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20th century headlines rewritten to get more clicks

10/28/13 2 Comments

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this xkcd comic satirizes the different ploys social media sites like buzzfeed use to get you to visit their pages (via the atlantic).  similar to tabloids that decorate the grocery checkout line or the teases on your late-night news, too often the stories that follow these headlines fail to meet the expectations relayed in the title and/or are simply a waste of time/attention.

i pulled a couple of the comic’s rewrites to further highlight what makes this approach to media both attractive and repulsive.  think about how the headlines/stories fall in line with ones that you’ve heard, read, seen or maybe even written:

“HOW A SHOCKING NEW THEORY, DISCOVERED BY A DAD, PROVES SCIENTISTS ARE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING!” (1905)

inspired by: albert einstein discovering the theory of relativity

what makes the rewrite attractive:  “shocking new” (something you haven’t seen/heard before); “dad proves scientists are wrong” (posits einstein as a common man outsmarting brainy establishment); “wrong about everything!” (that theory isn’t just “shocking new” but also earth-shattering).

what makes the rewrite repulsive: intentionally underselling einstein as just a dad instead of calling him another scientist; the use of “everything!” deliberately exaggerates what the scientists were wrong about.

“THIS VIDEO OF A TERMINALLY ILL CHILD WATCHING THE CHALLENGER LAUNCH WILL BREAK YOUR HEART” (1986)

inspired by: space shuttle challenger exploding seconds after its launch, killing everyone on board.

what makes the rewrite attractive: “video of terminally ill child” (faulkner once wrote “between grief and nothing i will take grief.” speaks to why some people will knowingly gravitate toward things that will make them feel sad); “will break your heart” (beyond the aforementioned pursuit of grief, it’s also a challenge to see if this will actually affect you as much as the headline suggests).

what makes the rewrite repulsive: using a terminally ill kid watching a tragedy to make the circumstances around said tragedy seem even worse.  as if, the death of seven people isn’t sad enough.

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eliminate (some) obscenities

04/18/13

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via the economist.  obscene is a word for the senate’s performance yesterday & for the government’s tendency to invest lives/money policing other countries but not putting the same effort into making sure things are right at home.

10 tips to become a master hater

02/01/13

silkyjohnson

via mental floss:

In the 1930s, William B. Pettus, the president of the College of Chinese Studies in Beijing, came across a strange little Chinese essay. It began by arguing that, “having a desire to revile, should you persistently restrain it you will sooner or later develop some malady or infirmity. Therefore, having this desire, it is right to give it vent, and there is no harm in so doing.”

However, the essay continued, most people lacked the skill that great reviling required. What followed was a list of tips and techniques for becoming a master reviler, “one who enjoys reviling and meets with no rebuff.”

at its worst, you might view the tips below as a how-to on being a more effective jerk.  in a more positive light, this will help you become more adept at spotting & handling the ploys of the “master revilers”/haters/internet trolls in your life.  either way though, the essay’s author had some satirical leanings so don’t miss the humor in this.  also, share any of your own “reviling suggestions” in the comments:

1. YOU MUST KNOW YOURSELF AND KNOW YOUR MAN.

“If another person has shortcomings, and you yourself are guilty of the same, in reviling him it is well to avoid mention of these.”

2. DO NOT REVILE THOSE WHO ARE YOUR INFERIORS.

“You should select a person at least slightly superior to yourself…as soon as he replies…this brings you on a parity with him, as one pays no heed to inferiors…If, on the contrary, you revile a person of no reputation, the more you revile, the more pleased he is. The rule is that by reviling a man of no reputation you create one for him. Is this not a distressing sequence?”

3. IN REVILING, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND THERE ONE SHOULD STOP.

“When you are reviling a man of standing and he has replied, this is the place to stop. Should you continue you cannot carry the bystanders with you.”

4. USE THE METHOD OF INDIRECT ATTACK.

“The more severely you wish to revile one, the more important is it to begin with expressions of pity & appreciation & even of respect and regret…the listeners feel that you are only speaking the truth and regard you as a person of poise & dignity.”

5. PRESERVE A PLACID EXTERIOR.

“In ordinary street reviling the crowd regards the one whose voice is the louder and demeanor the fiercer as being in the right. But one who can truly revile is able to conceal his weapon until his antagonist’s is wearied…when all energy is expended, he can retort in a few words, every one of which will draw blood.”

6. IN REVILING USE CHASTE AND ELEGANT LANGUAGE.

“Prevent your antagonist from perceiving, at first, that he is being reviled…the more polite your expressions the sharper will be the sting. It is a good rule in reviling to incorporate in your retorts favorite expressions of your antagonist.”

7. CONQUER BY RETREATING.

“When about to revile and you remember that you yourself have shortcomings, it is wise at the start boldly to acknowledge these in a thorough manner…You must bring yourself down to the humblest position. This prevents your opponent’s bringing you down to a lower level.”

8. LAY A TRAP FOR YOUR ADVERSARY.

“One experienced in reviling carefully notes his antagonist’s every expression for those which can be returned with telling effect…by dropping an insignificant expression he will grasp at it and shoot his arrow…show him that it has lodged in a sandbank and that no injury results.”

9. MAKE MUCH OF LITTLE.

“If a person deserves reviling, but the offense is of minor significance & scarcely worthy of reprimand…lead him into deeper water. Point by point use correct logic and endeavor to lead him to make illogical statements…When this is accomplished you can turn & severely revile him.”

10. MAKE WAR ON THAT WHICH IS NEAR AND CULTIVATE FRIENDSHIP FOR THAT WHICH IS REMOTE.

“At one time revile only one person, or, if need be, only one class of men, or you will have too many adversaries. Attack your opponent, but do not involve the listener. If it is absolutely necessary to include a large number of persons, under these circumstances you should declare that in so doing you have the interest of all at heart. If you fail in this you will have an avalanche of reviling descend upon you which will be troublesome to withstand.”

related: imagine getting this in the mail

the more widespread notions of beauty rest on two lies:

1.)  your natural self needs help (sometimes a lot of artificial help) to look its best.

2.)  beauty comes only in a specific size and color.

director jesse roston mocks the pursuit of these fallacies in an ad for a real-life version of photoshop.  the new cosmetics from adobé would let you skip the makeup, injections, surgeries, etc. and still reach the false sense of true beauty that you always wanted.  would you use it?

real-life photoshop

01/23/12 4 Comments

what if martin luther king jr. was still alive today?  watch aaron mcgruder’s answer in this classic episode of the boondocks.  even though the show first aired a few years ago, much of the commentary still resonates today.

previously: mlk on meet the press 1960

return of the king

01/16/12

stephen colbert op-ed on gop primary

12/23/11

here’s a hilarious stephen colbert op-ed published yesterday in south carolina’s the state:

As a proud son of South Carolina I must address recent unsubstantiated rumors published in The State that I, Stephen Colbert, tried to buy the naming rights to the 2012 Republican primary. First, never trust anything in a newspaper — except this column, and possibly “Mallard Filmore.” And second, these outrageous and scurrilous rumors border on libel, even if they are, technically, true. I don’t want to talk about it.

Here’s what happened:

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