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National Enquirer snaps first picture of Tiger Woods in sex rehab, saves mainstream media

Posted by andreaitis on January 20, 2010

Leave it to the National Enquirer to confirm what everyone’s been buzzing about for the last 24 hours.  And leave it to Radaronline.com, owned by American Media which also owns  the National Enquirer, to blast the story with the standard we’ve-got-a-scoop headline: WORLD EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: First Pictures of Tiger Woods in Sex Rehab.

You can see one of the pictures here.

These are the exclusive first photos of Tiger Woods in rehab for sexual addiction at a clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The golfing great has not been seen in public since crashing his car into a tree shortly after Thanksgiving.

As RadarOnline.com reported he checked into the Gentle Path program, part of Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services.

The photos of Tiger appear in the new issue of the National Enquirer.

via WORLD EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: First Pictures Of Tiger Woods In Sex Rehab | RadarOnline.com

This story started building when a couple of local Mississippi TV stations reported that Tiger was at the Pine Groves clinic.   While still unconfirmed, another report came out yesterday in the New York Daily News.

The headline of that story: 
Tiger Woods sex scandal: Golfer being treated for sex addiction at Mississippi rehab, says author
.

I first saw the ‘confirmation’ in the following twitter message by Mahalo CEO and self-marketer extraordinaire Jason Calacanis:

Jason Calacanis on Tiger Woods via Twitter

Jason Calacanis on Tiger Woods' sex rehab via Twitter

He also put it up on Flickr

Jason Calacanis on Tiger Woods' sex rehab via Flickr

Jason Calacanis on Tiger Woods' sex rehab via Flickr

and on his Tumblelog.

Jason Calacanis on Tiger Woods' sex rehab via his Tumblelog

Jason Calacanis on Tiger Woods' sex rehab via his Tumblelog

As I type, Calacanis has 89,911 followers on Twitter.  After he posted, the ‘confirmation’ story took off.    There are four key points to note, however:

1. @jason incorrectly sourced the confirmation as coming from the New York Times.   The confirmation did not, in fact, come from NYT.   It came from Benoit Denizet-Lewis, a recovering sex addict and author who “regularly contributes to the New York Times magazine. ”

2. Benoit Denizet-Lewis had a single, unnamed source.

3.  The  fact that Benoit Denizet-Lewis was affiliated with the New York Times (magazine)  fueled reports of reports of the confirmation.  For an example of this, look at the USA Today headline:  ‘NYT’ writer: Tiger Woods is in sex rehab clinic in Mississippi

4. The fact that @jason inaccurately represented the source also fueled the frenzy as people retweeted and reblogged  without clicking and reading the actual New York Daily News story.

Denizet-Lewis has a book out this month.  He spoke with the Daily News as an author, not as a NYT writer.  In fact, he didn’t even give this hole-in-one scoop to the New York Times.  Why is that, I wonder?  And, as a recovering addict and former patient at Pine Groves, he had no qualms about publicizing Tiger’s location.   No trace of an ethical dilemma, Benoit?  Let’s hope you and Tiger never end up in the same sex addiction support group.

At any rate, this story had a 24-hour lifecycle that started with Benoit’s ‘confirmation’ and ended with him appearing on the Today show this morning.   At that point, it was a 50-50 chance that Tiger was in the Pine Groves sex rehab clinic.  Luckily for Benoit Denizet-Lewis, the National Enquirer got their World Exclusive pictures of Tiger in Mississippi.  As with the Enquirer’s coverage of John Edwards, the picture proves the story.

As for Benoit Denizet-Lewis, he’ll sell some copies of his book.  He’ll go on all the news shows today.

As for us, we continue to learn a valuable lesson: don’t judge a story by its headline, and don’t judge a headline by its tweet.

Posted in Entertainment, sports, technology, twitter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Neil Patrick Harris and John Barrowman in #biggaybattle on Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on January 4, 2010

Neil Patrick Harris, 2008

Image via Wikipedia

At midnight Tuesday night someone will be crowned Gay/Bisexual Man of the Decade and if the USofA is to maintain any of its superpowerly machismo, it darn well better be Neil Patrick Harris.

It all started on afterelton.com, a website that is not affiliated with Elton John but is dedicated to “news, reviews and commentary on gay and bisexual men in entertainment and the media.”   They put up a poll asking the question I just know circulated festivus tables across this great land: Who is the gayest or most bisexualist man of the decade?  Neil Patrick Harris took the early lead, but now the British are coming.   Well, actually the Scottish are coming in the form of John Barrowman.  He launched a revolutionary war on Twitter to steal the crown from NPH.  What are his credentials? According to well-placed sources (or, um, Wikipedia) he’s:

British actor John Barrowman saluting on a flo...

Image via Wikipedia

…a Scottish born singer, actor, dancer, musical performer and media personality, best known on British television for his acting and presenting work for the BBC and for his television role of Captain Jack Harkness in the science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood.

I know, I know.  You read that and thought — pssht, NPH can take him.   NPH stars in HIMYM!  He hosted the Emmy Awards!!  He’s Dr. Horrible!!!  Here’s the alarming part, though:  Barrowman appeared on the celebrity ice skating show Dancing on Ice.   Dancing. On. Ice.  Sequins, twirling, dramatic flair, blades of glory musical numbers, flounce and ice skates.   Could anything make Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Tony Awards look more like Peyton Manning at the Superbowl?

[youtubevid id=”4ek4BP4tnHo”]

As if that’s not enough, Barrowman has called out the Twitter troops.  The #biggaybattle is heating up, with @actuallyNPH and @team_barrowman throwing down in a twumble (twitter + rumble).

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade!

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade!

John Barrowman in blatant attempt to steal NPH's title.

John Barrowman in blatant attempt to steal NPH

The war has escalated, with celebrities on both sides of the pond taking sides to support their candidate.

Enter Jonathan Ross , riding on a white stallion, to aid his friend John Barrowman. Jonathan is, for lack of a better comparison for our U.S. readers, a sort of Jay Leno in the UK, except people don’t seem to hate him. In fact they love him so much, he’s got about 500,000 followers on Twitter. So when he put the story out there that Barrowman was going down to NPH, things took on a life of their own.
via afterelton.com

Not to be out-Britained, Alyssa Milano weighed in on the biggest, gayest twitter battle ever, declaring NPH gay of the century.  In a burst of patriotic spirit, NPH’s Dr. Horrible co-starFelicia Day and Nathan Fillion twittered strong for NPH.   Nate’s strategy is to rock the vote: US vs. UK! Help! While brits sleep, we must surge and tweet!

Let’s show the world we’ve still got it, America.  We need to OWN the Gay Man of the Decade and send Barrowman to Gaytanamo Bay.   Voting is  over at midnight on Tuesday, January 5th.   Vote now, and let’s get that tiara for Neil Patrick Harris and the United States of America.

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade.  Vote NOW or Dr. Horrible will get you.

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade. Vote NOW or Dr. Horrible will get you.

UPDATE:
The U-S-Gay movement is mounting, with Twitter support for Neil Patrick Harris from Jimmy FallonAlyson Hannigan,  Hal Sparks and Chris Hardwick.   Still no word from Ashton Kutcher or Larry King.

Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

15 words banned in the US

Posted by andreaitis on December 31, 2009

Not-so-pocket dictionary v. 2.0

Image by autumn_bliss via Flickr

Happy New Year, everyone.  The first 2010 list is out already and it’s a good thing.  According to the Lake Superior State University 2010 List of Banished Words, you have just hours left to use 15 words that will be vaporized when the clock strikes midnight.

Word “czars” at Lake Superior State University “unfriended” 15 words and phrases and declared them “shovel-ready” for inclusion on the university’s 35th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

“The list this year is a ‘teachable moment’; conducted free of ‘tweets'” said a Word Banishment spokesman who was ‘chillaxin’ for the holidays.

via Lake Superior State University :: Banished Words List

The annual banned words list got its start at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and friends came up with the concept of “word banishment.”   What makes them the overlords of word overuse?  First, they thought of it.  And second, when you go to Lake Superior I guess you’re entitled to work your superiority.  ::: snap :::

Every year they get tens of thousands of nominations.   A couple of my unfavorites actually made it on the list this year.

The first one I can barely type, as it’s cringe-inducing every time.   T-W-E-E-T.   I don’t mind the Twitter-combinations as much, but uttering t-w-e-e-t in any form makes me feel like @ev and @biz are having a good laugh at the expense of humankind, as a golden bell rings with each tweet-age.   Here’s the explanation from the experts:

TWEET

And all of its variations…tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, twittersphere…

“People tweet and retweet and I just heard the word ‘tweet’ so many times it lost all meaning.” – Ricardo, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

Mikhail Swift of Hillman, Mich. says the tweeting is “pointless…yet has somehow managed to take the nation by storm. I’m tired of hearing about celebrity X’s new tweet, and how great of a tweeter he or she is.”

“I don’t know a single non-celebrity who actually uses it,” says Alex Thompson of Sault St. Marie, Mich.

Jay Brazier of Williamston, Mich. says she supposes that tweeters might be “twits.”

Twit-wits, indeed.   Which is actually what I think every time I hear the next word:  chillaxin’.  Now, some new words deserve to be created, like snarktastic.  It takes two different concepts and rolls them into one.  Chillaxin’ does none of that.   Chill and Relax mean the same thing, you can use them interchangeably.

Example:

“Chillax is the most ridiculously stupid non-word ever.  EVER.  Argh, I need to chill.”

“Chillax is the most ridiculously stupid non-word ever.  EVER.  Argh, I need to relax.”

See?  No diff.  So what’s the point? The Lake Superiors concur:

CHILLAXIN’

Nominated for several years. We couldn’t chill about it anymore.

“Heard everywhere from MTV to ESPN to CNN. A bothersome term that seeks to combine chillin’ with relaxin’ makes me want to be ‘axin’ this word.” – Tammy, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

“A made-up word used by annoying Gen-Yers.” – Chris Jensen, Fond du Lac, Wisc.

“Horrifying overuse, even in face-to-face conversation… It should receive bonus points for its ability to exhort the opposite reaction from the receiver.” – Bret Bledsoe, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Totally agree, Bret Bledsoe.  It’s not even the overuse that bugs me.  It’s the existence and acknowledgement of ‘chillaxin’ as a word.   It is not a real word;  it’s a faux phrase created by someone too lazy to even really try creating a new word.

Here’s  the list of what else you can’t say after the Happy New Year ball drops:

1. Shovel-ready

2. Transparent/Transparency

3. Czar

4. App

5. Sexting

6. Friend as a Verb

7. Teachable Moment

8. In These Economic Times

9. Stimulus

10. Toxic Assets

11. Too Big to Fail

12. Bromance

13. Obama prefix or roots

and, of course

14. Tweet

15. Chillaxin’

You can see the Word Superiority Selection Commitee’s reasoning here.

In an effort to cram them all in one last time before the calendar changes from 2009 to 2010, how many can you use in a sentence?

My shot:

I’m almost done tweeting about how, in these economic times, we need to friend a stimulus czar to regulate transparency of teachable moments that will surely occur during  the Obamafication of a sexting app targeted at too big to fail bromances illustrating how  shovel-ready we are to bury the toxic assets and grab some chillaxin’ time with new episodes of Jersey Shore.

C’mon.  Sentences, haiku, rap lyrics.  Showmewhatchoogot.

Posted in Entertainment, Strange, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Tiger Woods: Are you with Rachel Uchitel, in sex addiction rehab or recovering from plastic surgery?

Posted by andreaitis on December 29, 2009

Tiger Woods

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Tomorrow Tiger Woods will celebrate his 34th birthday.   Or maybe he won’t celebrate it.   In the month since the  single-car accident that wrecked Tiger’s car and his life, no one has seen the world famous golfer.  That’s a remarkable feat, if you really think about it.  We are a media-saturated society.  We have cameras everywhere:  in our cell phones, our laptops, our DSi consoles, even  good old-fashioned point and shoot cameras in our pockets.  There are professionals who have been tracking Tiger, knowing what kind of pay day the first pictures will bring.  There are amateurs, fans and former fans, who are waiting for him to reappear.  There’s Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and more, all venues where people can and will report celebrity sightings.  Tiger managed to elude them all.  Until now, according to the New York Daily News reporting on an Entertainment Tonight report (yes, this is Tiger Beat journalism).

The scandal-rocked pro golfer has been spotted in Palm Beach, Fla., with none other than alleged mistress No. 1, Rachel Uchitel, sources told Entertainment Tonight.

The reported sighting comes just weeks after Woods announced on Dec. 11 that he was taking a break from professional golf to “focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person.”

Woods and Uchitel were rumored to be holding hands as they mixed with about 300 guests at a party in a private mansion in Palm Beach.

They were also spotted partying together in the ritzy enclave, at the Everglades Club, on Saturday night, Entertainment Tonight reports.

Some sources went even further, telling ET that the rumored paramours were living together aboard Woods’ yacht, Privacy, which is reportedly docked in Palm Beach.

via Tiger Woods and Rachel Uchitel spotted partying together in Palm Beach – report

Well, that sounds pretty convincing.  But then, x17online reported that a source told them exclusively that Tiger is in an upscale rehab facility in Arizona.

The source tells X17online:

    “He has been there for a few days since his handlers forced him to enter the program. They feel that if he blames his cheating on addiction, the public will forgive him.”

Recent reports claim Tiger was spotted in Palm Beach with former (or current?) mistress Rachel Uchitel, but so far no pictures have surfaced nor has anyone gone on the record saying they saw the two together.

Meanwhile, a stint in rehab for Tiger seems like the next logical step. After singer Eric Benet was caught in a much-publicized cheating scandal during his relationship with Halle Berry, he entered rehab for sexual addiction. More recently, Californication star David Duchovny did the same in an effort to redeem his reputation and his marriage with Tea Leoni.

via Tiger Woods in Rehab, says Source

Add to the mix the following “Inside Story on Tiger Woods.”  This account was published a few days ago by Furman Bisher, a former sports columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Bisher, well-known and well-respected,  retired this past October.  He received “a legitimate message… from a trustworthy journalist” and posted it on his personal blog.

Are Tiger and Rachel together in Palm Beach?

In regards to Tiger’s boat being in Palm Beach this week, along with Rachel; that part is true. However, Tiger is not on the boat, and is not in Palm Beach; and Rachel is not on the boat. Her parents live 6 blocks from where the boat is, but that is it. Tiger has not returned to his house at Isleworth since the day of the accident except for the therapy sessions.

Is Tiger in a sex and/or prescription drug rehab facility in Arizona?  Bisher doesn’t address that specifically, but he does report that Tiger did go to Phoenix, Arizona immediately after the car accident – for plastic surgery.   Here’s his version of what happened on November 27th:

At one point Tiger turned away to look at the TV, and as he turned back, Elin hit him on the right side of the face with the head of a 9 – iron. When she struck Tiger, she put a huge gash in the right side of his face next to his nose (causing his nose to bruise some), and virtually knocking two of his upper teeth out, and breaking the bone on the upper right side. Tiger ran scared as hell out of the house (which is why he had on no shoes) with Elin swinging the golf club throughout the hallway to the garage (i.e. causing the severe damage which has been reported).

It’s a fact that Elin accompanied Tiger to the hospital.  After that, Bisher reports, Tiger headed to Arizona.

The doctors tell Mark there is not much they can do to repair the teeth and the gash, but the doctor knows a cosmetic dentist and plastic surgeon in Phoenix who will make Tiger look as if nothing happened. Tiger tells Mark to get the jet ready and let’s head to Phoenix to get this done. Friday after Tiger is released from the hospital, he does not return home; he and Mark board the plane for Phoenix. If you remember FHP kept showing up at Isleworth to talk to Tiger, and was told by another FL attorney (who Tiger hired for PR reasons) Tiger was not ready to talk. Well now we know why, he was in Phoenix, and did not arrive back in Orlando until either late last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

It’s worth reading Bisher’s post in its entirety.   But, back to the question at hand:  Will Tiger Woods blow out his birthday candles with Rachel Uchitel in Palm Beach, Florida or in an Arizona rehab facility?

We know Rachel Uchitel is in Palm Beach, Florida because there are a bunch of pictures of her prancing around the beach in her bikini.

Elin Nordegren is reportedly in Sweden with their two children for the holidays (widely reported but not yet confirmed).

And Tiger?  We  know a lot of people are trying to catch Tiger Woods on camera.  We know whoever gets that first picture will score big.   We know his birthday is tomorrow.  Where he’ll celebrate – and with whom –  is anybody’s guess at this point.  Because we also know he has advisers and handlers who have  achieved an incredible feat: they’ve  managed to keep Tiger Woods out of sight for over a month.  In this day and age, that’s the real win.   Happy birthday, Tiger.  You’ve won this match with the media (and the public), at least for now.

Posted in Entertainment, sports, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Ivana Trump files for 4th divorce, screams at children on plane

Posted by andreaitis on December 28, 2009

Oh, Ivana Trump.  If money can’t buy you happiness at least you’re teaching us it can buy you multiple divorces and the ability to scream obscenities at young children on an airplane.  Here’s how Ivana Trump’s holiday heartache breaks down:

Last week, while daughter Ivanka was off on her honeymoon, mother Ivana  filed for divorce yet again.  It’ll be the optimistic  bride’s fourth divorce.   Apparently the 60 year old and her 37 year old husband Italian businessman Rossano Rubicondi  just couldn’t manage to spend time together.  Seriously, the divorce filing cites “a lack of personal time” and Ivana told RadarOnline.com “It has become increasingly difficult for us to find time together.”  Imagine that, when   Ivana and Rubicondi didn’t even live together.

Then, over the weekend she was escorted off a plane in swanky Palm Beach, Florida when she channeled a little Charlie Sheen.

The incident began when Trump, seated in first class, became upset by some children running through the cabin of her Delta flight while they were waiting to depart.

Although a flight attendant offered to change her seat, Ivana became even more irate and began screaming obscenities at crew members and the passengers around her.

Alerted to the predicament, the pilot taxied the plane back to the gate where it was met by law enforcement.  Deputies at first tried to convince Trump to leave the plane voluntarily.  When that didn’t work, they literally picked her up and swept her out the door.

via Ivana Trump Physically Removed From Flight By Cops – radaronline.com

This Ivana Trump story has taught me so much already.  First, upon googling I learned of another great source for news: the Plastic Surgery Channel.  Yep, showed up right near the top of my search results. They even have a plastic surgery breaking news section.  Who knew?!

ivana trump divorce 12-28-2009 9-21-20 AM

Second, it’s a good reminder not to string together expletives in a belligerent and public outburst directed at children.  Much better to do that silently in your own head.

Third, if you’re going to write self-help books like The Best is Yet to Come: Coping with Divorce and Enjoying Life Again, you probably want to demonstrate that attitude when you’re out and about.  So, you know, people believe you actually read the book you wrote.   Otherwise, you’ll never get that book to sell for more than the $3.91 the paperback is listed for on Amazon.

Fourth, and finally: at what point did Ivana Trump morph into Charo?  She was on The View just last month discussing her four husbands and never once mentioned any discord in the current marriage or her upcoming appearance on The Love Boat (hah).

[youtubevid id=”Iif1CTMGUEc”]

Ivana, the Plastic Surgery Channel should be proud.  But don’t forget to practice what you preached in The First Wives Club:   “Remember girls, don’t get mad, get everything.”

Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Hasselhoff lookalike pitches ass spray

Posted by andreaitis on December 22, 2009

Adam Jay Aspray Geisinger and David Hasselhoff 12-22-2009 2-08-12 PMUp until now I was blissfully ignorant of Adam Jay Geisinger and his made-in-the-USA ass spray.  His video pitch caused a stink on MSNBC and was pulled after a single airing in the middle of the night this past summer.  It was also a huge sensation on YouTube, with well over half a million views.   Still, somehow I missed the David Hasselhoff lookalike and his anti-scent-sation.   My bubble burst this morning when a friend mentioned ass spray over breakfast (ew).  Turns out, she worked for Ignite Media, the company that markets Aspray.  For those sticklers out there, the correct pronunciation is actually A-Spray but let’s not kid ourselves: that’s just a semi-polite way to camouflage the ass the spray is intended for.

Ignite Media is familiar with the infomercial phenomenon.  They market the Snuggie,  Designer Snuggie,  Snuggie for Kids and  Snuggie for Dogs.   And, lest we forget, T/S’er Leor Galil recently posted about the — wait for it — Weezer Snuggie.  All this to say they know the smell of success when it wafts over them.

The story behind ass spray is very much a common man living out his American Dream.   For Adam Jay Geisinger,  a roofing contractor from Long Island, NY, the dream started with stench.

It came to pass that Adam had an idea for a personal grooming product (on the way to the gym, natch), and because this is America, where anybody can do anything, Adam begot something so completely and wonderfully absurd that he took to the airwaves to advertise it himself.

And so there came to be Doc Bottoms Aspray, billing itself as the first “All Over” deodorant.

The resulting two-minute infomercial, featuring wildly enthusiastic Adam Jay Geisinger as pitchman, is so cheerfully mortifying, such a big fat spritz over the line of good taste, that it reaches its own level of art. Or something.

via Adam Jay Geisinger’s Doc Bottoms Aspray Is So Shocking, MSNBC Pulled the Ad – washingtonpost.com

Doc Bottoms.  Get it?  Here’s the whole video pitch:

[youtubevid id=”Lmy9R_WtPbg”]

It’s as if Adam is simultaneously channeling Mad Men’s Don Draper and Married with Children’s Al Bundy, with a little Hasselhoff thrown in.   Who else could deliver lines like “Pungent pits?  Beastly butt odor?  How do you stop the stink?” and still somehow maintain an air of respectability?   Take a look at the official ass spray site and you’ll see a great example of marketing to the masses: “Our TV ads may be funny, but embarrassing body odors are not!”  Hard to argue with that.   They even offer a free portable pocket shot of ass spray.   Stocking stuffer, anyone?

Btw, it says it’s safe for all odor zones .  Not sure if that includes Kashmir’s ass lobster

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True/Slant is encouraging readers to donate at DonorsChoose.org this holiday season. Read more about it here if you’d like to help a classroom  in need.

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The new celebrity eulogy: RIP Brittany Murphy @Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on December 21, 2009

Shortly after reports surfaced of Brittany Murphy’s death, celebrities came out of the woodwork to express their shock, sympathy and sorrow.  It wasn’t for Access Hollywood or ET, it wasn’t even for TMZ.  No lights, no makeup, no PR flack standing by mouthing along with the pre-written  “Hollywood lost a bright star too soon” obligatory condolence line.

Celebrities took to their keyboards and, in 140 characters or less, responded in a natural – yet somehow uncomfortable – display on Twitter.

Ashton Kutcher actually dated Brittany Murphy.   Here’s his twitter message:

ashton kutcher on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-16-10 AM

Ashton Kutcher on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

So, kind of cool to see Ashton’s acknowledgement, but also kind of…shallow.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nicely written with sincerity and all, but this is all Brittany gets from someone who dated her?  He did dedicate two tweets to her, so I suppose that’s something.

Alyssa Milano worked with Brittany once.  Only once and it was six years ago, which may explain why she spells Brittany as Brittney.

alyssa milano on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-19-35 AM

Alyssa Milano on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Russell Simmons met Brittany a really long time ago, before she was even famous.  That’s probably why he spelled her name wrong.

russell simmons on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-44-21 AM

Russell Simmons on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

I’m all for Twitter, all for eliminating the line between celebrity beings and human beings.  So, on the one hand, it’s encouraging to see the rich and famous speaking out on their own terms.  On the other hand, though, it seems disrespectful to spell her name wrong.   Not typo wrong, but  can’t-be-bothered-to-look-it-up wrong.  At least Kim Kardashian is honest about what Brittany Murphy meant to her (while still spelling her name wrong):

kim kardashian on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-42-44 AM

Kim Kardashian on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

I much prefer when celebrities make typos like us regular people.  You can tell  Shaquille O’Neal heard the news and just twittered this simple message in reaction.  Name spelled correctly?  Check.  Natural typos?  Check. The Real Shaq, keepin’ it real:

shaq on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-21-25 AM

Shaq on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Like Shaq, Alicia Silverstone seemed to twitter her simple, natural reaction.  Silverstone starred in Clueless with Brittany Murphy.

Alicia Silverstone on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Alicia Silverstone on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

The following twitter messages also felt genuine on first read.  The celeb twitterers seemed to put more thought into who Brittany Murphy was, and what her death means.  They gave the impression they actually knew her, creating a sense of intimacy with these few short words.

peter facinelli on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-17-51 AM

Peter Facinelli on Brittany Murphy

fred durst on brittany murphy 12-21-2009 8-40-28 AM

Fred Durst on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

But, here’s the thing: on re-reads, those messages lose their power.  Twitter is about impulse and initial reaction; messages are of the moment and not necessarily meant to stand the test of time.  Sometimes, though, they do.   Without doubt,  the most memorable Brittany Murphy twitter message came from a most surprising source, one who many thought would have been the subject of this kind of news rather than a twitterer of it:  Lindsay Lohan.

Lindsay Lohan on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

Lindsay Lohan on Brittany Murphy via Twitter

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True/Slant is encouraging readers to donate at DonorsChoose.org this holiday season.  Read more about it here if you’d like to help a classroom  in need.

Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

How True/Slant is celebrating the holidays

Posted by andreaitis on December 16, 2009

Image representing DonorsChoose.org as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

I finally figured out why I like DonorsChoose.org so much.  It’s a cross between an online dating service, craigslist and a charity.   Immediate proof here on our True/Slant Giving Page;  deductive reasoning below.

A couple of days ago True/Slant contributor Michael Salmonowicz wrote about DonorsChoose.org, an online charity connecting individual donors to classrooms in need. Michael made a donation to help a fourth grade class get a subscription to an educational magazine.  He posted part of the note he received from one of the fourth graders:

Did you know a reticulated python is 35 feet long? Did you know that French people sleep longer than people from other countries? These are a few of the interesting facts I learned from reading Time For Kids.”

A couple of months ago, I made a donation to help an all-girl inner city public high school class attend a student performance of “Lincoln, Armstrong to Obama: American History through Jazz.”   Below is the thank-you note I received from the “fun, spunky, outgoing Spanish teacher looking to take her students on a musical journey through history.”

Yay! We did it! Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to funding our class trip. It is quite inspiring to see so many people getting involved to help improve and enrich education for our children.

The students cannot wait to go to the performance. Some students are not too familiar with jazz but love music, so this will be a great opportunity for them to extend their musical repertoire while learning about American history.

Thanks again for all your support! Stay tuned for the pictures (coming after 01/08/10 since that is the date of the performance).

With gratitude,
Ms. P.

donorschoose1On DonorsChoose.org, the teachers post their requests themselves.  You get a sense of their personality and teaching style, and they often include pictures of their students.  That’s the online dating service part.  You get to scroll through the projects, listings from all over the country.  That’s the craigslist part.  Then you can select a project to support to help them reach their goal.  That’s the charity part.

donorschoose2The average public school teacher spends $500 – $700 on classroom supplies out of his or her own pocket, and students still go without critical supplies they need to learn.  We’ve created a True/Slant Giving Page at DonorsChoose.org to help support these low-income classrooms. On our Giving Page you’ll see requests that range from the necessary to the imaginative, including pencil sharpeners, paper, books, art supplies, a rug to sit on for story time and a basketball hoop.   You can select a project, help fund it, and make a real difference to the kids and the teachers.   One day they’re sitting on the cold floor.  The next day they could be sitting on a map-of-the-world rug.

This is how we’re celebrating the holidays at True/Slant.  We all have teachers we remember, that one teacher who made such a strong impression it’s stayed with us forever.  We want other kids to experience that, to have an a-ha moment or two in the classroom, to embrace and enjoy learning.  After all, that’s what we do every day here at True/Slant.  We learn from one another, from our contributors and from our readers (who also contribute through comments).

We ‘d like to invite all of you to join us by visiting our Giving Page  to make a donation or purchasing a Giving Card so your friends and family can participate.  If you’d like to support this effort, please include the following at the end of  your blog posts, emails, in Twitter and Facebook updates, smoke signals and skywriting:

* * True/Slant is encouraging readers to donate at DonorsChoose.org this holiday season.  Read more about it here if you’d like to help a classroom  in need. * *

A bright and happy holiday to all, from all of us at True/Slant.

Posted in Education, Parenting, technology, U.S. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Time's Person of the Year is Ben Bernanke: Who cares?

Posted by andreaitis on December 16, 2009

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testi...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

By now we all know Time selected Ben Bernanke as Person of the Year.

Raise your hands for me, please, if you care.

No one?  Shocker.

It’s not about Ben Bernanke, although that certainly warrants a “Really?”.  It’s about Time.  I simply don’t care who Time thinks should be anointed person of the year.   Now more than ever it seems like a cheesy gimmick circa 1992.   I’m not even all that interested in a single person of the year.

I’d rather hear who Matt Taibbi thinks has been influential this year.  Jon Stewart,  Fred Wilson,  Sarah Silverman, Elie Mystal.  These are people whose perspectives are interesting to me.   I may agree with them, or disagree, but they are filters for how I absorb my world.    Their opinions are relevant and thoughtful and at times unexpected.  What’s Time’s perspective these days?  I dunno.  They no longer have a distinct voice, they’re  no longer a relevant filter for me.

So, uh, Time?  Get over yourself.   Your time has passed.

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Panic all you want: Freaked-out tweets after earthquakes help scientists

Posted by andreaitis on December 15, 2009

Great headline from Wired.com.   For all of you still grumbling that Twitter is boring, useless drivel, listen up.  Smarty-pants scientists say it ain’t so.

A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists have developed a web service that combines seismic data about an earthquake with Tweets of surprise and angst from the popular microblogging service’s users.

“Why would such a system work?” asked Paul Earle, a geologist at the USGS, at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting Monday. “Because people like to tweet after an earthquake.”

It turns out that the “Earthquake! Earthquake!” SOS that you tweet, aggregated with thousands of others, provides an excellent indication of the strength and severity of a quake. A little rumbler yields just a small spike, while a strong quake produces a huge spike in Twitter activity, as seen in the graph below.

Freaked-out Twitter messages afer earthquakes

Image by Paul Earle

via Freaked-Out Tweets After Earthquakes Help Scientists | Wired Science | Wired.com

The goal is to improve emergency response time and effectiveness.  The scientists are  integrating Twitter messages into their standard earthquake alerts, layering the tweet trends  on top of their professional tools.  One challenge, though, is that the data is typically “noisy.”

What the scientists gain in breadth is partially canceled out by the lack of control they have over the incoming information. After all, Quake is also a popular videogame and Dairy Queen serves up a “brownie earthquake,” and both are likely to find their way into tweets.

“We’ve been developing filtering techniques that allow us to tell the difference between an actual earthquake and a group of people who just finished playing a videogame and got the munchies,” Earle said.

Noise aside, this is pretty cool.  You can see how it becomes even more valuable when you layer Google Maps and geolocation apps like Foursquare or Gowalla on top of the Twitter data.   And then you can cross-reference Twitter with the Facebook stream to look for consistency and confirmation of trends.   Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey say their service may be most useful in the window between when an earthquake happens and their professional data starts coming in.  That window is  approximately 2 to 20 minutes, enough time for an avalanche of Twitter or Facebook updates.

And speaking of avalanches, if this works for earthquakes it should also be useful for hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and blizzards.   Is the National Weather Service talking to the U.S. Geological Survey?   Are @usnoaagov and @usgs following one another on Twitter?  Are they Facebook friends?

I’ll send an  SOS to the NOAA so they can tweetup with the USGS ASAP.

UPDATE:

I twittered @usnoaagov and @usgs and got a quick reply:

Our government at work.

Our government at work.

I have to say,  I’m impressed.  Two government agencies working together, engaged with the public, responding to  questions.  I almost can’t wait for the next mega weather event to see how this all works in real time.

Posted in science, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »