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.

Read the rest

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

Britain's Channel 4 highlights Twitter abuse in ad campaign

Channel 4 in the UK:

We stand up for diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. One of the dark sides of this is online abuse. To highlight this disturbing trend, we’ve partnered with some advertisers to show examples of real abuse against real people in their ads. It may shock you.

Here are the ads. If the embed doesn't show, click the link above.

T.S. Eliot, as dissatisfied by life's pettiness as he was satisfied by his own conservative fatalism, ended his poem The Hollow Men with the famous lines "This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper." He later regretted it. People who survived bombings told him they heard nothing at all. Read the rest

The New Yorker editor's excuse for inviting Steve Bannon to headline its festival works for every New Yorker cartoon

The New Yorker invited white supremacist sponge Steve Bannon to headline its festival. The magazine is famous for its cartoons' caption competitions, but it was discovered not so long ago that the phrase "Christ, what an asshole" perfectly captions all of them.

I propose that editor David Remnick's excuse for inviting Bannon — "I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation" — is even better.

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New York Times removes reporters' bylines from homepage

They're still on the stories' own URLs, but are gone from the homepage. Eric Lipton, an investigative reporter at the Times, points out: "But names of OP-ED writers still there."

Readers want to know who is behind a story before they commit to reading it, and this prevents it from happening. Current controversies over the Times' peaky opinion page, its chummy coverage of the far-right and its tendency to be steered by conservative anger are all becoming more personalized by obsessive readers. So it's inevitable that it will appear to be about certain individuals in some vague, paranoid way. Read the rest

Game review plagiarist surprisingly prolific

Filip Miucin wrote many game reviews, but it took until last week for the rampant plagiarism in his work to be identified by a victim.

The gaming site IGN is working to remove all of the posts written by former editor Filip Miucin, who was fired last week for plagiarism, after internet sleuths found that dozens of his articles and videos copied or rephrased from other websites without attribution.

What's odd this time around? How hard it is to find words by him that aren't found elsewhere.

“We’ve seen enough now, both from the thread and our own searches, that we’re taking down pretty much everything he did,” IGN reviews editor Dan Stapleton wrote on Twitter last night, referring to a thread on the gaming forum ResetEra cataloging the allegations. For days, people had pointed out more similarities between Miucin’s work and various other articles and message board posts.

I don't think I've ever seen someone so dedicated to plagiarism as a daily grind, rather than as a shortcut around the content requirements of a speaking career, book deal or some other more illustrious publishing objective. Reheated is everything from forum posts at NeoGAF to blog comments, which might bolster Miucin's claim that the plagiarism was unconscious.

“The bottom line is that what happened with the Dead Cells review was not at all intentional,” he said. “So, with that said, I just want to apologize to everybody at IGN for all of the undeserved criticisms and doubt that may have been sparked in their credibility as a respected source for games media.”

On Tuesday night, a small YouTuber named Boomstick Gaming published a video with the title “IGN Copied my Dead Cells Review: What do I do?” In it, he laid out a compelling case that the official IGN review of Dead Cells, written by Miucin, was a rewritten version of his own review, which had been published several days earlier.

Read the rest

Facebook news chief to media: ‘Work with Facebook or die’

The Australian reports that Facebook media relations chief Campbell Brown privately disclosed that Mark Zuckerberg is indifferent to publishers and offers the news media a simple choice: "Work with Facebook or die."

A senior Facebook executive has privately admitted Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about publishers and warned that if they did not work with the social media giant, “I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a ­hospice”.

That's a strange thought, isn't it? Right down to how an attempt at intimidation is undermined its own awkward spitefulness.

Still, she (invoking he), is effectively threatening to destroy news publishers unless they comply with Facebook's vision for their future. So everyone has work to do.

Brown was hired last year after to help Facebook "smooth over its strained ties to the news media."

But Facebook executives said they were hiring Ms. Brown for her understanding of the news industry as a onetime White House correspondent, co-anchor of “Weekend Today” and primary substitute anchor of “Nightly News” at NBC News, and prime-time anchor on CNN, which she left in 2010.

Some commentators noted Ms. Brown’s ties to the Republican donor Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Education. Ms. DeVos’s family foundation funds The 74, an education-focused journalism site co-founded and led by Ms. Brown.

Hiring a DeVos crony to deal with fake news and media relations quickly became the Facebook Executives Puzzled By Human Emotion trainwreck it promised to be: Brown was last in the news threatening to sue The Guardian for breaking the Cambridge Analytica story. Read the rest

Ad space available on people's armpits

Japan's Wakino Ad Company is selling ad space on women's underarms for rates starting at 10,000 yen/hour. Their first paid campaign comes from Seishin Biyo Clinic for its armpit hair removal process. From Straits Times:

Meanwhile, Wakino is calling for aspiring models to raise their hands, as it has since embarked on a recruitment drive via its website.

The company, which said it is open to hiring male models as well, will also be organising an armpit beauty contest.

Read the rest

Undercover investigator: Facebook moderators were instructed not to remove racist far-right material

Facebook claims it is trying to limit fake news and hate speech. Facebook is not.

An investigative journalist who went undercover as a Facebook moderator in the UK says the company lets pages from far-right fringe groups “exceed deletion threshold,” and that those pages are “subject to different treatment in the same category as pages belonging to governments and news organizations.” The accusation is a damning one, undermining Facebook’s claims that it is actively trying to cut down on fake news, propaganda, hate speech, and other harmful content that may have significant real-world impact.

The undercover journalist detailed his findings in a new documentary titled Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network, that just aired on the UK’s Channel 4. ... The documentary insinuates that Facebook takes a hands-off approach to such content, including blatantly false stories parading as truth, because it engages users for longer and drives up advertising revenue.

It sounds like the Trump-loving right is the advertising bonanza of the decade! Social networks are where advertisers can get to that audience without anyone else being able to tell who is marketing to whom. Read the rest

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