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While You Were Out: Carly Fiorina’s Awesome Comeback to Donald Trump, Mary Poppins Is Back, New ‘Dislike’ Button, and More


“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.

Carly Fiorina Slam Dunks

Last week, Donald Trump continued his string of offensive comments by criticizing Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s appearance rather than, say, her stance on immigration or fiscal policy. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” Trump said. When, at this week’s Republican debate, Fiorina was asked to speak to his comment, she delivered a pithy response: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Her comment comes on the heels of her video response from earlier this week, where she exclaims, “Ladies, look at this face. Look at your faces. The face of leadership in your community, in your businesses, in your places of work and worship.” She goes on to stress that women are not merely a “special interest group” before concluding, “This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle.” What I love most about Fiorina’s response is her refusal to get down in the mud and brawl. No names are mentioned, no insults are thrown, but the message is still heard loud and clear: If all you see women for is our looks, you are making a grave mistake. —Baleigh Scott

Quite the Week for the Miss America Pageant

The Miss America pageant took place this week (which, although often confused with Miss USA, is about as different from the Miss USA pageant as Carly Fiorina is from Donald Trump) and Miss Georgia, also known as Betty Cantrell, walked away with the crown. During the onstage-question portion of the night, worth 20 percent of contestants’ overall scores, Miss Cantrell received the question about whether Tom Brady cheated in the New England Patriots’ scandal called “deflategate.” For a question with little bearing on women or society, it left Cantrell, whose platform is “Healthy Georgia. Strong America,” confused. She asked for the question to be repeated before responding: “If there was a question there, then yes, I think he cheated. If there was any question to be had, I think that he definitely cheated and that he should’ve been suspended for that.” What’s next, sports trivia?

Among the more striking moments of the program, though, was when Miss America CEO Sam Haskell invited actress and singer Vanessa Williams to return to the Miss America stage to issue her a public apology for the way his organization handled the scandal over which Williams resigned thirty years ago. Williams became the first African-American woman to win the crown in 1983, and she had the title for ten months until Penthouse magazine published nude photos of Williams that were taken before her reign. There were many at the time who said the Miss America Organization pressured or forced her to give up her title. “I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for thirty-two years,” Haskell told the audience. “Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.” —Hannah Allen White

The Clock Heard ’Round the World

Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, was arrested and taken from school in handcuffs earlier this week after bringing a homemade clock that he had engineered and wanted to show his teacher. The teacher called the police, fearing it was a bomb, despite Mohamed’s insistence that it was a clock. Mohamed was released after questioning, and the Irving police department concluded that there was no intended threat. He is currently serving out a three-day suspension from school and is looking into transferring. The story quickly went viral as people began questioning if Mohamed was racially profiled due to being Muslim. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed took off, and public support came in from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Aziz Ansari, Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama. The mayor of Irving, the principal of MacArthur High School, and the police chief of the Irving Police Department stand by their actions, saying their first duty is to protect their students. —Monica Weigel

At Long Last, a ‘Dislike’ Button

It’s been a problem ever since the advent of the “like” button on Facebook: How do you express sympathy for someone when he or she posts a status about something like a relative’s death or an accident—when it seems inappropriate to hit “like,” but you want to show support? Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that he has been listening to the requests for a “dislike” button during a live Q&A session on Tuesday, saying that Facebook is currently testing out alternatives. Zuckerberg says that it will not be intended to be used as a way for people to “downvote” posts like on YouTube and Imgur, and it’s not even clear that it would be called a “dislike” button. “Not every moment is a good moment,” Zuckerberg said when discussing the importance of being able to show empathy to someone in pain. There is currently no official release date for this development. —Sophie Caldecott

Agatha Christie’s Mysterious Past

In honor of mystery author Agatha Christie’s 125th birthday, website Refinery29 republished an article that recasts the writer as a real-life Gone Girl. Like the character of Amy in Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel (which inspired an Oscar-nominated movie), Christie vanished in 1926. A wide-scale manhunt, led by police and supported by thousands of volunteers, turned up nothing, and suspicion began to fall on Christie’s husband, who had been engaging in an affair with a younger woman. When Christie was located eleven days after her disappearance (she had checked into a hotel using her husband’s mistress’s name but had been recognized), her husband claimed she had amnesia, and it was never spoken of again. Theories continue to abound, but the similarities between Agatha Christie and Amy, and Archie Christie and Nick, are uncanny. I think rereading some Agatha Christie novels just got put on my to-do list. —MW

Are You Ready for the Final Season of Downton Abbey?

The new trailer for the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey aired earlier this week, giving fans a glimpse of the beginning of the end of the much-loved costume drama. While I will definitely be mourning the end of an era, I have felt (along with many other fans) for a while that those in charge of the show were spinning it out beyond its natural life, especially when several major characters died unexpected deaths. Meanwhile, it looks like Downton creator Julian Fellowes is already busy on a new project, another costume drama based on an Anthony Trollope novel set in the mid-nineteenth century starring Alison Brie. —SC

The Mother of Dragons Has Spoken

Emilia Clarke, the actress who plays Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones, was quoted saying that she isn’t exactly a fan of explicit sex and nudity on television. “Sex scenes should be more subtle,” Clarke said. “I’m British, so I cringe at that sort of thing anyway—I can’t stand it.” Clarke echoed the frustration that many of us feel toward modern cinema, saying, “‘Most sex scenes you see in films or on TV are gratuitous, and they’re usually just to attract an audience.”

However, Clarke later took to Instagram to explain the situation, saying she was quoted “entirely out of context.” Explaining her words, she stated, “Sometimes explicit scenes are required and make sense for the characters/story, as they do in Westeros. In either case . . . I’m always in control.” I truly am glad to hear that Clarke is in control of whether she has to undress on camera, a privilege I am not convinced is shared by all actresses, but I can’t say I agree with her assessment that all of the explicit scenes Thrones is famous for are in any way necessary. If subtlety is key, Game of Thrones is missing the mark. —BS


Our favorite magical British nanny, Mary Poppins, is back! A sequel to the 1964 Oscar-winning classic is reportedly in the works at Disney; the story will be inspired by the author P. L. Travers’ eight-part book series, set twenty years after the original. While childhood fans of the original film will no doubt be watching anxiously to see who is cast in the new film, rumor has it that Anne Hathaway is a current favorite to step into Julie Andrews’ role as Mary Poppins herself. Personally, I think that would be good casting given how beautifully Hathaway sang in Les Misérables, but I just hope that she can improve her awful British accent (seriously—take it from a native). Disney hasn’t announced a release date yet, but we’ll certainly be looking for it. —SC

Almost Famous Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since the critically acclaimed film Almost Famous was released to an adoring public. The story of a fledgling writer and the fictional band Stillwater grappling with the prospects of fame during the 1970s put actress Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, groupie with a heart of gold, on the map. The autobiographical film also earned writer and director Cameron Crowe, of Say Anything and Jerry McGuire fame, an Oscar for best original screenplay and a Golden Globe for best picture comedy or musical. So it’s no surprise that this past week Crowe took to Twitter to post behind-the-scenes photos from the filming of Almost Famous and asked people to share their personal memories of the film. We’ll chip in with our favorite quote from the film: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” If you haven’t seen this film, there’s no time like the present. —HAW

The Campaign Against Sex Robots

Leading experts in the world of robotics have called for an outright ban on robots developed specifically for sexual gratification, according to Wired magazine. Academics specializing in robot ethics claim that sex robots increase the objectification and dehumanization of women and children, thus increasing the risk of abuse and decreasing the need for human interaction, which is the foundation of empathy. The campaign calls for scientists to refuse to help businesses develop the relevant machines “by withholding code, hardware, and ideas.” It comes in the wake of the announcement that the world’s first artificial intelligence sex dolls are due to be launched later this year by a company called True Companion. The product’s strapline is: “Always turned on and ready to talk or play.” Ugh. —SC

Margaret Cho Talks About Her Rape

This week comedian Margaret Cho revealed in an interview that she had been molested and raped for most of her childhood and teen years. “I had a very long-term relationship with [one particular] abuser, which is a horrible thing to say,” she told Danielle Bacher of Billboard magazine. “I didn’t even understand it was abuse because I was too young to know. . . . I endured it so many times, especially because I was alone a lot.” Then at 14, Cho said she was raped by an acquaintance. “I was raped continuously through my teenage years, and I didn’t know how to stop it,” she said. “It was also an era where young girls were being sexualized. For me, I think I had been sexually abused so much in my life that it was hard for me to let go of anger, forgive, or understand what happened.” As for her family, they remain in denial, Cho explains. “Like, if they don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.” (Maybe a refresher on the reasons victims often report rape is in order.)

All this has come back up as Cho recently released her first musical album, which includes a track titled “I Want to Kill My Rapist.” She sings, “I thought I forgave you, but I’d mistake you.” Here’s to Cho’s growth in overcoming the abuse and lack of family support she experienced and—angry lyrics or not—finding her own song. —Mary Rose Somarriba

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month . . .

. . . and, in case you missed it this week, here’s a powerful story coming from a woman recovering from alcoholism. —MRS