1978 NBC news segment on the horrors of The Sex Pistols coming to America

Everyone on the staff of NBC seems to be on quaaludes in this mind-numbing but historically interesting 1978 segment about the Sex Pistols US tour. The one exception is co-anchor Jane Pauley, who I suspect was a secret fan, judging from her overly bright eyes and restrained giggling as she feigns disgust about Johnny Rotten repeatedly blowing his nose while on stage, and proving to her co-anchor that she knows "God Save the Queen" by humming the melody. Everyone else is freaked out in a weirdly restrained way (one reporter says Johnny Rotten looks like a "reincarnated Gary Gilmore," even though Rotten bears zero resemblance to the infamous murderer).

From Open Culture:

In the vintage Today Show clip above, see how US viewers were introduced to British punk. “Whether naturally or calculatedly so,” says NBC’s Jack Perkins after reporting on Vicious and drummer Paul Cook’s refusal to grant an interview unless they were each paid $10, “the four young men are outrageous. They’re also vile and profane.”

Perkins then walks viewers through the hardly shocking details of rudeness to hotel staff and bit of a mess left in their room, shaking his head sadly. No band could hope to top Led Zeppelin when it came to this most cliched of rock and roll stunts. But Perkins pretends it’s the first time anything like it had ever happened. McLaren could not have scripted better finger-wagging outrage to inspire American gawkers (some of whom give brief post-concert interviews) to come out and see the Pistols flame out on their final tour.

Read the rest

Today's scares over smartphones are largely indistinguishable from yesterday's technology-driven moral panics

The "addictiveness of smartphones" is the latest technology moral panic, sending parents off with furrowed brows over whether theire kids' "brains are being rewired" by their phones. Read the rest

Alarmed by racy material in Cosmo, Utah state senator wants to revive state pornography czar

Utah state senator Todd Weiler (@goptodd, (801) 538-1035) made his nutjob-religious-grandstander bones by proposing preinstalled mandatory porn-filtering software on all mobile phones, has found a new calling: calling for the revival of the state's moribund "porn czar" in order to stamp out the scourge of sexy women's magazines, especially Cosmo. Read the rest

UK press doesn't understand chemistry or Amazon, launches bomb-making panic

UK public broadcaster Channel 4 sparked a presswide panic with a story: "Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon." Read the rest

Ugandan ethics chief boasts of his new magic South Korean pornography filter and its efficacy against "homos"

It's been a year since the Ugandan government placed an order with a South Korean company for a "censor gadget or machine" that would "detect homos and porn actors, especially those misusing applications like Whatsapp with sex acts." Now, they've taken delivery of same. Read the rest

Is your child texting about anarcho-communism?

A handy glossary for parents. Read the rest

Maybe sexting wasn't quite the crisis they warned us about

A meta-analysis of 15 published studies concluded that "although sexting might be an indicator of risky sexual practices, it is not a particularly good one." Read the rest

In 1982, Mattel fielded a teen-pregnancy Barbie toy

Midge is a semi-disavowed character in the Barbieverse, created in 1963 to counter claims that Barbie was oversexualized; weirdly, in 1982, Mattel made the decision to release a version of the doll, who appeared to be a young teen, as a pregnant lady, with a detachable bump containing an articulated foetus. Read the rest

Moral panic: Japanese girls risk fingerprint theft by making peace-signs in photographs

Isao Echizen, a researcher at Japan's National Institute of Informatics, told a reporter from the Sankei Shimbun that he had successfully captured fingerprints from photos taken at 3m distance at sufficient resolution to recreate them and use them to fool biometric identification systems (such as fingerprint sensors that unlock mobile phones). Read the rest

Chinese opsec funnies: your foreign boyfriend is a western spy!

In this Chinese government comic book, women are warned that mysterious foreign strangers who pitch woo at them are secretly Western spies trying to get at their government secrets. Read the rest

A look back at the D&D moral panic

Retro Report did a short feature on the moral panics about D&D in the 1980s. It's a fun, 13 minute look back at the moment when D&D totally changed a bunch of kids' lives, only to be vilified and literally demonized by opportunistic members of the religious right. Read the rest

What you think about Millennials says a lot about you, nothing about them

Adam "Ruins Everything" Conover was asked to give a keynote to a conference on marketing to millennials, and he brought the house down with an amazing speech about the absurdity of generalizations about generations, and about how all of the generalizations hurled at millennials have been slimed over every other generation, too. Read the rest

India's porn ban collapses in less than 48 hours

Politicians learn the hard way that you can't get between the voters and their preferred recreational activity. Read the rest

What we talk about when we talk about "Internet addiction"

danah boyd nails it: "We blame technology, rather than work, to understand why children engage with screens in the first place." Read the rest

Virgin Airlines Australia moved firefighter from seat next to boys because men can't be seated next to unaccompanied children

An Australian firefighter named Johnny McGirr was told to move seats on his Virgin Airlines because he'd been seated next to two unaccompanied boys. The airline's policy is reportedly that men may not be seated next to children traveling without adults, though women may be. McGirr believed the policy presumes that all men are presumed paedophiles, and wrote about it in a blog post called My Virgin experience as a Paedophile!, in which he publishes the Virgin policy provided to him by a company rep: "Unaccompanied children will have spare seats allocated next to them when they are flying. In the case of a full plane then a female will be sat next to the children."

Here's his account of how it happened:

The fasten seat belt sign was illuminated and we were clear for takeoff. Then the stewardess approached me again.

‘Sir we are going have to ask you to move’

‘Why’, I said.

‘Well, because you are male, you can’t be seated next to two unaccompanied minors’.

Shocked, I replied, ‘ Isn’t this sexist and discriminatory?’

She replied, ‘I am sorry, but that is our policy’.

I just hate this stuff. I've gotten the weird looks when I take my daughter to the playground, and I've found myself having minor anxiety when her friends fall down and need help or a hug. In situations where children and adults mix, men are often presumptive suspects (this goes double for any place where the Murdoch press has spent 20 years publishing innumerate stranger-danger scare stories that ignore the reality that most child abusers attack their own children or the children in their care). Read the rest