from the "Broken News" Dept.


Totally Illogic-Al

vulcanalMaybe my sense of proportion is somewhat out of whack, but one of the most disturbing things about the issue of Global Climate Change to me right now is how, as he has gotten older, Al Gore looks more and more like a Vulcan.

The ONLY alteration to the picture accompanying this post was to make his ears pointy. The rest of his face is exactly as photographed.

What happened to his eyebrows?!?



In late ’06/early ’07, I made a little attempt at webcomicking that I called Photoslop (I still can’t believe nobody got to the domain name before me), which represents my graphic style very accurately. It was supposed to be a daily topical single-panel using news photos, but before Daryl Cagle could discover me or the AP could make me Cease & Desist, I ran out of gas and abandoned the experiment. But not before I did the following cut-and-paste-arama that is even more relevant today:


And considering what was scaring people back then, I had to use the badly-cropped bomb-hat elsewhere…


Safe at Home vs. Homeland Security

It seems that the fact that P-E (that’s short for President-Elect because I don’t want to keep typing President-Elect over and over like I just did now… d’oh!) Obama is lobbying for a College Football Playoff is considered “Another difference with the baseball administration of George W. Bush”. I don’t find that particularly reassuring, when I think of how that other George, the Late Great Mr. Carlin, dissected the mindsets of the two sports in this classic monologue (totally SFW language, unless you work where everybody hates Sports): Baseball and Football Uploaded by rock3154

Of course, it can be noted that GB2 never really ran things like a Baseball Manager (and the more that the term CEO becomes synonymous for Scumbag, the more his original promise to be “a CEO President” makes sense… but I digress), and his foreign policy/military policy seemed much more Football-based. Maybe he was just a football coach like Charlie Weis of Notre Dame.

But enough for Bush-bashing. If you’re getting into sport analogies, BHO’s hoops skillz suggest he’ll go more for a Basketball approach… man-on-man or zone defenses with occasional double teaming and full-court press. Offensively, I hope he can mix it up between going inside for the lay-up, feeding to the big guy in the center and taking the outside shot (and not just use the three-point attempt in desperation plays). I just hope he doesn’t get called for Traveling or has to resort to drawing fouls or running down the clock. I have no idea how any of that applies to either diplomacy or warfare, but it sounds more fun than anything we’ve done for a long time. And that’s why I am nobody’s advisor.


Let’s Do the Time Warp, Googlenewsweek

I’ve gotten into the (bad) habit lately of doing much of my websurfing at the WebPortal2.0 site PopUrls. Only about half of the featured sites summarized on PopUrls’ long page are really worth watching, but it looks so cool, it makes me feel like a cooler Internetter just for using it And without Popurls, I might not have noticed the funny goings-on at Google News.

See all the shaded headlines from Newsweek? Here’s what I found when I clicked on them:
“A President in the Dock” subtitled ” History: What Rehnquist’s Take On 1868 Tells Us About What’s Ahead” and dated Jan 11, 1999. 1999? Rehnquist? It’s about the yet-to-happen impeachment trial of Bill Clinton! How did that end up among the current news?
“On the Go in His Golden Years” subtitled: “Even In Retirement, Nelson Mandela Finds Himself In The Thick Of Things, From Burundi To Bill Gates’s Jet”; looks like a nice story, but it’s dated Jan. 31, 2000. Huh?
“Sizing Up Sunscreen” dated June 28, 2007. Well, we’re getting closer.
“What the Court Should Have Said”, “Who Won The Election Remains Unresolved. But That Wasn’t What The Justices Were Asked To Decide.” dated Dec. 4, 2000. What is this? Newsweek’s Greatest Hits? Are they doing the web equivalent of a sitcom “clip show”?
“Spitzer Plans More NYSE Charges” WTF? It’s from May 20, 2004 and when he was New York Attorney General and suing the New York Stock Exchange’s Richard Grasso, a case the current NYAG Andrew Cuomo just dropped. Which helps explain why that particular old story got “re-currented”. Because it was about essentially the same topic as a genuinely current story. Let’s go to the Google News homepage and see what it shows us.

Well, here’s the Nelson Mandela story:

Those BBC and AME stories underneath are a lot more current, but the Google News algorithm picked the Newsweek oldie as the top source for “Nelson Mandela” news.

And here’s the Sunscreen story:

It was in first position when I first checked the page, but dropped to second before I got it in a screenshot.

And here’s another Newsweek story on top of the topic:

Can you guess the date of the Newsweek story? If you came within six months of May 5, 2004, give yourself a cookie!

Some of the Newsweek links on Google News had extra added oddness. Check out the third headlines for these two topics.

“Your Name Your Email Address Recipient’s Email Address”?!?
No, that was not the title or head for either article and they were both old stories related to the new stories.

So, how did all this old Newsweek content, all clearly dated where human editors can see, end up misidentified as new news by the Googlebot? Well, it all seemed to happen at about 11:00PM EDT, and that certainly could have been the time Newsweek did something to its site, either changing the permalinks for archival stories or changing enough of the format of the news pages to make Goog think it was new content, possibly both. Whatever it was, it screwed with Google News’ way of collecting news in a way that I didn’t think it was possible to screw with anymore.

Still, it was kind of fun to look back at the Greatest Hits of Newsweek for the past 10 years, and notice how a few of them might even have fooled human readers who didn’t pay attention to the dates (Sunscreen and Nelson Mandela, particularly)

Here’s a news flash: Google may not be evil, but it ain’t perfect either.


Pay Gride

There’s something semi-awesome about the fact that during the same weekend as Pride Day, a runner named Tyson Gay was the biggest star at the Olympic tryouts. It certainly has confused Google News Search (as of 6/30/08, future clicking of that link may not get the same results).

FULL DISCLOSURE: Wendell is not gay, although he was called it enough times growing up to consider it a viable option. He also regrets ever using the Seinfeld-ism: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” While supporting Equal Rights for Everybody, at one time, he did oppose Same-Sex Marriage because he felt Marriage wasn’t a Right, it was Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Currently, Wendell is a (non-)practicing Asexual and not particularly proud of it, merely content with it.


Forrest Bump

All the attention Obama’s ‘fist bump’ got can mean only one thing: he’s going to choose Howie Mandel as his running mate!


News Item 42

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy told me to always carry a towel. Well, here’s a guy who really took that advice to heart… or rather, to abdomen.
“Tumour turns out to be 25-year-old towel”
From correspondents in Tokyo, unsurprisingly

From the last two paragraphs…

The former patient has no plans to sue the hospital…
…the man, who was not identified, still had his spleen removed.

Maybe if he’d kept his spleen, he could have vented it.


You got your E.coli in my pancakes and it’s AWESOME

As Seen on MetaFilter: SCIENCE!

Cool: Scientists have genetically tweaked bacteria to create simple computers.
Scary (probably unnecessarily*): They’re E.coli bacteria.
Funny: The bacteria are able to solve the “Burnt Pancake Problem”.
Money quote: “It’s kind of like that computer in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. It’s been working on a problem so long that by the time it comes up with an answer, everybody forgot the question.”**

Here’s the whole flippin’ thing semi-simply explained (in flippin’ Flash).

*confirmed in the MeFi comment thread.
**yes, I know that’s not an accurate reference, but it was still awesome. Anybody know any past works of sci-fi/humor that actually used that concept? If not, I’m writing one. DIBS!


Burning News

Residents living north and west of the massive Universal City fire are being warned not to breathe the smoke that is blanketing their neighborhood.

Hey! I used to live near there! (In the building with the cheapest rent in the postal code of Studio City) I remember seeing Universal’s tall office building at the west end of the lot from my front door. And going to work in Pasadena, I crossed even closer to the ‘ol back lot.

Of course, what worries me the most is the fact that the fire has destroyed much of Universal’s on-site “Video Vault”. Spokesfolks say they have multiple copies of everything at different locations, but I know a little about how Hollywood mega-studios are (dis-)organized, and wouldn’t be surprised if some episodes of “Leave It To Beaver” or “Ironside” may be lost. Anyway, time to do MY backups… lots and lots of backups.