The Internet issued a collective gasp last week at news that the creative force behind its favourite science page, I F***ing Love Science, is a woman. Elise Andrew’s defiant, funny and profane manner had apparently led the site’s more than 4.2 million fans to believe it was the product of a male mind. Predictably, her reveal prompted an onslaught of sexist comments, from “Are there kitchens in space?” to endless threads on her looks. “EVERY COMMENT is about how shocking it is that I’m a woman! Is this really 2013?”Andrew tweeted in response—but her case is hardly unique. Legions of female tech writers and bloggers are posting under male pseudonyms; the issue has even forced academic panels on the “perils of blogging as a woman under a real name.” It’s been more than 150 years since Mary Anne Evans wrote as George Eliot to ensure her work was taken seriously. On the web, Evans’s act of desperation is the apparent norm.
Knocking on heaven’s door
Justin Welby’s installation as archbishop of Canterbury last week was traditional, but his rise to lead the world’s 77 million Anglicans was anything but. The Eton-educated former oil executive didn’t become a priest until 36, then used his business moxie to grow a succession of dying congregations. While preaching a strong commitment to Christianity, he also trekked through the world’s hot spots, including Nigeria, promoting conciliation. He’ll need those skills when dealing with a fractious Church, split on issues like gay marriage and female bishops. As pundits have quipped, today’s religious leaders need to be “Jesus Christ with an M.B.A.” The Anglicans may have found just that.
Comedian Jim Carrey took aim at the pro-gun lobby this week, mocking it as a bunch of hell-bound neurotics. In a video for the website Funny Or Die, Carrey, in a cream cravat and matching flak jacket, appeared as past NRA president Charlton Heston and as the fictitious frontman of Lonesome Earl and the Clutterbusters, a country group. Using Heston’s famed declaration—that gun control advocates would have to pry his rifle from his “cold, dead hands”—as inspiration, Carrey, dancing an awkward cowboy shuffle, warbled: “Only the devil’s true devotees could profiteer from pain and fear . . . The angels wouldn’t take him up to heaven like he planned, because they couldn’t pry that gun from his cold, dead hand.” The release of the video came after a Twitter tirade in which the Ace Ventura actor called gun lobbyists “heartless” and “unwilling 2 bend 4 the safety of our kids.”
‘Hinch’ a ride
How life has changed for James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont. Two years ago, the 26-year-old IndyCar driver was out of a job when his race team closed its doors, “sitting at home, kind of contemplating life, thinking about what I was going to do.” This week, he picked up his first career win at Indy’s season opener in Florida. “Hinch,” poised to become IndyCar’s next star, became the first Canadian to notch an Indy win since Paul Tracy in 2007.
Look out, Mrs. O
When Peng Liyuan stepped off a plane in Moscow in a tight black trench coat last week, the wife of China’s president had fashionistas agog. Knockoffs “in the style of the first lady” began immediately appearing online, the website for the Guangzhou-based label behind her handbag crashed, and the peep-toe crocodile pumps Peng donned in Tanzania were declared spring’s must-have footwear. To Vogue China editor Zhang Yu, it was a “landmark event,” marking “the first time that China’s first lady appears like a modern woman.” That the 50-year-old mother of a Harvard freshman would break free from the dowdy mould of China’s first ladies shouldn’t surprise: Peng, a singer known for her dramatic flair, was famous long before her mate. Indeed, when Xi Jinping joined the standing committee of the Politburo in 2007, he was known as “Peng Liyuan’s husband.”
Death of a tycoon
When an oligarch falls in London, and no one is around to hear it, it apparently does make a sound. Boris Berezovsky’s death this week, alone in his Berkshire mansion and behind a locked bathroom door, sparked more conspiracy theories than the noted lothario had wives. Although the Kremlin has a nasty habit of offing its critics (and Berezovsky had himself survived repeated attempts on his life), a post-mortem ruled that he had died by hanging, with no signs of a struggle. Exiled to London after Vladimir Putin turned on his onetime kingmaker, Berezovsky was financially ruined, deeply depressed and desperate to return to Russia. “I’ve lost meaning, the point in life,” he told Forbes the day before his death. “I don’t know what to do next. I’m 67 and I don’t know what to do any more.”
A surprising surrender
For one of Africa’s most-wanted warlords, the end last week came in a rather unspectacular fashion. After years on the run, Bosco Ntaganda walked into the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, tore off his disguise, and gave himself up. The rebel leader, nicknamed “the Terminator” for ruthlessness in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been transferred to The Hague to face a number of appalling charges, including the recruitment of child soldiers and the use of rape as a weapon of war.
Wrong kind of love
She’s a tennis former No. 1; the youngest ever to crack the game’s top 10—at just 14; Olympic gold medallist and . . . a stalker? Former tennis great Jennifer Capriati was charged last week with battery and stalking, after police say she punched her former boyfriend at a gym on Valentine’s Day. Ivan Brannan told police Capriati has harassed and stalked him since their 2012 breakup, once calling his office 100 times in a single day.
That dog don’t hunt
New works by a famous American painter are giving pundits a window into the inner world of George W. Bush; after all, he’s the artist behind them. The former U.S. president is garnering both praise from the likes of vaunted American art critic Jerry Saltz and derision for his post-politics hobby. In a new round of images leaked this week, Bush’s portrait of a dog stands out. In it, the hound appears to be sitting on the wrong side of a fence with the White House in the distance: a commentary on the artist’s previous life? Perhaps. Words never were Bush’s strong suit.
Golfer Sergio García sees no obstacles—apparently even when his ball lands in the trees. When the Spanish superstar drove a shot into the nook of an oak tree at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida this week, he simply climbed up and played on. His wild, one-handed backwards swing sent the ball soaring to the centre of the fairway. In other unconventional sports news, Martin Brodeur showed that minding the net doesn’t preclude racking up a goal or two. In a game against the Carolina Hurricanes last week, the New Jersey backstopper was the last Devil to touch the puck before Carolina’s Jordan Staal banked it down the ice: straight into the empty net. Remarkably, that marked Brodeur’s third goal, an NHL record for tenders.
Beckham gets bent
He fell, but fabulously, on his sculpted backside. David Beckham, in China promoting soccer this week, also demonstrated the reason cleats, not flats, are worn on the field.
Thursday, March 28, 2013