Ever wondered why your energy supplier and governments are so keen to give you a smart meter?
We lay out some not-so-good reasons in this 4 minute animation. Your private data, lifestyle and behavioural choices can be amalgamated into a data-set that is monetised and sold to 3rd party companies. Our usual satire of dark subjects aim to entertain and inform you.
The creators of This is Spinal Tap, the most influential mockumentary ever made, have been paid almost nothing. The rock gods are angry.
In comedy, as in rock ’n’ roll, nothing is quite as easy as it looks. And so it makes sense that several years before the 1984 release of the legendary rock ’n’ roll mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, director Rob Reiner and stars and co-writers Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer first had to make a shorter version of the same movie: a sort of sample-size Spinal Tap, meant to whet the appetite of studios that might bankroll the real thing. Titled The Final Tour, this 20-minute demo reel about a past-its-prime, unselfconsciously ridiculous band makes for an uncanny viewing experience today, if for no other reason than how fully conceived the idea already was.
if you’re curious:
There’s Reiner as the band’s earnest interlocutor, Tony Hendra of National Lampoon as the hapless manager, and Bruno Kirby as the cranky limo driver with a thing for Sinatra. There’s the drummer who dies in a bizarre gardening accident—and the other drummer who spontaneously combusts. There’s Shearer’s airport metal-detector scene, where the problem is in his pants. There’s the touching piano number with the surprisingly bawdy title that can’t be printed here. And there are most of the memorable songs: Big Bottom, Sex Farm, Gimme Some Money, Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight, and, of course, Stonehenge, fully staged, complete with that catastrophically tiny prop (they’d expected 18 feet and got 18 inches) and two costumed little people dancing around it.
“I was amazed when I last looked at it,” says Shearer, who plays Derek Smalls, the band’s bare-chested, mutton-chopped, pipe-smoking bassist. “We had this little pittance”—a $60,000 screenplay fee from a company that eventually rejected the idea—“to shoot characters and performances.” He remembers his long black wig costing about $5, and that it took an hour and a half to remove once the shoot was over (the costumer had used super glue). Shearer, Reiner (who plays Marty DiBergi, the fake documentarian), Guest (as lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel), and McKean (as vocalist David St. Hubbins) had been nursing and developing the idea since 1978. They first performed as the band in a 1979 variety show called The T.V. Show. Then they wrote seven new songs, played a few gigs in costume in Los Angeles, and worked out a complete band history to ensure that their improvisations had a narrative spine they all could rely on. “Michael McKean, I believe, still has the napkin on which the possible names and the possible misspellings were outlined,” Shearer recalls, “because I think at one point we thought maybe S-p-y-n-a-l?”
Armed in 1980 with that demo reel, Reiner and the others were rejected by every studio they pitched. Finally, in 1982, they got $2 million from Embassy Pictures Corp., a tiny studio run by Norman Lear, whom Reiner knew well from his days in the cast of All in the Family. (Lesson No. 1 in Hollywood: It helps to have powerful friends.) By the time the movie came out, Lear had left Embassy, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite an appearance by the band as musical guest on Saturday Night Live, the movie performed anemically in theaters and faded quickly.
But then a funny thing happened: Tap refused to die, thanks in no small part to repeat viewings on VHS. “We may have been the first nonporn home video to do well,” Shearer says. In just a few years, This Is Spinal Tap became a sort of comedy-nerd Casablanca, a classic so infinitely quotable that it practically generated its own language. (If anyone has ever told you that something “goes to 11,” you probably haven’t required an explanation.) And like a low-IQ, longhaired Pinocchio, Spinal Tap transformed into the real thing, recording albums and even touring. “The thing that we joke about is called the Spinal Tap curse,” Shearer says, “where we have to go through everything that we’ve made fun of.”
It’s hard to think of another movie from the past 50 years that’s had a bigger impact on modern comedy. Spinal Tap pioneered a mock-doc genre that’s influenced everything from the long run of improvisational films directed by Guest (Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show among them) to docu-styled sitcoms such as The Office and Modern Family. This made it all the more surprising when, about four years ago, Shearer became the first of his fake bandmates to learn lesson No. 2 in Hollywood: No matter how well your movie does, there’s no such thing as net profit.
In one major respect, Shearer seems the least likely of his collaborators to be chasing after riches from Spinal Tap. He earns a reported $300,000 per episode for his work on Fox’s The Simpsons, inhabiting the characters of Montgomery Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and dozens of others. Given that, rummaging behind the couch cushions of an old cult movie can seem unnecessary, even unseemly.
On the other hand, Shearer might also be the Tap member most given to righteous indignation. He seems to make a habit of falling out with people, from Albert Brooks (Shearer co-wrote Brooks’s first feature, Real Life) to McKean, whom he suggested during a 2015 interview on Marc Maron’s podcast wasn’t exactly a friend. An unnamed colleague from one of his stints on Saturday Night Live was once quoted calling him “brilliant, funny, and detestable.” Among the cast of The Simpsons, Shearer has long been the malcontent-in-chief, openly complaining about how Fox fails to appreciate the show. In 2015 he announced he was quitting because, he said, the network had introduced language into his contract that curtailed his freedom to do other work. He says he changed his mind and stayed only after the language was removed.
Sometimes it takes a malcontent to disturb something as intractable as Hollywood accounting practices. By the terms of the contract they signed in 1982 with Embassy Pictures, the four creators of Spinal Tap are entitled to a portion of income from the film, including merchandise and music, provided certain benchmarks are hit. Given the wild afterlife of This Is Spinal Tap, it seems impossible that anyone with a piece of the movie hasn’t made money. And yet this is Hollywood, where studios have claimed that some of the highest-grossing films—hits such as Return of the Jedi, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy—somehow haven’t turned a profit. As David Zucker, one of the creators of Airplane!, once said of his own sleeper hit, “It made so much money that the studio couldn’t hide it fast enough.”
With Embassy out of business, the theatrical rights to Spinal Tap bounced around from Coca-Cola to De Laurentiis Entertainment Group to a L’Oréal property named Parafrance to, around 1990, Studiocanal, a subsidiary of the French company Vivendi SA. The home-video rights followed a separate path and landed with Sony Music Entertainment. None of those companies paid the four creators, and no one did anything about it until Shearer finally lost his patience. “We were approaching the 30th anniversary,” he says, “and this low-burning lightbulb begins to go off—‘Hey, wait a minute, what’s going on here?’ ”
A friend referred him to Amanda Harcourt, a U.K.-based intellectual-property consultant with a specialized practice helping artists secure the rights to their creations. “I always thought record contracts were mind-bogglingly abusive until I started reading movie studio contracts,” she says. Most of Harcourt’s clients don’t want to be identified publicly. Shearer does. “He said to me right at the beginning, ‘One of the reasons I want you is you’re not in Hollywood,’ ” Harcourt says, “ ‘because I don’t care who I upset.’
Facebook has been spamming alerting users about how to spot fake news or ‘false news’ as they call it. It’s an insult to most people’s intelligence, but for the sake up absolute clarity, I thought I’d go through each ‘helpful’ tip one step at a time.
Here they are along with my own advice on what it means.
1. Be sceptical of headlines:
False news stories often have catch headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headlines sound unbelievable they probably are.
Yes some headlines are very misleading.
The above headline is from a fake story. Russia and Iran have said quite the opposite. The fake story was exposed in an exclusive report in The Duran. So yes, be careful of false and misleading headlines.
2. Look closely at the URL:
A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sound of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news stories by making small changes the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.
If you go to http://www.cnn.com, you may think that you are entering a news website but you are actually entering a site dedicated to pro-Clinton family propaganda where the truth is as expendable as a young intern.
It may look like a harmless lobbying website, but unless you’re as rich as the King of Saudi Arabia, but prepared to be in heavy debt.
3. Investigate the source:
Ensure that the story is written by a source you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organisation, check their ‘About’ section to learn more.
It is always important to check the agenda of your source, even if the agenda isn’t well hidden.
Although a favourite among smug liberals, the British Broadcasting Corporation is a state-owned entity of the British state, paid for through a compulsory regressive tax.
The ‘news’ on the BBC aims to push the globalist agenda of the very boring, arrogant and dangerous British elite.
4. Watch for unusual formatting:
Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
Not just layouts. Here’s another classic from the BBC when they interviewed the wrong man.
5. Consider the photos:
False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photos may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
Here are some images of men pretending to handle sarin gas. If this was real sarin gas, these men would all be dead.
Of course it’s the White Helmets, a group of frauds working with al-Qaeda to spread fake news.
With acting this bad, I cannot understand why they won the Oscar.
6. Inspect the dates:
False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.
Look closely at the dates of these Donald Trump Tweets in this article and decide if The Donald was faking it then or now?
7. Check the evidence:
Check the author’s sources to confirm they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate it is a false news story.
If the sources relied on cite the follow: The Turkish government, the US government, the Saudi government, the Qatari government, the Israeli government, the EU, the Ukrainian government or the UK government….it’s probably false information.
8. Look at other reports:
If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple outlooks you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
Or it could be that mainstream media if not reporting it. Never check a story against the following sources:
New York Times, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Washington Post.
9. Is the story a joke?
Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humour or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may just be for fun.
See section 8
10. Some stories are intentionally false:
Think critically about the stories you read and only share news you know to be credible.
AKA, don’t rely on Facebook to tell you the truth, USE YOUR BRAIN!
The study of evolution is filled with controversies. Some scientists believe that mankind continues to move forward and this will always be the case, while others believe humanity has reached its final stage of evolution, and is now currently in an era of stagnation.
Because if natural selection, as proposed by Darwin, is the main mechanism of evolution – there may be other things, but it does look as though that’s the case – then we’ve stopped natural selection.
We stopped natural selection as soon as we started being able to rear 95–99 per cent of our babies that are born.
We are the only species to have put a halt to natural selection, of its own free will, as it were.
But John Hawks, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, disagrees:
We have evolved in our recent past, and we will continue to do so as long as we are around. If we take the more than seven million years since humans split from our last common ancestor with chimpanzees and convert it to a 24-hour day, the past 30,000 years would take about a mere six minutes. Yet much has unfolded during this last chapter of our evolution: vast migrations into new environments, dramatic changes in diet and a more than 1,000-fold increase in global population. All those new people added many unique mutations to the total population. The result was a pulse of rapid natural selection. Human evolution is not stopping. If anything, it is accelerating.
Thinking about evolution — whether it’s accelerating or stagnating — is both fascinating and mind boggling at the same time. But the controversy of it has led modern illustrators to present the subject at hand in a much different way than arguments on paper or in person. In fact, these illustrators are putting their imaginations to work to show these two opposing scientific assumptions in a satirical way, and honestly, it’s just as thought-provoking as the lengthy arguments on either side of the scientific table.
The following images will make you wonder: Have we gotten better or worse? Have we advanced technology, or has it simply overtaken us? Think of sitting down with your grandparents, and how your discussions on the world, and where we are, and who we are, differ. Many of us might find ourselves in a common argument. Grandparents believe younger generations have become mere robots, forgetting what hard work looks like and what the outdoors smells like. The younger generations may believe we have created so many advancements to better the world we live in that it’s a fair tradeoff. Of course, this is merely an example and cannot speak for everyone, but it’s interesting to see how generations apart can vary on outlook, such as scientists do.
Take a look at the following 15 illustrations and decide for yourself where you stand on the topic, or even just see what the images provoke your brain to think!
Photos: Dan Piraro, Joel Marsh, imgur.com, SDunne17, Amjad Rasmi, kudelka.com.au, bycentaur, photogsomething, Liz Meyer, Glenn Jones, daneatsfood, Gumby507, Mike Keefe