. With that in mind, I think I’ll go ahead and put my name on the moon colony waiting list.

Why that cereal mascot is eyeing you

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

A new study conducted by Cornell University proves that the placement and presentation of cereal intended for youth in grocery stores can affect product sales. According to the researchers, whether or not a child is enticed by a particular cereal is dependent on the orientation of the brand’s mascot.

Walking into a store, it’s easy to see that children’s cereal is placed on lower shelves than the adult’s. This makes sense, as the companies attempt to appeal to a younger, shorter demographic.

But the most interesting aspect of the study places focus on the angle of a mascot’s eyes on a kid’s cereal box.

The study explains that 57 of the 86 different mascots observed possessed a downward gaze of 9.67 degrees. The effect of this particular angle leads to the characters making direct eye contact with passing children.

Using this information, the researchers asked 63 people which of two boxes of cereal they would buy, one with the mascot staring straight ahead and the other with it looking down with the trademark angle. They discovered that the trust in a particular cereal is 16 percent higher if the mascot is looking down and making eye contact.

What to do with this discovery is a bit of a mystery. The study concludes by stating that if companies want to improve sales for healthy kid’s cereals, then those companies should make sure that the characters on those cereal boxes are engaging in a staring contest with potential buyers.

This isn’t out of the question, but the results of the experiment appear too slight to be taken seriously. After all, only 63 people were surveyed, and the results indicate that there was only a 16 percent increase in buyer trust. It looks like the correlation in this study is fleeting at best.

Besides, children are most heavily attracted to the sweetest of cereals. Therefore, even if kids are able to make eye contact with the jaunty sun-mascot on the Raisin Bran box, I am still inclined to think that they will lead themselves to more sugary pastures.

Indeed, the only success I can find in this study is that next time I walk down the breakfast aisle in CVS, I won’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m being watched.

San Francisco billboards tackle texting and driving

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

You might want to rethink texting and driving or risk public humiliation./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Intel Free Press

You might want to rethink texting and driving or risk public humiliation./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Intel Free Press

For those of you who text and drive, I have some advice for you: beware.

In San Francisco, several local drivers were publicly humiliated when billboards were unveiled showing them on their phones while behind the wheel of their cars. The images were captured by a local graphic artist, Bryan Singer, who paid for the billboards with his own money in order to spread awareness of the dangers caused by distracted driving.

“It’s not so much about shaming an individual as it is about making people think twice,” said Singer to a local news affiliate.

For the time being, this type of PSA is limited to the San Francisco area. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if other cities adopted the campaign soon enough. There are numerous statistical reports that illustrate how Americans are in far more vehicular accidents than other areas of the world, and distracted driving figures into nearly a quarter of these crashes.

I admire Singer for attempting a radical method in order to curb these statistics, especially considering the many accidents that still occur and stern warnings have done little to make an effective impact.

There are, however, a few weaknesses with his campaign.

For one thing, the images on the billboard appear too dark to be seen clearly from the road. Mixed with their elevated position and the glare of the sun, I can understand how numerous drivers would be unable perceive the full content of the photograph. The images themselves convey an important message, and I hate to think about the irony of people getting into a car accident because they were distracted by the billboard telling them not to get distracted while driving.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there will never be enough billboard space in the world to make drivers wary of their actions. The odds of being one of those foolish people caught in the act are simply too small to strike an appropriate amount of fear into the hearts of the nation’s most shameless offenders. In their minds, texting and driving seems harmless, and it is because of this ignorance that those statistics will most likely remain constant.


Can lyrics predict a song’s popularity?

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

Can you predict the top 100?/ Snapshot of iTunes site taken on March 27, 2014

Can you predict the top 100?/ Screenshot of iTunes site taken on March 27, 2014

Researchers at North Carolina State University conducted a study that highlights how a song’s lyrical theme can be a predictor of its potential popularity.

The study analyzes the most popular themes in number one songs on Billboard’s “Hot 100” over the last several decades. Based on its findings, it would appear that today’s music is best represented by the words “inspiration,” “pain” and “desperation.”

Of course, if you consider how nearly every current song involves a breakup, this revelation is hardly surprising.

In fact, the more I read into this study, the more I realize how useless it would be for a songwriter or music producer. Even if they tried to use the themes, the researchers can only predict with 73.4 percent accuracy that a new song will make its way onto the “Hot 100” list.

But don’t underestimate songwriters — there is still a large amount of creativity required in order to craft lyrics that a majority of people would find meaningful. Not to mention that there are countless people who listen to songs solely for the rhythm of the music and not so much for the words.

Personally, I am far more interested in witnessing the evolution of music since the 1960s. Fifty years ago, everyone was writing songs to the tune of nostalgia and rebellion, which led into a time of loss and confusion in the 1980s. And now all people want to hear about is how to ease the pain of their desperation with inspiration.

So, what does that mean for the condition of our country’s culture? Apparently we are in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and constantly want more from life. How cheery!

In the end, I’m not sure exactly what to take away from the study. As mentioned, I doubt a struggling songwriter would find much use for it due to the broadness of the analysis. But I do think that the study provides a wonderful snapshot of music culture over time. It also illustrates that, despite shifts in genre and form, the music that most people connect with has remained the same.

LOLThursday: SXSW-goers talk about their favorite fake bands

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

The South by Southwest music festival was held in Austin, Texas last week, and in honor of the event, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel turned his hijinks toward the festival’s countless participants.

In a special edition of  “Lie Witness News,” — a comedic segment on his show devoted to a reporter posing questions to people on the street about phony news items — SXSW attendees were asked what they thought about a variety of fictitious indie bands.

I’m not sure how many people the reporter asked in the course of her day, but it is clear that she was successful in finding a large number of individuals willing to proclaim their ardent support for an array of ludicrously named bands, some of which included “Neil Patrick Harassment” and “DJ Heavy Flow.”

Out of all the interviewees, my favorite would have to be the guy from Montreal who apparently came all the way to Texas to see up-and-coming artist “DJ Cornmeal.” That is one dedicated (fake) fan!

Of course, it would be easy to watch this video and simply label all of these people as hipsters, posers, etc. But they could just as easily be succumbing to the effects of the television camera.

After all, when cornered by a TV crew, no one wants to look like an idiot. It is a moment for a person to shine and obtain his or her brief moment of fame. In fact, it is hard to know whether I would have behaved differently in such a situation: shove a camera in my face, and I’m just as liable to spout my endless love for “Willie Nelson Mandela” as these poor suckers were.

The Danger of Selfies

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

As aptly suggested by the name, “taking a selfie” is a highly self-centered activity that corresponds well to the narcissistic nature of adolescence. Walking through any number of public venues, one would be hard-pressed not to find an individual striking an awkward pose as they snap a picture of themselves on their smartphone.

Now, as witnessed in several recent news articles, it would appear that people are receiving their comeuppance for such flagrant displays of self-interest.

First thing for everyone to know: selfies can possibly spread lice.

As friends cozy up to each other and intimately touch heads in preparation for a picture, some people say it is possible for a lice-infected individual to spread their infestation through such direct contact. The idea stems from a sudden increase in lice among high school students in some areas of the country, and though experts deny this to be an explanation for the outbreak, it is best to play it safe and keep your head to yourself.

If a possible epidemic does not deter you from the activity, then at least be conscious of whether or not the time and place of your selfie is appropriate. After all, it is always important to maintain a level of respect.

Unfortunately, some people still don’t know the meaning of the word, like the soldier who hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag and to take a picture of herself for Instagram. Beneath the photo, Private Tariqka Sheffey wrote a comment that essentially expressed that people should keep their disapproving remarks to themselves because she does not care what they think.

Her words reveal the dark side of today’s cultural climate. People are now getting so wrapped up in the intense private world allotted by social media that they can lose both their respect and awareness towards others as well as towards sacred institutions. However, I don’t think that will stop anyone from taking selfies.

Of course, the moral of the story is not that people who take selfies are often selfish individuals. Just remember to be aware of yourself and of your surroundings when gearing up to take that photo. After all, you don’t want to be that person everyone hates for making them rub lice disinfectant all over their scalp. You just don’t.

Google Glass Do’s and Don’ts

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

Is she smiling at you or taking your photo?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Ted Eytan

Is she smiling at you or taking your photo?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Ted Eytan

Google has recently released a list of etiquette tips in regards to their new device, Glass. Although the product is still in its infancy stages on the consumer market, the document comes in response to its public criticism as well as the numerous bans that have been imposed on it.

Among its many functions, the futuristic eye-wear allows the operator to engage in discrete, hands-free photography and video shooting. So it comes to little surprise that cinemas and strip clubs have gone on the defensive. Potential piracy and amateur pornography aside, though, most of the backlash against the device is focused on user-creepiness.

As far as I can tell, a Glass-wearer would look potentially insane to an outside observer. The awkward headgear looks like frame-less eyeglasses, and they are operated through voice command.

Now imagine you’re at a party. You’re having a great time hanging out with friends, and then you notice an apparent psychopath talking to himself in the corner. To add to your discomfort, you learn that he is also taking pictures of you without your knowledge.

Creepy right? Luckily Google’s list of do’s and don’ts is there to prevent you any further uneasiness.

The first thing for Glass-users (or as Google puts it, Glass explorers) to know is that other people can see them. As the organization notes, it is fine to use the device for short activities such as looking up information or taking photos, but don’t seize the opportunity to complete a long-winded endeavor like reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” This will only result in others perceiving you to be staring off into space for hours on end.

And, if a user does decide to take photos at a party, it would be polite for him or her to ask for each person’s permission beforehand. It’s important to remember that voyeurism is still an act that is frowned upon in our society.

Google is not attempting to embody an authoritarian presence by releasing this list. They want their explorers to examine the world around them and take part in an interactive experience. They just want them to do so within reason.

As the organization so perfectly expressed: “enjoy Glass, just don’t be a ‘Glasshole’.”

LOLThursday: Fake Torch Run in NYC

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games are coming to an end, but that does not mean an end to the glory that they inspire.

Last week, prank group Improv Everywhere orchestrated a fake torch run in New York City, complete with 400 willing participants to play the part of encouraging spectators. You may recognize this group’s work from their “no pants subway ride” prank.

Their video on the fake torch run was only posted Monday, but it will not be long before its joyfulness and patriotism inspires countless YouTube users everywhere.

The video opens with one of the group’s members posing as an injured Olympic Torch runner. She goes up to various people on the streets and asks them if they would be willing to complete her section of the run and pass the torch to its next recipient. Though the first few people sheepishly decline, the woman is eventually successful in obtaining several eager replacements.

As these new participants round the final corner of their run, they are greeted by the applause of countless supporters, all of whom are a part of the elaborate operation. The ruse is then continued via a fake news interview with an on-sight reporter from their team.

What I love most about this video is even though a joke is technically being played on the people who acquire the torch, the organization is not being mean-spirited in their prank or causing any embarrassment.

There are so many good feels in this video, especially when it comes to watching the runners proudly finish their leg of the run as they are cheered on. People of all ages are given the fake honor of passing on the olympic torch, including what appears to be a boy no older than 3. All of the American flags and balloons make me wish that I was around to be asked to run this fake passing of the torch.

Just as in the real Olympic games, this video is at its core about establishing a sense of joy and togetherness.