Lolrus snafu as AP rejects I Can Has Cheeseburger offer

funny-pictures-cats-are-stuck-in-treesEarlier this week it was reported that the AP had turned down a purchase offer by Pet Holdings Inc., best known for the amazingly successful LOLCat’s site I Can Has Cheeseburger. Of all the efforts to Rescue The Future of Journalism™, this was by far the least expected and easily my favorite. As the LA Times put it:

The Associated Press finally axed the project on concerns over "journalistic integrity," Pet Holdings Chief Ben Huh said in an interview Monday. For the prestigious wire service to even consider associating itself with a business that makes a living from fan-made cat pictures may have seemed unthinkable a decade ago.

But if AP had started to consider it (or something like it) a decade ago they would have been a lot smarter about than anyone else in the news business. Today Pet Holdings makes money like newspapers used to. That’s because in addition to I Can Has Cheeseburger, they own a bunch of other equally serious sites, like the LOLDogs site I Has A Hotdog, and the LOLNews site Pundit Kitchen. (In the interests of full disclosure I must admit to regularly reading Cheeseburger and Hotdog.) Pet Holdings is able to make money the way it does because 99.9% of its content is generated by its readers, so all the company has to do is generate revenue from its amazing traffic numbers. I’ve been meaning to write about their marketing deal with the Seattle Mariners for far too long. They regularly sponsor lolcats nights at the ballpark which, I suspect, greatly increases attendance for the last-place Mariners.

Pet Holdings, like the newspapers of the past, has a virtual monopoly on its very loyal readership. The fact that that readership is idiots like me apparently hasn’t hurt them. While I totally respect the AP and their reasons for passing on this deal, this is the kind of totally unexpected move that will finally Rescue The Future Of Journalism™.

Rhode Island outraged by use of Massachusetts to illustrate size of oil spill

Rhode Island, perhaps because it is the smallest state in the union, is the preferred media reference when describing the size of something. This works well for both the factual and the fantastical.

031105_RhodeIsland The following are just from news stories in the past week:

The ice sheets that peel off of Antarctica all seem mathematically related to the Ocean State. The most recent: An Ice Shelf the Size of Rhode Island Breaks Up in Just 24 Hours

For those of you keeping track at home, Rhode Island is either 1000 square miles in size (just measuring the land part) or 1,500 sq. mi. if you include Narragansett Bay as well. Now comes the horrific news that MASSACHUSETTS!!! of all places is being used as a measure.

They say the dead zone is roughly the size of Massachusetts, or at least 7,722 square miles. The largest ever measured was just over 8,000 square miles in 2001.

Rhode Island has always had a chip on its shoulder about Massachusetts. My home state was literally founded by Bay State castoffs (cast off because they were in favor of things like religious tolerance, I might add). So this trend has to be stopped in its tracks. NOW. So Mr. Reporter, lets try again. It is nearly EIGHT TIMES THE SIZE OF RHODE ISLAND!!! Now, isn’t that more impressive?

Hen thinks it is a penguin or, when life imitates Wallace & Gromit

It’s almost August and that means the papers are filled with stories of animals as media silly season descends upon us. Nowhere is this more true than Metro UK which this week has already run stories on the bear who broke into a house and “stole” a teddy bear and another of a bear who put a safety cone on its head. This last story ran only because someone came up with the headline Cone and the barbearian. In today’s edition we have the breaking news of a Chinese hen who walks like a penguin.

henpenguin

While some may think of this as cute, in reality it is just another case of outrageous copyright infringement by the Chinese. Clearly they have trained this fowl to play the Feathers McGraw role in a horrible live-action rip-off of the classic Wallace & Gromit short “The Wrong Trousers.”

I shall recap the salient plot points for those of you poor pathetic souls who have not yet seen it (but I’m not speaking to you until you correct this error): Wallace rents a room out to a penguin. After displacing Gromit, the penguin is then revealed to be the nefarious bank robber Feathers McGraw. McGraw is a brilliant master of disguise who uses a red rubber glove to transform himself into a chicken (nudge, nudge) when he pulls off his heists. I won’t tell you anymore but I will say that the closing chase scene – involving a toy train set – is (really) one of the best and funniest things I’ve ever seen.

images wgfeath-1 feathers

Extra kudos to the W&G site for having the best competition I’ve seen in a while. “TOP BUN The best Wallace & Gromit-themed baked good uploaded to the site each month will win a set of Wallace & Gromit baking kits.” I believe they mean best picture, either that or they’ve figured out some super cool new technology.

Be afraid: Rep. starts congressional ‘Media Fairness Caucus’

From my blog at EmediaVitals:

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Idiocy) believes the press is biased and doesn’t represent the values of most Americans. Reasonable people could disagree on this but it’s certainly not an unusual or insane point of view. What is insane is Smith’s solution. The Media Fairness Circus, er, Caucus: “will encourage fairness and balance in reporting, while calling attention to biased coverage in a fair and reasonable way. By bringing attention to media bias and promoting an open dialogue between members of the media and elected officials, we plan to remind the media of their profound obligation to provide the American people with the facts, and not tell them what to think.

Read the rest here at EmediaVitals.

penguin-sealIt is worth noting that this level of stupidity isn’t limited to the legislative branch. Today, President Obama signed a bill promoting free press around the world. The bill was named after slain journalist Daniel Pearl. Here’s the kicker: Press access to the signing was restricted.

The ceremony on Monday raised some eyebrows as well because the White House restricted media access as the president signed a free press bill. The event was open only to a pool of reporters and photographers who report back to their colleagues. It also came at a time when Mr. Obama’s administration is seeking to force a New York Times reporter, James Risen, to testify about his sources for a book in which he reported on a secret effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

 

CRY HAVOC, AND LOOSE THE PENGUINS OF IRONY!!!

Break out the dumb animal stories ‘cuz it’s media silly season

August is when the media collectively takes a nap (tho’ individually it’s not always so), as a result this is the time of year when animal stories (shark gatherings, etc.) take over. They take the phrase dog days of summer very seriously.

  • Man arrested for barking at Michigan police dog

  • Pelican at Idaho zoo swallows cell phone

  • Polar bear Knut to get Italian girlfriend (so that’s what Berlisconi did with her!)

  • Hunt is on for Mongolian Death Worm (Band name alert: Mongolian Death Worm!)

  • Will the kangaroo ends romp through French countryside

  • Law may force Shanghai dogs to walk

  • Horse tramples car on Israeli highway

  • Newton dog park critics hire lawyer to make protests a federal case

  •  

    Woof.

    Craigslist CEO doesn’t giggle when he says site has no sex-related ads

    "I would not describe any section of our site as ‘sex related,’ " [Craigslist CEO Jim] Buckmaster wrote in response to a series of e-mailed questions from the Globe. He acknowledged that Craigslist offers an "erotic services" section that should not include more than "legitimate escort services, sensual massage, exotic dancers, etc.," but said that offers to exchange sexual favors for money are "strictly prohibited" and removed from the site.

    Rains5a What’s that Capt. Renault? You are shocked, shocked to find out there is gambling in the casino? I don’t blame you at all. And here are your winnings.

    This is exactly the wrong PR approach. Don’t proclaim that there is such a thing as “legitimate escort service.” What you say is, “Have you looked in the Yellow Pages under ‘escort’ or ‘massage’? How is what we are doing different from that?” Look in any alt-weekly and you’ll see more of the same but with explicit pictures.

    Buckmaster is caught up in a frenzy of outrage created by media companies that have had their revenues devastated by Craigslist. They would have done this to anyone but I suspect they are enjoying this a bit more than usual. Does anyone actually think that people who advertise their services in other media are any more or less at risk than those who do so via Craigslist? The hypocrisy is all this self-righteousness is astounding. The advertising alone makes it clear society views prostitution about as seriously as it does the speed limit.

    The story that has yet to be examined on this topic is whether Craigslist is actually cutting down on pimping by making it easier for women and men of negotiable morals to run their own businesses. Of course that would also beg the issue of whether the prostitutes and the people who pay them wouldn’t all be safer if it were a legal and regulated activity. The other option is to vigorously and effectively enforce the laws against – and we have proved we have no interest in doing that.

    Liberal media bias!

    “In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation’s adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929. Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The group’s share of the tax burden has risen, though not as quickly as its share of income.”

    Damn those pinkos at the Wall Street Journal!