1. Stuff and Loaded break cover: Is this the new age of the Lad’s Mag?


    Yesterday tech magazine Stuff announced that it was ditching scantily clad female models on its covers as research suggested boobs and acres of flesh put off potential readers. 

    Stuff is the UK’s best-selling technology magazine and used ‘girls with gadgets’ since its foundation in 1996 at the height of the Lad’s Mag era. As editor-in-chief Will Findlater told the Guardian’s media section: “Nearly 20 years on – and with tech now an indispensable part of everyday life – our readership has changed. The covers used to help our position on the newsstand but our research tells us this is no longer the case.”

    The magazine now has a reported circulation of over 77,000 and its readership has shifted over the last twenty years with around 40% of readers now women. Tech and gadgets, as we all know, is no longer the sole preserve of spotty loners.

    Focus groups and test-runs of ‘non-girl’ proved their point and the August edition will mark a new start for the publication.

     “At the industry level, we see this as a big step forward for men’s lifestyle magazines.” Stuff publishing director Rachael Prasher also told the Guardian.

    And she is right. Using women as props to sell products is offensive and has no place in the future of the industry.

    Now it appears that the relaunch of Loaded - arguably the Lad’s Mag that started it all-  will  be boob-free too.

    Simian Publishing, who took over Loaded late last year appear to be ditching the naked girls and boorish nonsense that saw Nuts close recently and are planning on investing in quality over tacky filler and cringeworthy sexism.

    A spokesman for the company has told the Evening Standard that feminist writer Julie Burchill is lined up to be a columnist and there are plans for a gay columnist too.

    Declining sales for the likes Loaded and Nuts led to a race to the bottom as cheap and lewd content simply lowered the tone and completely undermined their brands.

    FHM and Loaded were once powerhouses of mainstream male culture and frequently mixed risqué photography with entertaining - often informative- journalism with a devil-may-care anti-establishment flair and just the right amount of puerile toilet humour to be amusing (remember Office Pest or Dr Mick anyone?) and playfully provocative.

    The new edition features the Gallagher brothers on the cover - and will feature a tribute to twenty years of Brit Pop.

    Personally I would like to see the new Loaded not to forget its playful roots whist still forging ahead on a new path. The likes of Rolling Stone and Vice have shown that there is an appetite for long-form journalism and reportage alongside more conventional middle-ground magazine fayre.

    It should go without saying that in order to survive, the new Loaded has to get its digital presence right.

    A relaunched Loaded has the potential to seize a potential mass-market middle-ground and create establish magazine genre that can entertain and inform a new generation. Such magazine offerings work well on the Continent and the potential for exploitation in the UK is huge.

    Here’s hoping that Loaded may one day become the British populist answer to Vice - or something completely different but equally relevant.

    The future of journalism will have many faces, but it won’t feature very many naked nipples. 

  2. Snort it or sprinkle it on your breakfast: the future of boozing is coming →


    The part of the internet that judges people for wanting to have fun is currently whipping itself into a pointless, digital fury because a US company has perfected powdered alcohol and will be cleared to sell it from this autumn.

    Prior to their approval by the government stateside, the…

  3. Neck and Nominate: a classic example of British boozing culture

    One motivated and slightly drunk man in Edinburgh on Christmas Day sparked the latest bout of what the Daily Mail have called “the most outrageous drinking game yet” - but you probably think the whole thing started Down Under, especially after the social media phenomenon was picked up and mauled by that most ludicrous of the male species, the Australian bogan.

    In media reports that range from sensationalist to downright sloppy, #neknominate the bastard, deranged cousin of the original #neckandnominate game has been portrayed as the very thing that will bring down western society in a booze-fueled orgy of fuckwittery.

    The classic version of ‘Neck and Nominate is a casual and light-hearted drinking game that is a shining example of British boozing culture. Indeed, if one were to compare it to ‘Danger Fives’ or even ‘Ring of Fire’ it drops even further down the ‘Rash Ways To Get Alcohol Inside You’ scale.

    Unleashing this drinking game on social media seems to have ruined everything. When I came across the game in the late spring of 2013 (there are some that say the game goes back to at least 2010) it was being conducted via WhatsApp and Vine and I was invited to neck a beer by a chap on a bicycle who had just ridden into his living room. I humbly accepted the challenge, finished a beer, and passed on my nomination to the next willing participant and continued with my evening. Other amusing and somewhat entertaining videos can be found here, on the Facebook page friends set up to highlight their shenanigans. There are several videos that don’t include alcoholic drinks and one kind-hearted fellow from South Africa has turned the whole idea on its head with his own interpretation of the game (although, in many circles, this is called ‘drink dodging’).

    Fast forward a few months and the stakes have risen for no good reason and the game has been apparently linked with two deaths in Ireland. A tragedy, of course, but social media doesn’t kill people. Drinking games are not a new thing, and it would be wrong to bash participants of this game because of a few accidents.

    It is a shame that this game has been highlighted in the mainstream media by the sad deaths of two young men, and while I lament the idiots that continue to think the game is about oneupmanship and imbibing drinks laced with pubic hair, cigarette ash and enough vodka to kill Oliver Reed, I still have faith in the original incarnation as a harmless bit of fun between mates. I will continue to look forward to my next nomination.

    NOTE: Below is an example of a #neckandnominate in the classic style. This video was shot on 26 December 2013 and highlights the social origins of this drinking game.

  4. The (Yorkshire) Embassy of a Fallen State

    One year, in my desperation to get a ticket to Glastonbury, it appears I attempted to pitch my own little installation in that hedonistic corner of Worthy Farm, Shangri-La:

    *NOTE: There’s no record of Debs Armstrong or the rest of the Shangri-La team ever receiving this desperate stab at creativity. A sort-of Blade Runner meets Last of the Summer Wine*

    In the midst of Shangri-La lies a lone bastion of wild abandon. 

    When the old regime collapsed, the great tea-drinking Pleasure Barons of the newly-independent Yorkshire Republic realised that Shangri-La would be the ideal place for them to establish a presence and indulge their vast hedonistic appetites.  

    Plans were drawn for a vast, sprawling pleasure palace and embassy for the Yorkshire Republic where the Pleasure Barons and their lackeys could indulge in all their worldly desires.

    Shady deals with corrupt officials were made in the dark places of Shangri-La and the barons dispatched three Special Envoys to oversee the creation of the Yorkshire Pleasure Palace.

    But the unthinkable happened.

    As the Three Envoys made their decadent way to Shangri-La, the republic collapsed. A biological weapon launched by a neighbouring county-state destroyed the northern New Yorkshire tea plantations and the entire republic lay bankrupt, destitute and alone.

    The plans (and money) for the YPP vanished into the shimmering neon night of Shangri-La, leaving the Three Envoys broke, alone and without a home.

    But the spirit of Yorkshire is bright in her people, and these three people were chosen for their resilience and fortitude. Using their meagre possessions and what cultural artefacts they had with them they hammered out a small shack where they could pay tribute to their homeland and try to start out a new life.

    The Shack, known as The Embassy of a Fallen State, houses three forlorn and dispossessed individuals who drink ‘tea’ to their old idols and quietly scheme to rebuild the old republic whilst embracing the whole spirit of their new land.

    There is a corner of Shangri-La that will be forever, Yorkshire.

  5. Obvious fake is obvious; How to spot future ‘golden eagle snatches kid’ fake videos

    'Do eagles eat babies? Almost certainly not, especially in North American suburbs where sightings of such majestic winged creatures are rarer than rocking horse faeces.

    So; why all the fuss yesterday about this video supposedly of a golden eagle attempting to snatch an unsuspecting toddler and carry it away for some human jerky meat for lunch?

    Without putting too fine a point on it - people are idiots. Or rather, too many people wanted to believe that such an astounding clip could be anything but real.

    The ‘golden eagle snatches kid’ video went viral, as bloggers and media organisations picked up that eagle shaped ball and ran with it. The video reached critical mass and became a digital self-fulfiling prophecy; “if the Mail Online, Guardian, and HuffPost are running it, surely it must be true?” viewers cried whilst warily watching the skies above for marauding birds of prey. Readers had faith in the basic fact-checking skills of their favourite media outlets, watched the video and clicked share.

    Sadly, readers were let down by their beloved websites, at least in the initial rush to be first to cover the scary eagle baby-snatcher. Basic fact-checks and verification were left by the wayside apparently because the visual evidence was so striking. All were duped or wilfully suspended disbelief in the pursuit of pageviews.

    But, no matter how online reporters, bloggers and the general public want to believe it, the video was an obvious fake, a hoax by group of university students who annually host a ‘hoax the internet’ competition. If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

    It’s easy to spot these things if you know how, and one doesn’t even need much in the way of video editing or CGI knowledge to filter the wheat from the chaff.  Here are a few helpful bullet-points that will enable you to call ‘bullshit’ (or not..) on the next viral video phenomenon.

    Weather, time, location.

    First an easy one; what was the weather like in the video and does it match up with reports from the area? Montreal has been under snow for a week or so now, so the video immediately should ring alarm bells. Can you see obvious landmarks in the video? Compare them to a Google map or your knowledge of the area – do they match up? If they don’t, the clip probably won’t stand up.


    The most obvious clue in the eagle video is that NO-ONE in the video bar the camera-guy seems that arsed about the extremely unusual sight of a giant fucking bird of prey in a city park. A quick search of the internet shows that golden eagles are seldom seen in the skies of Montreal, so this particular example should provoke more of a response from witnesses. A lack of interaction indicates computer generated imagery in this case - Alex Hearn from the New Statesmen has more here.


    The YouTube account used to post the video appears to have been set up solely for this clip. In the world of Twitter hoaxes this an obvious tell. It can be in video too. As mentioned, eagles are rare in cities, so this bird -if real- should show up elsewhere, if not on local news. It didn’t.

    There’s a whole heap of other ways to check video for authenticity –ranging from simply picking up the phone and calling someone, to digital triangulation and IP address witchcraft- read more about Twitter and video verification here and here.

    As an online journalist, video verification is a vital part of the job. The most obvious examples of this come from discovering raw, user-generated videos from places like Tahrir Square in Egypt or a bombed-out hospital in Aleppo, Syria. It is important to get facts right in journalism, and making sure a video is what the title or author say is part of this.

    Many would say that a fake eagle video isn’t quite as important to get right as say, videos of revolution, massacre or even natural disaster – but this couldn’t be more wrong. By-and-large, Journalists (and I include bloggers in this) have a responsibility to the facts, and not to verify a simple clip like this one reveals corners have been cut. Corners are cut for many reasons, but in this case it seems apparent that every, Tom, Dick and Arianna Huffington was happy to take a short cut knowing that the video would serve them well with ‘hits.’  

    This kind of behaviour breeds lazy reporters. Lazy reporters are the kind of people who, when the pressure is on, give in to despicable acts like celebrity phone-hacking or bung cash-filled envelopes to police officers for stories.

    Trust is undermined too. A story that initially was reported as true, is now an elaborate hoax. Readers begin to wonder what else their news provider has got wrong over the years. The old Sky News maxim, “never wrong for long” has taken it’s toll. There’s no shame in getting a story wrong, though, providing all involved learn from the error (and publish a correction) and I appreciate that the ‘sharing game’ has to be played to attract revenue, but allowing ourselves as journalists to be tricked by videos like this, we are applying another slash to an industry already dying of a thousand cuts.

    A caveat: My own employer, MSN, fell victim to this video. I called shenanigans early on, smug fucker that I am.

    But it wasn’t enough to stop the homepage team casting out juicy linkbait like that. We weren’t the only ones, of course. Google News has over 130 separate articles for the video.

  6. Great Britain’s ‘Oskar Schindler’

    A short(ish) thing I’ve bashed together after discovering the life of this remarkable, wonderful man. It reads a bit like an obit, but more people need to know of great men like this.

    ‘Whether by luck or good management, it has been the greatest thing I have done.’

    In May this year a knight of the realm turned 103. Without any fanfare Sir Nicholas Winton celebrated the third year of his second century with friends and family at his home in Hampstead, north London.


    But in his now-distant youth, Sir Nicholas did something that changed thousands of lives forever.

    On March 14 1939, aged 29, battling crippling British bureaucracy and the looming menace of war in Europe, Nicholas Winton packed a small group of Czechoslovakian children onto an aircraft bound for England. These children escaped almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis. This small group of frightened children were only to be the beginning.

    By the start of hostilities in September 1939, his ‘British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, Children’s Section’ had managed to get 669 youngsters out of Czechoslovakia. Almost all of their parents ultimately perished in Auschwitz.

    Nicolas Winton was born into a Jewish family in 1909 with German relatives. As war became inevitable in the 1930’s Winton was well placed to understand the Nazi threat.

    Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2011, he said:

    Even though the true horror hadn’t yet emerged, we knew what was happening as we were putting up relatives and friends in our house. So I became convinced of the dire necessity to do something.”

    In December 1938, whilst he was preparing for skiing holiday in Switzerland Winton, a young, left-leaning stockbroker received a phone-call from a friend urging him to leave his skis at home and head to Prague as the great machine of war began to gather steam, casting a dark shadow over Europe.

    He found himself immersed in refugee camps in the Sudetenland, an area under German occupation. To Winton and others – if not the rest of the world – it seemed inevitable that the rest of Czechoslovakia would soon fall to the Nazis. The outbreak of a second European war was inevitable.

    Time soon became invaluable to the young Mr Winton and his potential charges. He quickly set up an office in a hotel and single-handedly began setting up an organisation to facilitate the evacuation of children from Jewish families at risk from the Nazis.

    November 1938 and the horror of kristallnacht promptedBritish MPs to pass legislation that allowed refugees under the age of 17 to enter the United Kingdom. The evacuees had to have a place to stay, and a warranty of £50 paid to ensure their eventual return home.  Winton’s fledgling organisation took up the offer and he returned to London to help organise the process of re-homing the refugees.

    Recalls Sir Nicholas in a 2009 BBC News profile:

    “The problem was getting the people who would accept the children, and of course this was at a time when the evacuation of children from the south [of England] was taking place anyway.

    “It’s marvellous that so many people did come forward. The unfortunate thing was that no other country would come along and help. I tried America but they didn’t take any. It would have made a vast difference if they had.”

    “Whether by luck or good management, it has been the greatest thing I have done.”

    The first ‘Winton train’ left Prague’s Wilson Railway Station for London on 19 April 1939, with 36 children on board. One of them was ten-year-old Vera Penny. 

    “I thought I was going on holiday, so I was shocked when I realised my mother was crying as she put me onto the train with a name tag around my neck. There was a sea of handkerchiefs being used to wipe away tears,” said Vera in 2011.

    “My sister, Helena, came to England on a Winton train in July and, although we were with different families, we kept in touch. But at the age of 14, I heard my parents had been killed in concentration camps. It was terribly traumatic, but I owe Nicholas my life.”

    These early successes inspired Mr Winton to do more. Between April and August 1939 he managed to arrange seven more trains. But it was the final train, due to leave Prague on the 3rd of September that still haunts him. The Second World War started and the Germans prevented its’ departure.

    “War broke out” he remembers. “We never really worked out what happened to these children. In the main they perished. I’m told they boarded the train. And then it was prevented from leaving. It’s an awful feeling.”

    During the six months that the trains were running, Nicholas Winton never went back to Prague. He met every single train and ensured the refugees were paired up with their foster-families. He continued his work on the London Stock Exchange, throwing himself into his operation on evenings and in his spare time.

    All told, 669 children were rescued on eight trains and one aircraft.

    A quiet, modest man, Sir Nicholas kept his endeavours secret for decades until his wife Grete found a detailed scrapbook in the attic in 1988.The scrapbook contained lists of children, including their parents’ names, and the names and addresses of the families that had taken them in.

    The world found out about Winton’s work in 1988 during an episode of That’s Life. He was knighted on the 2002 New Year’s Honours list for his work with the Czechoslovakian ‘kindertransport’. 

    Nicholas Winton was born on May 19 1909, and was baptised a Christian. Since the war, he has not subscribed to any faith.

  7. explore-blog:

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s brilliant monologue on the most astounding fact about the universe has been adapted into a comic, a fine addition to the best graphic nonfiction.
(↬ It’s Okay To Be Smart)


    Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s brilliant monologue on the most astounding fact about the universe has been adapted into a comic, a fine addition to the best graphic nonfiction.

    ( It’s Okay To Be Smart)

  8. Tom Daley: Twitter and the Pitchfork Circus

    Some wise words from mofgimmers here. Mock outrage and ‘grief whores’ really piss me off.

    If you didn’t know, some kid has been arrested after sending ‘abusive tweets’ to Olympic diver and all-round sporting equivalent of One Direction, Tom Daley. I mention 1D because he’s so young and I get creeped out by adults lusting over him.

    Anyway. A 17 year old kid has been arrested and there’s YET ANOTHER Twitter witch-hunt afoot… and the whole thing is making me incredibly, incredibly uneasy. If you at all care, I’ll tell you why over the jump.

    Read More

  9. You walked right into that one, Mitt my old china.

    You walked right into that one, Mitt my old china.

    (Source: keepyourselfwarm)

  10. From mediabytes:

The most-visited news websites among Americans in May, according to Nielsen.
We would do well to pay more attention to the ‘captive audiences’ of Yahoo! (and MSN) here in the United Kingdom

    From mediabytes:

    The most-visited news websites among Americans in May, according to Nielsen.

    We would do well to pay more attention to the ‘captive audiences’ of Yahoo! (and MSN) here in the United Kingdom