A Guide to Arguing With a Snopes-Denier

Categories: The Intertubes

It happens all the time online. You see a piece of misinformation in your Facebook newsfeeds, and helpfully point out that no, Snopes has already debunked it as a myth, hoax, lie or misinterpretation of actual facts. Everyone walks away better informed, right?

"Snopes lol. Don't you have a real source?"

Responses like this are why half the keys in the center of my laptop stick after repeated meet-and-greets with my face. It's becoming an unfortunately more common response to attempts at educating people away from harmful propaganda and pseudoscience, and it's very hard to combat such willful ignorance. Hard, but not impossible.

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March Kickstarter Round-Up: Your Lactic Threshold and Some Great Surreal Art

Categories: The Intertubes

Once a month we'll be bringing you a look at some of the best local Kickstarter campaigns in order to let you know what's getting ready to be unleashed through the help of small investors.

Fluid Dynamics: It's rare that I get really excited by art projects on Kickstarter because in general most people are way less talented than they think they are. Lulu Lin, though, has some really first-rate and spellbinding work that she's putting together here based on mixing women's forms with the way liquids behave in motion. The result is very delirious and beautiful.

More than anything else Lin is using the Kickstarter more as a pre-pay option for the art. I like the $27 option as your low buy-in personally. You get one of the images on a shirt, and while that's a bit high for a shirt it's a fancy wrap-around job, not just an iron on transfer. It'll be $250 before you start seeing original watercolors as rewards, though you can get simple prints for much cheaper.

Goal: $3,750 by March 19

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How to "Joke Post" on Facebook

Categories: The Intertubes

So, this last Saturday was International Women's Days, and my newsfeed on Facebook was full of several sentiments just like the one you see above. After the author receives many scathing rebukes for what is a rather overprivileged and oblivious sentiment, he complained that "for the light hearted disabled: this is a joke".

Facebook allows us to connect with all kinds of people, but most people eventually end up using it as their own personal biographical epic. The fact that Facebook even gives you the ability to create your own freakin' clip show certainly doesn't help pop that particular illusion. So within their tiny personal spheres folks chew their own tails believing that offensive things are really masterpieces of edgy comedy that the rest of us simply aren't hip enough to get.

The opposite is true, and in order to maybe better the Internet a little today I'm going to hand you some basic guidelines regarding whether or not your post is actually a joke.

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Retailers Doing It Right on Social Media

Photo by WhisperToMe via Wikimedia Commons
For some retail brands, social media is a hard nut to crack. Questions like, What do I post? How do I find my followers?, and How often do I need to be on there?, befuddle many a business owner. The confusion leads to Twitter feeds full of automatic posts, Instagrams with nothing but images of mannequinnes and store event invites, and Facebook accounts with last status update being June 2013.

But, a select few take to social media like fish to water. Their posts invite followers into their company's world, engage with their customers, and build a lifestyle online, not just sales. Some brands shine on multiple social platforms, but most have one particular site where they are at their best.

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Uber & Food Trucks: How the Internet Stokes the Flame of Once Little-Known Causes

Internet users hope a grassroots campaign will give Uber a foothold in Houston.
When Howard Dean was a Democratic candidate for president, he did something no other national candidate had ever done -- no, not the scream in Iowa -- he raised a significant portion of his campaign funds using the Internet. That might not sound like a big deal today, but at the time it was revolutionary, and it substantively changed how candidates, big and small, raise money for campaigns and causes.

Now anyone with a cause or a business offer can raise money online. And if you are able to tap into a small niche group and its desires, you can likely bring in quite a bit of cash. Social media, in particular, has become a rallying point for problems most of us didn't even know existed...and often didn't care about.

Last year, Houston city council chambers were packed with young mostly urban dwellers. Having raised awareness for their cause using social media, they rounded up followers on a Tuesday morning and, one after another, strode to the podium and passionately made their case. You might think the cause was violent crime plaguing neighborhoods or broken streets badly in need of repair, but you'd be wrong. In this case, it was food trucks, and not complaints over their health and safety, but rather the demand they be allowed to operate downtown -- an ordinance had long prevented it.

Before this "problem" was publicized through social media, very few people even realized it was an issue. In fact, despite the extreme rise in popularity of food trucks over the past few years for those who live in or near the city, it is barely a blip on the radar for the vast majority of Houstonians.

Yet food trucks are another example of a niche cause turning into a political debate thanks to the web.

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12 Fashionable People You Must Follow on Instagram

By Maclapessoa via Wikimedia Commons
New York Fashion Week is winding down and, while many fans are getting the latest news and updates on Style.com, the majority of us have been following the shows via Instagram. The best of the runway, backstage, parties, and celeb sightings can be found on the media sharing site via editors, designers and bloggers. I found out about the streaker at Prabal Gurung on Instagram before any media outlets reported it. (Pic below for your entertainment.)

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February Kickstarter Round-Up: Wooden Pens and Crazy Filmmakers

Categories: The Intertubes

Once a month we'll be bringing you a look at some of the best local Kickstarter campaigns in order to let you know what's getting ready to be unleashed through the help of small investors.

Frontier Graveyard: The Risen: I'm usually brutal on any kind of books raising money on Kickstarter because, and I cannot repeat this enough, you don't need money to write 90 percent of the books you want to publish. Most of the things you think you need to be doing, like printing up copies to try and sell to bookstores, are ridiculous and speak poorly of your understanding of the modern publishing world.

One exception is comics and graphic novels, which do indeed benefit a great deal from hard copies in comic shops. Sure, you can break into digital well. Our own Red 5 Comics is doing swimmingly in that area last I heard, but comics is still a very indie operation and folks are more likely to try out your wares if they can lay hands on them.

Frontier Graveyard has all the earmarks of a fantastic horror western comic right down to having samurais. The world needs more zombies like it needs more idiots talking about chemtrails, but everything in the book looks like brutal pulp fun. The $25 donation is your best value, netting you both a digital download and a print copy of the complete graphic novel. Higher levels get a zombified version of yourself on an alternative cover, which is probably worth a couple as a conversation piece in your home if nothing else.

Goal: $3,000 by March 3.

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Right-Wing Rage Invades Puppy Bowl Facebook Page

Categories: The Intertubes

Though you might think that there is nothing on the planet more inoffensive and less polarizing than Animal Planet's annual Puppy Bowl, that didn't stop extremely offended right-leaning Facebook users from taking to the event's page in order to express their extreme displeasure at the involvement of the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama as a part of the most ambitious Puppy Bowl yet.

Ten years ago producers at Animal Planet, inspired by the annual Yule Log counter-Christmas programming, decided to offer an alternative to the Super Bowl in the form of two hours of dogs under 21 weeks old rambunctiously running around a small stadium filled with toys in an adorable parody of the big game. These days the show features a kitty half time show, penguin cheerleaders, a cockatiel named Meep who tweets during the game, your eye-in-the-sky blimp camera operated by hamsters, and a tail gate party with dogs watching the players outside the stadium.

In the past there have been pigs, hedgehogs in tutus, and other overly cute additions to what have become a beloved yearly tradition. There are even Internet celebrity animals like the perma-dwarf cat Lil Bun and the Keyboard Cat. It's for a good cause as well, since almost every animal that appears in the program is adoptable.

While all these lighthearted antics had thousands of people commenting and posting on the Puppy Bowl Facebook page it appears the decision to have Michelle Obama participate from the White House lawn with a few kids and the first dogs, including helping to celebrate "touchdowns" with an enthusiastic dance, was enough to spark outrage and hostility from more right-leaning Puppy Bowl fans. Her comments during the Puppy Bowl amounted to suggesting a good walk or run with the family dog was a great way to exercise.

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January Kickstarter Round-Up: The Future of Pants

Categories: The Intertubes

Once a month we'll be bringing you a look at some of the best local Kickstarter campaigns in order to let you know what's getting ready to be unleashed through the help of small investors.

Lauren Murphy Documentary: Nothing irks me more in the world of sports than the way women have been marginalized in the art of combat. Female professional wrestling has all but died in the mainstream, but there is still some hope that the ladies of mixed martial arts can punch and armbar their way into carving a bigger niche in this area.

Meet Lauren Murphy, an undefeated specialist in boxing and Brazialian Jiu-Jitsu who fights right out of here in Houston. Michael Drake of Katy is looking to make a documentary exploring Murphy's early life in Anchorage, and her rise to being one of the top female fighters in the world. Truly, Murphy is a wonderful example of both the ability of her gender to excel in traditionally masculine arenas, as well as being a master of the science of fighting.

There has probably never been a more basic approach to Kickstarter funding ever than this campaign. There are two levels. $10 gets you an autographed picture of Murphy, and $25 gets you the same plus a DVD of the film. That's fair however you slice it.

Goal: $5,000 by February 10.

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Facebook Dislike Button. Like or Dislike?

You know when you're on Facebook, and someone posts something along the lines of, "The diagnoses came in, it's cancer." How do you respond? You may immediately comment that they are in your thoughts or "Noo!" or "So sorry to hear," or whatever you deem appropriate, but more often than not, there will be a good number of people "liking" the post. Do you mean you "like" that this person has cancer? Wow, you are a horrible human being.

But obviously, that is not the case and what you are really trying to say is that you acknowledge that they posted this comment and you want them to know that you now know that they have cancer. In terms of the American vernacular, the word "like" has taken on a wildly different meaning, connotatively.

For years, Facebookers have pleaded and fan-paged and even petitioned, "Give us a dislike button," for the love of God! Well that day has finally...not... come.

Last week, Facebook released a series of new "thumb" icons, including a thumbs down, meaning "dislike," to offer users more ways to express their emotions without having to use their big grown-up words that can be oh so cumbersome. But, the "stickers," as Facebook calls them, are only available by using the Instant Messenger feature. This very limited release, ironically, has not gotten very many "likes."

Facebook stickers now available for Messenger.

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