Category Archives: misleading headlines

Pixelated Mail Delivery: The Cannes You Requested

Definitely an instance where less could be more.

Definitely an instance where less could be more.

An impromptu quickie post after I saw this headline in the Daily Mail:

Cannes you say blossoming new romance? Topless Amy Willerton cuddles up to mystery man clad in skimpy pink bikini pants during steamy French escape

–Daily Mail headline

The story was, of course, accompanied by pictures of a young woman with pixelated naked breasts.

This prompts several questions.

Is “Cannes” supposed to be some cutesy reference to female body parts?

Who or what is Amy Willerton?

Why is she topless? That must have been the “Steamy French Escape?” (An excellent movie, by the way.)

Why does she like to cuddle up to mystery men, specially those clad in skimpy pink bikini pants?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Source: Daily Mail

Charitably Taxing

Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax return and the media went nuts.

Every angle got explored. The narratives were legion.

  • Romney gave a “gift” the the government by overpaying on his taxes.
  • Romney’s 2011 rate of making charitable donations is higher than Obama’s. 29.4% for Romney vs. 21.8% for Obama.
  • Romney’s tax return was crafted to prove he always pays at least a 13% rate as he previously claimed.
  • Romney could have given more to charity but it would have lowered his tax rate.
  • Romney’s taxes prove he’s not fit to be president based on his own words.

These are interesting times.

And on every side of every single one of those points there are voices shouting that it proves something and other voices shouting that it proves the exact opposite.

It’s enough to make your head spin. Ah, spin. That word is also interesting.

I have a different sort of question about all of this, though: Where Mitt Romney is concerned, what kind of “charity” are we talking about?

An analysis (by Business Insider) shows in years 2009 and 2010 the “vast majority” (approx. 80 percent) of Romney’s charitable contributions were directed to the Mormon Church.

As always, where Romney is concerned, the financials get rather complicated. The donations take the form of tithes and other contributions, like stock donations.

Interestingly, though, if you set aside Romney’s contribution to his own church, suddenly Obama has the higher rate of charitable contributions. And that’s not exactly the same narrative they want to be sold. Factor in that wee little fact and suddenly Obama’s rate of charitable giving becomes four times higher than Romney’s.

So the question becomes: Is giving to your own church the same as giving to a “charity?”

Continue reading →

Bill Gates and bikinis

Google Image Search for who?

Wha? Misleading headline? Oh, I’m so sorry about that. Yeah, sure I am.

So here’s the deal. Every morning at work before I start the day, I like to grab a new image from the internet and use it as my desktop wallpaper. Rather than going to wallpaper websites and browsing their wares, I prefer to search for images directly using a “Google Image Search.” (GIS.)

It’s easy and can be fun and bring lots of surprises. The way I do it is by going to the Google home page, like normal, and searching for a term, like “beaches” or “star trek enterprise.”

Then, on the left column, if click the “Images” link and it will automatically restrict the search to images that – somehow, someway – match your term.

And then, just for fun, again in the left column, I click the “Exactly” link under “Any Size” and enter the dimensions of my desktop. In this case, 1920 x 1200, and click the search button again.

The only other thing you need to know about GIS is the “SafeSearch” setting. By default, at least on my computer, is the “moderate” setting. This seems to equate to PG or PG-13. You can also set it “Strict” for (mostly) work safe images. And, of course, you can turn SafeSearch “Off” if you be loving everything the internet is capable of. (Personally I never use that setting.)

I think it goes without saying, though, that the SafeSearch system isn’t quite perfect.

So there I was at work using the above procedure (with the “moderate” setting) and I decided to try the term “bill gates.” I still don’t know what possessed me. Bill Gates??? I must have blacked out for a moment.

The results load up and I start scrolling down. There’s a promising wallpaper. It’s a classic Windows image that looks like a rock has been thrown through the screen. Very promising indeed. There’s also some Star Wars and the obligatory video game screenshots sprinkled in. This is about what I’d expect, except, perhaps, a little more Bill Gates?

Then, down around page 2, wait a minute. What’s this? Pictures of women. Pretty women. And lots of them. Hmm. I keep scrolling. The more I scroll, the less clothing they seem to be wearing. Bikinis seem to be trending. Holy shit! That one is practically naked!

I quickly scroll through all 10 pages of images. There sure are a lot of scantily clad women coming up for the term “bill gates.” Wow. I’m at work, though, and everyone and their momma can see my computer, so I quit the browser lest I get labeled as the office pervert.

Apparently Google and I disagree slightly about what is considered “moderate” in a SafeSearch.

I quickly reload my browser and type in “death star.” Ah. Much better. But what’s Uhura from Star Trek doing in there?

Curse you internets!

Lady Gaga spawn

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=collins&iid=9819835″ src=”″ width=”234″ height=”296″ /]

Can you guess who is shown in this picture? I couldn’t. It turns out that it’s Lady Gaga herself, in the flesh, so to speak. She looks so… well, I admit it. Words fail me.

Lady Gaga, you have inspired me to spawn a new word.

gagaish – to look as crazed as Lady Gaga

In the picture Lady Gaga is speaking out against DADT so I have to give her props for that.

Here are a couple of YouTube videos showing vintage Gaga that you may not have seen. The latter video proves that she had a bit of celebrity attitude even before she was a big star.


Oh noes, gubment is out to get us

Today’s misleading headline comes to us from the good folks at CBS News who tell us:

TSA to Block “Controversial Opinion” on the Web

Yikes! This raises so many questions like: Is free speech brewing terrorism on the net? Why else would the TSA of all things be involved in something like this? What I mean is that the Transportation Safety Administration is tasked with security for all modes of transportation. This must be something extremely serious for them to be involved, right?

Actually read the story, though, and one just might come away with a slightly different interpretation.

You see, the story is actually about TSA computers, not the “web.” Computers that are supposed to be used by TSA employees in the performance of their job duties, you know, doing things to make transportation safe and stuff.

And the “controversial opinion” that TSA employees will be blocked from? (Check out those quotation marks in action, used for dramatic effect, to make things sound so chilling.) One example is that employees will be blocked from playing online games.

Wow. That is chilling. Oops, please excuse me. I just accidentally snorted some Jack Daniels up my nose.

TSA employees will also be blocked from other things like criminal activity, extreme violence, chat/messaging, and yes, even the aforementioned “controversial opinion.”

In other words, they’ll probably have to spend more time doing their jobs. We can only hope that surfing porn (like they do at the SEC) will fall under one of those broad (no pun intended) categories.

So here’s a tip of the hat to CBS News and their attempt to sensationalize their headline to induce clicks. It certainly worked on me.

Seattle cop punches jaywalker in the face

Seattle cop punches woman in face over routine jaywalking stop (VIDEO)

Ah. Another piece of evidence that we are officially becoming The Asshole Society.

The Asshole Society requires two basic ingredients. First, the believe that a person can do anything they want just because they want it. (Like park in a fire lane, drive aggressively, lie, cheat, steal, and even jaywalk.) Second, that when the first rule doesn’t work out, absolutely never should responsibility be taken.

I just watched this video and I have to say I’m really angered by it. I’m angered that someone who was breaking the law would react that way to a police officer. I’m angered that the officer was left along for so long and had to wait for backup while an ugly crowd formed around him. I’m angered that the crowd taunted the officer and supported the suspect. I’m angered that this police officer is now going to be subjected to unreasonable criticism and scrutiny simply for doing his job.

And, unbelievably, I’m stunned to hear that actually police officers are enforcing pedestrian laws. Somebody pinch me. That simply can’t be true!

When a police officer tells you do so something, you do it. Especially when you are in the act of breaking the law.

Jaywalking is irrelevant here. This is another one of those world famous misleading headlines. What is seen in the video is an officer attempting to enforce the law then encountering a pretty severe case of resisting arrest. The woman pushes the officer, fails to follow instructions, and struggles fiercely to get away. Her actions were illegal and put the officer at risk.

Jaywalking is usually considered an infraction or a misdemeanor. Resting arrest, however, may be a felony. That is exactly what I hope she gets charged with.

A snippet of conversation from the video:

Cop: You are under arrest!
Suspect [yelling]: Get the fuck off of me!

One thing from the video is abundantly clear. The alleged jaywalker is an asshole. Just another person who believes, “The rules do not apply to me.” Just another person who becomes angry when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Just another person who can’t take responsibility for the choices they make.

A few years back I got a ticket for going 70 mph on a section of highway where the speed limit was 55 mph. I was the only car on the road as far as the eye could see and the cop felt I was a problem worth fixing. Did I agree with that? Not exactly. But I was breaking the law. Was I happy I was pulled over? No. Did the cop have any personality at all? No. But what I did do was everything I could to make the cop’s job easier. I kept my hands visible on the steering wheel at all times, I did not move, I did not get out of the car, and I obeyed every instruction he gave me. He even listened to my story but didn’t buy it. A few minutes later it was all over, without incident, and I was on my merry way. I paid my ticket and that chapter was closed. I took responsibility for my actions.

The minute that woman actively resisted the copy she became, in my opinion, a felon. No doubt she’ll get away with what she did to that copy because of the video and the publicity. That makes me sad and angry.

The president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild has spoken about the incident:

Rich O’Neil told KCPQ-TV that punching her in the face was an appropriate use of force as the officer struggled with two women and a crowd formed. O’Neil says it’s wrong to call the punch police brutality or racist.

I agree. But not everyone does. Some are saying the incident is reminiscent of other videos that show police brutality. All this cop did was try to do the handcuffs on his suspect that he had placed under arrest.

It is sad that an asshole has jeopardized the career of this police officer.

Crazy like a FOX journalism

American flagHere’s an example of some bad journalism. At best it’s sloppy. At worst it is crass deceitfulness. I’ll just go ahead and report and let you decide.

This is a story about a small town news report that ended up getting some national attention.

Last month the owner of an apartment building in Albany, Oregon, decided to implement a ban on flags on vehicles in the parking lot. The story was picked up by the local newspaper, the Albany Democrat-Herald, with the unfortunately misleading headline: Apartment bans U.S. flags. In actuality, the policy banned all flags. A resident of the apartment complex was understandably upset and took the policy as an attack against his U.S. flags which, like all flags, were included in the ban.

From the local newspaper’s original story:

… American flags and others such as Mexican flags and college team flags were no longer allowed on vehicles parked at the complex … the rule applies to flag decals as well …

The newspaper later ran an editorial that further clarified the policy:

The management explained that it had a rule against flags of all sorts, including college and team banners as well as national flags, in order to avoid possible friction among the tenants.

A ban targeting the American flag while permitting others certainly would be offensive and it’s easy to see why that would get people riled up … if only that had been true. Based on the local newspaper reporting, however, it is crystal clear that the ban was not targeted at any specific flag. The policy applied to all flags regardless of content.

The story then got national legs as a ban of the American flag. In a slight twist on the truth, a local FOX affiliate in Boston then picked up the story and ran coverage under the headline: Let It Rip: Apartment flag ban. A video graphic on the site shows the American flag.

People living in an Oregon apartment complex are up in arms after their landlord asked them to keep the American flag off their cars.

Managers say they made the move because the image is offensive to some people.

Nowhere in the FOX coverage did they indicate that the ban was on all flags and didn’t specifically pertain to U.S. flags. In my opinion this is sloppy reporting because they probably wrote their short and and fluffy coverage. I suspect they didn’t conduct any investigation or attempt to interview anyone before they took the original piece of news and published it from a slightly different perspective. Like I said, I don’t know it was a deliberate attempt to deceive or not, but I do think it was sloppy.

Due to the national attention and bowing to pressure, no doubt exacerbated by the misleading focus on U.S. flags, management for the apartments eventually rescinded the policy.

The thing that confuses me the most is that this was essentially a non-story. If the nation wants a debate about a flag banning policy, go ahead and have that debate. The debate ended up being about a ban on U.S. flags, but that was never the policy. It was a total red herring. Of course, that sort of story is much more sensational and creates a lot more excitement than the more mundane actual truth.

Score another victory for opponents of critical thinking.