Saturday, December 31, 2016

Newsworthy cats of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, let’s look at some of the cats that made news during the year.

Larry the cat remains in office

The British government announced in July that Larry the cat, the chief mouser at 10 Downing Street in London, wouldn’t have to leave when Prime Minister David Cameron left office.
“It’s a civil servant’s cat and does not belong to the Camerons,” a spokesperson for the British government told the Guardian. (Check out more photos of Larry at Politico.)

Tombili immortalized with bronze statue

In Istanbul, Turkey, a beloved neighborhood cat named Tombili who died in August was immortalized with a bronze statue in his likeness.
Tombili would regularly lounge on a concrete sidewalk step and lean in anthropomorphically on one elbow to watch all the people walk by. The artist recreated this pose in the statue, which was unveiled in October. (See articles by Laughing Squid and the Independent.)

World’s oldest cat missing, presumed dead

The world’s oldest living cat is believed to have died at the age of 27 after having gone missing from his home in October, the Daily Mail reported.
Seven weeks after Corduroy ran away from his home in Oregon, his owners posted an emotional tribute to their pet online.

Library cat outlasts councilman that wanted him gone

A city councilman in White Settlement, Texas, who tried to have the city’s beloved library cat Browser evicted was voted out of office, CBS News reported.
Browser got his job at the library when he was just a kitten. He was recruited from a local animal shelter as an inexpensive, effective method of pest control at the library.

Cat runs for president

When Donald Trump set up a campaign office in a strip mall in Warwick, R.I., the owner of the pet store nearby decided to offer an alternative for president: Stump the cat.
(See articles by The Cut and the New York Times.)

‘Saddest cat on the internet’ becomes a star

A feline dubbed “the saddest cat on the internet” was 24 hours away from being euthanized when a couple moved by his photos adopted him.
BenBen was brought to the animal shelter as a stray and looks permanently sad because of excess skin on his face. He appears to have been attacked by a large animal.
Since his last-minute rescue, BenBen has become a social media star, attracting thousands of fans on Instagram and Twitter.
(See article on the Telegraph.)

Lying clickbait exposes and sexy women a hit with readers

Readers of Tech-media-tainment like articles exposing lying clickbait articles and about sexy women. Those types of articles generated the most traffic in 2016.
Here’s a list of the top 25 articles on TMT based on page views for 2016.
  1. The rise of lying click-bait photos with promoted articles (May 16, 2016)
  2. Sexy depictions of Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Feb. 11, 2016)
  3. Live nude girls! Top 20 naked celebrity magazine covers of 2015 (Jan. 17, 2016)
  4. More lying click-bait articles (June 5, 2016)
  5. Actresses who have played Jane, Tarzan’s girlfriend (July 2, 2016)
  6. The sexiest LFL players of 2016, U.S. league (July 5, 2016)
  7. The sexiest LFL players of 2016, part 2 (July 5, 2016)
  8. Sexy Alice in Wonderland illustrations (May 30, 2016)
  9. Mexico loves bikini football (Feb. 7, 2016)
  10. Lying click-bait articles: transgender celebrities and what actors look like today (June 22, 2016)
  11. Psychic predictions for 2016: celebrity breakups, babies and deaths (Jan. 2, 2016)
  12. 13 actresses who have played Belle in Beauty and the Beast and 1 more who will (Feb. 10, 2016)
  13. Lying click-bait articles with inaccurate photos (Aug. 13, 2016)
  14. CES 2016 booth babes in review (Jan. 9, 2016)
  15. Larry Flynt’s Hustler sticks it to the Republican Party with new porn parody (Jan. 31, 2016)
  16. CES 2016 light on celebrities; most star power found at private events (Jan. 10, 2016)
  17. Disney princesses as Jedi knights, Zodiac signs and hot dogs (Feb. 13, 2016)
  18. The 20 most controversial magazine covers of 2015 (Jan. 18, 2016)
  19. Yahoo Finance redesign getting terrible reviews, called ‘New Coke of the Internet’ (July 17, 2016)
  20. Is there a porn app for that? (Jan. 30, 2016)
  21. A record 12 post-apocalyptic TV series currently airing (Jan. 27, 2016)
  22. Sexy women, revisionist fairy tales, fun lists keep readers coming back (Jan. 1, 2016)
  23. Britney Spears at the Axis Theater: A slick Las Vegas production (Jan. 16, 2016)
  24. Donald Trump takes a commanding lead … in porn parodies (June 26, 2016)
  25. The 20 most significant magazine covers of 2015 (Jan. 20, 2016)
Photo: Sample Arsenic Magazine photo.

2017 psychic predictions: Brad Pitt and Rihanna a couple?

Psychics, clairvoyants and mystics are making their predictions for the New Year. And some of them are pretty wild.
Of course, most of these will not come true, based on the record of psychic predictions in years past. Only one of the 16 or so psychic predictions for 2016 that I spotlighted last year came true, but that was a layup: Taylor Swift breaking up with Calvin Harris.
What follows are some of their predictions for 2017.

Brad Pitt hooks up with Rihanna

Actor Brad Pitt, on the rebound from his breakup with Angelina Jolie, starts dating pop star Rihanna, according to psychic John Cohan.
He also thinks singer Barbra Streisand will separate from actor husband James Brolin.

Rihanna gets back with Drake

Cuban-Mexican clairvoyant Mhoni Vidente sees Rihanna reuniting with Drake after he’s done with his fling with Jennifer Lopez.
“Jennifer Lopez and Drake’s romance is part of a hoax to promote albums and shows,” she told the Latin Times. “Drake and Rihanna are going to end up together.”

Cuba in line to become the 51st U.S. state

Nikki, the “Psychic to the Stars,” made over 350 predictions for 2017 about world events, weather, the U.K. royals and celebrities.
Here is a sampling:
  • A Cuban revolution
  • America will free Cuba from Communist tyranny
  • Cuba becoming the 51st U.S. State
  • A robot will break into the White House
  • A movie star will be killed by a shark
  • Alex Baldwin will run for political office and his career taking off due to his spoofs on Saturday Night Live
  • Howard Stern will shave his head
  • A split between George Clooney and his wife
  • The “World’s Sexiest Man”, David Beckham, will split from his wife, Victoria
  • Eva Mendez and Ryan Gosling will split
  • Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel split

Apple buys an island

Mentalist Sidney Friedman predicts that Apple Inc. will find a very unusual way to spend a chunk of its $237 billion in cash and securities.
“Apple Corporation buys an island. (Hmm, and maybe that’s where they throw all our old iPhones.) Potentially, instead, the island buyer could be Google or Amazon,” he said.


Psychic predictions for 2017: Prince Charles becomes king, Brad Pitt & Rihanna (Celebitchy)

The juiciest celebrity predictions for 2017 (Page Six)

9 Psychic Predictions For 2017: Brad Pitt Rebounds With WHO?! (The Hollywood Gossip)

Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 pop culture predictions: Top movies, celebrity marriages, big book deal

What follows are some interesting pop-culture predictions for 2017 that I’ve seen online.

‘Star Wars 8’ reigns supreme

“Star Wars: Episode 8” is a “no-brainer lock” to be the highest-grossing movie of 2017, Screen Rant proclaimed.
Rounding out the top five earners in descending order will be “Despicable Me 3,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “Justice League,” Screen Rant forecast.

Kardashian-West marriage goes south

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton predicts that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West “will get divorced in 2017.”

Celebrity weddings ahead

The Knot predicts that the following celebrity couples, among others, will get engaged in 2017:
  • Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
  • Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton
  • Kylie Jenner and Tyga

Barack Obama gets huge book deal

Fortune magazine predicts that retiring President Barack Obama will get a book deal worth $20 million.
“The post-presidential book deal is a time-honored moneymaker for past Presidents,” Fortune said. “But Obama, already the author of a writerly bestseller and a historic figure as the first African-American president, will command a higher premium than most.”

Streaming video service wins an Oscar

Fortune also predicts that either Netflix or will win an Oscar for its original content.
“Netflix’s ‘13th,’ by ‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay, is a strong contender in the doc genre, and Amazon’s devastating drama ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is getting buzz,” Fortune said.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lying clickbait: Fake Woodstock photos, historic images and death reports

Despite calls to crack down on lying clickbait, online publishers are still running promoted articles that use deceptive photos.
Often the photos have nothing to do with the subject of the sponsored weblink.
For instance, a recent Taboola-sponsored article titled “Woodstock groupies camera discovered, what musicians didn’t want you to see” used a recent photo of actress and model Emily Ratajkowski. The 25-year-old beauty was born more than two decades after Woodstock.
There are a lot of great Woodstock photos. Why would the creators of this promoted article use one that is clearly a lie? To drive traffic from curious web surfers, of course.

An Outbrain-sponsored weblink titled “The most unnerving photos of the history’s hottest actresses!” used a picture of a sexy woman in a bikini. Bad grammar is one thing, but this isn’t a photo of an actress. It’s Kosovo-born model Hafiia Mira.
Also, what’s “unnerving” about beach photos of the curvaceous beauty?

This next example of lying clickbait must have been created by Pinocchio. It’s a Revcontent-sponsored article titled “Final images taken seconds before tragedy struck.” It used a photo of a woman in a pool with a gigantic snake.
Well, that photo is a poorly Photoshopped phony. I’ve included the original photo of the normal-size snake here along with a better shot of the fake. (Check out the woman’s fingers from her left hand in the doctored photo).

And finally a Taboola-sponsored link titled “‘Growing Pains’ actor tragically passes away” uses a photo of actor Kirk Cameron from the show. Cameron is very much alive. This article appeared after the recent death of Cameron’s co-star from the show, Alan Thicke.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Not Monica Lewinsky photos; they’re lying clickbait

Search for photos of former White House intern and presidential sex scandal subject Monica Lewinsky and you’ll invariably see a lot of photos purporting to show her in lingerie and disrobing. The only problem is these are not photos of Monica Lewinsky.
Those photos are of adult film actress Nikki Loren, who bears a resemblance to Lewinsky. The photos were taken for porn site Twistys.
Recently a sponsored link from Revcontent carried one such a photo with the headline “Monica Lewinsky certainly doesn’t look like this anymore.” Certainly not. Because it’s a picture of Loren, not Lewinsky.
Trying to identify Loren was difficult because there is so much misinformation on these photos online. Google and TinEye reverse image search were not helpful. I was able to identify her thanks to her lower back butterfly tattoo and the tattoo search function on the Internet Adult Film Database.
CSI, eat your heart out.

Here are three photos of Nikki Loren (including the one up top) and a lying clickbait article from Revcontent.

Photo of the real Monica Lewinsky:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

News organizations finally talk about eliminating lying clickbait

With news media up in arms over fake news stories circulating on social media, some publishers are finally starting to discuss the problem of lying clickbait.
Lying clickbait is my term for sponsored articles that are promoted with false or misleading photos.
Last month, New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd suggested that the Times is part of the fake news problem as long as it carries deceptive sponsored articles online. (See the Nov. 23, 2016, article titled “Condemning ‘Fake News,’ but Running Fake-News Ads.”)
Media pundit Jeff Jarvis also noted that publishers “should consider more carefully the consequences of promoting content – and sharing in revenue –   from dubious sources distributed by the likes of Taboola and Outbrain.” (See his Nov. 18 blog post titled “A Call for Cooperation Against Fake News.”
The problem of lying clickbait has been rampant for some time now. Unscrupulous content promotion services will use a headscratcher of a photo to get people to click on their sponsored weblinks.
For instance, decades-old photos of sexy French actress Brigitte Bardot have been used to promote articles on supposedly declassified photos, terrifying mob photos and other things.

Photos: Actress Brigitte Bardot (top) and sample of lying clickbait from Taboola.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Worst Christmas song: ‘You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch’

I’ve been listening to a lot of Christmas music lately and I’ve decided that the worst popular holiday song is “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from the classic animated special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Yes, it comes from a beloved film that relates to Christmas. But this song is just a non-stop list of insults directed at the Grinch.
No wonder he hated the Whos, if all they did was insult him.
Judge for yourself. Here are the lyrics:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are a heel!
You’re as cuddly as a cactus
You’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch
You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch
Your heart’s an empty hole!
Your brain is full of spiders
You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch
I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch
You have termites in your smile
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, Mr. Grinch.
Given the choice between the two of you I’d take the seasick crocodile!

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch
You’re a nasty wasty skunk!
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch

The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: "Stink! Stank! Stunk!"

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch
You’re the king of sinful sots!
Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch
Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots!

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch
With a nauseous super “naus!”
You’re a crooked dirty jockey, and you drive a crooked horse, Mr. Grinch.
You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich With arsenic sauce! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lying clickbait: Missed-by-a-mile edition

While some lying clickbait articles mislead with photos from roughly the same time period or general geography, others are liar liar pants on fire.
Here are some recent examples of fraudulent clickbait articles.
A Taboola-sponsored link titled “Declassified images they tried to hide from the world” used a dramatic image of a passenger plane crashing into a bridge. The image was never classified, never hidden and is a complete fake.
The dramatic image is apocalyptic digital artwork by Steve McGhee.

Another Taboola article titled “Unknown facts about the Native Americans that historians can’t explain” uses a photo purporting to show an Indian woman. The photo actually shows curvy Nicaraguan model Dolly Castro dressed as Pocahontas. (See articles on ATL Night Spots and Imgur.)

Yet another Taboola link titled “23 Woodstock photos that will make your skin crawl” featured a picture of a woman dancing in the rain. This one’s not even close.
The woman named Kate was photographed by Russian photographer Danil Sigidin in 2009.

Bonus: The sponsored article next to the supposed Woodstock photo features a picture of sexy Italian showgirl Nicole Minetti. This photo has been used for many a clickbait article. (See articles about her by the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Reuters.)
Yet another Taboola article is titled “Images of the Titanic taken by passenger’s camera.” It uses a photo from the James Cameron movie “Titanic” (1997).

Speaking of movies, a sponsored link on Yahoo claimed actress Anne Baxter was a “Bond girl.” She was never in a James Bond movie. Worse yet, the sponsored post uses a photo of actress Debra Paget from “The Ten Commandments” (1956), which also starred Baxter. What a mess.

Finally, a Taboola article touts “Rare images of life during the Wild West that’ll make your skin crawl.” (Again with the skin crawling!) It uses a picture of a hot girl with a shotgun.
Spoiler alert: The photo isn’t old or even from the U.S. It’s a shot of actress Adriana Torrebejano from the Spanish TV series “Tierra de Lobos.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lying clickbait: Close-but-no-cigar edition

Some photos used with sponsored articles or promoted links are blatantly false. Others are false, but are at least in the general ballpark in terms of time period or geography. They’re still false and should never have been used.
What follows are some examples of lying clickbait that use photos I classify as “close, but no cigar.”
Taboola recently promoted an article titled “37 Woodstock photos that will make your skin crawl.” It featured a photo of a pretty girl in a tie top and shorts selling flowers by the roadside.
The photo was taken in 1973 in Oklahoma, according to posters on Imgur and History In Pictures. As a reminder, the Woodstock festival took place in August 1969 in White Lake, N.Y.

Another Taboola-sponsored link was titled “Vintage photos of Las Vegas that’ll make your skin crawl.” (What is it with all these headlines about photos making your skin crawl?)
The promoted link used a photo of showgirls playing chess between shows at the Latin Quarter nightclub in New York City. The classic photo by Gordon Parks first appeared in Life magazine in December 1958, according to PiqueShow.

A promoted article by Revcontent was titled “‘Jaw-dropping’ secret photos smuggled out of North Korea.” However, it featured a photo taken in July 2008 at the Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea. The photo was the work of Hypnotica Studios Infinite.

A similar article by Taboola titled “These unnerving photos of life in North Korea will blow your mind” featured a picture of women in olive drab T-shirts and black booty shorts trying on gas masks. But again, this photo isn’t from North Korea.
The photo is from a Chinese television program about a female special forces unit of the People’s Liberation Army. (See articles by Lollipop and AsiaOne.)

Finally, a Taboola-sponsored link titled “New ‘Bewitched’ revelations come to light” featured a photo of the show’s star Elizabeth Montgomery. But the racy photo isn’t from “Bewitched” (1964–1972). It’s from the 1963 crime film “Johnny Cool.”
Like I said: close, but no cigar.