Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 25 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Twitter, RSS and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to email@example.com
Look, you shouldve known for some time that Star Wars will dominate your lives this month, whether youre fans of the franchise or not. And if youre a member of the latter, youre probably sick of all the hype, from all the TV talk show guests and YouTube tributes to Star Wars-branded produce.
Thanks to Facebook CEO and brand-new dad Mark Zuckerberg, you get a break from the ridiculous Star Wars homages populating the Web in the form of an adorable baby picture. Trust us, you wouldnt want to click Hide on this awesomeness:
Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook
Armed with a green baby lightsaber and wrapped in a brown blanket, little Max Zuckerberg makes the perfect Jedi. Proud papa Zuckerbergs caption, The force is strong with this one, calls attention to this fact. However, if Maxs side glance is any indication, theres a big possibility that her dad chose the wrong side.
Artist Jeffrey Michael Samudosky recently transformed a huge fallen redwood into an amazing giant octopus sculpture. In the progress pictures below you can see the incredible transformation and how the octopus slowly takes shape. To create the artwork Samudosky used a variety of tools including chainsaws, dremels and chisels.
Born and raised in Shelton, Connecticut, Jeff studied art and photography in high school. After graduating, he traveled the continent as an Outward Bound instructor, ice climber, and whitewater rafting guide. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming he trained as an Alpine mountaineering guide and became certified as a wilderness emergency medical technician. That was also the place where his life changed drastically.
A crash while snowboarding left Jeff with a broken back and no feeling in his legs. However, after eight months of painful recovery, Jeff regained the feeling in his legs and was back on his feet. Refusing let his accident stop him from being the energetic man that he is, he decided to get back on his snowboard.
While on his way to the mountain in Vermont he noticed some wood carvings along the side of a road, and he thought, â€œI could do that.â€ And so, JMS Wood Sculpture was born in 1998. His business has allowed Jeff to live all over the country and travel all over the world participating in competitions and he continues to be a trusted friend throughout the carving community.
Nearly every president in office, at one time or another, is confronted with a near-impossible decision.
Lincolns suspension of habeas corpus. Truman relieving General MacArthur. Kennedys blockade of Cuba during the missile crisis. And now, the great question of President Donald Trumps era: does he care more about his image? Or about his ratings?
The presidents unquenchable thirst for the attention of the crooked media and his ravenous hunger to punish them is the pushmi-pullyu of the Trump erathe political equivalent of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. But as Trumps faith in his press shop reportedly wears thinner with every briefing gone awry, the White House communications team appears ready to make the presidents choice for him.
On Monday, reporters were barred from broadcasting live video or audio during the afternoon White House press briefing, the second briefing at which journalists were explicitly banned from making audio broadcasts since the previous Thursday. Press secretary Sean Spicer, flanked by counselor Kellyanne Conway and former Apprentice agitator-turned-communications liaison Omarosa Manigault, explained that the presidents appearance earlier with the president of Panama was enough for the whole class to share.
Ive said it since the beginningthe president spoke today, he was on camera. Hell make another comment today at the technology summit, Spicer said when asked why reporters couldnt broadcast the briefing live. And there are days that Ill decide that the presidents voice should be the one that speaks, and iterate his priorities.
Spicers decision to ban live broadcasting of the press briefing is the latest in a series of attempts to curtail transparency and visibility at the White House. Spicer and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have collectively briefed reporters only seven times in all of June, including Monday and last Thursdays no-broadcast gaggles. The length of those briefings have gone down, as well, averaging only 27 minutes per briefing this month.
White House reporters, for their part, appeared visibly chafed by the newest restrictions in the briefing room.
The White House press secretary is getting to a point, Brooke, where hes just kind of useless, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta told anchor Brooke Baldwin on Monday afternoon. You know, if hecant come out and answer the questions, and theyre just not going to do this on camera or audio, why are we even having these briefings or these gaggles in the first place?
It's bizarre, said Acosta, who despite being labeled fake news to his face during a press conference with President Trump in February is not known for editorializing his reporting. I dont know what world were living in right now, Brooke, where were standing at the White House and they bring us into the briefing room here at the White House, and they wont answer these questions on camera or let us record the audio… I dont understand why we covered that gaggle today, quite honestly, Brooke. If they cant give us the answers to the questions on camera or where we can record the audio, theyre basically pointless.
Jeff Mason, a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the president of the White House Correspondents Association, did not return a request for comment regarding possible retaliation for what Acosta characterized as the White Houses stonewalling of the press, but others in the press corps are beginning to share Acostas sentiment.
I find their reliance on off-camera briefings to be very frustrating, a White House correspondent who has covered the Obama and Trump administrations told The Daily Beast. If I cant include video of my questioning, it makes me wonder why I shouldnt just skip the briefing and rely on email to get answers.
Pulling the press briefings from the airwaves is a remarkable shift in communications strategy for the president, whose staffers have long lauded what they call his sophisticated understanding the power of messaging and marketing in politics. Trumpa former reality-television star whose fixation on Nielsen data predates his political careerhas a long-standing obsession with the power of television. Live cable news broadcasts that have turned Spicer into a household name are a vehicle for his agenda, a governing tool, a thermometer for the nations political temperatureand, of course, a measuring stick for staff performance.
In April, when the notion that White House press secretary Sean Spicers job might be on the line was not yet a perennial news item, Trump reportedly dismissed the notion that Spicer was going anywhere because he was beating network soap operas in the ratings.
But the presidents antipathy towards the reporters who actually populate the briefing room appears to have outstripped the utility of beating General Hospital among adults 18-49.
One solution in the White House press corps has been to ignore the more draconian measures. Reporters were still visibly using audio recorders in the briefing room on Monday, and its unlikely that Spicer will roam the aisles to bat Facebook Live-enabled smartphones out of reporters hands. But on the larger question of whether the White House truly understands the role of the reporters in the West Wing, other correspondents see skirting the rules as dodging the issue.
The problem is that within the White House there's a pervasive misunderstanding of the role of the press and the role of the officials tasked with communicating directly with us, said Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for New York Magazine and a former reporter at The Daily Beast.
But the solution to that problem, Nuzzi said, isnt to follow Acostas suggestion that the press corps start boycotting the briefings.
I think thats what they're hoping foran easy out from doing their job of informing the public by answering to a free and independent media, Nuzzi said. If the White House is going to continue to attempt to avoid the press in favor of communicating through press releases and presidential tweets, lets cover the shit out of that and highlight, as often as possible, how ridiculous and abnormal this is becoming.
Looming over all of thisas it looms over everything involving the White Houseis the mercurial man in the Oval Office himself. President Trump has openly mused about curtailing on-camera briefings to zero, or kicking reporters out of the White House entirely.
Of course, that threat may just be the latest move by the self-described master negotiator, said one White House correspondent.
Maybe its a credit to his negotiating skills that we're willing to accept off-camera briefings.
As Mushroom?the munchkin cat?watched his owner, Chacaro, the other munchkin cat, slowly crept behind. When Mushroom turned around and saw Chacaro behind him, Chacaro?looked away and pretended like he was minding his own business. But Mushroom was on to Chacaro’s motives and hopped away before Chacaro could get him.
An awakening to our iPhone-hooked generation like you’ve never seen it before…
Eric Pickersgill‘s latest work is shedding some pretty awesome light on the inauthenticity of our Instagram lifestyles.
The idea that technology has takenover ourphone-addicted generation isnot a new assertion, but Pickersgill took it one step further by showingus how unreal our ‘real’ lives actually appear when we take out the devices glued to our hands. It’s one thing to talk about it, and quite another to reallysee it.
Technology is not necessarily the enemy, as anything in excess can be harmful. But these eerie depictions sure serve as a window into the emptiness that we’re often pouring over on our smart phones as we ignore the “life” happening right in front of us.
Here’s Pickersgill’s take on his project entitled “Removed” that is now receiving viral attention:
“The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before. Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves. In similar ways that photography transformed the lived experience into the photographable, performable, and reproducible experience, personal devices are shifting behaviors while simultaneously blending into the landscape by taking form as being one with the body. This phantom limb is used as a way of signaling busyness and unapproachability to strangers while existing as an addictive force that promotes the splitting of attention between those who are physically with you and those who are not.”
Were not saying you have to ditch your iPhone. Its 2015.
But next time, before you scroll, maybe consider if in that moment whats happening in your virtual reality is worth missing out on your actual realitythe one where your families are, your kids play, and where your friends do that LOLing thing thats actually called a laughwhen theyre not on the other side of your phone screen.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the keynote address at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in San Francisco.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Every employee at Facebook should be ashamed of what their product became this year: a tangled mess of bizarre falsehoods and outdated information used as ammo to help people scream at one another.
It has failed our bitterly divided country through its News Feed, which has weighed legitimate, reported information from good news organizations against propagandistic junk written by trolls and found there is no difference. Posted to your News Feed, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times report looks just the same as a blog post from The Right Stuff, an anti-Semitic content factory of the so-called “alt-right.”
And it has failed, in a very basic way, to keep anyone legitimately informed through its “Trending” topics feature, from which it fired several paid journalists earlier this year. Trending is designed to show you the latest news according to how many people are posting about a topic on Facebook. On Wednesday afternoon, many hours after Donald Trump was elected president, the latest political news the social network had for me was a useless tidbit about our new commander-in-chief monitoring his wife’s vote.
Facebook, the world’s leading news platform, with this as the top trending topic about the election (on my feed) pic.twitter.com/kPcLncQRk0
Putting all of this very simply: Facebook sucks as a news enterprise. It was especially bad this year when misinformation became the hallmark of a successful presidential campaign that split the nation in half. To save face, the social network should dismantle its News Feed and start over with something that either treats media differently or doesn’t allow it at all.
Lies, lies, lies
There’s an argument to be made that Facebook, with the lies it allows to spread on its News Feed, is responsible for the election of Donald Trump. Let’s glance at Max Read’s take on Select/All, a New York Magazine blog, published Wednesday:
Facebook connected those supporters to each other and to the candidate, gave them platforms far beyond what even the largest Establishment media organizations might have imagined, and allowed them to effectively self-organize outside the party structure. Who needs a GOTV database when you have millions of voters worked into a frenzy by nine months of sharing impassioned lies on Facebook, encouraging each other to participate?
Endless reports of corruption, venality, misogyny, and incompetence merely settle in a Facebook file next to a hundred other articles from pro-Trump sources, disputing or ignoring the deeply reported claims, or, as is the case, just making up new and different stories.
To reiterate: Millions of voters, nine months of lies on Facebook. You may not feel President-elect Trump is a problem, but let’s not argue his ascendence hasn’t been destructive. The majority of Americans (Clinton did win the popular vote after all) now feel anxious about the path forward on issues critically important to how we will live and breathe every day: LGBTQ rights, climate change and immigration among them.
And we are furious with one another. I told a complete stranger to “shuuuuuttt uuuuppp” (yep) on a status posted by an acquaintance Wednesday (yep!) simply because he commented with information I knew to be false probably because he read it on Facebook. (My acquaintance wisely deleted both comments.)
For crying out loud, a completely fabricated story about Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin running a child sex ring was allowed to spread on the platform last month like any old news. Just one version of that post, which was aggregated and published by numerous platforms, was shared to a potential audience of more than 2 million people according to CrowdTangle, a data firm that measures how information spreads online.
As an anecdotal bit of evidence to back up the numbers, a profile of a Trump supporter published in The Washington Post last month indicated how certain people feast on complete Facebook bunk intended to stoke fears and compel further shares serving an outlet’s bottom line when millions of people flood into their website and tick up potential ad impressions.
“One of the things that has made Facebook so problematic is that everything is being juxtaposed,” Finn Brunton, an assistant professor at New York University who specializes in the relationships between society, culture and technology, explained to me when I rang him up Wednesday.
“All of the major news orgs are relying on a huge amount of viral Facebook traffic, in the same way that those [bogus sites] are relying on a massive amount of viral Facebook traffic,” he added. “So you end up with a News Feed where a huge amount of things are juxtaposed.”
That looks like this:
Because Facebook’s News Feed holds so much value it is the single greatest source of traffic via social media for most, if not all, major websites outlets learn how to game its system. People make careers out of this, and it’s all possible because everything is watered down to a stupid little white box when you post on the social network.
We’re about to get so nerdy here, but bear with us
Format matters a lot. Facebook is a reasonably pleasant app to use, because it has a deliberate, clean design, but a lot of weird problems come up when you force disparate media lots of square, triangular and round pegs to fit through the same hole.
“By virtue of writing a good article about something, an article that’s researched and thought-through and posted on Facebook, you’re giving credence to all of these other junk articles,” Brunton explained.
“Researched news … complete bullshit. It’s all at the same level.”
In other words, a bit of dissonance happens when you put a great piece of journalism next to something that, well, isn’t. Say you bought a biology textbook that had a full-page ad for Scientology in the evolution chapter you’d be kind of like, “what?”
“In the old days on the web, you would stumble across some horror show of an anti-Semitic website,” Brunton continued. “Along with your existing critical sense and your ability to evaluate information, it was a site that was clearly run by hateful people. You could see it in the design. You could see it in the things they linked to. When something is circulated on Facebook, it’s just circulated on Facebook. It has that same staid, infrastructural presentation.”
Less than journalistic works, articles are just little bits of content that fill Facebook’s News Feed, hopefully hooking you enough to keep you visiting the app time and time again and maybe sharing some content of your own.
“Anecdotal activity, researched news, and complete bullshit. It’s all at the same level,” Brunton said.
Kill the News Feed
Journalists like me have thrashed against the monolithic social media force for months, insisting it should take some editorial responsibility for how it distributes content to its 1.18 billion daily users. I’m tired of expecting responsibility from a Silicon Valley company worth several hundred billion dollars that has a wannabe vampire on its board, and I’m quite honestly exhausted by one of the most hateful and convoluted presidential campaigns history has ever witnessed. The time for ethics from Facebook has passed.
Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg allowed prob the biggest coordinated hate speech and misinformation campaign in modern history on their watch
Instead, the company should focus on the fact that its News Feed product is really bad. And like many bad Facebook products, the company should just kill it.
That’s easier said than done, of course the News Feed is only the spine of the entire Facebook product as we know it. But we know what the stakes are now: Bad information leads to destructive action.
Facebook should shave the little calloused “Trending” nub, which does nothing for no one, and then get to work reshaping how people share media on the platform. It’s a ridiculously knotted problem: Writers rely on Facebook for traffic, while traffic means advertising revenue and food on our tables. It’s hard to imagine modern media without the social network as a distribution platform. But the status quo isn’t working it hasn’t worked for a long time.
There are potential “outs” for media to actually work well on Facebook. Maybe customized branding becomes more prominent. Maybe Facebook even offers a way for publishers to charge for content paid magazines, at least, were made to suggest premium quality. Maybe it re-tools its algorithms to get smarter about legit content, or uses fact-checking software or even (re-)hires human journalists.
You’d think the possibilities would be endless for a company that has developed a working prototype of a drone that flies around large swaths of planet Earth, beaming internet access via lasers. For whatever reason, truthful news media obviously hasn’t been a priority for Facebook despite promises to the contrary. We’ve seen the consequences. Now let’s fix the problem.