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Recently Spotted 103-Year-Old Orca Is Bad News For SeaWorld -- Here's Why

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UPDATE: Since this post, Granny has been making serious waves, by guiding her familyswimming hundreds and hundreds of miles off the Pacific coast and by generally proving SeaWorld wrong in every way. Also see this post for an explanation of how scientists know her age. 

SeaWorld could be in trouble because of “Granny,” the world’s oldest known living orca. The 103-year-old whale (also known as J2) was recently spotted off Canada’s western coast with her pod -- her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But while the Granny sighting is thrilling for us, it’s problematic for SeaWorld.    

First of all, SeaWorld has claimed that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live,” when simple figures or even living and thriving examples -- like Granny -- can give us a pretty good idea. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation project estimates that whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old, on average; many of SeaWorld’s orcas die before they reach their 20s. Perhaps because of their reduced lifespans, the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages, which could also diminish their overall health. 

Another key aspect of an orca’s life -- which is missing in captivity -- is the ability to swim up to 100 miles per day. When Granny was spotted earlier this week, she had just finished an 800-mile trek from northern California along with her pod. According to animal welfare advocates, long-distance swimming is integral to orcas’ psychological health and well-being; SeaWorld, however, has gone on record claiming that orcas do not need to swim hundreds of miles regularly, ostensibly to defend the parks’ cruel practice of keeping massive, powerful orcas confined to cramped tanks.

Since Granny was first spotted (as early as the 1930s), she’s believed to have mothered two calves, who in turn have had calves of their own. (One of her grandchildren, Canuck, reportedly died at the age of 4 after being captured and held at SeaWorld). As her pod has grown, Granny has kept up with them -- without being separated through human intervention -- and traveled astonishing distances with her pod annually. Orcas at SeaWorld are routinely separated from their pods, which has been known to cause huge mental and emotional strain and can prevent calves from developing normally.

Granny doesn’t simply represent an impressive feat of nature; she embodies what’s wrong with SeaWorld by being a living example of what’s right in the wild. While it’s true that most wild orcas don’t live as long as Granny has, their lifespans are still dramatically longer than those of SeaWorld’s whales (the NOAA estimates that wild female orcas, like Granny, live an average of 50 to 60 years). Their lives are also filled with much more swimming, exploration, variety and bonding with family -- in other words, their lives are likely filled with much more joy.  

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Jared Leto debuts his portrayal of The Joker, and it’s absolutely terrifying

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Today is the 75th anniversary of The Joker’s debut  first introduction in the Batman comics, and to mark the occasion, director David Ayer has shared our clearest look yet at how Jared Leto plans to portray the character in the forthcoming Suicide Squad movie. movie.

jared leto the joker

Leto previously teased the character with a blurry photo that referenced the famous Batman graphic novel The Killing Joke.

Suicide Squad hits theaters on August 5th, 2016. In addition to Leto, the film stars Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, and Common in an undisclosed role.

It marks the first on-screen portrayal of The Joker since Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning-performance in The Dark Knight. Leto is coming off his own Oscar victory for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.


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Dooce is retiring

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After many years of blogging professionally at Dooce, Heather Armstrong is stepping down to focus on speaking and brand consultation. She's planning to write for fun again.

But what makes this livelihood glaringly different are not only the constant creative strains of churning out new and entertaining content -- content we cannot delegate to anyone else because our audiences read our stories for our particular voice and perspective -- but also the security systems we've had to set up as an increasingly more diverse group of people throw rocks at our houses with the intention of causing damage: passersby, rubbernecks, stalkers, even journalists. We have separate security systems for those who take every word and decision we share and deliberately misinterpret it, disfigure it to the point of it being wholly unrecognizable, and then broadcast to us and to their own audiences that they have diagnosed us with a personality disorder.

"Living online" for us looks completely different now than it did when we all set out to build this community, and the emotional and physical toll of it is rapidly becoming a health hazard.

There's a lot in what Heather wrote that resonates with me. (See also Amateur Gourmet, Dylan Byers, and Marco Arment.) Two or three years ago, I thought I would do my site professionally for the rest of my life, or at least a good long while. The way things are going, in another year or two, I'm not sure that's even going to be an option. The short window of time in which individuals could support themselves by blogging is closing rapidly. There's a lot more I could say about that, but for now, I'll offer my best wishes to Heather in her new endeavors. Dooce is dead, long live Dooce.

Tags: Heather Armstrong   weblogs
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City of Milwaukee pays freelance journalist $4,570.52 after a cop breaks his camera

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geoff

Milwaukee freelance journalist Geoffrey Davidian, 70, tells Romenesko readers:

City of Milwaukee settled the federal civil rights case I filed after a cop broke my camera while I was recording several officers ticketing the victim after a squad car exited an alley and T-boned her car. When reporters and photogs have rights violated, they let their news organizations go to battle for them. But the violation is against the reporter and photog, not just the newspaper.

The cop confronts Davidian

The cop confronts Davidian

More power to the news organization that pushes back when an employee is violated, but the reporter or photographer still has a cause of action against rogue cops. We don’t act like the violated rights are our rights. It’s come to the point where we let the company’s rights take precedence over our own.

Anyone who sees the video of Police Officer Joseph Anderer grabbing my camera can see he smirks as he breaks it. Not until every instance of this conduct is challenged will there be justice for individual journalists. Meanwhile, taxpayers bail out these rogue cops all over the country, including repeat offenders like Anderer. I’m happy to share my strategy with any abused journalist and tell them what I did so that they can do it themselves.

* Aug. 26, 2012: Davidian: “I’m not going to go away. I intend to have my story public” (jsonline.com)
* April 21, 2015: City of Milwaukee settles with journalist over his broken camera (jsonline.com) | Video of the incident (youtube.com)

New: Read comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers

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'S Wonderful! An American in Paris Announces U.S. National Tour

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C’est Magnifique! An American in Paris will dance its way on a U.S. national tour for the 2016-17 season. Based on the Oscar-winning film, the musical of hope, redemption and romance will announce further details about the production soon.

Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, the tuner tells the tale of a young American soldier, a beautiful French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war.

An American in Paris features music by George and Ira Gershwin with a book by Craig Lucas. The show includes the songs “I Got Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” “Stairway to Paradise,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay," “They Can’t Take That Away” and orchestral music including “Concerto in F,” “2nd Prelude,” “2nd Rhapsody” and “An American In Paris.” The score has been adapted, arranged and supervised by Rob Fisher.

The Broadway production officially opened at the Palace Theatre on April 12 and stars Robert Fairchild, Leanne Cope, Veanne Cox, Jill Paice, Brandon Uranowitz and Max Von Essen.

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Listen to Britney Spears and Giorgio Moroder’s surprisingly great cover of “Tom’s Diner” — listen

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Britney Spears has never been shy about incorporating electronic music into her brand of pop. (Just see 2013’s glowstick-ready single “Work B**ch”.) She’s also been open to reaching back into the ’80s for sources of inspiration, as these rejected demos — written by New Wave-loving singer-songwriter Dev Hynes — prove. For her latest release, a cover of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” done with the help of Giorgio Moroder, Spears gets the chance to marry both those worlds.

Many may be quick to doubt the “Toxic” star’s ability to make the classic hit her own, or simply just tolerable, but Spears is literally in the zone here. Admittedly she isn’t the best vocalist in town, but when she has the right song, with the right production backing her (major h/t to the legendary Moroder), it’s almost as though she can take back the pop throne if she really wanted to. Spears does the original justice and actually makes me curious as to what she might be working on in the future. Imagine that? Looking forward to a Britney Spears album in 2015.

Listen in below.

The cover is set to appear on Moroder’s Déjà Vu, his first new album in 30 years. It’s due out on June 12th via RCA, and also features collaborations with Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue, and Kelis, among others. Check out the Sia-aided title track here.

Déjà Vu Tracklist:
01. 4 U With Love
02. Déjà Vu feat. Sia
03. Diamonds feat. Charli XCX
04. Don’t Let Go feat. Mikky Ekko
05. Right Here, Right Now feat. Kylie Minogue
06. Tempted feat. Matthew Koma
07. 74 is the New 24
08. Tom’s Diner feat. Britney Spears (Suzanne Vega cover)
09. Wildstar feat. Foxes
10. Back and Forth feat. Kelis
11. I Do This For You feat. Marlene
12. La Disco


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