Saturday, September 16, 2017

Robot sports could replace boxing, other dangerous human sports

It’s football season and this year a lot of conversation has been devoted to how dangerous the game is for players.
Chief among the worries for players is getting chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in people who have suffered repeated blows to the head. CTE is most commonly found in athletes playing football, boxing and other contact sports.
The dangers of these sports could lead to the rise of digital and robotic sports, methinks.
Already, competitive video game play, known as e-sports, is a big deal, watched by millions worldwide online and drawing thousands for arena-held tournaments.
There also are robot fighting competitions, such as BattleBots and an upcoming giant gladiator robot match. Previously robot fighting was only in science fiction movies like “Real Steel” and “AI: Artificial Intelligence.”
Plus, there is a new robotic racecar circuit, robotic soccer and sumo matches, and aerial drone racing.
I’ll look at these emerging sports more closely in my next article.
The next generation of youngsters might be more interested in playing digital or robotic sports and less interested in dangerous sports like football, boxing, MMA and racecar driving. And their parents are likely to support them.
Just look at some of the negative news in recent months.

Are you ready for some CTE? 

In August, Ed Cunningham, a former NFL player, resigned as a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC in the prime of his broadcasting career because of his growing discomfort with the damage being inflicted on the players he was watching each week.
He said he no longer wanted to be a cheerleader for the sport. (See articles by the New York Times and the Daily Mail.)
Earlier this year, Bo Jackson, an All-Star in baseball and a Pro Bowler in football, confessed that he regrets having played football.
“If I knew back then what I know now, I would have never played football. Never,” Jackson told USA Today. “I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn’t tell anybody.”
At his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement last month, retired Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis addressed the long-term health effects of playing football, especially CTE.
“I can’t lie, we’re all scared,” Davis said. “We’re all concerned, because we don’t know what the future holds.” (See articles by USA Today and Sporting News.)
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a doctor who discovered the link between CTE brain disease and the NFL, said that letting children play football should be considered child abuse. (See article by the Daily Mail.)

MMA is DOA for some

Many people like boxing and mixed martial arts, but they’re deadly sports.
Last October, Scottish boxer Mike Towell died after suffering severe bleeding and swelling to his brain during a televised fight. (See article by Fox News.)
In June, former UFC heavyweight Tim Hague died after suffering a knockout loss during a boxing match in Canada. (See articles by MMA Mania, the Daily Star and the New York Post.)
In July, amateur MMA fighter Donshay White died after a bout in Louisville, Ky. (See article by MMA Maxim.)
Also in July, amateur MMA fighter Rondel Clark died three days after he was knocked out during a fight in Massachusetts. (See article by the New York Post.)
Will athletes, fans and government regulators continue to support these blood sports? Probably.
But maybe attention will shift to other sports, perhaps emerging geek sports.
More on that in my next post.

Photo: Poster from the 2011 sci-fi movie “Real Steel” starring Hugh Jackman.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Lies, damn lies and clickbait

Fake news continues to find a home with online content promoters like Taboola and Revcontent. These services need to be held accountable by the websites that use them.
Here are some recent examples of the types of stories they and their ilk are peddling.

A Taboola-sponsored article titled “China’s new jet is straight out of a sci-fi movie” used a detailed model of a Vic Viper spacecraft from the Gradius Series of video games by Konami. The model was assembled and photographed by blogger RoboRay. (See article by Kotaku.)

Another Taboola article titled “30 Amish facts that’ll make your skin crawl” used a photo of a model (Sophie Letyago) wearing Amish-inspired clothing. (See description of the photo on DeviantArt.)

A Taboola article titled “15 Walmart shoppers captured these photos” didn’t use a Walmart picture, but a “plandid” (planned candid) photo of smoking hot Swedish Instagram model Anna Nystrom from August 2015.

This next type of clickbait keeps popping up.
An article titled “Shocking images of the Titanic taken by a passenger’s camera” used a still from James Cameron’s 1997 movie “Titanic.” Also, Jack and Rose are fictional characters, people!

Another common clickbait tactic is promoting an article on dead celebrities using the photo of a live celebrity to exploit the curiosity gap.
Revcontent implied that actress Julia Stiles is dead by using her picture with a story titled “She died but no one said a word, here’s why.”
Another recent clickbait article implied that actor-director Clint Eastwood had died.

And finally, here’s a blast from the past.
A recent clickbait post titled “15 chilling photos you will not find in history books” uses a photo of attractive young lady in a revealing dress. This photo is neither historic nor chilling, unless you’re horrified by side boob.
I first wrote about use of this photo in May 2016.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lying clickbait: Photoshop fakes and optical illusions

Those crazy clickbait con artists are at it again. They’re trying to pass off Photoshopped pictures as the real deal and optical illusions as something they’re not.
Here are the latest examples.

A Taboola-sponsored article titled “Look closely: 24 photos that will make your palms sweaty” used a photo of a snorkeler with a great white shark behind her. It’s a Photoshop fake. The original photo has no shark.

Another Taboola article titled “The deadliest snakes ever found on the planet” used a badly Photoshopped picture of an elephant being killed by a giant boa constrictor. The original photo was from a Huffington Post article about veterinarians treating animals in Africa.

Yet another Taboola article titled “20+ mysterious photos that cannot be explained” includes a picture that can be easily explained. It’s a Photoshopped phony purporting to show the skeleton of a giant human being excavated by archeologists. The original photo is a human skeleton available as a stock image from AFP and Getty Images. (See article by French blog La Verite Perdue, or The Lost Truth.)

An article by Revcontent carried the headline “17 incredible pictures taken just a second before disaster” used a photo of a woman clinging to a cliff and kissing her boyfriend. As I’ve noted previously, this is an optical illusion. The woman is safe, only a few feet above the ground, on a rock in a Brazilian park called Pedra do Telegrafo.

And finally, Taboola (yeah, those guys again) ran a similarly themed article titled “20+ photos taken right before the disaster strike.” That grammar. Ouch. Anyway it featured a woman on the beach looking at a wave that appears ready to swamp her. The photo taken in 2012 on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The giant winter swells break just off shore and dissipate before reaching the beachgoers. (See articles by JustMyPhoto, Lanikai Bath and Body, and Izismile.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

8 new post-apocalyptic TV shows in the works

Fans of post-apocalyptic TV shows should not be worried that Hollywood has turned optimistic and abandoned entertainment portraying bleak futures.
At least eight such new shows are in the works. They'll join 13 post-apocalyptic-themed shows now airing or renewed for new seasons.
Here’s a summary of those planned TV series.


TNT is working on a TV series based on the 2013 movie “Snowpiercer,” which was adapted from the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige.” TNT hopes to premiere the show, which is to star Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly, sometime in 2018.
“Snowpiercer” tells the story of survivors of a global ice age who live on an ever-moving train. The train is divided by classes, with the poorer members of society living in the back of the train farther away from its resources and comforts.
TNT network president Kevin Reilly said “Snowpiercer” will resemble a “spaceship show” and will feature an “ongoing mystery” that will unfold throughout its first season.
“It’s a contained environment with a wide swath of characters stuck together in an intense environment in a game of survival. It makes for unbelievable character drama,” Reilly said during the Television Critics Association press tour.

The Passage 

Fox is developing a post-apocalyptic vampire drama called “The Passage.”
It’s based on a trilogy of horror fantasy novels by Justin Cronin. “The Passage” depicts a post-apocalyptic future where virus-infected vampires roam the earth, with human colonies banding together to survive.
The cast includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Saniyya Sidney.
A midseason launch was been speculated.

Y: The Last Man

FX is developing a TV series based on the comic book “Y: The Last Man,” which is about the world after an illness wipes out every male in the world except one man, Yorick Brown.
No word on when the series might arrive.


Lionsgate is looking to make a TV series sequel of the “Divergent” film series. “Ascendant” was originally planned as the fourth installment in the “Divergent” series, but now is being retooled as a television show.

War of the Worlds

MTV is developing a contemporary drama series based on H.G. Wells’ classic alien invasion novel “The War of the Worlds.” That public-domain work was most recently adapted into the film “War of the Worlds” (2005) starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Who Fears Death

HBO and executive producer George R.R. Martin (“Game of Thrones”) are working to adapt the novel “Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor into a series. The science-fiction fantasy novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic future version of Sudan.

Judge Dredd: Mega City One

The producer of “Dredd” (2012), a cult favorite film about dystopian crime fighter Judge Dredd, plans to make a television series sequel called “Judge Dredd: Mega City One.” “Dredd” star Karl Urban is in talks to reprise his title role.
In June, returning franchise producer Jason Kingsley said the show was at least two years away from reaching viewers.


Ava DuVernay, Charles D. King’s Macro and director-writer Victoria Mahoney are adapting the science-fiction novel “Dawn” by award-winning author Octavia E. Butler into a television series.
The novel is about an African-American woman who works with aliens to resurrect the human race 250 years after a nuclear war.

Photos: Artwork from movie “Snowpiercer” (2013) and novel “The Passage.”

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Post-apocalyptic TV has ebbed; One new show this fall

American television reached peak post-apocalyptic TV last year when 16 such genre shows were airing.
This fall there will be 13 such shows airing or renewed for new seasons. Only one new post-apocalyptic-themed show is scheduled to premiere this season and it’s on a small network: “Extinct” on BYUtv.
The current lineup of post-apocalyptic TV series includes three zombie apocalypse shows: “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” on AMC and “Z Nation” on Syfy.
Three shows take place after a viral pandemic: “The Last Ship” on TNT, “12 Monkeys” on Syfy and “The Last Man on Earth” on Fox.
Other shows picture our world destroyed by nuclear war, alien invasion, vampire outbreaks and other means. They are: “The 100” on the CW, “Colony” on USA, “Van Helsing” on Syfy, “Into the Badlands” on AMC, “The Shannara Chronicles” on MTV, and “Zoo” on CBS.
Post-apocalyptic TV shows that ended or are ending this year include “The Leftovers” on HBO and “The Strain” on FX. “Aftermath” on Syfy was canceled in January after one season.
“12 Monkeys” was renewed for a fourth and final season to premiere in 2018.
As for “Extinct,” it was created by “Ender’s Game” author Orson Scott Card. The 10-episode action series takes place 400 years after the extinction of the human race and follows a small group of humans who are revived by an alien civilization.
“Extinct” will premiere on Oct. 1.
More post-apocalyptic-themed shows are in the works.
I’ll cover those in my next post.

Photo: Still from “Extinct,” which premieres Oct. 1 on BYUtv.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fall TV season 2017 thoughts; ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ most anticipated

As autumn approaches, it’s time for TV fans to start planning which new shows to watch in the upcoming television season.
For sci-fi, fantasy and horror fans, there are lots of new series to choose from this season. Some look promising, while others appear dead on arrival.
The new series I’m most interested in watching is “Star Trek: Discovery,” which premieres on CBS on Sept. 24, before moving to the subscription video-on-demand service CBS All Access.
I already have cable, Netflix and Amazon Prime and have no desire to pay $9.99 a month for the commercial-free version of CBS All Access. I’ll probably wait until the first season is over, sign up, binge watch the show and then cancel.
Meanwhile, Fox will be airing a Star Trek-like series from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane called “The Orville” that looks terrible. MacFarlane is low on likeability, so having him in the lead role is a major strike against it. Plus, the show is presumably a comedy, but the trailer is devoid of laughs.
Star Trek already has received good parody treatment from the movie “Galaxy Quest” (1999) and the underrated Yahoo series “Other Space” (2015).
The fall TV season also will bring a plethora of new Marvel comic-book shows, including “The Gifted” on Fox, “Marvel’s Inhumans” on ABC, “Marvel’s Runaways” on Hulu and “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix.
We’ve probably reached peak Marvel, with the four new series joining six Marvel series already airing. Now studios are adapting B-grade Marvel properties in hopes of producing a hit.
I’ll probably give “The Gifted” a try, but have zero interest in “Inhumans.” I won’t be subscribing to Hulu, so “Runaways” is a no-go. I’ve enjoyed the other Netflix Marvel shows, including the recent “Marvel’s The Defenders,” so I’ll be checking out “The Punisher.”
Netflix has a couple more intriguing series on the way. They include the David Fincher-produced crime drama “Mindhunter” and German drama “Dark.”

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Song of summer 2017: ‘Despacito,’ of course. No question

Every year after Labor Day, Billboard magazine officially crowns the “song of summer” for the year. It’s the song that dominated the radio airwaves, parties and beaches during the season.
This year, the competition wasn’t even close. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee (feat. Justin Bieber) ruled the top of the charts for most of the summer.
On Aug. 13, “Despacito” was awarded Choice Summer Song at the Teen Choice Awards. It beat out “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran, “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars, “Malibu” by Miley Cyrus, “Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara and “Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez.
Personally, I side with USA Today writer Maeve McDermott who picked “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller as her top pick for the song of summer 2017.

Here is a list of the most recent songs of summer, according to Billboard magazine:

2010   “California Gurls” by Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
2011   “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock
2012   “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
2013   “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke feat. T.I. + Pharrell
2014   “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
2015   “Cheerleader” by OMI
2016   “One Dance” by Drake feat. WizKid & Kyla

Photo: Artwork for “Despacito” single.

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