Get DownWorthy… now.


Photo Credit: Ben Brown

All of us have seen the headlines:

“Man finds literally the most amazing thing ever in his attic. Find out what!”

We all know perfectly well that this will not lead to any amazing thing at all, but just yet another filler story designed to get us to read the five thousand advertisements jammed into the fifteen individual pages that make up the “story” on some website out there. It’s frustrating, unavoidable, and – because there occasionally IS an interesting story on the other end of the link – something we do even though we know it won’t end well.

Like going on blind dates.

For those who don’t know, LinkBait is the pseudo-technical term for using sensational language designed to get people to click on an otherwise boring story just to get their eyeballs glued to dozens of ads. While helping with the blind dating situation is a bit out of my wheel-house, there is something you can do to make the LinkBait crisis a little less annoying.

Alison – a.k.a. Snipeyhead or just Snipe – has created a browser plug-in that will change the sensational into the hilarious. While the plug-in can’t totally remove LinkBait from the net, it can make dealing with it significantly more humorous and more fun to deal with. In short, the plug-in replaces words like “literally” and “most amazing” into other words like “figuratively” and “boring.” You’ve no doubt seen this done with other plugins that replace single words with other words (*cough* CloudToButt *cough*) but this one has a much broader library of specifically LinkBait-ey words to bring a little more laughter to your otherwise maddening net-surfing experience.

Give it a go at – and send @snipeyhead a thank you. She’s made it freely available for anyone to use and remix, and I think we can all be AMAZINGLY thankful for her Literally changing every Incredible One Weird Trick that can Go Viral as it blows your mind in a way You Won’t Believe.

Go ahead, grab the plug-in and then re-read that last bit with it on and off.

You’re welcome.

Missing in the News


Photo Credit: Ham Sughes

There’s a definite and disturbing trend in the major American media outlets, and I don’t like it at all. Granted, every news source has their biases, but some of the more recent events have made me doubt this is a bias issue at all.

Let’s take a look at an event from the recent world news as an example:

Here in the USA, the President was gearing up to deliver the State of the Union address to Congress and the Senate. For those readers outside the US, this is a gigantic political event, so I figured it would get a large amount of media coverage. No surprise, it did; and I was fine with that.

Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, a massive wave of protests had led – on this same day – to the Parliamentary Government tendering their resignation. This is an event that made news around the entire world, except here in the USA. For the second time in very recent history, mass popular protests led directly to a change in the very government of their country – without civil war or mass bloodshed. I use the term “mass bloodshed” because in both recent cases there were many injuries and several deaths, but not the kind of violence typically seen with the effective overthrow of a sitting ruling body. So the whole “if it bleeds, it leads,” angle could have been applied, even though there were thankfully few incidents of actual bleeding.

Yet, amazingly, the US news agencies seemed to have missed this story entirely. Again, I fully expected the State of the Union speech to take center stage on every site, but MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN all very noticeably lacked any front-page stories on an event that quite literally changed the history of a major country. Running it under the stories on the President getting ready to deliver a major address if perfectly fine. Not even listing it as a breaking or trending story is… unforgivable.

For contrast, international news organizations like the BBC extensively reported both stories. Since they were not US-based organizations, they tended to favor the Ukraine situation as you’d expect, but they did give priority space to the State of the Union due to the significance of the President potentially speaking on international issues. Our news agencies should do no less, and yet they ignored a massive international story completely – not even listing it amongst the top news headlines for the day.

This seems to be a trend, with pop-stars getting arrested for DUI’s crowding out stories of international money laundering arrests in another recent example. I cannot condone any legitimate news outlet deciding to completely ignore a news story from any country that has a direct and real impact on the world political stage – especially when the USA is directly involved (as was the case with the money-laundering story).

We need to hold our news agencies to a higher standard. Let them report a story with all the political bias they want, but report the story! In example, some of the organizers of the Ukraine protests are extremely political people. Fox can easily vilify them as communists, MSNBC can easily glorify them as voices of the people. There are allegations of serious police misconduct against the protesters, and allegations that the protesters threatened the police – BOTH Fox and MSNBC could have gotten a lot of very biased mileage out of those headlines. These are, in short, not stories that would have any trouble allowing a news agency with a political agenda to have plenty to write about. Instead, both of those agencies and the supposedly moderate CNN inexcusably decided not to talk about the Ukraine at all. Though they were all nice enough to either blast or applaud recent sports figures who may have made inappropriate comments.

Nice looking out for journalistic integrity, guys.