Friday News: Worst obituary ever?, FCC boosts broadband, new Chrome app for Oyster, and early 20th century anime
Twitter reacts to The Australian’s sexist Colleen McCullough obituary – So, The Australian has apparently managed to write one of the worst obituaries ever, on Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough, describing her as “plain of feature and certainly overweight” focusing right off on an incredibly insulting representation of her physicality, instead of the fact that, among other things, McCullough was a neurophysiologist who was earning $10,000 a year as a researcher at Yale when she wrote her most famous book.
McCullough died on Tuesday, apparently in the aftermath of a series of strokes. She was only 77 but was in diminishing health. People Magazine wrote a much more respectful obituary (quoted below), and you know when People outclasses you, it’s time to step it up.
Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent allergy to hospital soap and turned instead to neurophysiology – the study of the nervous system’s functions. She found jobs first in London and then at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
After her beloved younger brother Carl died in 1965 at age 25 while rescuing two drowning women in the waters off Crete, a shattered McCullough quit writing. She finally returned to her craft in 1974 with Tim, a critically acclaimed novel about the romance between a female executive and a younger, mentally disabled gardener. (A film version starring Mel Gibson and Piper Laurie was released in 1979.) –Daily Life and People
The FCC Just Redefined Broadband So Expect Faster Internet – With net neutrality still in play, the FCC has redefined what constitutes U.S. “broadband” service, increasing minimum download speeds by more than 6 times and minimum upload speeds by 3 times. Gizmodo indicates that this change will be especially beneficial to customers in rural areas and tribal lands, and if you take a look at the map they provide, it’s pretty surprising to see how fast (or rather, slow) internet really is across the country.
Previously, the FCC defined broadband as 4 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads. That’s well below the current national average of 32.4 Mbps up and 9.9 Mbps down, and it’s certainly too slow to support America’s streaming video habits. So it makes good sense that the FCC wanted up change the definition of broadband—a word that’s synonymous with high-speed internet—in order to motivate ISPs to improve service in those underserved areas.
That’s the official take on the change. Unofficially, however, the FCC’s actions stand to shake up the cable industry in some other interesting ways. The redefinition of broadband should increase competition between ISPs and cable companies as well as encourage the development of better infrastructure. The new policy could also affect the outcome of the pending Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, since the new definition means that Comcast now has fewer competitors in its broadband business. That means the Department of Justice might decide that a Mega-Comcast would look even more like a monopoly. –Gizmodo
Help with Audiobook and Subscription availability – So these are both pretty cool, and while only one is new, both are new to me, so I figured they might be new to you, too. First is an extension for Chrome that allows you to see if a book you’re checking out on Amazon is available in Oyster. And second, something on Amazon called Matchmaker that allows you to “pair” the Kindle books you own with audiobook versions. While Matchmaker is Amazon exclusive (since Audible is also owned by Amazon), it’s great for those audiobooks you can pick up for only a few more dollars once you own the Kindle version. And the Oyster Chrome app may benefit Oyster and encourage more competition among the different subscription and digital book services. –Git Hub and The Verge
Early Japanese Animations: The Origins of Anime (1917-1931) – Open Culture features some of the coolest stuff, and these animated Japanese videos from the 1920s and 1920s are no exception. Happy Friday and enjoy!
Anime has a far longer history than you might think; in fact, it was at the vanguard of Japan’s furious attempts to modernize in the early 20th century. The oldest surviving example of Japanese animation, Namakura Gatana (Blunt Sword), dates back to 1917, though much of the earliest animated movies were lost following a massive earthquake in Tokyo in 1923. As with much of Japan’s cultural output in the first decades of the 20th Century, animation from this time shows artists trying to incorporate traditional stories and motifs in a new modern form. –Open Culture
After reading that obituary, I think I channeled Madeline Kahn in CLUE for a few minutes. “Flame…flames…flames on the side of my face… ”
Like many others, I also wrote the first line of my own obit for the paper:
“Though her sheer fatness should have turned nearby men to stone, à la Medusa, she somehow married and wrote about love.”
Yup, that just about sums up my entire life. Thanks for the inspiration, The Australian!
I’m really sorry to hear about Colleen McCullough’s death. I guess with all the snow we recently got I haven’t followed the news closely. I loved, loved, loved The Thorn Birds. That’s a shame about that disrespectful obit. What’s wrong with people? How can someone have thought that was o.k. to write? I’m going to pull out my copy of The Thorn Birds and do a re-read.
I will never forget being way too young (12) but still reading The Thorn Birds when my “Aunt Barbara” (next-door-neighbor) lent it to me. That obit is beyond the pale.
I read Tim back in the early 80s because of the movie of the book. Remember Mel Gibson before we knew he was crazy? Sigh.
The worst thing about the McCullough obit was that the insults weren’t true. Sure, a woman in her 70s wearing zero makeup, she didn’t look like she’d ever be on the cover of Cosmo, but she had an attractive face. Her “plain features” were caused by age and no make-up.
Mel Gibson in Year of Living Dangerously was seriously hot.
I grew up in Ireland and I remember how The Thorn Birds TV series was such a huge TV event. The country practically shut down while that show aired and debates raged about whether it should be allowed because our poor Catholic sensibilities were being scandalized.
As for the obit, *smh*. I love this take on it where male writers are similarly eulogized: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/plain-of-feature-colleen-mccullough-no-contest-for-likes-of-fleming-twain-and-the-bard-20150130-131y8m.html
Thanks for the link. Needed to calm down after “The Australian”‘s obit.
Some people have a very feeble measuring stick when it comes to attractiveness.
Colleen’s face shines in those photographs, warm, lovely, and real. You feel as though she was cheerfully inviting you in for tea. If you linger on those photos a minute, you’re drawn in by the serene intelligence in her eyes. You feel as though you missed out on something, never having met or known her.
She was beautiful.
Remember when Fleetwood Mac reunited and started touring again in the late 1990s? At that time I read a review in my college newspaper that praised Stevie Nicks’ vocals “despite her weight gain.” Lord above deliver us. Pissed me off enough that I wrote a letter to the editor, which they printed.
As for the People obit? REALLY?!?!!? THEY HAD TO MENTION FIFTY SHADES?!?!?! Ugh. Damn kids, get off my lawn.
Apart from the issue of appearance’s relative significance under the circumstances, indeed as a younger person McCullough looked like a real woman. If you do a Google search (didn’t get much on Bing), you can scroll down to see a few photos of her from the time of the Thorn Birds. You’ll see a warm smile, an animated face…and quite an appealing visage.
I think to some of my favorite literary figures—love Auden’s poetry for example—and HIS appearance was wholly immaterial.
Dane’s death in TTB was so devastating; I never knew it was based on a real-life event.
And, seriously, what was wrong with McCullough’s appearance? She may not have looked like she’d just finished getting her Glamor Shots photo for her book cover, but she did look like someone brimming with life and intelligence who you’d love to spend time with. A real character. It’s especially shameful she was treated so disrespectfully by an Australian publication considering her contribution to Australian culture. Well, if you’re born without a penis I guess you’d better damn well make yourself into a beauty queen to have any value.
“indeed as a younger person McCullough looked like a real woman”
Um…perhaps not the best wording? Especially in the circumstances?
@Ann Somerville: Thank you Ann. You are always right.
I had no idea Colleen McCullough died. I remember reading The Thorn Birds when I was 12 and being deeply affected by it. I cried more while reading it than probably any other book I’ve read before or since then. It’s hard to say I loved it exactly but it was definitely unforgettable. And in a way, it inspired my love of romance novels. A little while later, I started venturing into the romance section of book stores to find love stories AND happily ever afters. Much to my delight, I discovered there was a whole genre of books to choose from!
“After her beloved younger brother Carl died in 1965 at age 25 while rescuing two drowning women in the waters off Crete, a shattered McCullough quit writing. ”
She wrote her brother’s death into The Thorn Birds? I didn’t know she based the character of Dane on her brother. Wow- sad.
I have the fastest internet available in my neck of the woods, and I get something between 5-10 Mb per MINUTE.
The FCC’s redefinition won’t do me any good, if their previous definition still fell so far short of the mark.