“While You Were Out” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the watercooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to if it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Serena Closes In
This week Serena Williams continued to excel at the U.S. Open, beating her older sister Venus in the quarterfinals and heading toward what’s promising to be an exciting semifinals. We’re staying tuned to see if she does her signature grand slam and joins the rarefied air of those who have won all four majors in a single season. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Colbert’s First Late Show
Stephen Colbert appeared on his first episode of The Late Show this week, having retired his Comedy Central show to replace David Letterman’s spot on CBS’ main late-night show. Colbert, whose return was preceded by this month’s GQ cover story, may be shedding his fictitious persona of The Colbert Report but not without keeping his quirky sense of humor, quick wit, and smart news commentary. If his first episode—which included conversations with George Clooney (Colbert asked him how it feels to be the “arm candy” in the relationship—ha!) and GOP candidate Jeb Bush, a delicious Oreo-filled mockery of Donald Trump news clips, and a musical send-off including the legendary Mavis Staples—is any indication of what’s in store this year, then step aside, Jimmy Fallon, I’ll catch ya on YouTube. You’re sharing a spot with my new late-night fix. —MRS
Trump Swipes Fiorina
No matter what your politics are, I think it can be agreed upon that Donald Trump has put his foot in his mouth yet again. When giving an interview to Rolling Stone, Trump began picking on fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina, focusing not on the political issues at hand but on her looks. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president. I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?” I’m sorry, Mr. Trump, but are YOU serious? At a time when not only are more women seeking higher elected office but more constituents are also willing to take them seriously, Trump’s comment should rankle everyone—Republican, Democrat, Independent, or ambivalent. Whether it’s picking on Hillary Clinton for her pantsuits, Sarah Palin for her accent, or Carly Fiorina for her looks, it is beyond time for voters to look past the superficial aspects of female candidates and either criticize or praise based on each woman’s platform, intelligence, and capability. —Monica Weigel
Australia Offers Aid to Syrians
This week the Australian government announced that it will resettle 12,000 refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq in addition to the existing humanitarian intake of 13,750 this year. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the refugees accepted would be from persecuted minorities. Abbott put the emphasis squarely on the humanitarian nature of this effort, saying, “Our focus is on the persecuted minorities who have been displaced and are very unlikely to ever be able to go back to their original homes.” Australia’s department of finance expects that this will come at a cost of $700 million. Australia will also contribute $44 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to assist displaced people in neighboring countries. The humanitarian announcement was coupled with a military one—Abbott confirmed that Australia would join United States–led airstrikes in Syria focusing on Islamic State group targets. —Hannah Allen White
Marissa Mayer Under Fire
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer received more headlines in the past few days, this time because NYU professor Scott Galloway suggested that in light of Yahoo’s poor stock performance of late, Mayer would have been fired if it weren’t for her being pregnant with twins. Here’s what Anna Jordan had to say about that at Verily this week. —MRS
Queen Elizabeth II Rules
Queen Elizabeth II officially became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch on Wednesday, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who ruled for sixty-three years and 216 days. Exactly when the Queen became the longest-reigning sovereign is debatable as she assumed the throne after the death of her father, George VI, and the precise time of his death on February 6, 1952, is unknown. By all accounts, however, her reign has been nothing short of breathtaking, spanning twelve British prime ministers, including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
Following in the tradition of Queen Victoria, the monarch refused to partake in any elaborate celebrations. Instead, she traveled with her husband, Prince Philip, to Edinburgh, where they opened a new rail line, the longest to be built in the United Kingdom in more than a century. “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones; my own is no exception,” Queen Elizabeth II stated at the event before going on to thank supporters near and far for their well-wishes. On a side note, although the Queen may not be celebrating, Margaret Tyler, self-proclaimed “biggest fan of the Royal Family” who has collected more than 10,000 pieces of memorabilia, is hosting a tea party for the occasion. Celebration or not, I’ll join the many others in saying: Congratulations, Your Majesty; you are a true testament to graceful leadership and an inspiration for all young women. —Baleigh Scott
A Poem by Any Other Name . . .
Things went a bit awry in the literary world this week when the prestigious Best American Poetry series published its 2015 volume. The anthology, guest-authored by Native American poet, writer, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie, included a piece by one Michael Derrick Hudson. The problem? Well, although Hudson is a white male librarian from Indiana, the poem was submitted and accepted under the pseudonym Yi-Fen Chou, a female Chinese name. The revelation was met with outrage in the literary community, which accused Hudson of attempting to misappropriate Asian culture in order to “reap the benefits of affirmative action.” On the other hand, the event has left many questioning why a poem should be considered one of America’s best under one name but not another.
In response to the furor, Alexie penned an explanation as to why he did not remove the poem from the anthology after he learned the author’s true identity. Although he felt that retaining the poem would commit an injustice against poets of color, he stated that he felt removing it would commit a greater injustice by casting “doubt on every poem I have chosen for BAP.” He went on to say, “In the end, I chose each poem in the anthology because I love it. And to deny my love for any of them is to deny my love for all of them.”
For Hudson’s part, he explained that “the poem in question . . . was rejected under my real name forty times before I sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou (I keep detailed records). As Yi-Fen the poem was rejected nine times before Prairie Schooner took it. If indeed this is one of the best American poems of 2015, it took quite a bit of effort to get it into print, but I’m nothing if not persistent.”
Particularly in the wake of a recent piece by Catherine Nichols, who received much more favorable responses from literary agents when she submitted under the male name George, I can’t say I know where I fall on this one. Certainly, there is something duplicitous about assuming the “appearance” of another race in order to gain notoriety. But it is also worth considering why such a stunt would work in the first place. Regardless, the event has reignited the age-old debate about gender and authorship. —BS
Twelve-Year-Old Girl Beats Einstein and Hawking in IQ Test
A British schoolgirl recently attained the highest possible Mensa IQ test score, earning herself a place in the country’s 99.9th percentile for recorded intelligence and beating the IQ scores of famous minds such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Twelve-year-old Lydia Sebastian described the test as “easy” and is now applying for membership with the Mensa society. —Sophie Caldecott
A Beauty Tutorial with a Difference
A video showing viewers how to get perfect red lips recently went viral; far from being just any old beauty tutorial, the video shows acid attack survivor Reshma Qureshi demonstrating the technique and encourages people to sign a petition asking the Indian government to ban the over-the-counter sale of concentrated acid. In India concentrated acid is reportedly as easily available as cheap cosmetics, and the BBC reported that 1,500 attacks are recorded around the world every year, with about 80 percent of the victims being women and girls. The video is part of a campaign by the organization Make Love Not Scars. —SC
The Truth Behind Her Pout
While I personally have never envied Kim Kardashian, millions of fans do, idolizing her and wishing they could reach her levels of beauty, fame, and fortune. This past week, an interview came out wherein the reality TV star shared why she doesn’t smile in photos. Her reason is one you wouldn’t expect and, in my opinion, is suspect. Read the whole story here. —MRS
Selena’s Nude Album Art
Why must pop musicians look like porn stars on their album covers and music videos? In Selena Gomez’s latest album art, unveiled this week, she appears nude, strategically covering up the crucial spots or leaving them in the shadows to much suggestive effect. She’s even got the “pissed-off-who-stole-my-robe?” look on her face commonly seen on strip-club billboards.
Really, Selena? You might be going for the effect of having a big splash, but this is just more of the same. Naked women are all over the music industry, and it’s sad that women feel the need to undress to get attention for their work. I agree with Pink. Just last week after the VMAs, Pink yawned through the hypersexualized performances devoid of talent, which she found uninspiring at best and “gross and embarrassing and hard for this aging pop star to believe.” —MRS
Speaking of Gross . . .
In other news that makes you wonder about the future of humanity, comedian and actor Damon Wayans decided it was necessary to weigh in on the rape allegations against Bill Cosby by declaring that the women accusing Cosby of sexual assault must be lying because the women are “unrapeable.” Wayans said: “Some of them, really, is unrapeable. I look at them and go, ‘No, he don’t want that. Get out of here.’” Wayans has since said that his words have been twisted, but his sentiment that some women aren’t “attractive enough to be raped” is in itself disgusting and twisted. Is it really too much to ask for women to be considered full human beings with worth beyond their looks? —MW
Heart-Wrenching Story of the Week
A São Paulo homeless man became a hero last week when he intervened during a hostage situation. A gunman, known to local authorities for his extensive criminal history, took a church clerk hostage on the steps of the cathedral where she’d been praying. The holdup was interrupted when a 61-year-old homeless man tackled the gunman to the ground, allowing the hostage to escape and the police to shoot the hostage-taker. During the struggle, the gunman’s weapon discharged, and the homeless man was fatally shot, dying on the steps of the cathedral. The gunman was killed by police. The initial hostage has said, “It was a heroic act . . . he gave his life for me.” The homeless man has since become something of a national hero in Brazil, garnering praises ranging from tweets to heartfelt notes of thanks and capturing the attention of the national media. And no wonder; there’s nothing quite as striking as a selfless act of love. —HAW