A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Category: media

Coffee Awful, Says Research Maybe?

by evanmcmurry

A headline on Slate blares that coffee is murdering your productivity. (If this were true I’d never accomplish anything.) But dig down and the article isn’t from Slate but from some content partner called Inc. Where’d Inc. get its facts? Welp:

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So some research done at some point between the beginning of time and now “suggests” some stuff about coffee (something tells me “suggests” is doing a lot of work in that sentence), research that was then summarized (who knows with what accuracy and to what intent) by Joe Q. Corporate on LinkedIn, a platform on which anyone can publish almost literally anything, and that post was then summarized in an Inc. article, which was then boosted onto Slate and tweeted out to the world.

Most internet readers passing by this article will just take the alarm of the headline and move on. But they’re seeing at least the fourth refraction of actual information. This is how untruths are born.

At a Paper, a Headline Style

by evanmcmurry

I know NYT headlines are notoriously obtuse, but come on:


That’s a technically accurate description of Gone Girl the way “Retirement, and Now Travel Difficulties” is an accurate description of Lear.

14 Pieces of Clickbait That Will Change Your Life

by evanmcmurry

At a certain point, doesn’t it become insulting to suppose your life could be changed this easily and this often?

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Game Team Barely Won Is Turning Point in Imaginary Narrative

by evanmcmurry

Is there any contrivance more abused in sportswriting than “the turning point“?

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The Red Sox managed more walks than hits and runs combined over the last two games against the White Sox, neither of which they particularly deserved to win. Lester’s pitching was more coincidental with their poor hitting than it was a causal interaction with it.

But that’s all beside the point. The season is sixteen games old; that’s like asking for the turning point of a novel in the first chapter. There’s no narrative yet.

(This rhetorical crutch is even worse with broadcasters, who view every good pitch or outfield single as a potential turning point for player/game/team/season.)

What Passover Tells Us About the Stock Market or Something

by evanmcmurry

Jim Cramer takes a long walk around the block:

“This market, it’s got a disease,” he warned on Monday’s episode of Mad Money. “We’ve been hit with a plague of initial public offerings. That isn’t over yet. And for those of you celebrating passover tonight, the plague of IPOs is worse than the plague of locusts, frogs, definitely not as bad as the whole death of the first born thing though.”

Flubs the next one, though:

“A stock market is like any other market, it’s all about supply and demand.”

It’s why is this stock market different from all other stock markets. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, do it.

5 Life Hacks That Will Save Your Pointless Headline

by evanmcmurry

“Life hack” is officially a term that means “anything”:

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NB: Been a while since my Hum 110 days, but I don’t think personal happiness was high on the Greeks’ radar so much as justice, nobility, generosity, etc.

Rumors of Monoculture’s Demise Were Greatly etc.

by evanmcmurry

This is perfect:

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I think the Guy Fawkes masks add just the right level of contextualization.

(Whoever runs Anon’s twitter feed followed this up with a comment on the LULZ, so I think they got the humor in posting this. Still.)

Reality TV and Literature, Together at Last

by evanmcmurry

This was only a matter of time. Sample line: “Ms. Selasi, a British author who lives in Rome, initially had misgivings about appearing on Italian television, which is notorious for featuring goatish old men among young dancing girls.”

Is Wendy Davis Screwing With Right-Wing Media?

by evanmcmurry

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down at the bottom of this profile on Wendy Davis, past where most stop reading, you’ll find this:

“I am pro-life,” she said, borrowing from the label anti-abortion activists assign themselves. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”

Wait for it…wait for it…here it is:


Davis clearly knew this was going to happen before she said the phrase. In fact, it most likely was her reason for intentionally slipping a click-bait statement into the middle of an exchange, knowing right-leaning news sites like the Examiner would scoop it up (wait until Breitbart, Red State, etc. get ahold of it), and now she’s out there screwing with definitions of “pro-life” without running a single ad or giving  Abbott ad-makers some malleable soundbite.

It’s an efficient way to complicate her image as a one-issue abortion filibusterer among centrist voters—as we learned yesterday, Texans are still learning who she is, and there’s a modest middle ground where she could gain—all while reaffirming her role as a crusader for women’s health rights. The right-wing blogs will have a field day, but they’ll be doing at least some of her work for her.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

by evanmcmurry

Why boozy brunch was invented.  Nobody should have to look at this on a Sunday: