~ Archive for indescribable ~

Stupid News Tricks

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There are some stories that are just too silly to take
seriously.  You often run across them in the news and in popular
books.  And yet they are not jokes; standard news outlets and
publishers — if not the best, at
least internationally-known names — publish them and stand by
them.  The canonical story format is: vague allegations, alarming
hyperbole, unsourced quotes, and unlikely statements presented without comment as fact. 
Sometimes the subject is political, sometimes corporate, sometimes
When chickadees attack!” human interest.  In each case it is fun
to guess why the stories are being propagated. 

The question for news reliability is, what does this say about how much
news accuracy or relevance matters to readers?  Does anyone really
care
to have reliable news?  What kinds of guarantees do we have
from even the best articles?  Are there particular classes of news
articles that can be as random and fictitious as you like without
damaging the societal web?  Are there other types of news which
should be handled by only extremely reliable organizations?

A tip o’ the keys to Saadi for the pointer to this recent beauty: 

Bin Laden (spelled any number of ways) is out to kill… thousands of
American coke-heads.  With poisoned cocaine.  [Sky News]  [Fox News
Oh, by the way, this was three years ago and it’s a slow news
week.  We had a hot tip on this one.  Did we remember a
gratuitous 9/11 reference?  Good.

Blast from the past

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“I spheterized this contest and turned this into my own personal barathrum! It was all about parabulia, baby! Take these other contestants, build them some feretories and throw them in my oubliette! It’s time to get badigeoned! It’s Buddiga time!”

This years-old review of a Spelling Bee championship reminded me somehwo of the asbestos / mesothelioma law adwords hype (asbestos, chronic pleural? mesothelioma [a kind of cancer], tax lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, insurance / auto accident / assault / new york lawyers [and all kinds of law?], and a few other terms were noted for being far more expensive than other adwords; with the assumption that the groups and people involved were skimming more than the usual amount of producer surplus off of the top of the stack… or that adwords was working oddly in their cases) and the asbestos-specific sites that started springing up. I will now never forget how to spell mesothelioma, or even pleural, things that were fully outside my vocabulary beforehand.

On the other hand, an honest blog by asbestos remediators about their work and field would be sort of interesting…

UPDATE: ESPN has pulled the archived story that was republished this past February; too popular? Only re-upped for a few months? I don’t know. But I’m naming one of my kids Buddiga. A little footnote on the certificate…

Excruciating sadness of being

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… which brains and hearts do nothing to relieve. I need to spend a few hours with good books.

Great garrulous grandfather, R.I.P.

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Is it right to wish that someone rest in peace when they never wanted it in this life? I suppose Rest In Dance has an acronym with overtones

Sharing stories

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There is nothing like listening to chamber music in a resonant stone chamber. Busch Hall just northeast of Harvard Yard is a fantastic example; you should jump at any chance to hear music there. For instance, I will be singing there this Saturday at 2pm, one of countless groups to use the space this week. If you have any time out of your schedule this week, head over there to visit; there will almost surely be some group or other performing or rehearsing in the main atrium.

I saw something funny on the way home after practicing there yesterday night, and immediately thought “Oh, I just have to [share] this [with my friends],” faster than my mind could fill in the two gaps in that thought.

  • post… to the Nose
  • send… to [some suitable mailing list (cm,eis,jod,dh,bs,brk,bwp)]
  • write a story about… on my blog
  • mention… to my housemates
  • mention… on [some suitable IRC chan (wp/m/n,ji,&c)
  • IM… to [some suitable chatroom or buddy (nsx,&c.)]

Of course, none of these really cuts to the heart of the matter. For a long minute, I thought fondly of places where walking home meant stopping at a canonical park or bar or cafe, where a dozen people would be hanging around, chatting… where a good story could be counted on to spread through town, at least to anyone who knew the teller.

Postscript: I didn’t write about it anywhere; instead I drafted this post, got distracted by Real Work, and went to sleep. Now I can’t for the life of me remember what was so interesting.

All the news that’s fit to cast

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Podcasting is hot. Even Forbes is writing about it. How will ratings of it work out? Is PodcastPickle just a joke? You tell me…

Things you never knew existed

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…, Inc. A few sample items.

A game of Roulette:

“Feel the fear! Fear isn’t the only thing you’ll feel when you play this exciting game of chance…. Not recommended for small children, cowards, the extremely unlucky, or persons with a medical condition.”

A coughing ashtray:

Hilarious gag that will have them laughing (and hopefully quitting smoking) instead of coughing! …4″ square.

Removable body tattoos:

Now you can get inked by night and keep your day job…

I won’t go into the farting pens, monkeys, and aerosol cans that litter the site; these are things I was glad I didn’t know existed.

Googlewhacking

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I’d like to indulge in a little googlewhackamole, to clear the old noggin.

The Grimmelbeast and TheWalfish, trapped in the city whose inherent power spawned the Great Beantown Molasses Disaster, have both been on my mind today during this best of all possible hours; and not because of the godseyeball business, either.

Google takes years to implement simple ad filters

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I hope I didn’t startle you, or make you think that they were remedying this situation in the near future. I mention this only brecause Dan Kohn explained recently another of the reasons why this is a problem. The more frequent problem is that you don’t want ads highlighting competition for your own content, even if every one of your readers is loyal.

And ads shouldn’t be boring; I’ve diligently recorded Every. Single. Ad. that I have seen appear on my site that was vaguely interesting (and not “award winning RSS reader and more!”), and it amounts to 4 different ads, 2 from the same source. Ads for RSS readers might be interesting to people who have just heard of RSS last week… they’re not interesting to my readers because my site skeleton mentions RSS a lot.

I could vastly improve the G-automatcher in providing ads my audience cares about, with just a few hints. And the real point is that: not to think of ads as a “necessary evil” that gets slapped on by some clumsy, soulless third party, but as a “potential enhancement” that provides useful information to readers, through the limited frame of what advertisers make available. artwork out of garbage… productive artwork, even.

Wikipedia deathwatch, NYT one-upsmanship

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Wikipedia is a fantastic site for deathwatchers; updating almost instantly upon news of the recent deaths of Johnnie Cochran, Terri Schiavo, and the dearly lamented Karol Wojtyla. Johnnie Cochran’s death was chronicled within 30 minutes, over 15 minutes before wire services had the news. This surprised a CBS reporter enough to call to discover Wikipedia’s source. The answer? “Some IP in California.”

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