This just in: FOX News is stunned that smartphone cameras can be used to record the police.

Help me out here, the year is still 2018, right? I only ask because apparently the folks at FOX & Friends First are very alarmed by the fact that smartphones have cameras on them. Cameras that can record video clips. Cameras that can record video clips of police officers. Almost like, *GASP!*, BODY CAMERAS!

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

To be fair, they’re freaking out over a shortcut some dude came up with for the iPhone that makes recording an encounter with the police very easy by simply saying  “Hey Siri, I’m being pulled over.” 

Here’s why this is stupid: First, cell phones have had cameras capable of recording video since at least 2005, though video recording capabilities wouldn’t become commonplace until a few years later. The original iPhone, for example, had a 2MP camera and couldn’t record video. Still, it’s easily been doable for over a decade now. 

Second, being able to start recording a video with a voice command has been a thing since at least 2014. With my Pixel 2 in my shirt pocket all I need to say is “OK Google, record a video,” and it will launch the camera app in video mode and start recording immediately. In most of my shirt pockets the phone is just tall enough to peak over the top of the pocket. This makes it trivally easy to start a recording without making it obvious that I’m doing so. At least so long as the target is out of earshot as I have to issue the command and the phone acknowledges that it’s launching the app. Once I stop recording my phone is set to immediately back it up to my Google Photos account. The one drawback to this is that if it’s been awhile since you unlocked the phone then you may need to unlock it before it’ll start the app, but with the fingerprint reader that’s pretty easy to do.

Third, this isn’t something that can only be done on the newest iPhones as the report above suggests. It’ll work on any iPhone running iOS 12 and the Shortcuts app. It’s not even the only shortcut that’ll do this. The I Got Pulled Over shortcut is also available. 

The big innovation here is that the Police shortcut pauses music you may be playing, turns down the brightness on the iPhone, turns on “do not disturb” mode, starts recording with the front facing camera and sends out a text message to a friend letting them know where you are and that you’re recording a police encounter. Guess what? There have been apps that will do similar things for quite some time now.

On Android there’s Legal Equalizer which will text a contact of your choice, record the encounter and upload it to cloud storage, advise you of your rights and what to say, and even help find a lawyer.

Also, there is the Mobile Justice app developed in association with the ACLU which has been around since 2012. There are multiple versions of this app as each is specific to a state (here is the link for Mobile Justice: Michigan on Android and here’s the iPhone version). This app is more for activists as in addition to recording video and uploading straight to the local chapter of the ACLU, it has the ability to let you know when someone else is involved in a police encounter nearby so you can act as a witness.

That’s just two examples of dozens of apps. The point being that this isn’t anything new. So why is FOX acting like this is some shocking new affront to the police? Well, it turns out that lots of news organizations are reporting on it because the shortcut has shot up to become the third most popular one available at the moment. Business Insider did an article on it where they even show you how to make the shortcut yourself, USA Today wrote about it, Car and Driver got in on it, etc. and so on. The difference here is that FOX & Friends First decided to play it off as something bad because it’s FOX News: Propaganda Arm of the GOP since 1996.

According to a FOX News host we found Noah’s Ark some time ago.

FOX News has a well deserved reputation for disseminating a lot of misleading information. So much so that it’s widely regarded as the propaganda arm of the Republican party. So I suppose it shouldn’t come as any surprise that while discussing missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, host Bill Hemmer asks if we’ll ever find it considering that it took 2,000 years to find Noah’s Ark.

No, seriously:

If it were true that really would be news, but the last I checked it’s still just a myth. yourmouth

Not only that, but his time estimate is completely off. If we assume for the moment that he’s referring to the folks in 1959 who (wrongly) claimed to have found it and we go with the best estimate for when the myth is supposed to have taken place (2,349 B.C.) then the actual time frame would be more like 4,308 years.

This is the quality of journalist that FOX news puts on the air. Not only ignorant of reality, but also ignorant of his own religious viewpoint. Granted, this is nitpick of a throwaway comment in a segment that had nothing to do with Noah’s Ark, but it’s so indicative of what passes for intelligent commentary at FOX that it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Fox News viewers are less informed than people who don’t watch news at all.

We’ve mentioned here on SEB before that studies have shown that watching FOX News will make you stupid. So it probably shouldn’t be a big surprise that there is yet another study that pretty much says the same thing.

OK, to be fair, what it says is that not watching any news at all will leave you better informed than if you watch FOX News. The poll asked folks questions on major news stories such as “were Egyptian protesters successful in their bid to overthrow longtime president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year?” Stuff that, if you’re paying any attention at all, you should know the answer to. The results were that people who weren’t paying attention scored better than people who watched FOX News:

Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind Poll Shows Fox News Viewers Less Informed on Major News Stories

After controlling for factors like partisanship, education, and other demographic factors, the pollsters found that Fox New viewers were 18 points less likely to know that the revolt was successful than their non-active news consuming counterparts. Fox News viewers were also 6 points less likely to know that the Syrian uprising has yet to succeed.

“Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News,” said Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor who took part in the analysis of the PublicMind data. “Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.”

You don’t think it could be that FOX News is little more than a propaganda loudspeaker for the Republican party that writes its “news” stories to fulfill Conservative talking points regardless of what the reality actually is, do you? How could that be? They’re Fair and Balanced! You know this because they tell you that all the time! Surely they couldn’t say it if it wasn’t true!

In comparison, watching almost anything else resulted in people being better informed:

[P]eople who report reading a national newspaper like The New York Times or USA Today are 12-points more likely to know that Egyptians have overthrown their government than those who have not looked at any news source. And those who listen to the non-profit NPR radio network are 11-points more likely to know the outcome of the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. However, the best informed respondents are those that watched Sunday morning news programs: leading to a 16- point increase in the likelihood of knowing what happened in Egypt and an 8-point increase in the likelihood of knowing what happened in Syria.

No wonder the Republicans want to kill off NPR. It’s actually informative and a threat to their political agendas as a result.

However, the main point here is simply stunning: If you get your information from FOX News then you are actually increasing your ignorance of the issues and events shaping the world around you. You’re willfully making yourself stupider with every passing minute. You may as well be hitting yourself in the head with a ball-peen hammer as the impact on your IQ would be about the same and it’d probably be less painful to boot.

You’d, quite literally, be better informed by not paying attention at all.

I’m not saying the anchors on FOX News are scientifically illiterate, but…

… it’s an easy judgement to make when you see them asking monumentally stupid questions like: Does the discovery of volcanism on the moon in some way disprove climate change on the Earth?

Seriously, check it:

You can see by his expression that Bill Nye (The Science Guy) may have had a minor stroke that took off a couple of IQ points just from being asked such a stunningly stupid question. How can they expect to have a serious discussion about something as important as whether or not climate change is real when it’s obvious that they don’t have a clue what climate change actually is?

It would be absolutely hysterical if they weren’t so effective in spreading their stupidity to their fans.

Found over at Media Matters for America.

J. Crew catalog has pic of boy wearing toenail polish and FOX News freaks the fuck out.

Scan of the J. Crews ad.

The offending advertisement. Click to embiggen.

You’d think it was one of the seven signs what with the way “Dr.” Keith Ablow reacts to a picture in a J. Crews catalog in which a mom talks about how fun it is to paint her son’s toenails:

A recent feature in J. Crew’s online catalogue portrays designer Jenna Lyons painting her son Beckett’s toe nails hot pink. The quote accompanying the image reads, “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who’ll be affected by your “innocent” pleasure.

Got that? You’re not just setting your own kid up for mental illness by engaging in girly activities, but you’re putting everyone else at risk as well!

What could be so dangerous about putting a little hot pink on your son’s toenails?

This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization” [my word choice] is not known.

A dramatic example? Really? I’m not sure how you see it as encouraging our culture to abandon all trappings of gender identity. So the boy likes a little nail polish. So did Eddie Izzard and he has been fairly successful in spite of it. Now he’s a dramatic example of abandoning of traditional gender roles.

I speak from experience. I’ve been known to have my toenails painted on occasion as well (though I tend to prefer a more macho blue metal flake color). Granted I did this as an adult, but I don’t think it would’ve been any more damaging had I done it as a kid. Last I checked I was still in a stable marriage, still heterosexual, and overall of sound mind and body. My wife started it. She wanted to paint some toenails and mine were within easy reach so she did. I had so much fun with the reactions I got while walking around in sandals that every summer I usually paint them at least once just because it bothers the fuck out of some people.

People like “Dr.” Keith Asshole Ablow:

In our technology-driven world—fueled by Facebook, split-second Prozac prescriptions and lots of other assaults on genuine emotion and genuine relationships and actual consequences for behavior—almost nothing is now honored as real and true.

The irony of someone at FOX News whining about nothing being honored as real and true is pretty hard to bear given their propensity to make shit up to fit their needs.

Increasingly, this includes the truth that it is unwise to dress little girls like miniature adults (in halter tops and shorts emblazoned with PINK across the bottoms) and that it is unwise to encourage little boys to playact like little girls.

OK, I’ll agree that the tendency of some people to dress their young daughters up like strippers is in bad taste (though I’m not sure halter tops and shorts are the worst offenses in that regard) but little boys playacting like little girls? Don’t see a problem with that. In addition to all the macho boy toys I grew up with, I also wanted an Easy Bake Oven. My sister eventually got one and I spent some time playing with it until my curiosity was satisfied. Later in my teenage years I had a period where I took a home correspondence course in cake decorating which may have been inspired by my time with the Easy Bake Oven. What a horrible outcome that ended up being! I learned how to bake and decorate cakes!

If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?

That’s a good question. I don’t see a problem with it. In point of fact at one time it wasn’t uncommon for little boys to wear dresses. Some of them you may have even heard of. Such as Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Pic of Franklin Roosevelt as a child in a dress.

Yeah, that's probably what gave him polio*.

That picture comes from an interesting article over at Smithsonian.com that talks about why boys wear blue and girls wear pink:

Little Franklin Delano Roosevelt sits primly on a stool, his white skirt spread smoothly over his lap, his hands clasping a hat trimmed with a marabou feather. Shoulder-length hair and patent leather party shoes complete the ensemble.

We find the look unsettling today, yet social convention of 1884, when FDR was photographed at age 2 1/2, dictated that boys wore dresses until age 6 or 7, also the time of their first haircut. Franklin’s outfit was considered gender-neutral.

[…] “It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, children wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “What was once a matter of practicality—you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached—became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted,’ ” Paoletti says.

Which is pretty much what our good “Dr.” is trying to claim. What’s really interesting, though, is that originally pink was for boys:

For example, a Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies, pink for brown-eyed babies, according to Paoletti.

It seems like America survived for quite some time with boys wearing dresses for nearly a decade of their lives. And when gender specific colors started to come along the boys started out in pink. But this is a FOX News columnist we’re talking about. He’s not going to let reality get in the way of his argument:

Well, how about the fact that encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts? Why not make race the next frontier? What would be so wrong with people deciding to tattoo themselves dark brown and claim African-American heritage? Why not bleach the skin of others so they can playact as Caucasians?

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that their children “choose” their gender identity. I think some folks just aren’t freaking out if their kid doesn’t conform to expected gender norms and there really isn’t a problem with that. As for operating rooms suddenly being jammed up with people seeking to change their gender to the opposite team, I seriously doubt that’s going to be a huge problem. At least nothing you’ve presented here suggests that it will be.

Also there’s quite a big difference between allowing your kid to wear hot pink nail polish or a dress and someone tattooing or bleaching themselves in order to become a different race. Though it’s not like some folks haven’t experimented with that concept as an adult with some rather enlightening experiences to show for it. As I recall there was also a show on FX called Black. White. back in 2006 that had a white family and black family switch roles through the use of makeup. It’s something that several people have undertaken without culture crashing down around us.

So we’re left to wonder what the harm is. Finally, the “Dr.” gets around to telling us:

The fallout is already being seen. Increasingly, girls show none of the reticence they once did to engage in early sexual relationships with boys. That may be a good thing from the standpoint of gender equality, but it could be a bad thing since there is no longer the same typically “feminine” brake on such behavior. Girls beat up other girls on YouTube. Young men primp and preen until their abdomens are washboards and their hair is perfect. And while that may seem like no big deal, it will be a very big deal if it turns out that neither gender is very comfortable anymore nurturing children above all else, and neither gender is motivated to rank creating a family above having great sex forever and neither gender is motivated to protect the nation by marching into combat against other men and risking their lives.

He says all of this as though this is something new. It isn’t. There have always been girls who were happy to engage in sex at an early age. There has always been fights between girls. There have always been young men who go out of their way to groom themselves. I can remember all of those things from my own childhood growing up. I’ve seen nothing to suggest it’s more prevalent now than it was back then. If anything, we’re just more aware of it due to the advance of technology.

The argument that this will all lead to the elimination of people who want families and to raise children and to go off to war is, frankly, silly. We’ve managed to conduct two wars for the better part of the last decade without a draft. The wedding and baby industries don’t show any signs of impending collapse. This is nothing but a bunch of hand-waving hysteria mongering from someone who’s supposedly a mental health professional.

But that’s just because I can’t see the conspiracy that’s right before my eyes:

Jenna Lyons and J. Crew seem to know exactly what they’re up to. That’s why the photograph of Jenna’s son so prominently displays his hot pink, neon toe nails. These folks are hostile to the gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race. They respect their own creative notions a whole lot more than any creative Force in the universe.

Yes, they’re out to destroy gender distinctions because it’ll make them rich by being able to sell both men’s and women’s clothing to the same person doubling their profits! It’s BRILLIANT!

Here’s what I want to know: Why can’t we let kids grow up to be who and what they want to be? So your son wants to be a hair dresser. If it makes him happy then what’s the problem? Your daughter wants to be a NASCAR racer. You can make a decent living doing that. Your son wants to dress like a girl? It worked for the aforementioned Eddie Izzard and actor Tim Curry’s best known role involved him looking more feminine than masculine.

The real harm comes from trying to force your kids to be something that they aren’t. If your son ends up being gay it’s because he was born that way, not because he liked playing with Barbies as a child. If your daughter ends up a lesbian it’s because she was born that way, not because she liked playing Cowboys and Indians as a kid. I didn’t care much for watching sports as a kid and I still don’t as an adult. I put my energy into video games and, eventually, computers and it’s served me fairly well. You should encourage your kids to be who they are and not what everyone else expects them to be and it’s going to take them awhile to figure that out. They may bend or break a few cultural norms along the way, but not everyone who paints his toenails is going to end up a childless misanthrope who wouldn’t lift a finger to save his country. If anything they may gain a greater insight into how others are perceived.

*While it’s “common knowledge” that Roosevelt had polio, the truth is it may have been a different disease.

The Daily Show on the sacrifices being asked of Teachers and Wall Street.

Ever since the last election the Republicans that have come to power seem to be hell-bent on doing everything they can to undermine the middle class while protecting those for whom the phrase “well off” doesn’t begin to describe how rich they are. If you were to believe the news items coming out of FOX News you’d think that Public School Teachers are spoiled fat cats who earn way more than they should while the uber-rich are struggling to make ends meet what with all the taxes they have to pay.

A point driven home by this segment from a recent episode of The Daily Show:

When you see these segments played side-by-side like this the blatant hypocrisy of FOX News and the Republicans stands out in stark relief. The fact that so many less-than-well-off Republicans buy into this bullshit is the part that truly amazes me.

FOX’s Father John says having an imaginary friend is bad.

On a news segment about a study that shows praying can lead to mental relief during tough times regular FOX News contributor Father John manages to push unintentional irony to new heights. Apparently the study suggests that even us nonbelievers can achieve similar peace of mind by “praying” to an imaginary friend of some sort. Father John is naturally very enthused to have some positive press for talking with his sky fairy, but he can’t abide the idea that it’s just as effective if you just make up your own pretend entity to talk to. In the following video clip he makes the stunning claim that “if you have an imaginary friend then there’s something wrong with you.”

Check it:

Dammit. Looks like I’m going to have to replace yet another irony meter as that segment just blew my current one sky high.

There is something very amusing about watching the good Father insist that his imaginary friend is actually real and thus of greater benefit for spilling your guts to. The truth is that venting your frustrations with just about anything is often psychologically beneficial — be it a God, an imaginary friend (but I repeat myself), a pet, a plant, etc. — whether it can understand you or not. Hell, blogging is a great way to ease the mind if you don’t mind venting in public. At least it works for me.

The placebo effect can be very strong even when you know it’s just a placebo. There’s no harm in taking advantage of it, but that doesn’t validate that your God is real. No matter how much you wish it was.

Watching FOX News will make you stupid.

From the tell-us-something-we-don’t-already-know department:

Study Confirms That Fox News Makes You Stupid | | AlterNet

Yet another study has been released proving that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.

So the more you watch, the less you know. Or to be precise, the more you think you know that is actually false. This study corroborates a previous PIPA study that focused on the Iraq war with similar results. And there was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that demonstrated the break with reality on the part of Fox viewers with regard to health care. The body of evidence that Fox News is nothing but a propaganda machine dedicated to lies is growing by the day.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that FOX News is the most-watched 24 hour news channel and a lot of its viewers take everything they see on the channel as gospel. I often get in trouble with extended family members  because I usually chuckle whenever I hear one of them say “I saw on FOX News…” and they ask me why I think that’s funny.

I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s a problem. There’s ample evidence that people who rely on FOX News are seriously misinformed about the important topics of the day. And it’s not that the channel is just getting the facts wrong, it’s actively disseminating lies and false information to promote the Republican party’s agenda. No other news channel, including the supposedly Liberal MSNBC, does that.

In eight of the nine questions below, Fox News placed first in the percentage of those who were misinformed (they placed second in the question on TARP). That’s a pretty high batting average for journalistic fraud. Here is a list of what Fox News viewers believe that just aint so:

  • 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
  • 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
  • 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
  • 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
  • 49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
  • 63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
  • 56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
  • 38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
  • 63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

The conclusion is inescapable. Fox News is deliberately misinforming its viewers and it is doing so for a reason. Every issue above is one in which the Republican Party had a vested interest. The GOP benefited from the ignorance that Fox News helped to proliferate. The results were apparent in the election last month as voters based their decisions on demonstrably false information fed to them by Fox News.

The article goes on to say that the other news channels aren’t exactly beyond reproach either, but FOX is the worst of the bunch.

The best way to avoid being misinformed? Get your news from a variety of sources and you’ll have a better chance of separating fact from fiction. The more sources people use the better informed they tend to be.

Jon Stewart rips FOX News a new asshole.

Which is an impressive feat when you consider how many assholes FOX News already has.

It seems the Obama administration has been pointedly not talking to FOX News due to the fact that they’re basically the unofficial PR wing of the Republican party. Needless to say this has everyone at FOX News stamping their feet and crying censorship and whining about how the Obama administration is too dumb to tell the difference between the News side of FOX News and the Opinion side.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart helps to explain that difference for us:

Once again the hypocrisy displayed by Conservatives, in this case the Cons at FOX News, simply takes one’s breath away. It really is hard to imagine that it isn’t a cynical ploy on their part because they assume their audience is too stupid to remember how they praised the Bush administration for doing to MSNBC what the Obama administration is doing to FOX. Then again given the average intelligence level of a FOX News fan, that’s probably a safe assumption to make.

The Daily Show reveals The New Liberals: FOX News.

It’s always fun when Jon Stewart does a side-by-side of FOX “News” reporting:

But I’m sure our own resident Jon will be able to explain how the Republicans aren’t wallowing in their own hypocrisy quite easily. Probably by just asserting they’re not and the rest of us are STUPID AND WRONG!