Debbie Harry has always been a master at on-screen interviews

"Where do you think Blondie will be ten years from now?"

"San Quentin."

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Short animations about how clicky health-claim headlines are often misleading

In these two excellent short animations, data science professor Jeffrey Leek of the Simply Statistics blog and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and his university colleague, postdoctoral research Lucy McGowan, explain how "in medicine, there’s often a disconnect between news headlines and the scientific research they cover."

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Survey: 50% of Americans believe 'made-up news' is a very big problem for the country today. 46% say the same about climate change.

More Americans view made-up news as a 'very big problem' for the country, over terrorism, illegal immigration, racism, and sexism.

How software sterilized rock music

It's not just pitch correction: with modern music-making software, it's as easy to snap analog recordings of instruments to a time signature as it is to program EDM. When everything is quantized, says Rick Beato, it loses its humanity—and becomes boring.

People actually do this. This is why everything sounds like it's on a computer now. Because it is. ... A live drummer turned into a drum machine

Beato's a master of the software and he shows you how to do it, so his critique is technically instructive instead of just a YouTube rant about something he doesn't like. The tracks he uses really do sound uncannily "off" after being quantized. But I can't help but point out that now I want to get Beat Detective.

A good terrible project would be to quantize hits by The Beatles and other artists where isolated tracks are readily available, then reupload them to YouTube without disclosing what's been done, and watching as the quantized versions displace the originals in online media embeds, and TV and radio play, because so many people just get everything from YouTube.

For years I subtly photoshopped famous photos and paintings, posted them at inflated dimensions to fool Google Images into thinking they were the highest-quality versions, and waited for them to turn up elsewhere. I've spotted "my" versions in news stories, TV segments, even a handful of books and magazines. I have no plans to disclose them, but if you ever see, say, Henry Kissinger with mouths for eyes in a school textbook, you know who to blame. Read the rest

Streamers using bizarre makeup jobs that look perfect when filtered

Streamers are adopting peculiar makeup patterns designed to look good—or at least achieve specific effects—when processed through app filters, reports the South China Morning Post. Some commenters are aghast at the supposed vanity and artificality of the youngsters doing the streaming, but it strikes me as very similar to old TV makeup from the black-and-white era. If the image is distorted, correcting the distortion becomes a science and manipulating it an art.

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UK press mostly silent on the matter of Prince William's alleged affair; Twitter ablaze

Odd how the British tabloids are constantly saying that Meghan Markle is ruining the royal family, by doing awful inappropriate things such as closing her own car door, yet are so very quiet concerning Prince William's supposed affair with his wife's bestie.

We’ll quickly introduce the Marchioness of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley).

She is the woman at the center of a very royal scandal that has it all: a future monarch with a wandering eye; an elite social circle in the idyllic English countryside; and a strange silence from the British tabloids, who usually leap on every royal misstep (as evidenced by their cruel treatment of Duchess Meghan every other day for the last year.)

Her name is Rose Hanbury, a former model married to the Marquess of Cholmondeley, who is 23 years older than her. Rose already has her own well-established royal connections: her grandmother was bridesmaid at Queen Elizabeth II‘s wedding in 1947.

Props must go to The Sun for hinting at it; but it's American media that make the hay today.

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Fox hit with $179m (including $128m in punitive damages) judgment over shady bookkeeping on "Bones"

Fox has been ordered to pay $179m to profit participants on the longrunning TV show Bones; the judgment includes $128m in punitive damages because the aribitrator that heard the case found that Fox had concealed the show's true earnings and its execs had lied under oath to keep the profit participants from getting their share of the take. Read the rest

Donald Trump thanks MSNBC for exonerating him in Russia scandal

* MSNBC did not actually exonerate him.

This was the first US mainstream television commercial featuring a gay couple

In 1994, Ikea ran this television commercial in major East Coast US markets. (Interestingly, the commercial's art director was Patrick O'Neill who went on to be Chief Creative Officer at everyone's favorite Silicon Valley start-up disaster Theranos!)

From a 1994 article in the Los Angeles Times:

A few East Coast Ikea stores have been targeted by angry protesters who have jammed phone lines since last week. One store in Hicksville, N.Y., was briefly evacuated last week after a bomb scare. No bomb was found.

At issue is the homosexual relationship between the two men in the Ikea ad, who talk about how buying the dining room table together shows their commitment to each other. If it becomes clear to other major marketers that Ikea's business is not harmed--and perhaps even helped--by the ad, it could profoundly affect the way major advertisers speak to gays and lesbians.

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Pioneering punk print 'zine Maximum Rocknroll is ceasing publication after nearly 40 years

Maximum Rocknroll, the seminal punk print 'zine launched in 1982, is ceasing publication of its paper edition. This truly marks the end of an era in punk culture and underground media. According to today's announcement, MRR will continue its weekly radio show, post record reviews online, continue its archiving effort, and launch other new projects that will keep the unbreakable Maximum Rocknroll spirit alive. From MRR:

Maximum Rocknroll began as a radio show in 1977. For the founders of Maximum Rocknroll, the driving impulse behind the radio show was simple: an unabashed, uncompromising love of punk rock. In 1982, buoyed by burgeoning DIY punk and hardcore scenes all over the world, the founders of the show — Tim Yohannan & the gang — launched Maximum Rocknroll as a print fanzine. That first issue drew a line in the sand between the so-called punks who mimicked society’s worst attributes — the “apolitical, anti-historical, and anti-intellectual,” the ignorant, racist, and violent — and MRR’s principled dedication to promoting a true alternative to the doldrums of the mainstream. That dedication included anti-corporate ideals, avowedly leftist politics, and relentless enthusiasm for DIY punk and hardcore bands and scenes from every inhabited continent of the globe. Over the next several decades, what started as a do-it-yourself labor of love among a handful of friends and fellow travelers has extended to include literally thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of readers. Today, forty-two years after that first radio show, there have been well over 1600 episodes of MRR radio and 400 issues of Maximum Rocknroll fanzine — not to mention some show spaces, record stores, and distros started along the way — all capturing the mood and sound of international DIY punk rock: wild, ebullient, irreverent, and oppositional.

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Archive of the incredible mid-1960s magazine, "fact:"

In 1963 Attorney General Robert Kennedy prosecuted Eros magazine publisher Ralph Ginzburg for violating federal obscenity laws when Eros ran 8-pages of photos of a naked black man and naked white woman embracing each other (see page 72 of the fourth and final issue of Eros). After a long trial, which went to the Supreme Court, Ginzburg was found guilty and in 1972 was sent to federal prison. He was released on parole eight months later. (Arthur Miller said of the conviction, a man is going to prison for publishing and advertising stuff a few years ago that today would hardly raise an eyebrow in your dentist's office.")

In 1964, during his legal battles, Ginzburg launched a quarterly social commentary journal called fact:, and it was a masterpiece of design and content. Bringing to mind the best of Esquire, Rolling Stone, Spy, and The Realist, fact: was "dedicated to the proposition that a great magazine, in its quest for truth, will dare to defy not only Convention, not only Big Business, not only the Church and the State, but also — if necessary — its readers." (From the introduction to 1967's The Best of Fact, by Warren Boroson). The first issue had a delicious takedown of Time magazine, the titan of news magazines in 1964, with quotes from dozens of intellectual luminaries attesting to Time's treacherousness, propensity to lie, and prejudices (P.G. Wodehouse: "Time is about the most inaccurate magazine in existence."). The first issue also ran an Madison avenue advertising executive's "sojourns in heaven and hell while experimenting with peyote, belladonna, and marijuana," a profile of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell (titled "The Man Who Thinks Goldwater is a Communist"), a piece examining "The Sexual Symbolism of Christmas," and an essay by Bertrand Russell on the inadequacy of the nuclear test ban treaty. Read the rest

Internet mostly fake now

When bots finally accounted for half the traffic on the internet, Media Experts speculated that algorithms would start identifying bots as a better advertising target than humans. Max Read points out that fear of "Inversion" is now quaint. Now everything is so fake online that no-one trusts numbers at all.

In the future, when I look back from the high-tech gamer jail in which President PewDiePie will have imprisoned me, I will remember 2018 as the year the internet passed the Inversion, not in some strict numerical sense, since bots already outnumber humans online more years than not, but in the perceptual sense. Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real. The “fakeness” of the post-Inversion internet is less a calculable falsehood and more a particular quality of experience — the uncanny sense that what you encounter online is not “real” but is also undeniably not “fake,” and indeed may be both at once, or in succession, as you turn it over in your head.

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Nicaragua moves to silence independent media and NGOs critical of government

Since protests over changes to Nicaragua's social security system began last April, over 300 people have been killed and, at a minimum, 500 people have been incarcerated for their part in calling out Presidential Daniel Ortega's corrupt self-serving bullshit. There's a lot to be angry about in the Central American nation.

Non governmental organizations have been doing what they can to bring the wrongs committed by the Nicaraguan government to light. In a bid to shut NGO cake holes, Ortega and his cronies have begun to strip the outfits of their legal status.

From the Associated Press:

Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of five nongovernmental organizations and an independent media outlet, alleging that they participated in seeking the government’s overthrow.

The raids were the latest strong-arm actions taken by the government of President Daniel Ortega. Since popular street protests destabilized his government in April, Ortega has reconsolidated power and methodically pursued perceived enemies.

Police on Thursday forced open doors and carried off documents and computers from the Nicaragua Center for Human Rights, Segovias Leadership Institute, River Foundation, the Center for Communication Research and the Foundation for Municipal Promotion and Development.

The Nicaraguan government and police have had much to say about the raids or the closures of the NGOs--when you're rolling with a dictatorship, you're not accountable to anyone...until the people rise up en masse to topple your government, I guess. Oh, and that 'independent media outlet?' It was called Confidencial: a joint that produces a website and two news programs. Read the rest

Neil DeGrasse Tyson accused of rape and sexual harassment by 4 women

Tchiya Amet says Neil DeGrasse Tyson raped her in the 1980s. As his star rose, no one believed her. Three additional women, one for the first time, now say Neil sexually harassed them. This isn't looking good for the popular science entertainment personality. Read the rest

An astoundingly odd cinematic cigarette commercial from 1977

I can imagine the first brainstorm: "What if the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey was actually a massive pack of cigarettes? And they found it at the bottom of the ocean?" Here's the actual back story according to Big Dog Media Productions:

When health warnings first appeared on packets in 1971 and the rules for cigarette advertising rules were changed, tobacco companies were faced with the challenge of maintaining brand awareness and driving sales in a market made more aware of the risks than ever before.

The change in rules, coupled with a fresh approach to advertising in general, gave birth to a unique genre of advertising that neatly ticked the boxes of the rule book yet created an art form. As with Surrealist art, these ads aimed to surprise and intrigue the viewer by replacing the objects people expected to see in a particular scene with something incongruous – in this case, a packet of cigarettes.

Collett Dickenson Pearce was tasked with the advertising for Benson & Hedges in 1973....

The story goes that Frank Lowe, Managing Director at CDP in 1977, had two finished campaigns to present. After much debate, he took both campaigns to CDP’s Creative Director, Colin Millward, and asked him his view.

Colin said “…one will let you sleep at night, the other will make you famous.”

(via r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!) Read the rest

Trump tells female reporter, "You're not thinking. I know you never do."

At a Rose Garden press conference announcing the new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, President Trump was particularly nasty with ABC News’s Cecilia Vega. Read the rest

Academic publishing is a mess and it makes culture wars dumber

In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal suspected that cultural studies lacked academic rigor. So he wrote an intentionally nonsensical paper, Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity, and submitted it for publication in the respected academic journal Social Text. It was accepted. Sokal exposed the hoax, the embarrassed academics made their excuses, and the paper was retracted. The imbroglio was posed largely as a story of flimflam and imposture in postmodernism.

This year, mathematician Theodore P. Hill co-wrote a paper about how the variability of traits differ between men and women. Uh-oh! It was accepted for publication by the respected academic journal The New York Journal of Mathematics. But within days it was gone, leading to accusations that scientific ideas were being suppressed. Upon close reading, though, the paper turned out to be, as Fields Medalist Tim Gowers put it, "a bad mistake."

The imbroglio is still being posed largely as a story of academic censorship due to The Feminists.

And just last month, researcher Lisa Littman authored a paper suggesting a social contagion model of transgender identification, replete with a DSM-ready diagnosis named "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria." Once more eyeballs (not least those of angry trans activists) fell upon it, serious methodological flaws were noted and both Littman's university and the publishing journal, PLOS ONE, began cringing at what they had put their names to. Read the rest

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