Republican officials stop attempt to name any of Route 66 after Trump

❝ A Republican lawmaker has abandoned his effort to rename a stretch of old Route 66 in northeastern Oklahoma after President Donald Trump…

State Sen. Nathan Dahm…may find another spot to rename Donald Trump Highway, but it won’t be associated with the Mother Road…

❝ Republican Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who oversees Oklahoma’s marketing and branding, swiftly rejected the idea of naming sections of Route 66 after Trump or any other political figure.

“I don’t care if you want to call it Mother Teresa Highway or Donald Trump Highway; there is only one thing to call it, and that’s Historic Route 66,” Pinnell said…

Pasting the Fake President’s name on anything other than the back of his prison uniform is a waste of advertising space.

Facebook busted for bigoted adverts

❝ The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it’s charging Facebook Inc. with allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act by restricting who can view housing-related ads.

❝ “Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

The social network allowed those advertising housing to exclude people it classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility and Hispanic culture; as well as other group’s deemed protected classes, according to HUD.

Facebook responded by saying, “Gee-whiz. We’re trying to reduce the bigotry in our ads. We’re just too busy counting our money to catch up with stuff like that.”

OK. That really isn’t what they said; but, it might as well be. Self-pitying whining about cost and time constraints from a company that rolls in money faster than they can stack it into boxcars ain’t cutting much ice with the few honorable folks remaining in federal government.

Major Advertiser walks away from Fox Ingraham Show

❝ At least one major advertiser has dropped Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show in the wake of her comments on Monday about immigrant children separated from their parents. With advertising time on the conservative daily talk show down since Monday night, it’s possible that other companies have also bailed on “The Ingraham Angle.”

…The day after Ingraham’s statements, David Hogg, a survivor of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, called on advertisers, including IAC, to boycott Ingraham, a reprise of the highly successful boycott campaign he launched against her in April, after she insulted him on Twitter.

During her show on Monday night, Ingraham described the detention centers for immigrant children separated from their parents on the Mexican border as “essentially like summer camps,” further comparing them to “boarding schools.”

❝ The previous dust-up between Ingraham and Hogg sprouted from her mocking the Parkland survivor and gun-control activist for lamenting on Twitter how he had been rejected from some colleges. Though Ingraham’s advertising has recovered somewhat from that boycott campaign — which saw companies like Bayer, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Nestlé and Hulu drop the show — her advertising load had not reached her previous levels.

Creeos who make their living from advocating against human rights get what they deserve. Sometimes.

For $1,000, anyone can track your location and app use


Begin and end a morning commute. Red dots = standing still over 4 minutes.

❝ Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something.

But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see if you’re using shopping apps on work time?

❝ The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, which will be presented Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using…

❝ “Because it was so easy to do what we did, we believe this is an issue that the online advertising industry needs to be thinking about,” said co-author Franzi Roesner, co-director of the UW Security and Privacy Research Lab… “We are sharing our discoveries so that advertising networks can try to detect and mitigate these types of attacks, and so that there can be a broad public discussion about how we as a society might try to prevent them.”

Mail me a penny postcard when the advertising industry and our plastic, fantastic lawmakers take this seriously.

Obesity? We’re number one, we’re number one!

❝ Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fattest country in the world?

The obesity rate for American adults (aged 15 and over) came in at a whopping 38.2%, which puts the birthplace of the hamburger and the Cronut at the top of the heftiest-nations-in-the-world rankings, according to an updated survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development…

❝ On average, 19.5% of adults are #obese across OECD countries.

❝ In most countries, the OECD has found that women are more obese than men, though obesity rates for the male population are growing rapidly. Education is a determinant as the organization found that less schooling makes a woman two to three times more likely to be overweight than the more educated in about half of the eight countries for which the data was available…

And the OECD has found that obese people have poorer job prospects than their slimmer counterparts, earning about 10% less, and are then less productive at work, with fewer worked hours and more sick days…

❝ The future is fatter: Perhaps even more disturbing is the glimpse that the OECD offers into the coming years…Obesity rates are expected to increase until at least 2030, led by the U.S., Mexico and England, where 47%, 39% and 35% of the population are expected to be obese by 2030.

As for solutions, the OECD suggest food labeling, and offered praise for health promotion campaigns across Facebook and Twitter, or dedicated mobile apps that have been shown to have the potential to help with weight loss and body fat. As one survey showed this week, obesity puts individuals at risk from related illnesses — diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and more. In other words, you can’t be fat and healthy at the same time.

If that isn’t depressing enough, watch for the posts I have coming up on Artifical Intelligence – and jobs – in the United States. Not all countries handle knowledge the same, eh? 🙂

Google braces for questions while big-name firms pull advertising

❝ Google executives are bracing for a two-pronged inquisition from the advertising industry and the government over the company’s plans to stop ads being placed next to extremist material.

A slew of big-name companies, advertising firms and government departments have either pulled their adverts from Google and its YouTube video site or are considering whether to do so, with media giant Sky, telecoms group Vodafone and a trio of banks adding their names to a growing list over the weekend…

❝ The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6. Experts estimate this could have been worth £250,000 to extremists.

❝ Leading advertising agencies have been quick to react, with French marketing firm Havas, whose clients include O2 and Royal Mail, pulling its adverts late last week. Publicis, the world’s third-largest advertising firm, said it was reviewing its relationship with Google and YouTube.

The world’s largest advertising firm WPP, via its media-buying division GroupM, has stopped short of cancelling ads but has written to major clients asking them how they wish to proceed…

❝ While Google is yet to reveal what it plans to do, it is understood that advertisers will be told that they may not be making enough use of existing tools and it will offer to provide advice on how companies can better use these.

However, Google is also expected to take a wider look at how ads are placed, including whether it has put enough checks and balances in place to avoid unfortunate juxtapositions.

Advertisers paying for primo placement certainly should be able to determine who shelters in their shadow.

American students unable to differentiate between fake news and real

❝ Stanford researchers assessed students from middle school to college and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.

❝ If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.

That’s one implication of a new study from Stanford researchers that evaluated students’ ability to assess information sources and described the results as “dismaying,” “bleak” and “a threat to democracy.”…

❝ Middle school, high school and college students in 12 states were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. More than 7,800 student responses were collected.

In exercise after exercise, the researchers were “shocked” — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.

The students displayed a “stunning and dismaying consistency” in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren’t looking for high-level analysis of data but just a “reasonable bar” of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles.

More than 80 percent of middle schoolers believed that ‘sponsored content’ was a real news story…

RTFA and spoil your weekend. Or not. Maybe you’re not surprised. The details are kind of overwhelming.

The ethics of modern web ad-blocking

More than fifteen years ago, in response to decreasing ad rates and banner blindness, web advertisers and publishers adopted pop-up ads.

People hated pop-up ads. We tolerated in-page banners as an acceptable cost of browsing free websites, but pop-ups were over the line: they were too annoying and intrusive. Many website publishers claimed helplessness in serving them — the ads came from somewhere else that they had little control over, they said. They really needed the money from pop-ups to stay afloat, they said.

The future didn’t work out well for pop-ups. Pop-up-blocking software boomed, and within a few years, every modern web browser blocked almost all pop-ups by default.

A line had been crossed, and people fought back.

People often argue that running ad-blocking software is violating an implied contract between the reader and the publisher: the publisher offers the page content to the reader for free, in exchange for the reader seeing the publisher’s ads. And that’s a nice, simple theory…

By that implied-contract theory, readers should not only permit their browsers to load the ads, but they should actually read each one, giving themselves a chance to develop an interest for the advertised product or service and maybe even click on it and make a purchase. That’s also a nice theory, but of course, it’s ridiculous to expect anyone to actually do that.

Ads have always been a hopeful gamble, not required consumption. Before the web, people changed channels or got up during TV commercials, or skipped right over ads in newspapers and magazines. Pragmatic advertisers and publishers know that their job is to try to show you an ad and hope you see and care about it. They know that the vast majority of people won’t, and the ads are priced accordingly. The burden is on the advertisers and publishers to create ads that you’ll care about and present them in a way that you’ll tolerate.

And the invention of time-shifting DVRs also made skipping or slipping over adverts possible. A delight.

Web ads are dramatically different from prior ad media, though — rather than just being printed on paper or inserted into a broadcast, web ads are software. They run arbitrary code on your computer, which can (and usually does) collect and send data about you and your behavior back to the advertisers and publishers…

All of that tracking and data collection is done without your knowledge, and — critically — without your consent…There’s no opportunity for disclosure, negotiation, or reconsideration. By following any link, you unwittingly opt into whatever the target site, and any number of embedded scripts from other sites and tracking networks, wants to collect, track, analyze, and sell about you.

RTFA. More detail and analysis is in there…including Marco’s preferences and choices for auxiliary software to inhibit the ad beasties from populating your life.

Poisonally, I almost walked away from WordPress when the decision was made to go with automatic video commercials for advertising on wordpress.com blogs. It drove me nuts just trying to edit and formulate my posts. I finally had to load ad blocking software to retain what little sanity I have.

I think this will be the latest straw that breaks the back of IP providers. This choice of instant-on blather. I’ve seen the wee compensation I receive from adverts on my blog diminish by over half since self-starting videos appeared. Which means our readers are as offended by obnoxious as I am. Money is not why I blog – still, I may choose to go elsewhere if there is an elsewhere without this crap.

Thanks, Om

The Grand Illusion — choosing excellent American Universities

To understand the failures of the modern American college system — from admissions marketing to graduation rates — you can begin with a notorious university football scandal.

In November 2006, Butch Davis, a high-profile coach with jobs in the N.F.L. and the University of Miami on his résumé, was hired to coach football at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The job offered Mr. Davis a rare opportunity to work for a university that had won dozens of championships in multiple sports while avoiding the scandals and corruption that seemed commonplace at Miami and elsewhere.

But it didn’t take long for Mr. Davis to realize that Chapel Hill’s reputation for sports excellence without compromise was a myth. From 1991 to 2009, the university’s department of African and Afro-American studies ran a huge academic fraud operation. Thousands of students, including regular undergraduates and athletes trying to maintain playing eligibility, enrolled in fake courses in which they didn’t have to attend classes, meet with professors or produce any legitimate academic work.

After the fraud was exposed and both the university chancellor and Mr. Davis lost their jobs, outside investigators discovered that U.N.C. had essentially no system for upholding the academic integrity of courses. “So long as a department was offering a course,” one distinguished professor told the investigators, “it was a legitimate course.”…

Most colleges, presumably, aren’t harboring in-house credit mills. Yet in its underlying design, organizational values and daily operations, North Carolina is no different from most other colleges and universities. These organizations are not coherent academic enterprises with consistent standards of classroom excellence. When it comes to exerting influence over teaching and learning, they’re Easter eggs. They barely exist.

This goes a long way toward explaining why colleges spend so much time and effort creating a sense of tribal solidarity among students and alumni. Think of the chant that Joe Paterno and students cried out together at the height of their university’s pedophilia scandal: “We are! Penn State!” The costumes, rituals and gladiatorial contests with rival colleges are all designed to portray the university as united and indivisible. Newer colleges that lack such deeply rooted identities spend millions of dollars on branding consultants in order to create them.

They do this to paper over uncomfortable truths revealed by their own researchers.

RTFA. Understand “How College Affects Students” concludes – after 848 pages – “The great majority of postsecondary institutions appear to have surprisingly similar net impacts on student growth,” the authors write.

“If there is one thing that characterizes the research on between-college effects on the acquisition of subject matter knowledge and academic skills, it is that in the most internally valid studies, even the statistically significant effects tend to be quite small and often trivial in magnitude.”

Prestigious colleges are those with the most bucks, which, in and of itself, is the driving force in ranking. You get to select the best students then you crank out the slightly better resulting graduates. The rest is sound and fury signifying nothing more than the usual mind-candy-level advertising.

Pick out a college you can afford. Make certain it meets adequate standards – and do the work. Ignore the time wasted on sports rivalries and other gladiatorade pursuits. Graduate and carry on.

Rosie Ruiz Republicans

Remember Rosie Ruiz? In 1980 she was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon — except it turned out that she hadn’t actually run most of the race, that she sneaked onto the course around a mile from the end. Ever since, she has symbolized a particular kind of fraud, in which people claim credit for achieving things they have not, in fact, achieved.

And these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics…

This would have been an apt comparison even before the curious story of Mr. Ryan’s own marathon came to light. Still, that’s quite a story, so let’s talk about it first.

It started when Hugh Hewitt, a right-wing talk-radio host, interviewed Mr. Ryan. In that interview, the vice-presidential candidate boasted about his fitness, declaring that he had once run a marathon in less than three hours.

This claim piqued the interest of Runner’s World magazine, which noted that marathon times are recorded — and that it was unable to find any evidence of Mr. Ryan’s accomplishment. It eventually transpired that Mr. Ryan had indeed once run a marathon, but that his time was actually more than four hours…

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