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Alex Furlin

Grandpa punches a shark to save children on the beach

62-year old hero took on shark with bare hands

It’s not too often that you hear “grandpa” and “shark punching” in the same sentence, but it’s not too often that, you know, a grandpa punches a shark with his bare hands to shoo it away from some small children on the beach. That’s exactly what occured on the Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia, where it happened to be picked up by a nearby news team.

The grandpa hero, 62-year old Australian Paul Marshallsea reported that his “instincts took over” as he approached the shark head on, pulling it away from the youngsters by the tail. The shark wasn’t one to give up however, and nearly bit Marshallsea’s leg after thrashing loose.

Wildlife expert Terry Dale managed to assist Marshallsea in thwarting the shark’s sinister plans before the coastguard was called in. They acknolwedged that Dale and Marshallsea did a fine job and heroic service, but recommended that “manhandling sharks” be left to the professionals.

But come you guys. A senior citizen beat up a shark today. Put a smile on your face.

Obama inauguration sets tone for second term

Obama gets serious with inauguration speech

President Obama’s words echoed with a vibrant resonance to the estimaed crowd of 800,000 at his second inauguration: “We are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”

Obama centered his second inauguration speech around themes of unity, perseverance, and social justice. The crux of Obama’s speech centered on continuing to tackles the challenges presented by the former generation fo the 50s, and 60s, including the widening income gap, proclaiming that “our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”.

Obama’s speech was deeply patriotic, calling for oft-repeated reforms to our tax code, school system, and healthcare system. He wasn’t afraid to highlight the more neglected spheres of America, bringing into focus poverty – a word never before uttered in an inaugural speech – saying “‘we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.” Obama was presidential, forceful but hopeful.

There was a certain fire in Obama’s eyes and in his words, as if the crushing weight of the past 4 years of slow progress and obstacles in Congress and the news media had been lifted; truly a new beginning has befallen Obama’s spirits. While he still called for bipartisanship and unity, often centering around the phrase “We The People”, gone seemed Obama’s first-term promise of being the great comprimisor. With no more re-election efforts in the future, Obama truly seemed ready to tackle the challenges with the full force of a believer with nothing to lose.

Obama became the first president in history to call for renewed gay rights initiatives during an inaugural speech, echoing previous comments in which he became the first president to support gay rights, period. Women’s rights and equality were also mentioned, underlining Obama’s commitment to liberalism and progressivism. After the celebration and inaugural balls, Obama’s second term will get fully underway, and it remains to be seen if he can live up to the hefty promise of his stirring speech.

Lance Armstrong: Former Olympic Medalist

Disgraced cyclist gets medal taken away

Lance Armstrong. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In the wake of his performance-enhancing drugs scandal, Armstrong was stripped of his title as Tour de France champion — now he’s no longer an Olympic medalist. The International Olympic Committee has official revoked the bronze medal Armstrong won in the 2000 summer games in Sydney Australia, publically calling on him to return it.

The move comes just before Armstrong’s rumored tell-all interview with Oprah airs, where it has been strongly speculated that Armstrong admits to using performance-enhancing drugs during the course of his previously decorated and admired career. The interview airs Thursday and Friday nights.

Previously, Lance Armstrong had all seven of his Tour de France medals stripped from himself and the history books when his doping became public knowledge. Lance Armstrong is also facing a $12 million lawsuit from a former sponsor, in addition to being banned for life and having his public image irrevocably damaged. More on this to come when the high-profile Oprah interview airs.

Facebook Graph Search opens doors for businesses, creeps

Facebook introduces new form of potentially creepy searching

Facebook unveiled this week an all-new feature for the site, a social-search function dubbed “graph search”. Until now, search has been fairly standard on Facebook. Search for a person’s name or a page, and that’s generally what you get. Facebook graph search, however, has been built to handle more sophisticated and user-tailored search results.

The basic idea behind Facebook graph search is that you can search through friends based off of their public likes on Facebook. For example, if you wanted a few restaurants nearby that your friends like, you can simply search “chinese food my friends like” and Facebook graph search will organize the results based on that.

With Facebook graph search, corporate scavenging for likes will likely increase by a significant margin. Since likes are now a publically indexed search function based on certain categories, businesses will have the incentive to get as many likes as possible to show up on as many graph searches as possible. Facebook graph search would appeal to businesses not just for increased exposure, but generally, people like what their friends like. They trust them, far more than any traditional advertisement. With Facebook graph search, companies can cash in on word-of-mouth from people’s friends even without the friends knowing they recommended something to one another.

It wouldn’t be Facebook without its share of detractors, however, and pundits immediately realized the very creepy and very possible potential of Facebook graph search. For instance, people can now easily search total strangers with likes that match your search query. You can search for people based off their alma matter. You can search people who went to Boston University and graduated in 2007 who like pepperoni pizza and The Dark Knight. And you’ll immediately know who they are. As of now, the beta testing of Facebook graph search indexes a total of four quadrants, likes, photos, profiles, and places.

An interesting facet of Facebook graph search will be the specific nature of its search results. Unlike Google, which crawls the entire internet, Facebook draws from its own in-house body of information, which includes over a billion profiles and 24 billion pictures. Given the fact that many profiles are fully-fleshed out with dozens, if not hundreds or possibly thousands of likes, Facebook graph search has the potential to completely revolutionize the way people find information online, and in real life.

Also it’s super creepy and has potential privacy issues, but that’s par for the course for Facebook. It will be one of those things where people are aghast at first, but then like two months later will find themselves using it all the time and it will be hard to imagine what life was like before it.

Nicki Minaj Leads New American Idol Judge Panel

Meet your judges: Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, and Randy Jackon

Nicki Minaj, popular music’s wacko it-girl was unveiled to be a judge on the all new season of American Idol this year. Minaj is joined by fellow music superstars Keith Urban and Mariah Carey, as well as remaining stalwart Randy Jackson, who apparently can’t find anything else to do with his career. As hyped, a feud immediately broke out between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, which seems par for the course in Minaj’s controversial and tabloid-headline-grabbing career.

Not one to act modest or even polite, Nicki Minaj stormed out of the gates, calling out Mariah Carey for being a “bitch” on the first episode, after arguing over nearly every single contestant that auditioned, in addition to completely petty topics like the film “Mean Girls”. This reporter’s eyes also argued with Nicki Minaj’s hair color, which seems to be some form of volcanic neon orange.

It remains to be seen whether Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Keith Urban – the show’s first country-oriented judge – can ressurect the culture-dominating ratings the series once enjoyed, but the inspired casting is sure to cause more headlines down the road, as Nicki Minaj is wont to do. The biggest surprise of the  season would be if it was run in a smooth, drama-free manner that produced an agreeable winner. But this is American Idol we’re talking about. And American Idol + Nicki Minaj = interesting things will happen. At least we’ll get to see Randy say “dog” again, because that never gets old.

Shooting at Taft High School Saved By Heroic Teacher

16 year old is top suspect, one critical injury

A shooting occured early Thursday morning in central California at Taft High School. A 16 year old opened fire and managed to critically injure one student before being taken down by a teacher, who suffered a grazed bullet to the top of his head. The shooting started around 9:30pm, when the suspect lightly wounded two other students.

The student who was the only critical injury in the shooting  — also 16 — was airlifted to Bakersfield for immediate medical attention after sustaining a bullet to the chest. The suspect had apparently planned out every move in advance, purposely showing up late to class with a shotgun. Fortunately, he missed his initial targets, giving the teacher of the 28-student class time to take down the shooter. 

Immediately after the first rounds of the Taft high school shooting, horrified and confused students and faculty were evacuated from the premises to a nearby football field where they waited to be picked up. In between 911 calls, some students frantically called their parents about the shooting that had unfolded.

“There’s just blood everywhere,” one shocked student told her mother on the phone.  “My friend’s been shot, my teacher has been shot.”

The timing of the shooting is especially cryptic, coming at the exact same time Vice President Joe Biden met with victims of previous gun violence incidents as a part of his ongoing campaign to craft new gun control legislation. This thankfully deathless shooting will no doubt play a large role in the discussions on gun control.

The names of the shooter, victim, and teacher have not yet at this time been released by the authorities. 

Justin Timberlake Teases New Music

Material will be Timberlake’s first in 7 years

Justin Timberlake has finally returned to the arena that made him famous: music. It may be hard to remember since it’s been so long, but Justin Timberlake first found fame as a part of the boy band *NSYNC in the late 90s before transitioning to a solo career. His two albums, Justified in 2002 and FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006 were both huge international hits that cemeted Justin Timerlake’s status as a force to be reckoned with. Since then, however, Justin Timberlake has primarily shifted his focus to acting. Well, the hiatus is over.

A cryptic countdown clock has surfaced on Justin Timberlake’s website, synced up perfectly with a teaser video Timberlake tweeted earlier on Thursday. In the video, Timberlake addresses his fans and puts any doubts to rest that he is through with music. “‘Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Are you just done with music?’ It means more to me than anybody else in the world,” Timberlake says, “Look. I’ve only done two albums in ten years. That’s the way I really look at it. What does the next decade mean for me? I’m the one who sits in — is obsessive about it before you even get to hear it.”

Rumor has it that a collaboration single with rapper Jay-Z will be revealed at the end of the countdown as a way to kick off Justin Timberlake’s return to the pop music throne. If Justin Timberlake had 99 problems, getting back into the music world isn’t one of them anymore.

Peoples' Choice Awards Swept by "Hunger Games"

“Hunger Games” grabs 5 awards, Katy Perry wins 4

The People’s Choice awards were given out yesterday, with “The Hunger Games” — star Jennifer Lawrence in particular — and Katy Perry dominating the show. “The Hunger Games” ultimately won 5 People’s Choice awards, sweeping Favorite Movie, Favorite Action Movie, Favorite Movie Franchise, Favorite Face Of Heroism for Jennifer Lawrence, and Favorite On-Screen Chemistry for the three leads of the film, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. In addition, Lawrence picked up an additional award for Favorite Movie Actress, beating out the likes of Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone, and Scarlett Johanson. 

Katy Perry was the other major winner at the People’s Choice awards, picking up trophies for Favorite Female Artist, Favorite Pop Artist, Favorite Music Video for “Part of Me”, and Favorite Music Fan Following for Perry’s fanbase “Katycats”. Yes, we are awarding people who actively call themselves “Katycats” now. Believe it. One Direction also won their nominations in Favorite Song of the Year for “What Makes You Beautiful” and Favorite Album of the Year for their debut “Up All Night”, furthering cementing the People’s Choice awards as being relevant only to 11 year old girls. 

The People’s Choice awards this year hit a record for the amount of votes cast online, topping 475 million. In comparison, roughly 126 million votes were cast in the 2012 Presidential election. Here’s a full list of the winners:

Movie: “The Hunger Games”

Movie actor: Robert Downey, Jr.

Movie actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Action movie: “The Hunger Games”

Action movie star: Chris Hemsworth

Face of heroism: Jennifer Lawrence, “The Hunger Games”

Comedic movie: “Ted”

Comedic movie actor: Adam Sandler

Comedic movie actress: Jennifer Aniston

Dramatic movie: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Dramatic movie actor: Zac Efron

Dramatic movie actress: Emma Watson

Movie franchise: “The Hunger Games”

Movie superhero: Robert Downey, Jr., “Iron Man”

On-screen chemistry: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, “The Hunger Games”

Movie icon: Meryl Streep

Network TV comedy: “The Big Bang Theory”

Network TV drama: “Grey’s Anatomy”

Cable TV comedy: “Awkward”

Cable TV drama: “Leverage”

Premium cable TV show: “True Blood”

TV crime drama: “Castle”

Sci-fi/fantasy TV show: “Supernatural”

Comedic TV actor: Chris Colfer

Comedic TV actress: Lea Michele

Dramatic TV actor: Nathan Fillion

Dramatic TV actress: Ellen Pompeo

Daytime TV host: Ellen DeGeneres

Late-night talk show host: Jimmy Fallon

New talk show host: Steve Harvey

Competition TV show: “The X Factor”

Celebrity judge: Demi Lovato

Male artist: Jason Mraz

Female artist: Katy Perry

Pop artist: Katy Perry

Hip-hop artist: Nicki Minaj

R&B artist: Rihanna

Band: Maroon 5

Country artist: Taylor Swift

Breakout artists: The Wanted

Song: One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful”

Album: One Direction, “Up All Night”

Music video: Katy Perry, “Part of Me”

People’s voice: Christina Aguilera

Humanitarian: Sandra Bullock

Pebble watch opens up new smartwatch market

The Pebble watch was the most funded project in Kickstarter history

The Pebble E-Paper Watch started as a project on Kickstarter with the aim of raising $100,000 to develop an all-new type of watch, dubbed a “smartwatch” that would run its own apps and interface directly with Android and iOS devices. That goal was met within two hours of the project going live, and The Pebble ultimately ended up with over $10 million in pledged contributions, 100 times the amount the project creators were seeking. It stands tall as the most-funded campaign in the history of Kickstarter, and it raised far more money via the crowdsourcing site than it did from traditional investors.

The Pebble watch itself  features a 1.26-inch 144 × 168 pixel monochrome LCD display equipped with a backlight, accelerometer, and light sensors. After popular support from Kickstarter allowed the creators the funds to implement it, the watch is also totally water-resistant. Built-in apps included a cycling speedometer, GPS, and a golf rangefinder, in addition to the Bluetooth necessary to connect with smartphones. 

The Pebble is known for its striking design and the plethora of watchface designs it’s capable of displaying, the most notable of which is the face that just reads the time in words, showing “Eight Thirty Five” in a smooth sans-serif font instead of the traditional “8:35” of most digital watches. The watch will retail for $150.00 when it goes on sale later in January.

Check out the watch at the Pebble website.

Oscar nominations unveiled, "Lincoln" leads the pack

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Silver Linings Playbook” also recognized

The 85th Oscar nominations were unveiled by Emma Stone and host Seth Macfarlane earlier today, releasing the 9 contenders for the coveted Best Picture: “Amour”, “Argo”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Django Unchained”, “Les Miserables”, “Life of Pi”, “Lincoln”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, and “Zero Dark Thirty”. Most of these choiced had long been predicted by avid movie viewers and award-season scavengers, but there are a few surprises in the mix.

Impressively, “Silver Linings Playbook” managed to become the first movie in over 30 years to be nominated for every single acting category, in addition to nods for Best Picture and Best Director & Best Adapted Screenplay for director David O. Russell. Major surprises include directing snubs for Katheryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty”, Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained”, and Tom Hooper for “Les Miserables”, all oh whom received recognition in the Directors Guild awards nomination last week. Typically, nominations from the DGA lead to an automatic Oscar nomination. Such is not the case for this year’s Oscars.

Another movie that generated major awards discussion was “The Master”, the new film by director Paul Thomas Anderson, was shut out almost entirely, save for a few acting nominations on behalf of Joaquin Pheonix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. Other interesting tidbits to be found within the wealth of nominations are a historic Best Actress field, with both the oldest (Emmanuelle Riva at 85) and youngest (Quvenzhane Wallis at 9) nominees in the category.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Django Unchained

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Michael Haneke, Amour
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Pirates: Band of Misfits

Amour (Austria)
No, (Chile)
War Witch, (Canada)
A Royal Affair, (Denmark)
Kon Tiki, (Norway)

Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Amy Adams, The Master

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Robert de Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Alan Arkin, Argo
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Argo, written by Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, written by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi, written by David Magee
Lincoln, written by Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, written by David O. Russell

Amour, written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained, written by Quentin Tarantino
Flight, written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal

For a full list of the nominations, head over to the Oscars website.