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We really hope this cat is actually meowing \

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In this week’s cat video news, one Instagram kitty may possibly possess the power to speak—or at the very least, let out a very excited meow. 

Submitted by Instagram user laasaraaa and posted to catswiththeirtonguesout on February 19th, this video shows the kitty enthusiastically meowing “yeaaaah!!” when its owner asks. It even repeats it back in the same tune as its human. 

There have been plenty of videos of cats “talking,” either with really human sounding meows or well-edited syncs. This kitty’s “yeaaaah!!” sounds meow-y enough to be the real thing though.

We hope that this cat’s meow is genuine and not an edit, because frankly, the world needs more talking cats. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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The WIRED Guide to Memes

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Memes and the internet—they're made for each other. Not because they’re digital visual communication (though of course, they are that), but because they are the product of a hive mind. They are the shorthand of a hyper-connected group thinking in unison. And, friends, the web hive mind is a weird (often funny, sometimes dangerous) place.

The term “meme” comes from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. For Dawkins, cultural ideas were no different than genes—concepts that had to spread themselves from brain to brain as quickly as they could, replicating and mutating as they went. He called those artifacts memes, bits of cultural DNA that encoded society’s shared experiences while also constantly evolving.

But Dawkins coined the term in 1976, in his book The Selfish Gene, long before the modern internet, before memes morphed into what they are now. Back then, Dawkins was talking about passing along culture—song melodies, art styles, whatever. Today, denizens of the internet think of memes as jokes passed across social media in the form of image macros (those pictures of babies or cats or whatever with bold black-and-white words on them), hashtags (the thing you amended to what you just wrote on Twitter), GIFs (usually of a celebrity, reality star, or drag queen reacting to what you just wrote on Twitter), or videos (that Rick Astley video people used to send you).

Classic Meme 1: LOLcats Part of the first major wave of felines to dominate the internet, LOLcats started out as image macros, like the infamous “I Can Has Cheezburger?” JPEG. They superimposed photographs of adorable kittehs with funny, often nonsensical captions. The meme launched thanks to “Caturday” posts on 4chan and the website I Can Has Cheezburger (obvi), but eventually became common almost everywhere.

Memes, then, have evolved into something much different than what Dawkins originally envisioned, and that evolution happened fast, shape-shifting from goofy animal images on 4chan to tools used for political gain and back again.

The Evolution of Memes

Memes as people understand them today didn’t really take off until the mid-1990s, when now small-seeming groups of average folk began gathering on the internet and populating its message boards and Usenet groups with things the group(s) found funny. Back in the early days, pixelated images of dancing babies or hamsters was all it took to get meme famous. As the internet moved from dial-up to DSL, and meme-swapping destinations like eBaum’s World gained traction, things got more sophisticated. Soon photographs of kittehs with captions written in their own special grammar, which eventually became known as LOLcats, were a thing, largely thanks to sites like the wildly popular imageboard 4chan. The LOLcat eventually came to exemplify the image macro: a simple image captioned with bold Impact font at the top and bottom—the top sets up the joke, the bottom pays it off. Typically, other image macros—like the infamous “I Can Has Cheezburger?” or the ones created using the catchphrase “All your base are belong to us”—just had a single caption.

Classic Meme 2: Chuck Norris Facts This meme, partially inspired by a segment on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, consists of untrue, hyperbolic “facts” about actor Chuck Norris. Spawned on Something Awful in 2005, these nontruths include “Fire escapes were invented to protect fire from Chuck Norris” and “Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.”

Video memes, which theoretically go back to the days of emailing actual video files like badday.mpg in the late ‘90s, really took off after the launch of YouTube in 2005. YouTube and other video-sharing sites made using a video as the punchline to a joke much easier. Rickrolling—the practice of making someone click on a link to the music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”—became massively popular. So did sending people links to the Trololo Guy, Russian baritone Eduard Khil singing the Soviet-era song “I Am Very Glad As I’m Finally Returning Back Home.” Neither of these videos was explicitly funny, nor was it inherently funny to be on the receiving end of them, but, as is the case with nearly all early-era memes, the humor lived in their repetition. It was trolling, but a mostly good-natured kind, the kind that feels more like an inside joke than a joke made at someone else’s expense.

Classic Meme 3: Rickrolling Still one of the internet’s best pranks, “Rickrolling” simply involves finding a way to get someone to click on a link for the music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It’s kinda one-note, but a decade later the bait-and-switch is still pretty damn funny. And it’s gotten that song more than 400 million views on YouTube.

YouTube also led to an outbreak of viral videos, including everything from Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and “Chocolate Rain” by Tay Zonday to “Evolution of Dance” and “Charlie Bit My Finger.” (We’re not linking to those, they have enough views already.) Video sharing also led to meme fads like “Turn Down For What” and “Harlem Shake,” which involved very simple concepts that people could interpret however they saw fit. “Shake,” for example, simply involved filming a group of people dancing erratically, often in costume, to Baauer’s track “Harlem Shake.”

As Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms began to shape online discourse in the late 2000s and early 2010s, images—particularly reaction GIFs—gained a massive new significance. And, as was the case with GIFs, older formats like image macros found all new uses. Meme generator sites made it easy to make macros on the fly, and soon memes like Awkward Moment Seal and Scumbag Steve seemed to arrive almost daily. (Times were simpler then; the humor was goofier, gentler—and the memes came easily.)

Classic Meme 4: Dramatic Chipmunk Dramatic Chipmunk comes from a clip from the Japanese TV show Hello! Morning wherein, yes, a chipmunk (well, it’s actually a prairie dog) makes a dramatic face. After being uploaded to YouTube in 2007, the video became a common response in online discussions, eventually spawning reaction GIFs, reenactments, and similar videos featuring different animals.

In the early days, memes started slowly and stuck around longer. (Seriously, Nyan Cat was around for literally years. Years.) But the speed of social media meant memes could blow up and be over in the span of a week, if not a day. Moments like #TheDress could come and go almost overnight. (Do you remember where you were when that happened?!) Events like the Olympics or political debates could launch memes that would be over at the conclusion of a 24-hour news cycle. Ideas, as Dawkins had noted decades ago, could launch an online inside joke instantly—and have a Twitter account, Tumblr, and dedicated hashtag in mere hours. And then they were gone.

The Future of Memes

These days, memes are about more that just LOLs. They’ve picked up two new purposes: to pledge allegiance to your in-group and to make you lots of money. Memes used to appeal to humanity’s fundamentals—everyone feels awkward sometimes, everyone likes watching a kitten acting a fool. But now people flash political memes like gang signs. Modern-day American memes are about political correctness or the Second Amendment, about the emptiness of offering thoughts and prayers to shooting victims or the satisfying inclusiveness of Black Panther. These memes are seen as a public declaration of your political positions and cultural identity, and, increasingly, an invitation for people with opposing viewpoints to come sass (or harass) you in the comments. Is combativeness a symptom of how contentious and polarized the internet has become? Heck yes. Memes are just snapshots of culture. Does it seem likely to stop anytime soon? Heck no.

Classic Meme 5: Double Rainbow Double Rainbow became a meme after Jimmy Kimmel tweeted a video of a man freaking out over seeing two rainbows simultaneously. The man, identified as Paul Vasquez, shows the rainbows while he cries and talks excitedly about the phenomenon off-camera. The video went viral and quickly spawned all manner of reaction posts and remix videos. Vasquez even appeared in a Microsoft Windows commercial, which kinda killed the fun TBH.

A Definitive Guide to Memes

  • Image Macros
    Pretty much any image with witty text or some kind of catchphrase imposed over it, usually in black-and-white Impact bold font. Example: LOLcats.

  • GIFs/Reaction GIFs
    GIFs have been on the internet for a long time. (Remember those waving American flags that populated every website in the 1990s?) Today, reaction GIFs—typically taken from film, TV, or a popular web video—have become a shorthand for showing how one feels about a particular statement or event. Example: Pretty much any GIF from RuPaul’s Drag Race ever.

  • Hashtags
    In the early 2000s, hashtags became a quick way to group conversations on social media. They eventually became memes and movements in themselves. Sometimes they’re as simple as attaching #fail to a post about a stupid mistake; other times they call attention to causes and events in the news. Examples: #OlympicsFail, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo

  • Videos
    Video memes go back to the early days of sending around clips like badday.mpg, but after the advent of YouTube in 2005, sending around videos like Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (Rickrolling) or “Nyan Cat” became wildly popular. So did participating in video memes like making one’s own “Harlem Shake” clip. Examples: Rickrolling, “Harlem Shake”

Letting everyone enjoy their own jokes in peace doesn’t sound so bad, and to a point, it wouldn’t be. But both ISIS and the so-called alt-right also use their memes to recruit new followers. Cartoonish in-jokes turn out to be an effective, nonthreatening entry point for even the most extreme ideologies. If you’re an isolated person looking to feel a sense of belonging, there’s no better way to project that you’re in the know than sharing a meme. The trouble is that it doesn’t end with taking “the red pill” and sharing a Pepe the Frog meme or two. Once you’ve swallowed one idea, your internet landscape and the algorithms generating it change. Suddenly you’re seeing memes about threatening to throw Jewish people out of helicopters, and gradually, that will stop shocking you.

The success of memes like the alt-right’s Pepe the Frog and ISIS’s one-finger salute points to political memes’ probable future function: spreading propaganda. They’re visual, and pictures often skip right over reason and punch your brain right in the truth center. Images and videos will only become easier to manipulate as AI gets smarter. Furthermore, something isn’t shareable because it’s objectively true. It just has to be relevant, to feel true. That space between truth and truthiness is where both memes and propaganda live. (If you’re thinking that you’d never share propaganda, remember this: Thanks to Russia, you probably already have.)

It’s not just propagandists: Every brand wants a slice of the hottest new meme. If it trends, it’s instantly a cheap Halloween costume, a catchphrase on a Forever 21 T-shirt, and all over fast–food company Twitter. Their reasons are pretty obvious. Companies like making things that project how socially adept they are, and people like buying those things for the same reason. Don’t expect that to slow down any time soon—the rise of cheaper bespoke manufacturing and 3-D printing will make it even easier to churn out a tsunami of short-lived trendy products, and it’ll thus only get easier to turn memes into money.

Classic Meme 6: Doge “Doge” is internet slang for “dog,” and a Doge meme generally consists of an image of a Shiba Inu covered in captions—most likely in Comic Sans font—that show the animal’s internal dialogue. As with LOLcats, the grammar and spelling is atrocious (see: “doge,” phrases like “much cake,” etc.), but that is also where most of the humor of Doge memes originates. After taking off with dog images, the Comic-Sans-on-photographs style spread to other kinds of pictures, like those of other animals or politicians.

Meme creators sometimes make money too—both Grumpy and Nyan were major cash cats for their humans—but you’re probably going to want a backup plan. Sometimes you get Ellen appearances, scholarships, and lifetime supplies of whatever product you included in the meme. Sometimes you get zilch. Meme-makers of color in particular tend to lose out—partly because they tend to have less access to influence, partly because majority-white companies and booking agents aren’t spending time in spaces dominated by people of color, and partly because white America tends to think of black people’s creations as belonging to the entire black community rather than an individual. For example, Kayla Lewis, the originator of the phrase “on fleek,” never saw a cent of the profits from any of the gazillion ‘on fleek’ products various companies made. (Twas ever thus. See: the history of music.)

If there’s any justice at all, meme making will become a job, and companies will hire the people who have been making you snort at your laptop screen for years. Some already are, like Instagram star k@5sh. Might that kill the fun? Possibly. But our appetite for memes is virtually unlimited and there’s room for professional and amateur memes alike, and memeing thoughtfully and often may be the only antidote to those toxic political and fake news memes we were talking about earlier. Engaging trolls never works. The only way to beat them is to drown them out. So here’s to the future meme masters keeping Pepe the Frog way down at the bottom of your feed.

Learn More

  • The 'Distracted Boyfriend' Meme's Photographer Explains All
    It began as a stock photo. A couple walks down a city street, the man looking back over his shoulder to ogle a woman in a red dress while his scandalized girlfriend looks on. But then the internet found it, transformed it into the Distracted Boyfriend meme, and everyone in the photo became an infinitely remixable metaphor. They became a cat, an expensive cat tower, and a cardboard box; department stores, Halloween, and Christmas; the youth, capitalism, and socialism.

  • Don't Look Now, But Extremists' Meme Armies Are Turning Into Militias
    Pepe the Frog used to be a bad joke. Then the self-described alt-right took their Great Meme War to the streets, sparring bloodily with antifascists across the country under Pepe-emblazoned banners. The frog had become to the alt-right what Uncle Sam is to the US Army: military propaganda. And as increasingly violent versions of Pepe keep goosestepping their way across the internet, the trolls sharing them are likely to become more violent themselves.

  • Memes Are Helping People of Color Cope With the Trump Era
    For senior culture writer Jason Parham—as for many people of color—learning to love memes was an act of self-care in the “racially charged” Trump era. “To be a person of color is to live a deeply political life,” Parham writes. “For once, instead of constantly feeling hopeless or cynical, I find myself laughing at our society's imbalanced systems almost daily. Finding amusement in dire circumstances has been both empowering and cathartic, and though I still participate in other types of activism, memes have become my favorite form of resistance.”

  • The birth, weird life, and afterlife of an internet meme
    Much like a song of the summer, memes are born to be remixed. But that can be a strange thing to watch for meme creators—especially if they weren't intending to create a meme in the first place. That's what happened to Craig Froehle, a business professor at the University of Cincinnati, when he tried to create an image to explain why equal opportunities don't always create equal outcomes. "So I grabbed a public photo of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, a stock image of a crate, clip art of a fence, and then spent a half-hour in PowerPoint concocting an image that I then posted on Google+," Froehle says. He ended up with a meme that has been repurposed hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

  • Breaking down the Harlem Shake meme with Matt and Kim
    Matt Johnson—the keyboardist for indie duo Matt & Kim—got up in front of a few thousand fans in Troy, New York, prepped the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, and gave his audience his master plan. "I just started the camera behind me. I’m going to start this song, and when this song drops I want you all to get as fucking freaky weird crazy as you can," Johnson announced. "I’m going to upload this shit to the internet tonight and we’re going to try to make this shit go viral tomorrow." It did.

  • The beauty of the Awkward Moment Seal
    Remember the Advice Animal memes? If you ask WIRED's staffers, there was none better than the Awkward Moment Seal—not even Socially Awkward Penguin. He was just who you needed when, say, your parents walked in during the sex scene of a movie. Or if you had to defecate in an untimely manner. So you may way to take a minute to bask the glory days of the Awkward Moment Seal, when our advice came from animals, and our biggest concern was mucking up everyday situations.

This guide was last updated on March 30, 2018.

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Someone was reunited with their first cat after 5 years in a surprising twist of fate

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There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a missing pet—but there’s also nothing more heartwarming than a reunion. Get the tissues ready, this one is a doozy. 

Twitter user @ngvhi hopped online to share the most beautiful story about how she was reunited, five years later, with her sweet cat and first pet. Meet Panther. 

“Sometime after Panther went missing he apparently turned up in a shelter in the next city 15 mi away,” she wrote. “Days before he was going to be euthanized he was adopted! And lived with a women [sic] for a little while in yet another city.” 

Apparently the woman who adapted Panther kept him until she couldn’t any longer, and ultimately gave him to her parents—who just so happened to be @ngvhi’s neighbor. So, for over a year, Panther (whose name changed to Charlie) was literally living his best indoor cat life right next door.

“These happen to be the neighbors that bought a Siberian husky that quickly turned out to be too much to handle. I started taking care of him until they asked if I wanted to fully adopt him,” she continued.

Yep that’s right, this story also involves a doggo. The neighbors took in her cat, unknowingly, and she ended up with their dog. 

One day, her neighbors called to ask if they had seen a missing Charlie—aka Panther. When Charlie/Panther did turn up, Trotsky the husky (which, side note, is a perfect name) didn’t freak out. “HE ALREADY KNEW HIM. THEY’D LIVED TOGETHER BEFORE,” @ngvhi wrote. 

“Our neighbors were as flabbergasted as us and insisted we keep him because he really was ours. we (I was overruled) decided to give him back since he was comfortable there and we already have a dog and cat,” she tweeted. 

“It was heartbreaking but I can’t even be sad bc today was truly surreal. They’ve given me permission to visit my beautiful boy whenever I’d like. How is it possible that they gave me this dog I adore and have fostered my first best friend.”

“You know how you lose a person or pet and you wish you had one more day with them just to let them know how much you love them and how much they mean to you?,” she wrote. “I just had that day with Panther. I never would have guessed that 5 years later I’d get to kiss his little head again.”

Mashable has reached out to @ngvhi for more information but until then, cue all of the tears and all of the feelings.  😭

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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The Wire, 10 years on: We tore the cover off a city and showed the American dream was dead

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David Simons anti-cop show struggled to find an audience before being lauded as a classic and making stars of Idris Elba, Michael B Jordan and others. Here, some of its writers and stars look back at a series that changed TV for ever

When, in 2001, the actor Frankie Faison accepted the role of deputy commissioner Ervin Burrell in a new HBO drama called The Wire, he thought he was signing up for a cop show. I was expecting it to be more about wiretapping, he remembers with amusement. It evolved into something much more fascinating.

HBO laboured under a similar misapprehension because The Wires creator, David Simon, had pitched the show to them as an unusually thoughtful police procedural, not an anatomy lesson in US dysfunction that he really had in mind. I sold it as a cop show, but they dont know its not really a cop show, he told the novelist George Pelecanos when he invited him to join the writing team. In fact, he said, it was something audaciously new: A novel for television.

Wendell
Wendell Pierce, Dominic West, Sonja Sohn and Clarke Peters. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Features

Exactly 10 years after its final episode aired, The Wire is established as one of the greatest shows in the history of US television some would say the greatest. But, while shows such as The Sopranos and Mad Men launched with loud fanfares and walked paths strewn with accolades, strong ratings and Emmy awards, The Wires route to the pantheon was a long slog. David Simon had to fight for every season, says Clarke Peters (Det Lester Freamon). Nothing was ever guaranteed.

The story began in 1984, when Simon, then a journalist on the Baltimore Sun, was covering the wiretap-related arrest of a local drug lord, Melvin Williams. Ed Burns, 14 years his senior, was the detective leading the case. As both of them were blunt, abrasive, fiercely intelligent and morally enraged by the status quo, they became friends. After Simons 1991 nonfiction masterpiece Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets became a hit NBC show, Homicide: Life on the Street, which ran for seven seasons between 1993 and 1999, both men quit their jobs. Burns became a teacher, and the two collaborated on the 1997 book The Corner: A Year in the Life of An Inner-City Neighbourhood, which examined the futile cruelty of the war on drugs from the other end of the telescope. The Corner became an HBO miniseries, which enabled the 40-year-old Simon to pitch The Wire to HBOs CEO, Chris Albrecht, and entertainment division president, Carolyn Strauss, as the anti-cop show, a rebellion of sorts against all the horseshit police procedurals afflicting American television.

Simon would later describe The Wire in different ways: as Greek tragedy for the new millennium, with sclerotic institutions playing the role of callous, indifferent gods; as a story about the triumph of capitalism over human value; and as a chronicle of the decline of the American empire. On Homicide: Life on the Street, NBC executives would repeatedly ask the writers: Where are the victories? The Wire avoided victories, preferring to show corruption, failure and decay. In this show, reformers would be thwarted, crooks rewarded and ordinary people ground down by the system. The Wire was as much journalism as entertainment a form of protest television. The most frequent question asked in this writers room was: What are we saying?

When The Wire began production in late 2001, Simons and Burnss burning conviction was inspiring. They were two different cats, says Peters. I felt an avuncular vibe from Ed. David was blinkered and focused, always under pressure. He really had to hold the reins of this team of horses so that they didnt gallop away.

John
John Doman played William Rawls Photograph: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Coalition Again

They were such a unique pair to be writing this show, says John Doman (deputy commissioner William Rawls). Their view was from the inside out, not from the outside in. They knew the stories and the characters first-hand. I think The Wire really tore the cover off an American city and showed that, for so many people, the American dream was dead.

Simon was an authenticity hound who described his writing as stealing life. If the people he was writing about didnt think his work rang true, then he had failed, regardless of what viewers thought. So he drew on individuals, anecdotes and snatches of dialogue that he had picked up as a reporter. Believing that most television writers didnt have an ear for the streets, nor much interest in the lives of people living in poverty in urban areas, Simon put together a team of crime novelists (Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane and Richard Price) and former colleagues from the Baltimore Sun.

The final decision was always Davids, but he encouraged debate and wanted to be persuaded that there was a better way to go, if you could argue it successfully, says Rafael Alvarez, a former reporter who became a staff writer on season two. In one meeting, David and Ed went at it, over something I dont recall, for more than an hour-and-a-half, with the rest of us watching like it was Ali v Frazier.

Idris
Idris Elba as Stringer Bell. Photograph: David Lee/HBO/Blown Deadline/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

The shows casting director, Alexa Fogel, also broke with industry norms, assembling a richly textured cast of stage actors, Britons, musicians, underused veterans, promising newcomers, complete novices and even some of the real cops, gangsters and politicians who inspired certain characters. The number of African Americans cast on the show was groundbreaking for its time, says Sonja Sohn, whose Det Kima Greggs was the strongest of the handful of female leads in The Wires very male universe. I think I played the first black lesbian on television. The Wire ushered in a new interest in African American stories.

Simon encouraged his writers and actors to conduct field research. Wendell Pierce [Det Bunk Moreland], Dominic West [Det Jimmy McNulty] and myself went out on some ride-alongs with Baltimore cops, remembers Doman. The cops were so blase. We went to the hospital, and one guy had been shot 13 times. The cops were standing around drinking coffee. It was another day at the office for these guys, but our eyes were popping out of our heads.

Simons attention to detail could be exhausting, but it was all in the service of telling the truth. David was always there, making sure everything was done right, says Faison. People in Baltimore were very passionate about this show. It put them on a stage where they could be seen. Everyone who came up to me said: Good for you guys. Aint that the truth.

As for the viewers, Simon wrote in his foreword to Alvarezs 2010 book about the show The Wire: Truth Be Told: The first thing we had to do was teach folks to watch television in a different way. The Wires novelistic ambition messed with standard rhythms of television, interleaving drama with the anti-drama of everyday life. It dared to slow down and stretch out, demanding unusual patience and attention from viewers. It went way beyond mere entertainment, says Aidan Gillen (local politician, Tommy Carcetti). It dealt with issues that no other shows would be interested in dealing with. It didnt compromise in any areas. To get it, you had to watch and listen, and there was a risk that people might not have bothered, but they did.

While many prestige dramas, before and since, focused on a charismatic antihero, or at least a tight ensemble, The Wire didnt have a central character unless you count Baltimore itself. Each season introduced characters while expanding or contracting the roles of existing ones without warning. To keep the cast in the present tense, only the writers knew what was coming next. Actors waited in suspense for each weeks script, some wondering if their characters would make it out alive.

People started disappearing and my paranoia kicked in, says Peters. I could pick up the script and someone might say: Did you hear what happened to Freamon the other night? That was an ever-present spectre. In hindsight, thats what living in Baltimore is like. You can catch a bullet filling up your car with gas.

Initially, I just thought I was going to do a couple of episodes, says Isiah Whitlock Jr, whose corrupt senator, Clay Davis, barely appeared in the first two seasons. I had no idea where it was headed. It was quite a ride.

Tracking the methodical investigation into the Melvin Williams-inspired crack kingpin Avon Barksdale and his ambitious consigliere Stringer Bell, The Wire debuted in June 2002 to modest acclaim, attracting a mostly black fanbase of people who saw their lives reflected in the show: Doman remembers being approached by cops who would say: I work for an asshole just like you!

Sonja
Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs. Photograph: Allstar/HBO

It was with season two, which looked at the death of labour, that Simon made clear his intention to build a city. Otherwise, he told Burns, we truly are doing just a cop show. He wanted to show the connecting thread the wire that ran between seemingly different organisations and the people who worked in them. Alvarez believes that if Simon hadnt succeeded in pitching The Wire, the themes driving the five seasons might instead have inspired five books. Whether he was exploring police departments, drug cartels, labour unions, the school system, newspapers or city hall, Simon was interested in how the machine worked, or failed to work. If he could explain Baltimore, then he could explain the US.

One of the problems here in the US is that we try to deal with the solution without understanding the why, says Whitlock. I always felt that The Wire explained to you the why. It said were gonna take it real slow, go deep and show you the whole landscape.

Isiah
Isiah Whitlock Jr AKA Clay Davis Photograph: Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portrait

For viewers who embraced the first season as a gritty crime drama with a predominantly black cast, however, the pivot in season two to the travails of white dockworkers was a jolt, even as it pulled in new viewers. I thought: What the fuck is this? What happened to our drugs? says Peters. For me, it was a way of saying: this isnt about you. This is about the city of Baltimore. It was necessary.

Season threes plot strand about Carcettis bid to become mayor of Baltimore even confounded some of the writers. Pelecanos, who lived in Washington DC, found politics fucking boring, but came around when he saw the results. Sooner or later, everyone learned to trust Simons vision.

Over time, the cast and the crew of The Wire became a tight-knit family. I had a rough time during the first season, says Sohn. The guys who supported me through that remain my brothers today.

The younger actors developed a reputation for hell-raising. Gillen remembers Simon warning him to make sure and tape bail money to your person before hitting the town with certain cast members. Older actors migrated towards the calmer climate at Peters house, a bohemian salon that became known as the academy. Meanwhile, HBO established outreach programmes to give something back to the city. Because of our celebrity, some hard-heads who might want to sling crack or sling a bullet in your direction all of a sudden become little kids, and you have a window to touch their humanity, says Peters. We became actors on a mission because we had met the characters in the machine of Baltimore.

By season three, the cast was beginning to get recognised in the street outside Baltimore, but with ratings low and Emmy recognition negligible, HBO felt that the downfall of original antagonists Barksdale and Bell marked a natural conclusion. HBO was spending all its promotional money on The Sopranos, says Doman. We were underground for a long time. We never knew whether we were going to get renewed until the last minute. Simon insisted that he wasnt done yet. He still wanted to explore the perverse incentives of Burnss profession (teaching) and his own (journalism), and cajoled Albrecht and Strauss into letting The Wire live.

It was a wise U-turn because the next season was the shows artistic zenith. Season four is where it broke open, says Gillen. I think centring the narrative around four teenage kids whose plight you couldnt help but fret over brought a lot of people in. Stephen King wrote that The Wire has made the final jump from great TV to classic TV. Even the divisive final season, in which Simon ground his axe with the media a little too loudly, didnt dent its reputation. Then one final twist: The Wires popularity only really boomed once it was over.

A critical mass of critical praise had been established just in time for the series to be released as a DVD box set, says Alvarez, who is now a novelist and screenwriter. It spread very quickly, sort of like, Did you hear the new Beatles song? You havent? You must! I had no idea that the show was going to become a cultural phenomenon to the degree that Barack Obama would one day cross paths with Andre Royo [the informant Bubbles] and call out: Hey, Bubs! No one knew.

Aidan
Aidan Gillen breakout role. Photograph: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

A decade later, The Wires legacy is unimpeachable. It established Simon as one of TVs great auteurs: he is currently working with Pelecanos on season two of his latest HBO show, The Deuce. It transformed the careers of several actors, notably West, Gillen, Idris Elba and Michael B Jordan. I thought, at the time, that nobody was paying much attention, says Whitlock. More people recognise me from the show than they ever did. I run into people who have just seen it and they want to talk to me about it. I have to tell them it was 10 years ago. You move on. But Im very proud to have been a part of it.

It left its mark on the city, too. Sohn stayed in Baltimore to build on The Wires outreach work and directed Baltimore Rising, an HBO documentary about tensions between police and activists after the killing of Freddie Gray in 2015. I believe that, although hope dies every day on the streets of Baltimore, Chicago, Afghanistan or wherever, hope lives in these very same places, she says.

Whats more, The Wire rewrote the rules of television drama with regard to tone, subject matter and narrative scope. The show that was once a tough sell is now both a benchmark of quality and a social document that is taught in universities. When I saw the conversation that was initiated by The Wire, in all walks of life, it made me feel that people dont want to be dumbed down, says Peters. They want something thats going to challenge their intellect, make them feel alive, give them issues to debate. I didnt see the whole series until about five years ago. I sat down and binged and said: Oh my God, is that what I was a part of? Thank you, Lord.

Wendell
Wendell Pierce and Michael Kenneth Williams in season four, seen by many as the shows high point. Photograph: Allstar/HBO

The Wire deals with every element of society, from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, says Faison. Sometimes the good people are not so good and sometimes the bad people are striving to be good. It was something a great deal of people could identify with. We never pulled back. We met everything head on and dealt with the truth.

That fundamental truth, which explains why The Wire illuminates the era of Trump and Black Lives Matter just as it spoke to Hurricane Katrina and the financial crisis, was best summed up by Simon in a 2007 interview with Nick Hornby. This is part of the country you have made, he said. This, too, is who we are and what we have built. Think again, motherfuckers.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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Snobs, ranked from worst to worst

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Image: Mashable/Vicky Leta

There are those of us who enjoy things without forcing our preferences upon others, and then there are snobs. 

We are all guilty of snobbishness at some point in our lives. Sometimes our opinions truly feel like the only one worth having. This is true of some things (bagels are only good in New York, for example), but not for most. 

So, which snobs are the snobbiest? 

10. Beer snobs

You know what is an absolutely fine beer? Sam Adams. It’s a good, classic beer, and I will shout it from the rooftops. You know what costs (roughly) a million dollars? Four-packs of paper-labeled canned beer from a brewery. Yes, those are sometimes worth the cash. No, you do not need to drink $$ beer exclusively, especially when buying for a crowd. Save your money, and buy a 12-pack from the beer aisle at your grocery store.

9. Condiment snobs

Many will disagree, but: Fancy, small-batch mayo and store-brand mayo are indistinguishable when slathered on a sandwich. Most hot sauces taste great on eggs. Even generic, non-Heinz ketchup is pretty much fine. Just pick one and leave the supermarket.

8. Wellness snobs

It’s great to care about yourself and your own well-being. It is not so great to sandwich Instagram-caption wellness lectures between two angel emojis. I will keep my toxin-laden makeup products, thank you.

7. Cat snobs

There is an overlap of people who insist on owning only cats and people who consider introversion a virtue. But come on, guys. Dogs are good, too.

6. Wine snobs

To possess real wine knowledge is an incredible skill, and one worth showing off. But if you can’t roll with a bottle of $2 Trader Joe’s wine, please leave my birthday party immediately.

5. Music snobs

Baby boomers and older millennials are guiltiest of music snobbery. What can we say? It’s a byproduct of reading Pitchfork everyday in 2007. In 2018, ragging on pop music feels dated and not reflective of where music’s currently at. The truth is that pop music is popular because it’s good and people like it. Now go listen to some Selena Gomez.

4. Cocktail snobs

Cocktail mixing is a cool, worthwhile hobby if you have the wherewithal to stock your bar cart with all the liquor and bar tools one could desire. But if you’re out on the town with friends who’d rather drink cheap beer, please don’t lead them to the nearest $16-cocktail bar. You will ruin their nights and their budgets.

3. Midcentury-modern furniture snobs

Thirty-something aesthetically-conscious homeowners of the world, please know that there are other styles of furniture in this world. That one West Elm couch that inspired a wildly popular takedown on The Awl? This is where our desire for Design Within Reach style on an actually-within-reach budget has gotten us. Maybe it’s time we looked to another era for decor inspo. The Cut says Memphis design is really big right now.

2. iPhone snobs

Please don’t be the Apple user complaining about your distaste for green message bubbles. It’s rude!

1. Pizza snobs

I, a Long Island native, am a self-admitted pizza snob, but even I tire myself out when turning my nose up at whatever pie’s on offer outside the tri-state area. In this respect, I am terrible, and I can admit it. But the truth is, most pizza is fine. It’s bread, sauce, and cheese — there’s little room for real error there. Just eat it.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Carlton the cat wants your votes for university board of directors

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Elections can be tumultuous and divisive at times, but Carlton the cat may be the voice of unity that we can all get behind. 

This campaign poster, shared by redditor Ynaffit96, announces Carlton’s bid for a seat on the University Board of Directors.

According to one of the comments, this university is Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Carlton lives around the area and likes to hang around campus, enjoying the attention of students — though he’s not an official therapy animal. 

Title aside, Carlton certainly has a compelling campaign slogan: “If I fits on the Board, I sits on the Board.” Considering that cats have been mayors, librarians, and train station masters, there’s no reason why Carlton cannot successfully serve on the University Board of Directors.

Of course, it would be wise to consider his policies: is he for or against the legalization of catnip? What are his feelings on emotional support animals being allowed on campus? Does he support equal opportunities for all felines?

One redditor, however, pointed out this formidable warning:

I, for one, welcome our feline overlords.

Vote Carlton for University Board of Directors! 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Dear everyone, stop using the stock market as a political football

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Stock markets are taking dives the world over — including here in Tokyo
Image: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Repeat after me: The Dow Jones Industrial Average is not the stock market. The stock market is not the economy. And nobody should be treating short-term shifts in any of the above as fodder for their political fights on Twitter. 

It was probably inevitable that Donald Trump would be ignorant of all this. After a month of tweeting (25 times) about a rising stock market that he falsely claimed the “fake news media” was ignoring, the president was silent during a multi-day sell-off that saw the Dow plummet from just over 26,000 on Thursday, Feb. 1, to just over 24,000 on Tuesday, Feb. 6 — the fastest drop, by percentage, in the index’s history. 

This Wednesday featured a brief rebound into 25,000 territory, but the market’s increasing volatility was a sign of what was to come. Things got worse on Thursday, which saw another thousand-point drop.

Wednesday, of course, also saw what has to stand as one of Trump’s most nonsensical and monomaniacal tweets:

The president has apparently taken to threatening global markets over a sell-off because he doesn’t think it tracks to his interpretation of the news. It’s hard not to see this the greatest example of the hubris of power since King Canute sat on a beach and told the tide it was making a big mistake.

And yet Trump’s legion of supporters on Twitter and on Fox News joined in. This was good sport. They cheered the stock market rebound on Wednesday as they might cheer the Patriots roaring back into the lead in the third quarter of the Super Bowl. The Trump effect is real, they cried. 

There’s not much point in educating Trumpists on this score, but let’s give it a shot anyway. The stock market, in as much as it can be said to have a single mind, is not acting for or against the president. It doesn’t care about the health of the economy as a whole. If there is any one cause of the precipitous drop, it is largely in reaction to the threat of inflation, which may happen as a result of rising wages and low unemployment. 

This is an ongoing global problem affecting global markets, it may well continue over the next couple of weeks, and it has nothing to do with Trump’s take on good (great) news.

So far so Trumpian. But there’s an equally disturbing development among many people who ought to know better. On the resistance side of Twitter, some users have taken the approach that if Trump is hurt politically by a stock market sell-off, a stock market sell-off must be a good thing. 

It should go without saying that this isn’t a joke, and that making it one won’t endear the resistance to  independents and others occupying the middle ground. 

A stock market correction doesn’t just stick it to the president, Republicans and Wall Street fat cats. It affects your retirement, wiping millions off the value of 401ks. It affects pension funds — the world’s largest traders — most of all. 

The fat cats have plenty of cushion; unless they’ve over-leveraged themselves, they’ll be fine. Your neighbor heading into retirement, not so much. 

No president, no political party, owns the markets. Not even if they’re annoying you by taking credit for a rally. Not even if it would help your side in mid-term elections.

As we know too well, Trump has decided to define himself and his political legacy by opposing everything President Obama was for, whether he considers it good for the country or not. It would be a terrible mistake for his opposition to fall into the same trap. 

In short, let’s be sanguine about the markets. They rise and fall in the short term, and steadily rise in the long term (just like temperatures in our current climate-changed world, in fact.) Stock market indices know no political party. They affect everyone in myriad unseen ways. And they will continue to do so long after the current King Canute has left office. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Gilbert the cat has mastered the cup game

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Cats are the perfect predator, and have a knack for deterring rodents and hunting down pests. 

In Gilbert’s case, he can always find a bell. 

Redditor Dingingdonging posted a video of their cat, Gilbert, playing the classic cup game. They hid a small bell under a cup, and then shifted it around with other cups. Gilbert was able to expertly locate the bell each time, tapping the cup he thought the bell was inside.

The game shows just how precise a cat’s hearing is. 

And redditors were pretty amazed by Gilbert’s patience.

Some tried to teach their pets the same game, but it didn’t work out very well.

Keep it up, Gilbert!

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Subway cat just wants to nap

This cat just wants to nap, even if it’s blocking a busy subway exit in Taksim, Instanbul.

The street cat seemed perfectly content relaxing in front of the escalator, despite multiple commuters almost tripping over it. 

In true cat fashion, the feline didn’t really care that it was getting in the way of others, as long as it was comfortable. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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Nine outstandingly irked cats in costume for Dress Up Your Pet Day

Guys, it’s been a very special day.

A day of delight for internet animal enthusiasts and overbearing pet owners, and the bane of existence for actual pets. It’s Dress Up Your Pet Day — an actual, genuine thing.

Apparently started by U.S. animal advocate Colleen Paige, Dress Up Your Pet Day was designed to promote pet adoption and generally showcase pets for the delightful, dress-upable creatures they are.

Falling this year on Jan. 14, the day saw hundreds of social media posts featuring four-legged critters in tiny costumes.

We laughed, we cried, we picked out our favourites, including these very annoyed cats and one very disgruntled chug (pug-chihuahua).

These cats do not want to save the day.

These little jaws will end your summer.

Jaws who?

A post shared by Parker, Lily & Jasmine (@parkerandlily) on

Ollie does not want to participate in any fiesta, anywhere, anytime.

Midnight will likely use an Unforgivable Curse for this.

This little kitty just can’t wait to be king so it can seriously banish its owner.

Purrrrrrrease no dress up for mee #MeowThanks #DressUpYourPetDay

A post shared by Celcom Axiata (@celcom) on

This little feline does not choose you.

PikaJasmine! #nationaldressupyourpetday #dressupyourpetday

A post shared by Parker, Lily & Jasmine (@parkerandlily) on

This miffed cat wishes a plague of skulltulas on your house.

And… this dear thing. Someone help.

Ah, for good measure, look at this very good dog:

‘Cuz it’s #DressUpYourPetDay #starwarsdog #bantha #starwars

A post shared by Chewie (@chewie.bear) on

WATCH: Watch the transformation of chick beauty in 60 captivating seconds

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