Twitter introduces #StarWarsEmojis

To celebrate the pending theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Twitter has partnered with Disney and Lucasfilm to create custom, Star Wars Twitter emojis that will allow users to “show their enthusiasm for the ever-evolving Star Wars universe.” The first three emojis debuted today at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, with a variety of emojis to be added as we approach the film’s release date including icons of both the legacy characters, as well as new characters from the new installment.

To incorporate into a tweet, all you need to do is post a hashtag representing keywords associated with specific Star Wars characters, and the emoji icon will appear at the end of the text.

Try out #C3PO #StormTrooper and #BB8 now, and watch for more emojis to be released as we approach the December 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he pays his Facebook and Twitter fees just like everyone else

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RocketNews24:

Has Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fallen for one of those “Facebook to start charging” hoaxes?

Abe found himself the butt of the joke in parliament this week after slipping up on the subject of social media. The prime minister proudly told the House of Councillors on Wednesday that of course, he pays his Facebook and Twitter membership fees.

When Democratic Party politician Tsutomu Okubo asked Abe the question in an exchange during a budget meeting on Wednesday, he was clearly hoping to catch him out. And he succeeded.

Okubo first asked if the prime minister operates his social media accounts himself, to which Abe stated that he has help from staff, but the content of the tweets is all him. “My personal account, that one’s run by myself and my staff, basically I decide what we’re going to post about,” he told the assembly.

Next, Okubo asked with a cheeky smirk on his face: “And have you ever paid Twitter and Facebook service fees?”

He must have been delighted when the prime minister walked right into his trap, replying that yes, of course he pays his fees.

▼ Okubo looking pleased with his clever question.

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Like many world leaders, Abe has two sets of social media accounts, one under his own name, and an official account of the administration of the prime minister (the Kantei). He told the assembly that the fees on personal accounts are the responsibility of the individual:

“Of course, I pay my own fees for my personal social media accounts. But as for the Kantei accounts [the office of the PM], that’s paid for by the Kantei.”

Smiling, Okubo went on to explain what every schoolchild in this day and age knows: that Facebook and Twitter are free to use. For everyone. When he continued to poke the prime minister, asking, “Who are you paying these fees to, then?” there was audible laughter around the room.

▼ Even Abe’s team looked amused at the blunder.

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Abe rose again to counter with:

“I don’t actually know about the details of how it works. I decide the content of the posts and my staff do the rest. I think that’s to be expected really.”

“A conversation with cultural critic/Jeopardy champ Arthur Chu on nerd culture, Asians, and media

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The Awl:

Since Arthur Chu’s historic win streak on Jeopardy! early last year, he’s shrewdly turned his still-minty viral celebrity into a regular gig as a cultural critic and, as some have put it, “the ombudsman of the nerd community.”

At Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Manhattan’s Chinatown, we talked about milking his fifteen minutes, the crisis of nerd culture, and becoming an unlikely Asian-American male icon over a plate of chicken feet. (For me, since he politely declined.)

Is online celebrity strange?

It is, because stuff that’s happening on Twitter, you feel like it’s the whole world and you step off for a few minutes and it doesn’t matter to the majority of people. Even to the extent that it does, there’s a huge decoupling of what makes you important online. A lot of times, I just throw up my hands and say, “I don’t even know what my follower count means anymore.” You just have to keep that in perspective. It affects the real world but it’s something separate from the real world.

What did you do after Jeopardy!?

Call up publicists and PR firms, and said straight up, “Hey, do you work with viral celebrities?” Then I’d ask, “If you were me, how would you hang on to the fame, how would you monetize it?” I got good answers—they weren’t bad answers—but it was stuff I couldn’t imagine myself doing. It was stuff like, “Well you should take the whole idea of game theory and you should become an advice kind of guy, you should do lifehacker stuff, stuff like how-tos on how to invest, get a mortgage.” I said, “That stuff doesn’t interest me.” I didn’t want to keep talking about that for the rest of my life.

You started writing for the Daily Beast. There was that piece that was a critique of nerd culture, and specifically the misogyny in nerd culture, which seems to be a topic you’re obsessed with talking about.

I was the weird smart kid when I was in school, and it sucks being isolated for any reason. But especially guys in our culture, when you feel like you have no romantic prospects, the girls look down on you. It’s baked into our TV, books, and media, that validation comes from girls who like you, and being rejected by girls is sort of being rejected by society. I didn’t date much, and when I’d have fights with my girlfriend in high school, it would always come back to me feeling this sense of being judged. Like, you’re a girl, you’re attractive, you’re automatically on this higher level than me, on this pedestal. People always talk about this like it’s a good thing. The nice guy narrative—“Oh, I admire you so much. I would lavish so much attention on you”—that quickly becomes about getting what you want. Resentment.

I feel like what happened with Jeopardy! was that I got public recognition of my membership in this club. The nerd club. I was specifically lambasted online for being a nerd. If you want to talk about nerds being an oppressed class, a ton of people attacked me in public for being socially awkward, the way I came off. And yet I still have a huge problem with the narrative of the nerd underdog that’s being used to justify all of these things. Awkward guys have taken a lot of abuse, but we are not the actual victims right now in society. We’re taking our past victimization and using it to justify the terrible things that we do. Weirdly enough, I started saying this, and this past year become the year of the big events that highlight that. Elliot Rodger, Gamergate, the low-level nastiness that’s in gamer culture just blows up, and starts drawing attention to itself. That’s not unique there. You see it everywhere when people say, “Oh Christians are oppressed in the US. Or white people are oppressed.” Everyone wants to have that victimization narrative.

How do you see this affecting Asian-American men?

Speaking of horrible things on the Internet, there was a forum called AutoAdmit. One of their memes was this guy who would get really mad and post a photo every time he saw a white guy with an Asian girl. You know this is a long simmering issue in our community. That blog “Stuff White People Like” had a post that said, “What do white guys like? Asian women.”

Everyone thought that he was an Asian guy for a while because of how angry he sounded about that. Anytime there’s a fracture between Asian man and Asian women, it’s always like, Well who are you trying to date? Why are you trying to date white guys? Why are you trying to date white girls?

I’m in this Facebook group that’s basically just Asian guys railing about why Asian women don’t date Asian men, and their perceptions about how Asian men are emasculated in the media. There’s all of this anger and resentment.

Yeah! I mean, I can speak to this. When The Joy Luck Club, way back when, was a bestseller, the one woman’s story whose life most closely mirrored Amy Tan’s—she marries a white guy. And it’s the happy ending. Every Asian man in this story is a horrible abuser, or he’s an unloving cold fish that gets dumped for a white guy. It was a small part of what the book was about. But for a lot of Asian guys, it hit pretty hard. Some guys make it a whole part of that men’s rights activist thing, saying Asian women are privileged relative to Asian men—Asian men are almost an unnecessary demographic.

A lot of the positions you take perhaps aren’t mainstream Asian-American positions. Talking about race, talking about police violence, talking about sexism.

You get raised to run away from politics. That was how I was raised, in an evangelical Christian family. People from our backgrounds, you want to be just like everyone else. You want to integrate into American culture, you want to be invisible, you want to be the same as your white friends. For me, that was very much true. For a long time I’d say things like, “Why bring up race? Why not try to be colorblind? Why not have an identity that’s distinct from any racial background you have?” I was one of those guys. I’m an American. No hyphen.

There’s just a point—the more you confront what America actually is and how America works—you can’t say that America is apart from race. America is race. It’s a series of colonies that were founded by people taking land away from people who they felt didn’t deserve it. Because of race and then working the land with people who were enslaved because of race. It’s built on that. Do you look at your black friend and say, “I don’t see your race. It’s just a coincidence that you get stopped by cops when my white friends don’t. It’s just a coincidence that this black kid got shot”? When you try to be an actor and you look around and say, “Hey, there’s no other Asians here. Weird”? There are all these spec sheets that they put out, audition sheets, and they all say, “Whites or other race.” I’d like to keep thinking that it’s just merit, but gosh, it feels like, once you actually have your eyes open, you can’t keep lying to yourself about that stuff anymore.

What does it feel like to become a bit of an Asian-American icon?

I thought it was weird. I compared it to Linsanity when I first started thinking about it. It’s not just that there is a successful Asian-American that’s in a field that we’re not used to—we get sick and tired of the same narrative, someone with a web-based business, some computer scientist, an engineer. To see someone become successful in a different way, it’s liberating. I didn’t think an Asian-American winning on Jeopardy!by itself would be a big deal. The funny thing being there’ve been very few champions who are Asian-American—the contestant pool has been overwhelmingly white. So it was funny when it happened and people were like, “an Asian guy winning Jeopardy!, that’s predictable.”

The idea of an Asian in the news for being controversial and unapologetic, for having strong opinions… Asians are supposed to work hard and do well but not to make waves. Not to create controversy. When you’re raised to think that’s not your place, to me, it’s important to make that space. It’s okay to be loud and rude and opinionated as an Asian. It’s a good thing.

Margaret Cho comes to mind.

Yeah, like Margaret Cho! Her show, her standup is so good, and her show, as soon as they gave it to her, they were like, “We can’t let this happen, we have to shape it into something that we’re comfortable with.” Pat Morita did stand up his whole life, he was a very outspoken, profane, funny guy. But America remembers him as Mr. Miyagi.

That’s how I remember him too, to be honest.

Exactly. That’s what they want to see. So it’s always fighting to see something else, to push some other narrative.

Did this influence you as a kid? This lack of a different narrative about Asian-Americans.

I often grew up in communities where there weren’t many Asian kids, so I tried to identify with my white friends.Then there was the flip side, in high school, when we moved to California, and there were a lot of Asians. I didn’t fit in with them either. My dad always had this idea, once you’re with other Asians who won’t reject you because of your race, you’ll fit right in. I was like, “No! I’m still a weird person.” Most Asian-American kids in LA are like white American kids in LA—they have certain tastes, and it was very, very different from me. It was always me kind of feeling like, whatever community I’m in, I’m always different. Having spent a lot of my life feeling alienated from the Asian-American community, it’s weird to be welcome back.

How so?

In retrospect, I know there’s been Asian-American activists being very loud and political even before I was alive, but where I lived, it just wasn’t visible. That’s not something we do, that’s something that Black activists do. I think it would’ve made a lot of things easier for me if I’d had those messages—like it’s okay to be mad about racism, it’s okay to talk about it, it’s okay to think about and analyze things in terms of race, instead of just pretending like you don’t notice.

Would you describe yourself as an Asian-American activist?

I’d like to think of myself as one. A slacktivist, maybe. I haven’t put in as much work as people who’ve put in work, but it’s something I care about.

So what’s next for you?

I’m looking at writing a book about my journey on Jeopardy! and the idea of success around nerdy guys in America.

Any title ideas yet?

No, not yet.

Time to get on the Chu-chu train? I can tell from your face that you’re not really into that.

Ken Jennings likes Chu-phoria.

Controversial Tweet about Eddie Huang’s “Fresh Off The Boat”

The official Twitter account for ABC‘s upcoming spin-off comedy series Fresh Off the Boat is in some hot water after posting a controversial ad depicting various cultural hats. Chef Eddie Huang, whose memoir serves as the basis for the forthcoming comedy series, expressed his distaste for the ad, calling it “plain offensive and ridiculous.”

Receiving criticism from audiences for its stereotypical nature in particular for its “bamboo hat” reference, the Twitter ad has since been deleted as executive producer Jeff Yang confirms. While it is no secret that Huang has expressed his frustration on getting the television series on air, the chef praises ABC’s efforts in pioneering a story that has yet to be told on major networks.

Check out the tweet below…

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Photos of people lining up outside of the Sapporo Apple Store make us feel positively frozen

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We thought people were dedicated when they lined up in droves to wait for the release of the iPhone 6 earlier this year, but that’s nothing compared to what these people had to endure while waiting for New Year’s lucky bags outside of the Apple Store in Sapporo, Japan!

Would you wait outside in the freezing cold for over a day and risk catching pneumonia in order to score some spiffy Apple products?

Seriously, just looking at these photos is enough to make me throw on five extra layers and crank up the heat. I certainly wouldn’t be willing to wait around all night in freezing temperatures just to get some cool electronics, but kudos to those of you who are. Oh, and can I offer you some steaming hot tea?

Let’s take a look at some of those brave/crazy souls through the eyes of Japanese Twitter users:

“It’s snowing hard in front of the Sapporo Apple Store [around 3:20 am].”

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“It’s 5am now–is everyone still alive? Don’t die! Hang in there just a little bit longer!”

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“January 2, 5:10 am, in front of the Sapporo Apple Store. About five officers came by to make sure that the people who weren’t moving are still alive!”

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One Twitter user, @misor_cross, lined up with four others for over 42 hours and painstakingly documented the whole ordeal. Here are some of her posts:

 ▼“12/31, 4:45 pm–outside of the Sapporo Apple Store.”

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“Happy New Year! I welcomed the New Year outside of the Sapporo Apple Store. The temperature on 1/1 at 5:05 am is -4.5ºC [23.9ºF], but there are already 11 people lining up.”  

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“1/1 at 12 pm at the Sapporo Apple Store. 2o hours left until the store opens for the first business of the year! The line has grown to 32 people. I’m a bit worried about the weather–I hope it doesn’t snow…”

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“1/1 at 4:25 pm at the Sapporo Apple Store. There are 77 people lined up now! The line looks like it will wrap around the corner at Mitsukoshi [a department store]. There are plenty of Apple lovers this year as well!” 

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“1/2 at 6 am at the Sapporo Apple Store. The long, long wait is almost over! Only two hours left! By the way, there are now 130 people in line.”

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Here are some comments by other Japanese net users who saw the tweets:

“They’re gonna freeze to death!”

“What part of that is ‘lucky‘?”

“I hope they return alive…”

“Are the bags worth enough to almost die and have to go to the hospital?”

“It’s like a modern-day version of Mount Hakkoda [a 1997 Japanese film based on historical events from the winter of 1902 in which 199 out of 210 Japanese Imperial Army soldiers died during a blizzard as they were crossing Aomori Prefecture’s Mt. Hakkoda].”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make some hot chocolate and crawl under my blankets to hibernate for a bit.

Japanese girls mysteriously collapse at school, rumors say it’s the work of a ghost

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RocketNews 24:

 

The Japanese internet is exploding after a succession of high school girls in Fukuoka Prefecture disturbingly collapsed during school hours on Monday. Students who were at the scene took to their Twitter accounts to post updates as the bizarre spectacle unfolded.

While the most likely explanation for the mysterious series of events is that the girls were induced into a state of mass panic after the first girl collapsed, some are attributing it to avengeful spirit. Feel free to draw your own conclusions from the details, but either way, this is one creepy happening.

Summer is traditionally the season for telling tales of horror and ghost stories in Japan, and it seems like this season is off to a spectacularly eerie start. Around 10am on June 30, a first-year student at Yanagawa High School, a private school in Fukuoka Prefecture, suddenly began screaming in the middle of class and became unable to move her body. Soon after, several of her female classmates began displaying the same strange behavior, and their numbers increased to either 26 or 27 (based on varying reports) as more students from surrounding rooms arrived to see what was happening. The afflicted students, who were all female and ranged from first-years through third-years, were taken home by their guardians. The school eventually shut down completely around 1pm, and remained closed on the following day for authorities to investigate the cause of events.

As bizarre as the above series of events may seem, the story gets even stranger with the addition of a strange twist–some are whispering that the girls were actually possessed by a ghost!

Every year, the first-year students at Yanagawa High School go on an excursion to the nearby Mt. Hiko as part of their studies. In the past, the surrounding area, including the large Aburagi Dam, has been rumored to be inhabited by the spirit of a headless girl. Some people are hypothesizing that one of the high school students became possessed by the ghost during her class’ recent trip, and it came home with her when they returned.

Here are some tweets from a student as the events unfolded on Monday:

 

“Our school. Rumor’s going around that an evil spirit was brought back from the mountain. Now over 15 people are dropping like flies. The girls are saying things like “Kill me!” and “Die!” It’s too crazy. We’re on standby in the classroom…”

“In the end the school was closed. The number who collapsed: five turned into 15, eventually surpassing 20. 27 girls collapsed in total. Freaky”

Many others commented as the news spread online:

 

“When I checked up on Yanagawa High School, this came up…are they all right? Is it group hysterics? The pictures are frightening…”

(Text in the picture:) “About 20 female students at Yanagawa High School were possessed by a ghost and collapsed! It’s really scary! The whole school went into a state of panic and shut down! It might be on TV!”

 

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While officials are attributing the collapsing fits as a case of mass hysterics caused by the first girl, others are not so quick to shun the involvement of an evil spirit. Or perhaps the whole happening was a prank by Hanako, a toilet ghost that is rumored to live in the bathroom of Japanese schools. We may never know what the real reason was…

Sources: Hachima KikoNikkan Sports