Sunday, September 25, 2016

7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now

The Huffington Post used to have a regular feature called 7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now. It would call attention to entertaining websites on a variety of subjects.
But as web creativity shifted from websites on Blogger and Tumblr to social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, that feature disappeared in mid-2014.
I still like spotlighting interesting and entertaining websites, so I’m going to use HuffPo’s old feature title for this blog post.
Here are seven websites you should be wasting time on right now:

Either – A game of preference

Either is an online game where you have to choose between two alternatives. You decide and you see how your answer compares with hundreds of thousands of other people.
For instance, “Would you rather … be Cinderella or be Ariel?” (38% said Cinderella and 62% Ariel.)
Others are more troubling. For instance, “Would you rather … Be as you are now or have $100 million, but have a 5% chance of instant death?” (56% took the money and the possibility of death.)

The Higher-Lower Game

The Higher-Lower Game challenges players to guess which of two things gets more Google searches per month.

The Walk of Life Project

The Walk of Life Project is a funny website with videos that show what famous movies would have been like if they ended with the song “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits. It’s ridiculous, but entertaining.

Talk Like the Boss

Talk Like the Boss is a website that documents business buzzwords, jargon and euphemisms. For instance, don’t say layoffs, call it a “workforce rebalance.”

Guy at your J-School

Guy at your J-School is a Twitter account that parodies pompous student journalists, or rather, “story-tellers.”

Robots for a $15 Minimum Wage

Robots for a $15 Minimum Wage is a funny, yet informative, Facebook page that shows how the political push for a nationwide $15 minimum wage will lead to more automation replacing low-wage jobs.

The Faces of $15 – Consequences of minimum wage hikes

The Faces of $15 explains the consequences of minimum wage hikes with real examples of businesses and workers negatively impacted.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Babes for Liberty: Using sex appeal to spread the Libertarian message

In advertising, sex sells. So, it’s no surprise there are websites promoting the Libertarian Party message using sexy women.
Libertarians support smaller government, lower taxes and less government meddling in people’s lives. They are fiscally conservative and socially tolerant.
Their message is resonating more than ever with the public, given the two divisive major party presidential candidates in Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is currently polling around 10% nationwide and could be a factor in determining who wins the White House.
Babes for Liberty was created in response to Babes for Trump on Instagram and Twitter. (See articles by the Huffington Post, Reason and Liberty Viral.) Babes for Liberty is also on Instagram and Twitter.
Here are some of the lovely Libertarian ladies from Babes for Liberty.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Most-anticipated fall TV series: ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘Luke Cage,’ ‘Westworld’ and ‘Timeless’

This fall TV season brings four new TV series that I’m looking forward to watching: “The Exorcist” (Fox), “Luke Cage” (Netflix), “Westworld” (HBO) and “Timeless” (NBC).
I love horror movies and I’m curious to see how Fox adapts “The Exorcist” (1973) into a weekly series. Hopefully they’ll make the devil scary again, especially after “Lucifer” on the same network portrayed him as such a priss. But I have serious doubts that Fox can make “The Exorcist” work on broadcast TV.
“Luke Cage” is the latest adaptation of the gritty Marvel Comics series about superheroes in New York City. It comes after two seasons of “Daredevil” and one season of “Jessica Jones” on Netflix. Those were great, so count me in.
“Westworld” is an adaptation of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name about an adult amusement park of the future that used androids to give vacationers an Old West experience. Then the robots went berserk and killed everyone.
Finally, “Timeless” is one of four time-travel themed shows premiering this fall and midseason. The difference with “Timeless” is the behind-the-scenes talent, including Eric Kripke (“Supernatural” and “Revolution”) and Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”).
But I have big concerns about “Timeless,” which involves an unlikely trio (history professor, soldier and scientist) tasked with stopping a time-traveling criminal who wants to rewrite American history. The show could end up being a boring history lesson if the heroes are successful each week in preserving the timeline.
Among returning shows, I’m going to watch “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” “Supernatural,” “The Walking Dead” and “The Strain.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A record 15 post-apocalyptic TV shows soon airing

In January, I was convinced that the trend of post-apocalyptic-themed TV shows had peaked with 12 shows. I was wrong.
With the fall TV season, there will be 15 post-apocalyptic TV series airing on broadcast and cable TV. The Syfy network is adding two more post-apocalyptic shows – “Van Helsing” and “Aftermath.”
“Van Helsing” takes place years after a vampire plague has swept the planet. It premieres Sept. 23.
“Aftermath” is a family drama about surviving a Biblical apocalypse complete with demons, doomsday meteors, solar flares, and other hellish events. It premieres Sept. 27.
Syfy is the post-apocalyptic network with four such shows in production. The others are “Z Nation” and “12 Monkeys.”
AMC is in second place with three PA shows – “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Into the Badlands.”
Why so many shows about living in a post-apocalyptic world?
It might have something to do with the public’s collective mindset, especially given the weak economic recovery under President Barack Obama, fears of terrorism, civil unrest, diseases like Zika and other horrors. Then there’s the looming 2016 presidential election featuring two of the most unpopular candidates of all time – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
No wonder people feel like it’s the end of the world.


List of post-apocalyptic TV shows

Sunday, September 11, 2016

‘Stranger Things,’ ‘BrainDead,’ ‘The Last Ship’ great summer TV shows

Far from being a wasteland for television shows, this summer featured three series (two new and one returning) that I loved: “Stranger Things,” “BrainDead” and “The Last Ship.”
“Stranger Things” premiered with an 8-episode first season on Netflix on July 15. It quickly became one of the Internet TV network’s most talked-about and popular shows. A second season is in the works.
“Stranger Things” is a love letter to 1980s youth-oriented science-fiction and horror movies. It involves the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy, a Department of Energy lab doing dangerous experiments and a group of boys who befriend psychokinetic girl who escaped from the lab.
“BrainDead” is a political satire, science-fiction comedy-drama about a Capitol Hill aide who discovers that Washington, D.C., has been invaded by extraterrestrial bugs, which are eating the brains and taking control of people in power, including members of Congress.
The CBS show received generally positive reviews from critics, but has gotten low ratings. So its chances for a second season are slim.
“The Last Ship” is wrapping up its third season on TNT tonight. It centers on the crew of a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer after a global viral pandemic wipes out over 80% of the world’s population.
“The Last Ship” is a great combination of intense action scenes, military strategy and political intrigue with a host of compelling characters.
TNT has renewed the show for two more seasons.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hot journalism job: Engagement editor

Newspapers and other online news media are desperate to increase their traffic and boost their active readers. They are following the same path as Tronc in treating journalism as pieces of content that can be funneled into social media and distribution services.
A hot journalism buzzword is “engagement.” Not couples planning to get married, but readers finding articles that they want to share and interact with through likes, retweets and posting comments. Engagement also means keeping readers longer on your website and giving them more content (and advertising) to consume.
A quick search of LinkedIn reveals an explosion of news media sites hiring “engagement editors.” More than 600 websites have hired engagement editors, most within the last year or so.
News media sites with engagement editors include GQ, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Bloomberg, Vox Media, Recode, the Verge and the Huffington Post, to name a few. Many outlets have more than one engagement editor.
Another job title that seems to be fast growing among media outlets is “chief digital officer.”

Related reading:

New Journalism Buzzwords (Medium; April 22, 2014)

Photo: Engagement photo by Brandon Atkinson.

Remembering Romantica Pizzeria

About a month ago, one of my favorite local pizzerias closed shop.
Romantica Pizzeria in Great Falls, Va., was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in a retail strip along with a 7-Eleven convenience store.
Romantica and the kabob restaurant next store lost their leases and were forced to leave.
Romantica was popular with the blue-collar crowd of construction workers, landscapers and the like. It didn’t have much decor, but the food was really good. It opened in 1998.
For now the historical record on Romantica consists of inactive Facebook and Yelp pages.
To that, I’ll add to that a few photos and a menu.

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