Full of fake news! Click to see the reassembled full page, scaled down for your bandwidth’s pleasure.
Got an email yesterday from Google, saying it was time to renew my Google Adsense account. I took Google ads off my page so long ago that I forgot all about them. Fortunately, my blog is a labor of love and expenses run around $20/month. It’s not exactly a high-volume website like the websites of the local media.
I looked up a story today on the website of WRAL, a local television station. It was a story on a robbery and was a bit short on facts. Looking for more information, I began scrolling the page.
And scrolling … and scrolling … and scrolling.
The page went on and on, but it wasn’t more news stories; it was that dreaded garbage known as “sponsored content.” These are paid advertisements that masquerade as news stories, often using lurid, click-baiting headlines. Intermixed with these tabloid-esque stories were occasional links to WRAL’s content.
I got so outraged at the dreck WRAL was serving up to me that I spent over an hour just capturing screenshots of the page and reassembling these shots into the original page. I had to do this because the page was far too lengthy to fit onto one browser screen, crazy as it might sound. So that’s what you see above. Continue reading →
Two things took place during my hospital visits with my Dad this week. One was becoming captivated with an unlikely Trump voter. The other was gaining some insight into how he got that way.
I visited my Dad when the nightly news was on. Our local ABC affiliate, WTVD, was ticking through its top stories from around the country. Dad soon changed the channel and offhandedly stated his reasoning.
It was all about crime. Robberies, murders, carjackings, shootings. For some reason, our local affiliate thought it important to alarm us with news of misfortunes that took place hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of miles away, far from any possibility of them affecting us.
Why was the news doing this? Was it just laziness, being that chasing a cop or an ambulance is an easy way to a story? If there was airtime to fill, why weren’t there more local stories to fill it? Why fill viewers’ heads with stories that have no practical value?
Unless the point is to … stoke fear?
I’d been thinking lately that many Trump voters seem to be under some sort of spell. That’s one way I can account for the cognitive dissonance. Why do these folks seem so fearful all the time, thinking the boogeyman is at their door?
I loved watching SCTV. It was a brilliant, funny show.
On a warm Mother’s Day afternoon here, sunlight streamed into the gold-filigreed lobby of the Elgin Theater, where traveling vaudeville acts passed through a century ago. A troupe from the more recent past, though also tinged with nostalgia, would soon take the stage: the cast of the cult TV show “SCTV.”
The afternoon of clips and conversation, hosted by the “SCTV” fan Jimmy Kimmel, will be part of a Netflix comedy special directed by Martin Scorsese, set for release in 2019. As a sellout crowd of 1,300 pushed by, the 40-year-old friends Jeff Maus and Eric Makila stood finishing their beers, having a fanboy moment about the show, which debuted more than 40 years ago.
“This is hometown love,” Mr. Makila said.
“I gave a speech to my class on ‘SCTV’ in Grade 3,” said Mr. Maus, who grew up in nearby Paris, Ontario. “It was the only hip Canadian show we could lay our hands on back then.”
This is why you don’t ever use debit cards for anything. It is also a story for why crooks continue to get away with these crimes of fraud: we are essentially powerless to prevent it.
How far would you go to track down someone who used your debit card number? When a Raleigh woman became a victim, she took matters into her own hands.After she was robbed of $4,500, Amy Milslagle launched her own investigation to catch the thief.
“I used to use my debit card daily, multiple times a day — pretty much for everything,” said Milslagle.Then, last February, her debit card stopped working.
North Carolina native, talk show pioneer, and fellow explorer Art Bell has passed away, or as we in the amateur radio field say, W6OBB is now a “silent key.”
I started listening to Art Bell’s Coast to Coast show back around 1995. Much of what I heard was off-the-wall nonsense but some of it was truly amazing. Life-changing amazing, in fact.
He was always a gentleman on the airwaves, no matter whom was his guest. In the depths of those dark nights you always felt like you had a friend out there, somewhere in the desert of Nevada.
Thanks for all the stimulating conversation and for shining a light on some of the most interesting topics imaginable.
He was awake when most of the country was asleep, cultivating a loyal following while sharing his fascination with the unexplained on his nighttime paranormal-themed show.
For the better part of two decades, longtime late-night radio personality Art Bell was his own producer, engineer and host of his show, “Coast to Coast AM.” He later launched his own satellite radio program from his Pahrump home after retiring from full-time hosting duties in 2003.
On the airwaves, Bell captivated listeners with his fascination for the unexplained, such as UFOs, alien abductions and crop circles. He died Friday at his home at the age of 72.
“As he begins his journey on the ‘other side,’ we take solace in the hope that he is now finding out all of the answers to the mysteries he pursued for so many nights with all of us,” Coast to Coast said in a statement Saturday.
I was in need of wheelbarrows for a company project two weeks ago, so I pulled up the webpage for the Lowe’s hardware store on my work computer and perused their offerings. A day later, just like magic, Facebook presented me with a Facebook ad from Lowe’s featuring the same brand of wheelbarrows I looked at! The social media company made the connection between my work computer and my personal phone, even though I was not logged into Facebook on my work computer when I made the search. Apparently I had left some Facebook cookies behind on my work computer and Lowe’s webpage uses Facebook integrations to read those cookies.
Lowe’s wheelbarrow ad on Facebook
Creepy? Perhaps for some, but at least I can understand how this magic was done. I might not necessarily like Lowe’s sharing my searches with Facebook but I understand how and why it happened. I chalk this up to good, clean, targeted advertising. It’s fair game.
But there’s apparently another, more nefarious kind of targeted advertising done by Facebook, whether or not they care to admit it. A friend had lunch with a colleague yesterday and they were waiting for their meals when his colleague casually mentioned that his car was in need of a new ignition coil. Upon returning to his office, my friend checked Facebook and was astounded to find a Facebook ad for an ignition coil!
What are the odds of this happening by chance? I mean, I know that a recent story on this by Digg has pointed to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon as a possible explanation. This theory might apply to more common phrases or objects, like cat food, but ignition coils? How often does anyone ever utter the words “ignition coil” in their lifetime? Saying I hear it maybe once every ten years would be generous. It’s pretty damn uncommon phrase.
An ignition coil ad, surely just a coincidence
My friend insists that he never searched for ignition coils, typed it in, or did anything active that would’ve drawn the ad to him. He also was not on any WiFi networks at the restaurant and had no other overt ties to his colleague and their conversation. While it may be possible his colleague Googled it at the restaurant my friend doesn’t think so, and certainly he didn’t use my friend’s phone to do it. The odds against this being coincidence are simply staggering.
The Facebook app has been banned from my phone since I caught it using the photos on my phone that I didn’t share to send me ads. That was too creepy for me, but it appears that listening in on what people say now feeds the social media giant’s insatiable appetite to know everything about you.
A friend posted this account recently on their social media page:
A friend was standing in line at returns at Home Depot yesterday when the white man in front of him told another man, who was hispanic, he was going to call Trump to come get him. I was horrified and would not be able to keep my mouth shut if I had been confronted by that bigoted white man. Disgust!!!!!
Immediately, one of my friend’s friends, apparently a conservative, piped up with this:
What about freedom of speech? Please explain “HOW” this man is a bigot? It was probably not a nice thing to say, but we do have freedom of speech.
When several others on the thread pointed out how bigoted Conservative Person sounds, Conservative Person wilted from the controversy, claiming loudly “you don’t know me!” Continue reading →