Facebook: Still Not Evil Enough to Drop

OK, let me add my own resounding yes to the cacophony of outrage over the injustice of the recent Facebook privacy settlement. YES! It is unjust that, though FB lost, none of the claimants may receive cash money, and if they did it would be only $10 at most. And YES! YES! YES! It’s just gross that FB made $234 million from sponsored stories between January 2011 and August 2012.

Am I going to rant to anyone but you about any of this? Probs not. I am going to drop FB? Def not.

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Mexico Overtakes U.S. as Leading Country for Obesity

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on something, it slips away. The United States, known above all else as the land of fleshy freedom, has lost its title as the number-one country for obesity. None other than Mexico has overtaken ‘Merica as the fattest country, with nearly 33 percent of all Mexicans clocking in at obese, along with a whopping 70 percent of the population officially overweight. But with the U.S. obesity rate hovering at 32 percent, we’re not that far off — we’ve just got to keep eating. [Daily Beast]

Why Am I Such A Pottymouth?

Being in a hospital makes me cranky. So when I saw the Jefferson University Hospital nurse headed my way Wednesday, her hands full with the “moccachino barium” solution I was going to have to drink for a CAT scan, I couldn’t help but curse to myself.

Man,” I whined, “I hate this shit.

The nurse’s face didn’t change, but something altered in her countenance. She stopped what she was doing, stood up straight, stared somewhat to the left of my actual eyes, but leveled with me in a completely unexpected way:

“Sir,” she said: “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t curse in front of me.”

I went through a quick cascade of emotions:

• Anger. She doesn’t want me to curse, eh? I’m the patient here! I’m the one who has to drink this shit! Who is she to tell me how to behave about that?!

• Indignance: This is Philadelphia! How does she survive working in this town if she can’t handle a word like that?

• And, finally, horror: Oh dear. I’ve become exactly what my dad hates.

Yes, my dad. A good and decent and honorable man, one who has always hated profanity—he winced to hear me even use words like “gosh” and “darn” as a child. And during a memorable 1980s trip to Knolla’s Pizza in Wichita, the man got up from our table to ask three young college-age men to stop slinging curse words so frequently and so loudly in front of his young family. I was embarrassed that day, but on Wednesday I was embarrassed in a completely different way as I remembered it. I’d become the loutish college kids.

So I apologized, apologized again, and then tried apologizing again. “My dad didn’t raise me that way,” I said, and I meant it. The nurse was more generous with her prohibitions than her forgiveness, though, and she soon took her leave of me—I didn’t see her the rest of my visit to Jefferson.

But it made me wonder: Why am I such a pottymouth?

I’d like to blame Philadelphia, and probably nobody’d be the wiser. If you walk through Center City—or take a bus, a train, or generally go out in public—the odds on any given day are that you’re going to eventually run into somebody screaming an otherwise-unspeakable string of profanities into a cell phone. Somewhat more shockingly to me, nobody in this city ever seems to rein in the purple torrent because kids are around. As our son grew from infant into toddler, my wife and I realized we’d probably have to deal with that influence at some point.

Or maybe I could blame a lifetime in journalism. Newsrooms aren’t known for their gentility. One of my favorite editors ever was a gruff, gravelly-voiced redhead who could stretch the word “Christ” into several, near-symphonic syllables. It was something to behold, something to aspire to.

But the truth is this: I simply like to curse, love the feel of an expletive as it rolls around my mouth waiting to punctuate my point. Along the way, though, I became too casual about it, too willing to assume that my listeners were in on the joke, forgetting that some people really do live by a code that I don’t bother with anymore. Which makes me rude.

And the rudeness probably is a greater offense than the cursing itself.

I still think a well-placed profanity can be a wonderful thing. Consider this classic scene (NSFW) from The Wire, or pretty much any scene from Deadwood. But the good placement is the key to those examples; words deliberately chosen for an audience that knows what it’s getting. And in any case, I’ve always found the bleeped broadcast version of South Park funnier than the unbleeped version.

Me? I’m a writer. I should be able to express myself without automatically resorting to cheap vulgarity, right? So I’m going to try a little harder. It’s time I practiced some gosh-darned self-control. Just pray I don’t end up sounding like Yosemite Sam as a result.

Will Smith Writes Back to Young Fan—Two Years Later

They teach ‘em manners—even if belated ones—in West Philadelphia. Hollywood A-Lister (and Sixers co-owner) Will Smith finally got around to answering fan mail from Monte Jones, who was 9 years old when he wrote to Smith two years ago. Smith reportedly apologized for the late reply, and encouraged the now-11-year-old Jones “to keep chasing those dreams.” Also in the letter? A bookmark with Smith’s face. Better late than never, right? [NWI.com]

Facebook Introduces “Couples Pages” Because Gross

We’ve all know couples who refused to abide by Facebook’s rules and chose to share a single account right? And in the cases where we weren’t already pretty sure that one half of the couple had been caught maybe getting to re-know old high school girlfriends just a bit too well, didn’t we all kind of think it was icky? Well, prepare for a lot more icky. Facebook has introduced “couples pages” to let people in relationship share an identity online. The reaction has been unkind, especially since the new tool actually goes ahead and automatically combines the information of couples without asking them. “You may have just forced me, a newlywed, to take finally take the plunge and break up with my husband on Facebook,” Emma Barnett writes. [The Telegraph]

A New Parent Advises You to Shut Up With Your Platitudes

So, a few weeks back, I was visiting with a pretty good friend who asked how things were going with my new twins, Eli and Jack.

“They’re doing all right,” I said. “And we’re hanging in there. But we need more sleep.”

“Oh,” she said, casually waving her hand at me. “You’ll never sleep again.” Read more »

Hurricane Sandy Isn’t the Only One Rearranging Lawn Furniture

Like most of the rest of the East Coast, I spent the weekend trying to fit my lawn furniture into my garage. Oh, sure, I also stocked up on bottled water and batteries for the flashlights—and then for flashlights, once I’d inserted said batteries and discovered that wasn’t the problem—and picked 12 pounds of green tomatoes that I’d really been hoping would ripen, and moved approximately 12,000 potted plants off my porch and patio and into the house. But the lawn furniture was the big thing, especially if you count the grill, which I do because when my son went to move it the wheels caught in the grass and it cartwheeled over in a truly spectacular Grand Guignol of flying spatulas and brushes and knives and BBQ forks and cold hard grease. Jake, as always, kept a level head in a crisis, by which I mean he said some words he didn’t learn from me and yanked the entire apparatus into three separate parts (which sent various nuts and bolts flying) and carted those into the garage. I have serious doubts we’ll ever manage to get the grill back together again, but at least my namesake storm won’t turn it into a “flying projectile,” as they keep warning on KYW. Read more »

Of Course Michelle Obama and Ann Romney Both Wore Pink

I don’t look good in pink. Never have. I do own a lovely Brooks Brothers pink oxford, and when I am feeling daring, which is not too often, I will wear it with an equally pink sweater vest and khakis and pretend I am a wealthy dilettante in West Palm Beach instead of a generally grumpy magazine editor in Philadelphia. But unless you are African-American or Carson Kressley, pink is a tough color for a guy to pull off. Read more »

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