Saturday, December 31, 2011

16 pop culture predictions for 2012

Here I’ve curated more than a dozen interesting predictions for 2012 from around the Web about entertainment, sports, politics and miscellaneous.

Ask.com offered a list of predictions for 2012 based on Internet queries to its website.
  • Tiger Woods will retire from golf in 2012.
  • Dr. Oz will surpass Dr. Phil in ratings in 2012.
  • New York will reclaim its spot as the No. 1 U.S. tourist destination in 2012. Orlando was No. 1 in 2011.
  • Nicki Minaj will leapfrog Katy Perry in album sales in 2012.
  • The McRib will become a permanent fixture on McDonald’s menu.
  • The Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl again.
  • George Clooney will win an Oscar in 2012.
  • Republican Mitt Romney will be elected president.

Forbes predicts that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be elected president in 2012, kicking out Barack Obama after one term.
James Poulos, a columnist at The Daily Caller, also predicts that Romney will be elected president, adding that CIA director David Petraeus will be his vice president.

Predictions from Judy Hevenly, a Los Angeles-based psychic:

  • Mitt Romney wins Iowa presidential caucus;
  • A baby boy for Kate Middleton and Prince William;
  • A tsunami in Hawaii;
  • Barack Obama re-elected president;
  • Breakthrough in the cure for Lyme disease;
  • Angels will actually be seen walking among us by some with extraordinary powers of perception;

Adult industry professionals on the Xbiz.net forums offered a host of predictions for the porn industry in 2012. (Weblink requires registration.)
Black and Blue Media predicts that mainstream media companies will file copyright lawsuits against porn studios doing “parodies” of well-known TV shows and movies.
Copying a movie or TV show and just adding sex scenes as an homage to the original will not offer First Amendment parody protection, the group says.
Forum member Jacco agreed that some porn “parodies” likely are not protected free speech. He writes:

Parody: A work or performance that imitates another work or performance with ridicule or irony. 
The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody “is the use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works.”
If you look at the current crop of porn “parodies” the ridicule/irony/comments are mostly missing. The imitation part is there.
My guess is that there are not a lot more court cases … because the original copyright holders don’t want to generate publicity for the porn movies involved.
Just calling something a parody does not make it a parody.
Photo: Novelty item for opponents of President Barack Obama. The Obama Basher from RageGage lets users take out their frustrations on a toy Obama. The device responds to bashes with one of over two dozen presidential messages depending on the strength of the bash. It spouts phrases ranging from “You hit like Nancy Pelosi's hair dresser” to “OK, I give up ... I'll repeal it!”

11 bold tech and business predictions for 2012

Year-ahead predictions are a dime a dozen.
Put more bluntly by some foul-mouthed philosopher: Opinions are like assholes – everyone’s got one and everyone thinks theirs doesn’t stink.
I’ve reviewed a lot of 2012 predictions by experts in their fields and have compiled some of the most interesting ones.
Here are 11 notable predictions in technology and business that I’ve seen for the coming year.

1. Microsoft will buy Netflix and/or LinkedIn

Kudos to the analysts at market research firm IDC for sticking their necks out with their 2012 predictions. They predicted that Microsoft would buy Netflix to buck up its online content offerings and LinkedIn to add social networking capabilities.
IDC analyst Frank Gens admits they’re “audacious” calls.
“You can’t do layups all day,” he told me. “You have to take a half-court shot now and again.”

2. Microsoft will fire CEO Steve Ballmer

IBD tech business writer Brian Deagon is convinced that 2012 will be the year that Microsoft will give the boot to long-time CEO Steve Ballmer. This prediction has been floated in previous years, but Deagon is practically alone this year. (Warner Crocker at Gotta Be Mobile also predicts that Ballmer will step down next year.)
Deagon thinks Ballmer will be shown the door in 2012, despite the anticipated launch of Windows 8 later in the year, which will give the company a shot at penetrating the tablet market and reinvigorating PCs. Deagon thinks the Microsoft board will finally tire of Microsoft’s lagging stock price and missed opportunities.

3. Apple shares will plummet 50% from 2011 highs

Europe’s Saxo Bank predicts that Apple shares will tumble to $213.35 at some point in 2012, half of its 2011 high. The bank predicts that Apple will lose ground to competitors in smartphones and tablets in 2012 and see its profit margins cut.

4. Apple will buy Twitter

Apple will swoop in and buy Twitter as the microblogging service sees usage wane from competition from Facebook and Google+, ReadWriteWeb founder and editor-in-chief Richard MacManus predicts.

5. Apple will declare a dividend

The Apple board will decide to share some of its $26 billion cash hoard with investors in the form of a dividend, predicts Marc Lichtenfeld, senior analyst at Investment U.

6. Zynga will lose half its market cap

Social gaming company Zynga will see its market capitalization of over $6 billion cut in half in 2012, predicts Bernard Moon, co-founder and CEO of Vidquik, writing at VentureBeat.com.
Moon thinks Zynga will start to see its leadership position in the space diminish next year.

7. RIM will exit the hardware business

Research In Motion will ditch its BlackBerry smartphone hardware business and focus on software, says Alan Shimel, co-founder and managing partner of the CISO Group. RIM will focus on software for managing mobile devices for the enterprise, he says.

8. FTC will take Google to court

The Federal Trade Commission is likely to take Google to court next year on antitrust charges, according to Clint Boulton, senior editor for eWeek and Google Watch.
Boulton also predicts that Google will shutter its Chrome OS and Google TV products as CEO Larry Page continues to clean house of dead-end products and focus on core software.

9. Facebook will expand into e-commerce and business networks

Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Baird Research, thinks social networking leader Facebook will make a big push into e-commerce next year. He calls the online sales trend F-commerce.
IDC thinks Facebook will be getting more “business-oriented” in 2012, partnering with enterprise tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP to add social networking to their offerings.

10. Twitter for your toaster

IDC predicts that 2012 will see the arrival of microblogging by things, so people can follow the status of a product or service.
“Think Twitter for your toaster,” Gens said.
Machine-to-machine communications will allow people to follow a Twitter feed from an appliance in their home, the arrival time of a bus or the available parking spaces in an area.

11. Coinstar will change its name to Redbox

Coinstar will change its name to Redbox in 2012. Redbox is the company’s largest business today and it’s being used to brand new ventures like Seattle’s Best Coffee kiosks. This is my only personal prediction for the year.


Photos: Netflix on a laptop computer (top); and a Redbox-powered Seattle’s Best Coffee kiosk at the Harris Teeter grocery store in Reston, Va., in December 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Movie ad fail: ‘Conan the Barbadian’

Vacationing at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas this week, I saw this posting outside the resort’s movie theater.
The 2011 big-screen adaptation of “Conan the Barbarian” was billed as “Conan the Barbadian.” I would like to have seen that Caribbean-themed “Conan,” perhaps co-starring pop star Rihanna, the official ambassador of youth and culture for Barbados.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Naughty and nice Christmas lists

Merry Christmas, everybody!
In honor of the holiday, here are some neat pop culture lists I’ve curated. Enjoy!

15 Funniest Christmas Movies of All Time (Huffington Post; Dec. 6, 2011)

I haven’t seen all of them, but “The Ref” and “Bad Santa” were so terrible I couldn’t finish them. I definitely agree with “A Christmas Story,” “Scrooged” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” though.

The 15 Best Christmas Movies of All Time (CollegeHumor; Dec. 11, 2011)

20 Top Christmas Movies Ever (Entertainment Weekly; Dec. 15, 2010)

The Best Family Christmas Movies (Huffington Post; Dec. 24, 2010)

10 Holiday Songs You’ll Hate By Christmas (TheStreet.com; Nov. 16, 2010)

15 Christmas Songs Too Annoying For Words (Huffington Post; Dec. 9, 2011)

30 Years of Elf Handiwork - The Most Popular Holiday Toys since 1981 (UltimateCoupons.com; Dec. 20, 2011)

Top 30 Funniest Christmas Porn Movie Titles (Tech-media-tainment; Dec. 7, 2010)

Photo: Santa gets his wish this Christmas. From a photo shoot featuring Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchison. See lots more photos from the shoot at The Superficial.

Friday, December 23, 2011

‘American Horror Story’: Best new show of 2011

“American Horror Story” finished its first season on FX this week and what a ride it was.
The 12-episode run was by turns shocking, frightening, funny and poignant. The series has pushed the boundaries of what’s acceptable on basic cable with its violent, sexual and mature content.
The show kept me guessing. I was never sure how it was going to turn out.
And the performance of scenery-chewing co-star Jessica Lange was a real treat. She should be a heavy favorite for honors at the Golden Globes and Emmy awards.
One of my big concerns about “American Horror Story” – and other new shows this season – was how far the creators could carry the premise of the show.
When the season finale was over, the story of the troubled Harmon family was complete. To continue it seemed pointless.
Series co-creator Ryan Murphy admitted as much this week. He told reporters that the second season would “begin with a new locale and a (mostly) new cast,” EW says. Some of the current cast members may come back in different roles, Murphy said.
“It’s a really fun idea to do an anthology show,” Murphy said. “That’s the way it was designed from the beginning. Every season, there will be a new haunting and we’ll have a new overriding theme.”
Of this fall’s other new shows, I’ve only stuck with CW’s “Ringer” and ABC’s “Revenge.” Both are far-fetched soap operas, classified as “guilty pleasures” by some critics. They’re entertaining enough, but low on my viewing list.
I still like returning shows “The Walking Dead,” “Supernatural” and “The Vampire Diaries.”
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has suffered a sophomore slump with sluggish pacing and poor writing. It was partially redeemed by a great mid-season finale. But the show’s producers had better pick up the pace in the second half of the season.
CW’s “Supernatural” continues to surprise me in its seventh season. It’s a great show. But I hope they find a way to end it before it goes stale like “The X-Files.”
Both “Supernatural” and fellow CW show “The Vampire Diaries” could teach “The Walking Dead” producers a thing or two about pacing. They don’t stretch out story lines. They have mini-climaxes throughout the season and come up with new plots to keep things moving.

Michael Buble rules the Christmas music airwaves this year

This holiday season, Michael Buble is dominating the radio airwaves with tracks from his new Christmas album, including “Jingle Bells,” “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Holly Jolly Christmas.”
Buble’s album “Christmas” has been the No. 1 album for four weeks straight, according to Billboard. It’s already the year’s third best-selling album, behind Adele’s “21” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” the New York Times says.
The Canadian crooner also scored with a hit Christmas television special on NBC and was a recent musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.”

Here are my top 10 Christmas songs for 2011:

1. “Winter Wonderland” (1963) by Darlene Love
2. “Jingle Bells” (1946) by Frank Sinatra
3. “Ring Christmas Bells” (1962) by Ray Conniff
4. “Christmas Wrapping” (1981) by The Waitresses
5. “Mary’s Boy/Oh My Lord” (1981) by Boney M.
6. “Happy Xmas” (1998) by Celine Dion
7. “Carol of the Bells” (2008) by August Burns Red
8. “Last Christmas” (2010) by the cast of “Glee”
9. “Hey Santa” (2008) by Carnie and Wendy Wilson
10. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (2011) by Michael Buble

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The apocalyptic art of Steve McGhee

With some people convinced that the world will end next year, I thought I’d spotlight the work of Canadian artist Steve McGhee. He specializes in pictures depicting disasters and the end of the world.
McGhee uses photo manipulation and graphic design software to create his nightmarish works. I particularly like his airplane crash images, especially “All Is Lost,” which depicts a jumbo jet crashing into the bridge with cars.
For more information on McGhee, check out his website and his profile on the Behance Network.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Looking to ancient cultures for predictions

Why do so many people put their faith in ancient cultures to predict the future?
People seem to think that our distant ancestors were better at predicting future events than today’s scientifically advanced culture. It’s like they had skills that we lost over time or that they were closer to God.
It’s a load of bunk, of course. Nostradamus and his ilk perfected the art of making vague predictions that eventually could be construed as coming true.
Now some people think that the world is going to end on Dec. 21, 2012, just because that’s when the Mayan calendar runs out. The Mayans may be right, but if they are it would be pure coincidence that the world ended then.
You wouldn’t take medical advice from one of your ancestors from centuries ago, so why would you trust them on prophecies?

Art: Poster from the end-of-the-world disaster movie “2012.”

Further reading:

2012 phenomenon (Wikipedia)

Mayan Prophecy For 2012 Has Believers Preparing For Catastrophe (Huffington Post)

2012 Mayan Calendar ‘Doomsday’ Day Might Be Wrong (Seeker)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Coca-Cola cans continue to confuse

Earlier this winter holiday season, Coca-Cola came out with cans that confused a lot of customers. The seasonal cans, which featured polar bears, were white with red lettering and looked a lot like Diet Coke cans.
Since we have both Coke and Diet Coke drinkers in my household, the new cans confused us, along with many other people.
Coca-Cola admitted that it blundered and announced that it would put out new cans with the traditional red background, but keep the polar bears.
Last weekend, on a United flight to Chicago from Washington, D.C., I received one of the new red holiday Coke cans. All fine. But when I looked at the label, the text was all in Russian.
No great mystery. I’m sure that Boeing 777 had been to Russia and brought back some locally produced beverages. But it threw me off for a bit.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

TSA perverts touching our children

Child molesters are attracted to jobs where they can get access to children. Just ask the Catholic Church. So it’s no surprise that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has attracted a good number of pedophiles.
TSA screeners have the authority to pat-down and grope children in public. It’s a dream job for child molesters.
Last month, I documented 10 cases were TSA airport employees were accused of sex crimes.
Today the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 48 child predators, including a TSA agent, as well as a teacher and church treasurer, according to Fox News in Orlando.
Also, on Wednesday, a former TSA screener, 34-year-old Andrew Cheever of Lowell, Mass., pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, according to the Boston Globe.

Graphic: I altered the TSA’s Pre-check logo to a more fitting description for the agency: “TSA Perv.” Sounds about right.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bruce Lee, Beatles, Rat Pack porn parodies delayed, but still in the works

Unlike the aborted Osama bin Laden and William & Kate porn parodies, the adult filmmaker who announced X-rated parodies of Bruce Lee, the Beatles and the Rat Pack has every intention of doing them.
Axel Braun tells Tech-media-tainment that his directing slate is full of superhero porn parodies at the moment. But Braun hopes to film all three public-figure porn parodies next year, he said in a Nov. 28 phone interview.
Braun recently was nominated for an AVN Award for director of the year. His movie “Elvis XXX: A Porn Parody” received nine nominations including a nod for best parody – comedy. Braun’s productions this year scored 20 nominations. His other nominated films included “Spiderman XXX: A Porn Parody,” “Scream XXX: A Porn Parody” and “This Ain’t Lady Gaga.”
In October 2010, Braun announced plans to film “The Beatles XXX” followed by “The Rat Pack XXX” for Vivid Entertainment. In February, he said he had cast Keni Styles as martial arts screen legend Bruce Lee for his movie “Bruce Lee XXX: A Porn Parody.” The Bruce Lee movie was supposed to be released in July, but wasn’t.
“The Bruce Lee movie has been stalling because the only guy who can play the role of Bruce Lee had to go back to England for some family issues. And without him I can’t shoot the movie. There are not many Asian guys in the industry,” Braun said. “It’s still going to happen. I just don’t know when. In the meantime, my schedule is so full. My schedule is full until late 2014.”
Braun said he might be able to squeeze the project into his schedule in the spring. He just finished shooting an Iron Man and Avengers porn parody and is working on X-rated spoofs of X-Men, Wolverine and “Avatar 2” in December.
Then, in January, he’s scheduled to shoot parodies of Thor and the Fantastic Four, followed by a Batman sequel and a “Dark Knight” parody.
“We still have movies in the can that we haven’t released,” Braun said. “I have ‘Superman vs. Spider-Man,’ which is a great movie. But ‘Spider-Man’ (XXX) has been so successful that we don’t want to release it too close to that.”
Braun said his shooting schedule could open up next spring.
“I believe that Bruce Lee should be done in the spring … The Beatles and Rat Pack, which I was planning to shoot back to back, could happen around June and be ready to release the Beatles in September and Rat Pack in January 2013. That’s my hopes,” he said.
A team of lawyers is still evaluating the legal issues involved with doing dirty parodies of the Beatles songs, he said.
A big concern with making a porn parody of Bruce Lee is how his fans will react, he said.
“When I did the Elvis parody, which was greatly successful, I had several death threats,” Braun said. “In one of them, somebody left a note on my car at the grocery store. It was a big deal.
“I had to file a report and involve the police and it was pretty serious. At that point, I started thinking, if an Elvis fan gets so crazy that they think they want to kill me, what is a Bruce Lee fan going to do? Elvis fans are like in their 80s and they’re God-fearing people. But Bruce Lee people might be Kung Fu masters.”
Meanwhile, Braun is excited about the release in January of a porn parody of “Star Wars.”
“The release of ‘Star Wars’ I moved from September to January,” he said. “When I did ‘Superman’ there were I think 27 video special effects shots. And it was a big deal for a porn movie. ‘Star Wars’ has 512 effects shots. The scope of that was so big that I couldn’t realistically have it done the way I want it in September. I decided to push it.”
Porn parodies of the “Star Wars” sequels are in the works as well. The scripts for “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” parodies have been written. The current plan is to film them back to back in May or June and release the next movie in September.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why does text in some Web browsers look so terrible?

A lot of people have switched to alternative Web browsers like Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari, but I’m sticking with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
The reason is simple: Internet Explorer is the only PC browser that seems to care about displaying text clearly. Using IE, headlines and body text look bold and sharp. In other browsers, typefaces look jagged and pixilated.
It practically hurts my eyes to look at this blog on Firefox or Chrome. Safari is better, but noticeably below the quality of IE.
See the accompanying images for a comparison of text from Firefox and Internet Explorer. The first image shows a side-by-side comparison of this blog’s “About me” box. (Firefox is on the left and IE is on the right.) The image below compares the date and headline from a recent blog post. (The Firefox sample is on top and IE sample is below it.)
On Wednesday, I discussed this issue with an expert: Doug Shaw, the chief executive officer of Monotype Imaging. Monotype provides digital fonts and text imaging technologies to makers of printers, personal computers, tablets, e-readers and other consumer electronics.
“The quality on these different browsers can vary dramatically,” Shaw said. “It’s always been a quandary to us. When you look at the browsers, my impression is that they spent a lot of time on performance, so how quickly they image; and spent a lot of time on the graphics, how vivid are the graphics. And depending on the browser, maybe a little less time on text.”
In other words, Web browser developers are much more interested in page load times and graphics than with rendering text clearly.
“Microsoft has a dedicated type group. They spend a lot of money and a lot of attention on fine-tuning, particularly the core fonts,” Shaw said.
The other guys? Not so much.
“There’s a pretty remarkable difference across the various platforms,” Shaw said.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Heart, women rockers snubbed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its latest round of inductees today, including Guns N’ Roses, the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Faces. But this year’s selections included only one woman, the late singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, the Associated Press and EW reported.
I can’t fault the hall for its main picks this year. At least it chose a lot of rockers, unlike past years where it selected the likes of ABBA, Neil Diamond and Madonna.
But where are the women?
Among those nominated but not chosen for induction this year were Heart, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Donna Summer, and Rufus with Chaka Khan.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs to induct Heart. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are the core of a popular hit-making band that can really rock. They also were hugely influential to female rockers who followed.

Photos: Covers of Heart albums "Little Queen" (1977) and "The Essential Heart" greatest hits collection.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hustler backs off plans to make porn parody of terrorist Osama bin Laden

Fans of porn parodies likely will be disappointed to hear that Hustler isn’t currently making a politically themed porn parody about late terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Hustler announced May 18 that it was preparing an X-rated parody called “This Ain’t Bin Laden XXX.” It was supposed to be available on DVD over the summer.
In a statement at the time, Hustler Video Director of Operations Rob Smith said, “Oh yeah, we’re going there … We’re pretty sure from what we’ve heard that Bin Laden was a big fan of Hustler. He was looking at porn, now porn is looking at him. See, it all comes full circle.”
The news generated media coverage by Salon, Slog, TMR Zoo and other outlets.
The Hustler announcement followed reports that the U.S. military had found a stash of pornography at bin Laden’s hideaway in Pakistan. (See media coverage by New York Post, Gothamist, Salon and Mediaite.)
But Hustler never pulled the trigger on the production.
In an e-mail to Tech-media-tainment on Nov. 29, Smith wrote, “All I know is this title has not been produced yet. I cannot say when or if it will be produced in the future. Sorry, that’s all the info I have.”

William & Kate porn parody also a no-go

Reports that Vivid Entertainment planned to release a movie based on the honeymoon of England’s Prince William and Kate Middleton have turned out to be false.
Gossip blog Hollywood Life said May 2 that Vivid was planning to film a royal porn parody.
“HollywoodLife.com has learned exclusively that look-alikes of William and Kate, as well as Prince Harry and Kate’s younger sister Pippa, will begin filming the X-rated feature later this year,” the blog said. “An insider at the studio tells us Harry and Pippa will ‘show up’ while their siblings are consummating their marriage, ‘and may even hook up.’”
But it was all just wishful thinking on their part.
Vivid spokesperson Jackie Martin in a Nov. 18 e-mail to Tech-media-tainment said Vivid never green-lighted a William & Kate movie.
“Vivid didn’t actually announce a William/Kate movie,” Martin wrote. “An item appeared on a gossip site saying that this was going to happen. It is still a possibility though a date has not yet been set.”
Actually there’s already been a porn parody of the royal wedding. A U.K. adult movie studio, Pure XXX Films, released a flick called “The Royal Romp” in April. (See articles by Porn Star Babylon and Fleshbot. Warning: Links may contain nudity and explicit content.)


Chilean miner porn parody fails to materialize

Another announced porn parody was to be based on the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for more than 2 months in a mine in Copiapo. (See Wikipedia summary on the incident.)
AVN reported in November 2010 that a Chilean filmmaker planned to make a porn film on the rescue called “La Mina Se Comio los 33,” translated as “The Mine that Swallowed the 33.” The article notes that in southern Chile it is not uncommon for men to use the word “mina” to refer colloquially to young girls.
Since then, there hasn’t been a peep about the project.
Somebody must have come to their senses and decided this movie was a bad idea.

Photo: Cover of New York Post with photo illustration and story on Osama bin Laden’s porn stash with the headline “Osama Bin Wankin’!”
Also a cast photo from the British porn movie “The Royal Romp.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Pokemon presidential candidate

If knowledge of Pokemon trivia was a requirement for the U.S. presidency, my 8-year-old son would be a shoe-in for the job. When he turns 35, of course.
Former Republican presidential front-runner Herman Cain showed his Pokemon knowledge in a speech Saturday when he announced that he was withdrawing from the race. (See Huffington Post article.)
It’s fitting that Pokemon is derived from the Japanese brand Pocket Monsters, because Cain apparently couldn’t keep his “pocket monster” to himself.
You see what I did there? I made a lame sex joke.
The same day Cain suspended his campaign, I took my son and my nearly 6-year-old daughter to the latest Pokemon movie, “Pokemon the Movie: White – Victini and Zekrom,” at a theater in Centreville, Va. A version of the same movie will air on the Cartoon Network on Sat. Dec. 10 and again on Sun. Dec. 11.
As we watched the movie, I was amazed at how many of the fictional creatures my son could identify. Plus, he helped explain what was going on at times. The plot was pretty convoluted for someone like me who hasn’t seen all the movies (this is the 14th one) or played the video games.
If any other presidential candidates need to get schooled about Pokemon, my son is available to help.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

‘Roots,’ ESPN, DSK porn parodies show adult studios willing to offend

Several recent adult movies demonstrate that porn studios are willing to offend to attract attention and generate sales.

‘Roots’ porn parody

On Nov. 7, Evasive Angles released a porn parody of the historical novel “Roots” by Alex Haley and the hit television miniseries adapted from it.
Because it makes light of slavery, the video, “Can’t Be Roots – A XXX Parody,” sparked some controversy. (See AVN article.)
Haley based “Roots” on his family tree, which he claims he traced back to African slave Kunta Kinte.
The poorly written synopsis of “Can’t Be Roots” skips all the details of the Haley source material. “Evasive has brought you a wild journey into the minds of white women back in the day and what really went on behind closed doors,” it says. “Watch the pretty (slave-owner’s) daughters fall in lust with the studs and chase them around for some love.”

ESPN porn parody

On Oct. 18, Hustler Video released a porn parody of cable sports channel ESPN with depictions of ESPN on-air talent, including reporter Erin Andrews.
Featuring a portrayal of Andrews in the movie is arguably in poor taste because she recently was victimized in real life by a man with a hidden camera. The man surreptitiously took video of her naked in her hotel room.
The movie, “This Ain’t ESPN,” also parodies anchors Sara Walsh and John Buccigross, reporter Angela Sun and athletes Shaun White and Danica Patrick. (See coverage by Deadspin and Bleacher Report.)
Hustler has been particularly active in making porn parodies of real-life events and public figures. It parodied a host of celebrities in “This Ain’t Hollywood Squares,” released in August; pop singer Lady Gaga in “This Ain’t Lady Gaga,” released in July; and Fox News personalities in “This Ain’t Fox News,” released in June.
But perhaps the most controversial porn parody based on real-life events and public figures is in production.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn porn parody

A French adult studio is producing a porn movie based on the exploits of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to resign after his arrest in May on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York City. The charges were later dropped after the credibility of the victim was called into doubt.
The DSK porn movie, called “DXK,” makes light of a rape, which is despicable. (See media coverage by the Huffington Post, the Local and Slate.)

Check out the Tech-media-tainment Flickr page for a gallery of porn movies based on celebrities, politicians and other public figures, as well as real-life events.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nip slips on the rise with celebrities, but not Lingerie Football League players

Nip slips have become common with female celebrities as a way to get media attention.
Need to publicize a new movie, TV show or album? Wear a low-cut dress and “accidentally” flash a nipple to photographers. The photos get the Interwebs all excited and the actress and her project get some publicity.
TVPredictions.com concurs in an article this week titled “Is Nip-Slipping Really a Slip-Up?” To see examples of celebrity nip slips, check out the collection at Egotastic. It includes everyone from singers Kelly Rowland and Jennifer Lopez to (oh, horror) talk show host Nancy Grace.
One place you’re not seeing nipple slips these days is in the Lingerie Football League. As Tech-media-tainment reported Sept. 11 (in lieu of 9/11 remembrances) “LFL nip slips (are) a thing of the past.”
LFL players have gotten wise to the perverts – er, fans – who watch the sport and are now wearing pasties and tape to cover their nipples. This probably has as much to do with chafing as it does with modesty though.
Seattle Mist quarterback Angela Rypien on Sept. 27 even tweeted a photo of her favorite brand of pasties, Nippies. She wrote, “Just got my pasties for game day! Don't know which ones to wear yet? Pink or Stripes?”


In every LFL game and many game photos, you can see breast covers behind players’ tops and sometimes tape on exposed breasts.
For example, see the photo below. In it, Tampa Bay offensive lineman Adrian Purnell makes a touchdown grab as Cleveland Crush linebacker Jamara Lee flashes her nipple tape on Oct. 21.


The Italian blog Very Special Girls, a friend of Tech-media-tainment, recently bemoaned the lack of nipple exposure in the LFL. Blogger Lisa Tacchi writes, “Unfortunately, the use of pasties is widespread in the LFL,” adding that she hopes “that there are still players who do not use the pasties.”
She seems to be saying to LFL players: You’re beautiful. Be proud of what the good Lord gave you and show it off!
To find a good example of an LFL nip slip, Very Special Girls found photos from a Nov. 13, 2009, game between the Miami Caliente and New York Majesty. Both teams were in the LFL’s first season but folded afterward.
In the photos (top and immediately below), Miami’s Danella Williams has a wardrobe malfunction. The photos are part of a set posted on the Team Nikon Miami blog, which features the work of Jim Winters and his friends. (For the uncensored photos, follow the weblinks above.)


Nip slips might be a thing of the past in the LFL. But there’s still no shortage of LFL players inadvertently mooning the crowd when defensive players try to tackle them by their panties. (See Nov. 4 photo of Seattle Mist wide receiver Jessica Hopkins below.)


Update: There was a nip slip in the Oct. 7, 2011, game between the Chicago Bliss and Green Bay Chill. See photo here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blogger passes the torch to Tumblr


Google’s Blogger used to be the popular place for people to publish web logs. Now the hot platform is Tumblr.
Nowhere was that more obvious than on Blogger’s own Blogs of Note site this week. Just about every weekday, the curators of Blogs of Note spotlight a blog that uses its platform.
On Tuesday, they selected a blog called Eyes on Fremont. If you visit the site, one of the first things you see is a big graphic promoting the business’ site on Tumblr. It reads “I (heart symbol) Tumblr. Click here to check out Eyes on Fremont on Tumblr!”
That’s the equivalent of a sign in a retail shop window that says, “We’ve moved. Come visit our new store.”
Eyes on Fremont actually is a store. It’s located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle and sells “unique, affordable eyewear.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big ratings for Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

The annual “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” on CBS delivered its largest audience since 2002 and its best performance ever in the key demographic of adults 18-49.
The show was seen by 10.3 million viewers Tuesday night, EW reported. You can watch the full special online at CBS.
For fans of the show, a great resource is VSholic, which has photos and videos of the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows starting with 1998. Also check out Victoria Secret’s own news site called VS All Access.
You can check out photos from the 2011 show at Popoholic, the Superficial, E Online, the Fab life and CBS News.

Photo: Model Candice Swanepoel at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Victoria’s Secret lingerie models like smartphones, social media

When Victoria’s Secret taped its annual fashion show earlier this month in New York City, I had the chance to interview some of the models about their use of social media.

Chanel Iman


U.S. model Chanel Iman, 20, is hooked on Twitter. She uses the microblogging service “all the time every day” to express herself, she says.
“I love Twitter,” she said. “I use Twitter just to get out my thoughts and opinions on my life … I really do it for my fans. But sometimes I’ll go through all my different tweets that I have tweeted and it’s like memory. It’s almost like a journal. It’s documenting my life and the different points that intrigue me.”
Iman has nearly 103,000 followers on Twitter.
Iman has avoided joining Facebook. Twitter satisfies her urge to share and it’s so darn simple to use, she says. “It’s easy, just a few words and a picture and you’re done.”
Iman also uses Tumblr, which has become a hot platform of late.
“Social media is a big part of our generation and how we connect,” Iman said. “I think it’s a great way to connect with people. I use it every day.”
On the go, Iman uses a touch-screen smartphone from Vertu, a maker of luxury mobile phones based in Church Crookham, England. Vertu is a unit of Finnish cell phone giant Nokia.

Behati Prinsloo


Behati Prinsloo, 22, of Namibia uses social media more for keeping in touch with friends than building her personal brand and interacting with fans.
“I’m not a really self-promotional person,” she said. “Facebook I use more to keep in contact with my friends back home because I’m so far away … I try to keep it for friends and people I know.”
She started using Twitter at the suggestion of Victoria’s Secret officials.
“At first, it was really weird,” Prinsloo said. “I was like – what do I say? ‘Hey, I’m walking down the street going to work.’ But you can use it for good. I hate on Twitter when people just say, ‘Hey, have a great day.’ I mean, use it good. Don’t fill up space on my BlackBerry. Give me something. I think it’s a great thing. If you use it right. It can be an advantage.”
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry is her smartphone of choice because she likes the physical keyboard. Prinsloo says she’s more comfortable with hard buttons than touch-screens.
Prinsloo also has a Tumblr page, which she uses to post personal photos.

Liu Wen


Liu Wen, 23, of China has used a Twitter-like service in her home country called Weibo for about three years. Weibo is hugely popular in China and owned by online media company Sina.
She says she only started using Facebook a week before the Nov. 9 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show taping. “We can’t really use Facebook in China,” she said.
She is using Facebook to connect with her friends and fellow models in the East and West. Like Prinsloo, Liu isn’t much interested in using social media for self-promotion at this point.
As for mobile devices, she has both an Apple iPhone and a RIM BlackBerry.

Photos from the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Musicians take limelight off Victoria’s Secret models, fashions at apparel maker’s 2011 show

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show airs Tuesday night on CBS and it’s sure to be a slick, entertaining production, as always.
For the second year in a row, I attended the show in New York City when it was taped on Nov. 9 at the 69th Regiment Armory. It was a very entertaining production, but a slight letdown from prior years.
I felt that the live musical performances by Kanye West, Jay-Z, Maroon 5 and Nicki Minaj took over the show and pushed the fashion aspects into a supporting role.
The gorgeous Victoria’s Secret Angels should be the stars of the show. The musical guests are a nice treat, but the centerpiece should be the models and their fantasy bedroom apparel.
I can only hope that when the show is edited for broadcast that the focus will return to the Victoria’s Secret Angels. Because the live show belonged to the guys and they weren’t even dressed up for the occasion. In their performances, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Kanye and Jay-Z were wearing street clothes when they should have been in formal wear, even if that’s not their normal style.
I appreciated the music selections more in prior years. Usually they’d include one or two cool club mixes of hit songs that would blow me away. But not this year.
Personally I think bouncy dance music goes better with supermodels strutting the runway than rap or rock.
Kanye performed “Stronger” and was joined by Jay-Z for a version of “That Shit Crazy.”
Maroon 5 performed “Moves Like Jagger,” with Levine performing all vocals, including the verses done by Christina Aguilera on the radio track.
Nicki Minaj performed her hit “Super bass.” More like “Superb ass,” given the stunning models walking the stage in lingerie. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Recorded music for the show included “Make Me Wanna Die” by The Pretty Reckless, “California King Bed” by Rihanna, and “Secrets” by OneRepublic. The encore featured snippets of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce and “S&M” by Rihanna.
Two songs by Rihanna. Come to think of it, she would have been perfect for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Rihanna is sexy, fashion-savvy and has topped the pop music charts all year. But she was probably booked.
My favorite ensemble of the night was Adriana Lima wearing a Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Corset and Matching Panty, black boots and lacy gloves, topped off by huge black feather wings. Love those angel wings.

Photo: Supermodel Candice Swanepoel wearing Victoria's Secret lingerie and wings.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Celebrities vs. the TSA, a new blog documenting TSA absurdities

Instead of trying to identify real security threats, federal airport screeners waste their time treating everybody as a suspect.
They pat down children and senior citizens for weapons and explosives, even though they represent almost zero threat.
And they do the same for celebrities and other well-known public figures. Like that makes any sense.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration would rather take the politically correct and inefficient approach of frisking everyone, rather than look like they’re discriminating against certain people, especially Muslims.
What they should be doing is employing information technology systems that tie airline ticketing systems and boarding pass kiosks with criminal and Homeland Security databases. That way they can flag suspicious ticket holders. They should use behavioral screening, which would target mostly single males, including Muslims.
To me, nothing highlights the absurdity of the TSA screening procedures more than agents frisking public figures.
The paparazzi and the general public have snapped photos of hundreds of celebrities going through TSA checkpoints and getting frisked or having to stand in the full-body scanners to check for weapons or explosives.
Is the TSA keeping the skies safe from terrorists or performing security theater when it gives model Anna Kournikova a pat-down? Maybe today will be the day she pulls out a box cutter and tries to hijack the plane, right?
Or when they frisk actor Ryan Gosling, do they think he might want to blow up a plane rather than try to win an Oscar or date some hot starlet?
It’s ridiculous, of course.
So I’ve created a Tumblr blog called Celebrities vs. the TSA. It aggregates photos of celebrities and other public figures begin groped, disrespected and inconvenienced by the TSA.
With photographers snapping away, TSA agents show the world that celebrities are just like the rest of us. That is, they’re treated as criminals like anyone else going through the TSA screening process.
Click on the tags for photos of celebrities being felt up, forced to dump their liquids, raise their hands or walk barefoot through the security area.


Celebrities speak out about the TSA

Many celebrities have taken to Twitter, YouTube or blogs to complain about how the TSA treats passengers.

Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian compared TSA pat-downs to rape, according to US Weekly and the Huffington Post.

“Baywatch” beauty Donna D’Errico believes she was pulled aside for a “naked” scan at Los Angeles International Airport just because she is attractive, according to CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post.

Former Miss USA 2003 Susie Castillo was left in tears by her invasive TSA pat-down and posted a video to YouTube immediately afterward to complain, according to the Raw Story.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” actor Wil Wheaton wrote on his blog that he felt violated and humiliated by a TSA pat-down.

Country singer Miranda Lambert tweeted “Dear Airports. You suck,” after she was subjected to a pat-down on Oct. 24, according to Taste of Country.

“Dancing with the Stars” pro Cheryl Burke tweeted that she got “fingered” by a TSA agent, according to TMZ.

Speaking at a travel conference, actor Sean Penn said he isn’t a fan of TSA X-ray machines. “I’m not so interested in having my genitalia X-rayed,” he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Former professional wrestler and ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said the U.S. is turning into the “Fascist States of America” with the TSA’s heavy-handed security at the nation’s airports, according to Infowars.
Ventura sued the federal government over its invasive pat-downs and full-body scans, but lost the case, according to the Star Tribune.

On Nov. 11, actor Alec Baldwin took to Twitter and wrote, “Flying used to be fun. Then pleasant. Now it’s awful. #solvetheTSAscreeningproblem.”

Reality TV star Jenni Farley, a.k.a. JWoww, of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” said on Twitter that she was singled out for a pat-down and “treated like a criminal,” according to the Associated Press. She said it was an abuse of authority, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Photos (top to bottom): Socialite Paris Hilton, former NFL coach Mike Ditka and actress Eva Longoria get searched by TSA agents.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Women’s sports reaches nadir with Rick’s Basketball Association

First came the Lingerie Football League, where attractive athletic women were given a chance to show off their gridiron skills.
That led to the Lingerie Basketball League, where athletic skills were much less important than beauty, sex appeal and skimpy outfits.
Now the trend reaches a low point with Rick’s Basketball Association, where strippers play basketball in high heels.
The new sports league is the brainchild of Rick’s Cabaret International, a publicly traded group of 23 upscale gentlemen’s clubs. The teams will be made up of topless dancers from Rick’s clubs in New York, Miami, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
The league debuted on Nov. 1 with strippers from Rick’s New York City club showing off their sexy uniforms for the press.
On Tuesday Nov. 29, Rick’s has scheduled a press conference to announce the coach of the New York City team. A press release describes him as a “former National Basketball Association superstar.”
Not surprisingly the mainstream media has ignored the upstart league. But plenty of blogs have taken up the slack, including Total Pro Sports, Coed Magazine, Crossover Chronicles, Xbiz, and Leopardman Studios.
Details about the new sport are as skimpy as their uniforms. A league schedule is expected to be announced in January.

Photo (top): The women of Rick’s Cabaret in New York City announce the formation of Rick’s Basketball Association. Photo by Total Pro Sports.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

TSA worker hall of shame, part 2: Thieves and other miscreants

There’s no shortage of examples of bad TSA hires. The other day I wrote about 10 TSA workers arrested on sex-crime charges ranging from child porn to rape.
Today I’ll focus on thieves, violent criminals and other miscreants working for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

TSA agent accused in stabbing murder of coworker

TSA worker Ruben Orlando Benitez, 45, of Jackson, Miss., was charged with murder in connection with the Sept. 18 stabbing death of coworker Stacey D. Wright.
Benitez worked as the assistant federal security director for screening in Mississippi, according to the Sun Herald.
Wright, 43, had recently been promoted to supervisory transportation security officer at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the Sun Herald said. She was murdered in her apartment in D’Iberville, Miss., according to ABC affiliate WLOX.

TSA officer flashes badge, harasses other driver

An off-duty TSA agent was charged with driving a vehicle to harass or intimidate after he allegedly tail-gated, blew his car horn and flashed his badge at a woman who was driving too slowly for him, Reuters reported.
Donald Eichler, 63, was arrested July 26 in South Windsor, Conn., after the incident. The frightened woman called 911 and remained on the line until a police officer arrived. Eichler worked at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., NBC reported.

TSA baggage screener dismissed for hate-filled rants on Facebook

The TSA fired Roy Egan, a baggage screener at Chicago O’Hare Airport who reportedly railed against Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals on his Facebook page, the ABC affiliate in Chicago reported Nov. 15.
Egan openly identified himself online as a TSA officer, posting comments such as, “filthy Muslim,” Muslims “need to be exterminated”, “burn Islam”, and “Does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand?,” according to the Huffington Post.

TSA agent arrested for erratic behavior

A TSA agent was arrested on Jan. 3, 2010, in Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport, according to NBC LA. He had just gotten off duty and was behaving erratically, saying things like, “I am God. I’m in charge.”

Two TSA agents at JFK stole $40,000 from checked baggage

Two former TSA officers who worked at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York pleaded guilty Oct. 27 to stealing $40,000 from a piece of checked baggage, NBC and Queens Chronicle reported.
Coumar Persad, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, were convicted of third-degree grand larceny, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and official misconduct. (See also a New York Post story about their February arrests.)

TSA officer caught with stolen iPad in his pants

A TSA worker at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida was arrested in July on charges of stealing about $50,000 worth of electronics over the prior six months, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
Nelson Santiago, 30, was caught by a Continental Airlines employee taking an iPad out of someone's luggage and stuffing it into his pants, police said.
After being arrested on two counts of grand theft, police say Santiago admitted to stealing computers, GPS devices, video cameras, and other electronic gadgets from baggage he was supposed to be screening, the paper reported.

Memphis TSA agent guilty of theft

A former TSA screening agent at Memphis International Airport was found guilty of theft and making a false statement on Oct. 6.
The agent, Ricky German, was convicted of trying to steal a passenger’s laptop computer last December, according to CBS affiliate WREG.

Houston TSA officer charged with theft

A TSA agent at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston was arrested on theft charges in June.
An undercover officer gave the agent, Karla Morgan, a wallet he said he found with a thousand dollars inside. Morgan put the wallet in her backpack and walked out of the airport. She was arrested in the parking lot, according to ABC affiliate KTRK.

Newark TSA agent busted for theft

A lead TSA officer at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey pleaded guilty in February to stealing money from passengers’ bags as they underwent security screenings.
The officer, Al Raimi, admitted that he and his supervisor regularly stole money from travelers. Prosecutors say Raimi gave a cut of the cash to his supervisor, Michael Arato, who also pleaded guilty, according to NJ.com. Raimi stole between $10,000 and $30,000 cash over nearly a year.

Two TSA agents at LAX arrested for theft

Police arrested TSA officer Paul Yashou in June on suspicion of taking $30,000 worth of items from suitcases at Los Angeles International Airport, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The arrest came on the heels of TSA officer Ryan Driscoll being arrested in May on suspicion of stealing from a suitcase in another terminal at LAX.

Airport baggage screener sold stolen goods on eBay

In July 2009, Pythias Brown, a TSA screener at Newark Liberty International Airport, was sentenced to three years in prison for theft.
Brown used his position as a baggage screener to steal items from passenger luggage. He stole an estimated $200,000 worth of items, including jewelry, laptop computers and cameras.
As of May, about 500 TSA officers had been fired or suspended for stealing from passenger luggage since the TSA was created in November 2001, according to New York Press.

Los Angeles TSA agent aided pot smuggling ring, police say

Police broke up a marijuana smuggling ring at Los Angeles International Airport in October.
TSA employee Dianna Perez, 28, of Inglewood, Calif., was arrested on charges of accepting bribes to allow the smuggling of marijuana on flights, Fox News reported.
Millage Peaks IV, the son of a former Los Angeles fire chief, was charged with bribing the TSA officer at LAX to help him smuggle about 14 pounds of marijuana past security on nine separate trips, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Peaks told FBI agents he and his associates paid $5,000 to $6,000 in bribes to avoid detection, the LA Times stated.
TSA agents also have been arrested at airports in N.Y. and Connecticut for aiding drug smugglers.

Art: Screenshot of "Saturday Night Live" TSA parody from November 2010.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TSA employee hall of shame: 10 airport screeners accused of sex crimes

With over 65,000 employees, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is bound to have its share of bad apples. And we’re not talking about the usual ill-tempered, power-abusing airport security officers.
No, we’re talking about criminals and hate-spewing sociopaths, according to the charges against them. Here’s a list of 10 TSA screeners charged with sex crimes, including rape and child pornography.
Remember, these are the types of people the TSA thinks are suitable for touching our children in security pat-downs at the airport.

TSA worker allegedly rapes woman after flashing badge

A TSA officer was arrested near his Manassas, Va., home for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman after he flashed his badge while wearing his work uniform.
Harold Glenn Rodman, 52, was charged Monday with aggravated sexual battery, abduction with intent to defile, forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration, according to CNN, Fox News and WJLA. Rodman worked at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.

Former TSA agent sentenced to prison on child porn charges

A former TSA agent at Philadelphia International Airport was sentenced to 11 years in prison Monday on child porn possession and distribution charges.
As an airport security screener, the 46-year-old defendant, Thomas Gordon Jr., was in close contact with flyers of all ages, including kids, according to the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. (Also see article by the Daily Mail.)

TSA officer busted on child porn charges

An Orange County, Fla., man was charged Nov. 1 with possession and distribution of child pornography while working as a TSA officer at Orlando International Airport.
The suspect, Paul David Rains, 62, was arrested after a search warrant was executed at his home, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Md. TSA agent charged with child porn

A TSA officer was charged Oct. 10 with possession and distribution of child porn after police searched his Perry Hall, Md., home.
The suspect was identified as Michael Scott Wilson, 41, according to Baltimore TV station WBAL.

TSA officer arrested for lewdness with a child

A TSA officer was arrested Aug. 24 on six counts of lewdness with a child.
David Ralph Anderson, 61, of Spring Creek, Nev., was accused of having sexual contact with a girl younger than 14, according to the Elko Daily Free Press.

Former TSA employee charged with sexual assault

A TSA employee who worked at Manchester Boston Regional Airport was arrested March 18 on five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, the Eagle Tribune of North Andover, Mass., reported.
Dwayne Valerio, 44, was accused of victimizing a juvenile.

Ex-TSA agent charged with child porn possession

A former TSA employee was arrested on charges of possessing child porn after a search of his Beverly, Mass., home last December.
Andrew W. Cheever, 33, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, according to Fox News in Boston.

TSA worker accused of kidnapping, rape

Police say a TSA employee kidnapped a young woman in Atlanta, took her to his Hogansville, Ga., home and sexually assaulted her on Nov. 17, 2010.
Randall Scott King, 49, attempted suicide after the incident, according to CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
King worked as a behavior detection officer for the TSA at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

TSA worker accused of raping 14-year-old girl

A TSA worker at Logan International Airport was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, Boston’s WHDH reported March 9, 2010.
The suspect was identified as Sean Shanahan, 45, of Winthrop, Mass.

TSA agent tried to keep girl as sex slave, police say

A TSA agent was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor after police say he tried to keep a juvenile girl as a sex slave.
Charles Bennett, 57, of Winter Garden, Fla., was arrested on Jan. 29, 2010, according to Fox News in Orlando.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 11 TSA scandals, second-half 2011

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is the source of frequent scandals and outrages.
In August, the National Review compiled its “Ten TSA Outrages.” They included accosting the ill and disabled, giving full-body pat-downs to children, and groping pretty women.
The same month, LewRockwell.com printed “The 12 Scariest TSA Stories of All Time.” They included arresting citizens who question the TSA’s procedures, feeling up little old ladies, exposing a woman’s breasts during a pat-down, and removing another woman’s nipple piercings with pliers.
Here are some more recent TSA outrages:

Manhandled breast cancer patient

Breast cancer patient Lori Dorn was subjected to a TSA pat-down, despite having a medical ID card that explained her condition.
Dorn had a bilateral mastectomy and tissue expanders placed in her chest for later reconstructive surgery. A TSA agent wanted to give her a pat-down after seeing the expanders on a full-body scan. Dorn resisted. The agent refused to look at Dorn’s medical ID card.
Dorn was then humiliated in front of fellow passengers with a public pat-down at the checkpoint at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 29.
(See Dorn’s blog post and news coverage by the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and Laughing Squid.)

Roughed up India’s former president

Two TSA officials who frisked former Indian President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam at New York’s JFK airport on Sept. 29 were fired for “exceeding their brief,” according to International Business Times.
The two officers made Kalam, who is also an eminent scientist, face a second security check after he boarded his aircraft. He had already gone through a private screening procedure.

Left ‘freaky’ note in passenger’s luggage

A TSA officer was fired for leaving a “highly inappropriate” note in a passenger’s suitcase.
After a trip, New York blogger Jill Filipovic found a TSA form with a handwritten note saying “GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL,” apparently referring to the sex toy she had stowed. Filipovic wrote about the Oct. 24 incident and generated significant media coverage.
(See coverage by ABC News, Forbes, Boing Boing and Time.)

‘Vile touching’ of sex organs

Columnist Amy Alkon reported that she was subjected to a rough pat-down that involved “the vile touching of my sexual parts.” The TSA agent groped her breasts and her vaginal area.
Her boyfriend tried to videotape the assault, but was ordered to stop by the TSA, a violation of First Amendment and the TSA’s own rules, according to Mediabistro.
After she blogged about the July incident, which she described as rape, the TSA agent got a lawyer and threatened Alkon with a defamation lawsuit and $500,000 in damages, TechDirt wrote.

Blamed in death of teen stowaway

The House Committee on Homeland Security blamed the TSA in the death of a 16-year-old boy, who allegedly was a stowaway in the wheel well of an airplane, WHDH in Boston reported Sept. 16.
Delvonte Tisdale fell to his death from the plane as it descended into Boston. Officials said Tisdale hopped a fence at an airport in North Carolina and climbed into the plane’s wheel well.
The case showed the TSA was inattentive to securing airport perimeters.

28 fired over improper luggage screening at one airport

In September, the TSA fired 28 employees – in addition to three who resigned or retired – following an investigation that revealed bags were allowed onto planes at Hawaii’s Honolulu International Airport without being properly screened, CNN reported. Fifteen other TSA workers were suspended.

Woman arrested for protesting pat-down of young daughter

A Tennessee woman was arrested in July at Nashville International Airport after protesting the pat-down of her 14-year-old daughter by TSA agents.
Andrea Abbott was just trying to protect her daughter and was “basically arrested for giving her opinion,” her attorney told a CBS affiliate.
In October, the disorderly conduct case was bound over to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing, according to News Channel 5 in Nashville.

TSA agent took cash to speed passengers through security

New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick witnessed a TSA agent taking cash tips to speed travelers through the security checkpoint at the Newark, N.J., airport. She offered to push people in a wheelchair to the front of the line for tips of around $10, according to TechDirt.
The TSA claims Mushnick mistook a skycap for a TSA agent, according to Security Management. Mushnick stands by his story.

Harassed woman with afro-style hair

An airline passenger who had already been through airport security was left in tears after TSA agents insisted on scouring her afro-style hair for concealed explosives, according to the Daily Mail.
Hairdresser Isis Brantley was stopped at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta in September, after she had already gone through a scanning device.

TSA reneges promise to check safety of scanning gear

Earlier this month, TSA administrator John Pistole promised the Senate that he would get an independent safety review of the agency’s backscatter X-ray machines. On Nov. 15, he backtracked, saying such a review wouldn’t be necessary because earlier tests proved they were safe.
Meanwhile, the European Union banned the same type of equipment because of concerns it might cause cancer.
(See articles in the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Mail, Prison Planet and Gizmodo.)

Raising ticket fees to pay for TSA screenings

President Barack Obama has proposed tripling the security fee on airline tickets to pay for TSA screening, according to Politico.
The federal government currently tacks on a security fee of $5 for a round-trip flight. Obama wants to gradually increase that to $15 by 2017.

Photos: Playmobil airport security play set available on Amazon.com.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

TSA mission creep turning into mission leap

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration was formed to protect our nation’s airlines from terrorist attacks. But now the blue-gloved thugs of the TSA are showing up at train stations and on highways to hassle citizens under the guise of national security.
The agency’s mission creep – some say “mission leap” – is alarming from a number of angles.
As a fiscal conservative, I’m disturbed at how much we’re paying just for the TSA to perform its “security theater” at the nation’s airports, especially in these times of huge budget deficits.
A congressional report out this week says the U.S. government has spent nearly $57 billion over 10 years on TSA airport security described as wasteful and ineffective. (See earlier Tech-media-tainment post as well as new articles by Reason, Forbes, the New American and the Daily.)
And the TSA’s expenses are growing as it adds more questionable technology and seeks to expand its purview.
The agency acts like the U.S. government has bottomless pockets and citizens and their elected representatives will always pay more just to feel safer.
Some legislators are calling for the dismantling of the TSA, but that may be wishful thinking. Once created, government agencies are hard to kill. They take on a life of their own. And politicians like to play it safe, with none of them wanting to appear soft on domestic security. In Washington, it’s easier to say yes to more spending than it is to say no.
The TSA has a budget this year of $8.1 billion, compared with $1.3 billion in 2002. Its employment ranks have swelled to over 65,000 workers from 16,500 its first year.
I’m also concerned about what the TSA is doing to the civil liberties of Americans. The agency has trampled on citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures with its invasive full-body pat-downs and confiscating of benign items like perfume, shaving cream, beverages and grooming scissors.
TSA agents routinely tell people that they can’t be photographed or videoed doing their jobs, even though it’s entirely lawful.
In addition, the TSA has a disturbing record of lying to the public about its intentions. For instance, it continued to pat down children under 12 after it said it would stop the controversial practice. It also lied about privacy and health issues concerning its full-body scanners.
The TSA is notoriously secretive. It has refused to release its security record, the document embodying its enhanced screening procedures and other information.
Finally, the TSA is expanding its reach beyond airports into other modes of transportation.
In October, TSA agents harassed truckers on highways and travelers in bus stations in Tennessee. It was part of the TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, which has conducted operations in other states as well, according to the Washington Times, the Sacramento Bee and Infowars.
In addition to airports, highways and bus terminals, the TSA is reaching its tentacles into train stations, subways, ferries, ports and tourist attractions. In a sign of how ridiculous things have gotten, the TSA even checked out a 296-foot-long funicular railway in Dubuque, Iowa, for security threats, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) said the TSA’s expansion wasn’t mission creep, but “mission leap,” in a column in the Daily Caller.
The TSA is taking on the appearance of a secret police force like the Stasi or KGB. On the path it’s headed, it won’t be too long before TSA agents can walk up to anyone on the street and demand to see their “papers.”

Art: Parody poster showing actor Don Knotts, best known as bumbling deputy sheriff Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” in an airport security uniform inspired by the German Gestapo. Photo from Free Republic, Angry White Dude and other websites.

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