Wednesday, August 27

Why Are Black People Afraid of Chainsaws?

The hardest part about being single is finishing my own sentences. Thankfully Google's Autofill feature is there to pick up some slack. Scroll down for a glimpse at popular topics people search for common sentence starters...


Tuesday, August 26

Sarah Silverman Brings 'Liquid Pot' Vape Pen to Emmy Awards

Originally Appeared in The LA Times:


Sarah Silverman flashed a vape pen filled with "liquid pot" on the Emmys red carpet Monday -- but said later that she wasn't high when she accepted her trophy.

"Flashed" might be the wrong word: She initially showed off the outside of her tiny gold bag on E!'s "clutch cam," which this year joined the network's "mani cam" for the first time in giving viewers a closer look at stars' nails and accessories. Giuliana Rancic then took Silverman's bag from her and started rummaging around in it.

"Can I look in it?," the host asked. "I can't believe you're letting me look in it."

Rancic first unearthed a cellphone with an American flag-themed cover -- "Murica," and all that -- but then Silverman herself grabbed and displayed a sleek vape pen.

"This is my pot. It's, um, liquid pot," Silverman explained. Never one to shy away from controversial material, that Sarah.

"OK, moving on ...," Rancic replied, seemingly unsure of whether her famous interviewee was joking, or maybe unsure of whether liquid weed was something her NBC-owned network would be happy to have on camera.

The moment was not included in one E! compilation of mani- and clutch-cam moments, though Silverman's explanation of her unmanicured nails made the cut. "These are working hands," she'd exclaimed.

After her win for writing for a variety special, "Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles," she was quizzed about the vape pen by reporters backstage. "I had pot for later in my purse," she said. "It's legal and I don't drink. I like to have a puff as a treat at appropriate times."

The comic was pithier later in the evening while telling a TMZ cameraman essentially the same thing: "I like to have a little pop-a-roonie end of night, when all is said and done, because I'm a grown woman."

An apparently unasked question, at least in the Emmys media room? Whether "Masters of Sex" star Michael Sheen's girlfriend had been high on the red carpet. Watch the video and decide, perhaps.

One thing for sure: Silverman's awesome barefoot run up the award show's stairs to accept her trophy sparked up additional speculation that she'd indulged in at least a few pre-party puffs.

Actress Anna Kendrick was among those cheering Silverman on via Twitter with a message presuming the funny lady had in fact been extremely high. "Live your life girl!," she wrote, later saying of Julia Roberts, "Girl, you might be drunk but you look FLY."

And about that barefoot thing:

"My Jewish mom wears overalls and two different colored socks, so I think she'd think it was cool," Silverman told reporters backstage after being asked what her mom would think. "Don't tell anyone I'm doing this. They hurt.

"They're by Geppetto and I remember that because he made Pinocchio and clearly designed shoes for the Nazi war effort."

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs.

7 Most Epic Twitter Hacks

Twitter is a fun place - for many of us, it's become a playground of sorts, stripping everything we love and hate about social media (and society in general) down into the basics. Rather than mining you for info like Facebook, you have 160 characters to describe yourself in a bio, and if the Pope and Obama can do it, so can you. After that, you start filling up your timeline with tweets of your thoughts, 140 characters at a time.

The service has drawn big name celebrities, politicians, corporations, organizations, and more than a few Anonymous characters. With such big crowds, controversy is bound to arise in the form of twitter beefs, subtweets, mass bans, and trolling. Twitter also attracts more hacking than Facebook. If you have a lot of followers, you could be a target, just like these epic Twitter account hacks.

7. Justin Bieber (@JustinBieber)

Being one of only two people with more Twitter followers than the President (Katy Perry claims the top spot), Justin Bieber is a constant target for parody accounts, spoofs, and phishing attacks. On March 10, 2014, a foreign hacker infiltrated the pop star's account, posting links to a malicious Twitter app called ShootingStarPro.

It only took 15 minutes to remove the hacker and the malicious tweets, but that was time for a handful of these spammed links to be distributed among his over 50 million Twitter followers.

6. Fox News (@FoxNewsPolitics)

Fox News is hardly known as the bar for investigative reporting, but when hackers took over their account on July 4, 2011, they decided to change the profile pic and bio, and converse with Anonymous IRC for a bit before going into the hard-hitting political news.

The hacked Fox News account was soon converted back to normal, and the hacker group, self-identified as "TH3 5CR1PT K1DD3S" sent a series of tweets reporting President Barack Obama was shot and killed.

This could have caused mass confusion, had anyone who watches Fox News were young enough to know what Twitter is. Instead it simply became fodder for Huff Post.

5. Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost)

The Huffington Post was the victim of a hack just six months later, on January 15, 2012. Just like when it happened to Fox News, Huff Post's account started posting the opposite of what you'd expect from the home of #TheThirdMetric.

Homophobia, racial slurs, and sexist comments were hurled at the account's 1.5 million followers for minutes before the hacker, cloverfdch, was removed from the account. Huff Post went back to business as usual, and the story didn't get as much press as Fox got.

4. Lady Gaga (@LadyGaga)

With over 41 million followers, Lady Gaga can reach a LOT of monsters, most of them young and impressionable. The party responsible for hacking her Twitter account on December 19, 2011 picked a great way to pad their pockets for the holiday season by posting a fake link and promising free iPad2's for all her followers. keeps stat counts, and thousands of Gaga's fans were reported to have clicked this phishing link. The pop star kept a relative poker face about the incident, simply shrugging it off in a few tweets.

3. Ja Rule (@RuleYork)

From Lil Wayne's Soulja Boy disses to Gucci Mane's crush on Justin Timberlake, hip-hop hacks bring the lulz. The most epic hip-hop Twitter hack, however belongs to hip-hop's own hack, Ja Rule, who lost his account to hackers on December 14, 2010.

The attackers went on a tirade, deconstructing Ja's entire career, apologizing to 50, asking younger artists to put him on, and being generally self-degrading about his status in the hip-hop community. Adding an extra level of hilarity was when Ja got his account back and instantly tried blaming 50 Cent. 2001 called - they want their beef back. Holla!

2. The Associated Press (@AP)

While Fox News and Huffington Post represent the left and right sides of the news, The Associated Press is known globally as a trusted news source. That's why it only took one tweet from their account hack on April 23, 2013 to display the real power behind the lulz of Twitter.

In tweeting a false report of explosions at the White House, Wall Street panicked, sending the Dow Jones plunging 143 points. This practical joke not only created lulz for the underground hacking community and trolls at large, it demonstrated the fault of our "rush to press" media and the speculative nature of the stock market.

1. Burger King (@BurgerKing)

The most epic Twitter account hack has to go for the lulz provided on February 18, 2013, when Burger King's account was hacked and converted to the brand's perennial enemy - McDonald's.

After discovering the BK password was simply "whopper1," hackers immediately turned the account into their playground, more than doubling Burger King's follower count (they're now over 790k, as opposed to 40k at the time). As BK continues to struggle in its battle against the McMarketing of the competition, this hack turned out to benefit them more than hurt anyone.

The next day, people tried guessing passwords for popular brands across Twitter, with Jeep succumbing, and Viacom attempting to leech off the publicity for their MTV and BET brands by faking account hacks and switching both accounts.

Can anyone top this list? As Twitter moves forward and digital privacy and security continue to be a concern in our society, n what ways can we expect computer artists to change our perspectives on Twitter next?

Brian Penny is a former Operations Manager and Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower. He's a frequent contributor to The Street, Huffington Post, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company.

Monday, August 25

Man v Machine - Should You Hire an Employee or Install an App?

A major financial concern as your business ramps up is expansion. As your business expands, so do your labor needs. Often (especially in the tech sector), a simple app will do the job, but, as Starbucks recently learned when their employees spoke out against the company's scheduling technology, computers aren't always the best man for the job.

1. Computers Excel at Repetition…

A large corporation like Bank of America has a large operations department. This is where all those back-end tasks customer service reps refer to as "corporate" or "overnight processing" are carried out. The cost of hiring and training such a team could overwhelm your budget, though. Hiring temps or contractors is an option, but you still incur recurring costs.

In a digital environment, many back-end tasks, such as optical character recognition (OCR) and data entry, can be completed with software, or even a smartphone app. If you're overburdened with menial tasks, automation may be your answer.

2. But People Make Better Salespeople

Sales are the lifeblood of your business, and it's not something you can trust to some automated machine. Despite what internet success story you've heard about, it can't even be done with a simple banner ad, email blast, or other digital marketing plan alone.

Surveys routinely show a majority of shoppers using the internet for product research, but they prefer the experience of purchasing in person. In order to sell your product and build your brand, you need people on the streets, knocking on doors, attending trade shows, and giving your customers a personalized experience.

3. Computers Require Less Upkeep...

When you purchase computer hardware, it's a one-time expense that's good for at least three to five years minimum, with some companies still using decades-old equipment. Hiring an employee has the upfront costs associated with training and onboarding, and then there are recurring costs, such as salary, paid time off, etc.

4. But People Are More Creative

Despite being the weaker species, people contribute something computers won't be able to until A.I. is developed (which, if Stephen Hawking is to be trusted, will lead to our demise anyway) -- we have ideas. Encouraging employees to share these ideas makes a company successful.

Remember the money you save by using a computer or software to complete a task is offset by the money you won't make by having an employee as a brand ambassador for your company. All the technological advances in the world won't make humans completely obsolete. Just make sure you have your men and machines doing the right things.

Brian Penny is a former Operations Manager and Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower. He's a frequent contributor to The Street, Huffington Post, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company.

Sunday, August 24

A Pervert's Peek at Privacy and Peeping

Nestled away in the rocky mountains surrounding Hwy 82 near Aspen, CO, there's a hot springs along the Colorado River, which is locally known. A local tramp outside the McDonald's explained to me that savvy locals know the terrain above the hot springs well, referring to it as Pervert's Peak.

Above the hot springs is a forested mountain that's pitch black at night. People hang out both at and above the steamy waters late at night, looking for steamy ways to heat up their lives for a brief moment.

While tourists and younger locals service each other among the coves and crags providing cover from prying eyes, the old, wise local travelers watch from hidden lookout points above. Hearing this reminded me of a hidden grotto in Lake Havasu that was pointed out to me a long time ago.


Before my trip to Aspen, a younger me took a vacation with friends to Lake Havasu in Arizona. I rented a car and drove out at night, which I've found to work out better for driving in the middle of the desert, leaving Phoenix.

I had to exit the highway near the lake, but it was a dirt road, and only had one sign. This was Mario Kart's Rainbow Road incarnate. I drove through rough terrain through ditches and at the edge of cliffs to arrive at a hidden housing area at the back of the lake with an air strip.

The spot is a favorite among recreational pilots, as they have vacation homes geared with all the outdoor essentials. My childhood friend Ryan married a coworker from California. Her dad and his friends are well known among the local adventurers.

These men heard I wanted to see some hot women, so they took us on lake tours on their toys, and as we're speeding off in a boat, I hear,

"Hey, Brian. Catch!"

I looked up in time to have a top-of-the-line Canon SLR camera flying at my face.

"Hot women at 3 o'clock," he said.

After fumbling a bit, I turned the camera on and familiarized myself with the zoom lens. Peering through and looking where he pointed, I saw an HD-enhanced image of the most beautifully tanned bikini ass I ever saw in my life. I instantly realized I wasn't watching porn online.

I'm holding an old man's toy in another man's toy playing games with two generations of my childhood friend's in-laws. Sensing my realization, the old man smiled and nodded at me.

"Wait'll you see the grotto coming up."

Just around the corner, we came across a grotto. The locals and well-travelled know this grotto is rather far from the night crowds, so groups of young people come out for romance on the water. What they don't know is directly above them is a hole in the rocks. On the other side of the hole are old men with their gadgets and toys, watching, filming, and pleasuring themselves.

Everywhere has a version of Pervert's Peak. If you think it's just the NSA watching you, you haven't been watching everyone else. Everyone snoops, and it's only a matter of time before someone snoops on you…

Brian Penny is a former Operations Manager and Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower. He's a frequent contributor to The Street, Huffington Post, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company.

Saturday, August 23

The Misappropriation of Black Culture - Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is making the media rounds these days for her video, "Shake It Off." She's been largely accused of misappropriating black American culture. Personally, I'm shocked it took over 30 years for some little white girl to steal the culture and make it accessible to "mainstream" America. Let's not forget that Taylor Swift has been misappropriating black culture her entire career as a country musician.

It's Always Been Cool to Mimic Black America

Swift is nothing more than a single point in a historical flow of pop culture misappropriating cultures of those who are oppressed or underrepresented. Experts have long compared Shakespeare to hip-hop, and one must wonder where William got all the street slang he infused into his plays and other writing projects.

Eminem drew comparisons between himself and Elvis Presley on multiple occasions, and he's not wrong. Elvis fused elements of gospel and country western music (both with roots in black culture) into a new music that was becoming popular on the backs of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and the rest of the Chess Records lineup - rock and roll.

Eminem did the same thing for hip-hop that Elvis did to gospel, country, and rock. Taylor Swift is nothing but another nail in the coffin built by Iggy Azalea and Karmin. Hip-hop has been commandeered by #WhitePeopleProblems...

Watch Your Mouth and Fashion

Music is just one small example of the larger problem. It's referred to as gentrification, and it's watering down all the unique perspectives that make our species so great. Racism may not exist in America the way it does in other countries, but it's still very much affecting lives in our country.

The white-washing of other cultures makes sense - over 72-percent of the country is white. It makes fiscal sense to ensure they're represented in every culture possible, especially in a Capitalist society. When you look around you at the styles of clothing, jewelry, and even dialects we use today, the large majority of it has been adapted from other cultures.

What one must then wonder is whether or not this whitening is necessarily a bad thing. Even though I prefer the authenticity of Lil Wayne over that of Eminem, I don't hate Eminem by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I think anyone debates his contributions to the evolution of hip-hop. But where do we draw the line? Is it ok so long as the misappropriated culture doesn't exclude anyone?

Manufactured Outrage?

The outrage over Swift's video appears to be another boogey man stirred up by the media, however it does work out. People are mad, not because Swift is doing it, but because she's not doing it well.  Had Kanye West interrupted the video halfway through to push her offstage and allow Beyonce to finish the video, she could've been praised for another spin on the oldest joke on the Internet.

In fact, that marketing ploy would've incorporated Bey's habit of surprising fans. That's what it would've taken for Swift to overshadow the "Anaconda" Nicki Minaj unleashed on hip-hop to assert her dominance over Iggy Azalea, her white nemesis in the MSM. Instead it's a necessary conversation about America's "melting pot" culture and everything else Kanye's been ranting about for the better part of the last decade.

What do you think about the whitening of minority cultures in America? Will black rappers still exist in 50 years, or will they be performing another genre of music?

Brian Penny is a former Operations Manager and Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower. He's a frequent contributor to The Street, Huffington Post, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company.