tomb of the unknown soldier

The National War Memorial in Ottawa. Photo by Yours Truly, May 2011.

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that a man with a rifle shot and killed a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. He then seized a car and then drove to the doors of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block — for US readers, this is the equivalent of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC — where he entered. People inside reported hearing several shots inside the building, and it’s reported that the sergeant-at-arms shot and killed a gunman.

centre block

Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Photo by Yours Truly, May 2011.

The story is being covered by a number of outlets, and Scott Bixby noted the difference between US cable news and Canadian public news on Twitter. Here’s the comparison he posted:

cnn vs cbc on ottawa shootings

Screenshots from CNN’s and CBC’s front pages. Click to see at full size.

It should be noted that in these current times, with tensions already running high with stories about ISIS and ebola, and with situations like this where reports come in at great speed with little chance to verify or review, it’s all too easy and tempting to treat speculation and rumor as fact. With the power to publish on our desktops and in our pockets, it’s also all too easy to fan flames that we don’t need. This is a fluid situation, and what we know as the facts are likely to change as information trickles in. Keep the following points in mind as you watch the news over the next few hours:

breaking news handbook

This is On The Media’s Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook. Click the image to see the source.

The Breaking News Handbook

  1. In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong.
  2. Don’t trust anonymous sources.
  3. Don’t trust stories that cite another news outlet as the source of the information.
  4. There’s almost never a second shooter. (In this particular case, there might be, but remember point 1. — Joey)
  5. Pay attention to the language the media uses:
    • “We are getting reports…” could mean anything.
    • “We are seeking confirmation…” means they don’t have it.
    • [News outlet] has learned…” means it has a scoop or is going out on a limb.
  6. Look for news outlets close to the incident.
  7. Compare multiple sources.
  8. Big news brings out the fakers. And photoshoppers.
  9. Beware reflexive tweeting. Some of this is on you.

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…after all, you never know who’ll be dropping by:

holy shit full size snickers

Found via Jim Benton’s Facebook page. Click to see the source.

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Update, October 20, 2014 at 3:07 p.m.: A couple of commenters have pointed me to the text of the deleted Post article, along with the Facebook promo they forgot to delete. It’s at the end of this post.

national post suggests rob ford was set up

Click the image to see this page on the Wayback Machine.

While cleaning out my bookmarks, I stumbled across a link to a National Post article titled Is the alleged Rob Ford crack video evidence of a set up? It’s from May 23, 2013, back when Gawker had broken the story and it was revealed that the Toronto Star had been conducting a long investigation into the same issue. well before Toronto’s Peter Griffin-esque mayor fessed up on TV. The teaser for the article still appears on the Wayback Machine’s archive of the National Post’s front page for that date, but when you try to read the article in question, you get this:

national post 404

Click the image to see the actual web page.

The article was written by staunch Ford supporter and Financial Post editor Terence Corcoran, who remained a true believer even after all hell broke loose in November. Written in question form, the headline allows the Post and Corcoran to back their boy and seed some doubt while giving them the cover of saying “Hey, we’re just asking a question!

The story’s since been yanked, probably in the hopes that you don’t remember it was ever written. However, there are some “We love Rob Ford!” pieces that the Post can’t remove without bringing unwanted attention, including this classic:

national post endorses rob ford

Click the image to read the original article.

Update 1: The text of the deleted article

A couple of readers have pointed out to me that thanks to a “splog” — that’s a spam blog, which automatically swipes other blogs’ content and republishes it in order to get advertising bucks — the Post’s article lives on, although without permission or attribution. The splog in question is AR24News, and I’ve posted a screenshot of the article below:

ar24 news

Click the image to read the article on its source page.

Here’s the text of the article, which I’m preserving for the historical record:

Is The Alleged Rob Ford Crack Video Evidence Of A Set Up?

The swarming of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is entirely understandable; the mayor, caught on video allegedly smoking crack, has a lot to clear up. But there are as many unanswered questions on the other side of this bizarre international confluence of drug dealers, politics, comedy shows, news media and blogging low-lifes such as gawker.com. Questions about the video, the role of newspapers, organized crime, crowdsourcing social media, and the implausibility of a shock-blog like gawker raising $200,000 in ransom money that will have to be run through a money laundering operation to reach the drug dealers.

The ethics of it all are murky enough. Globe and Mail columnist Lysiane Gagnon called it “a lynching” and former Toronto Star editor and journalism chair John Miller pretty much accused his former employer of breach of ethical and journalistic conduct. But media ethics are the least of the problems looming over this phantasmagoria of improbable events.

Some of the questions are kind of obvious. Here are a few, in no significant order:

Who are these men?

Let’s start with the still photo that we’ve all seen of Mr. Ford in grey sweater allegedly taken—according to gawker—“while Ford was going to the [Toronto] neighbourhood to purchase and smoke crack cocaine.” Far too little has been made of the fact one of the men in the picture is Anthony Smith, a 21-year-old who was murdered outside a Toronto night club last March. Who killed Mr. Smith? Might the other two gentlemen in the photo, their faces judiciously blurred as if protecting the innocent children of a family crime, have any link to or knowledge of the murder? Or what about the third person involved here, the taker of the picture?

Who is the “organizer in the Somali community” that the Toronto Star reporters say orchestrated their meeting with the drug dealer who says he took the video?

The Toronto Star reporters said last Saturday they continued to have contact with the Somali community organizer. They must know his name. They sat in his car (did they get the plate number?) while he drove them to the meeting with the drug dealer outside a high-rise complex where drugs are trafficked near Dixon Rd. and Kipling Ave.

The dealer is said to be the cinematographer who shot the video of the mayor smoking crack. This man should now be traceable through the Star’s community organizer contact. Are the Star’s reporters co-operating with police to track down a known criminal? Shouldn’t they be?
Related

Is this whole exercise in media extortion possibly a crime in itself?

There are indications this is a set-up from the get-go. The video is said to show Mr. Ford sitting alone in a white shirt, smoking a crack pipe. Both the Star and gawker versions are stunning similar, almost as if one had copied parts of the other’s reports. An off-camera voice is said to be “goading” the mayor into unseemly political banter. Who’s in the background, baiting Mr. Ford to say outrageous things about Justin and/or Pierre Trudeau?

Anyways, if it is a set up, who set it up? Who directed the cinematographer-drug dealer, who by description in the Star is a nervous street guy rather than a drug boss? Someone with media savvy, it seems, although not savvy enough to know that Canadian media do not pay big bucks, British style, for incriminating videos of celebrities and politicians. Still, it looks very much like a form of extortion and/or blackmail, the video held for ransom to the highest bidder, with the media acting as go-between.Where’s the video now?

I would speculate that the odds are high that it will cease to exist, if it has not already been destroyed. The owners/dealers obviously wanted a secret cash payment that would allow them to disappear while the video was released by the media. With the gawker leak (possibly much to the shock of the drug dealers), the video is now a hot property, possibly too hot to trade without getting caught up in a legal and possibly criminal process.

A major risk comes in getting the cash. Most unreal here is the gawker.com’s so-called crowdsourcing of $200,000. It’s a great publicity stunt, but how would the money ever be assembled and then transferred to a criminal organization such as the Somali drug dealers? Moving that kind of cash from an identifiable source (gawker or anyone else) to a crime group would be impossible without triggering a money-laundering trail. An above board transfer would require HST tracking, among other things, and would be open to banking and police pursuit.

The video peddlers may find this too much heat to bear. The original plan has backfired. Gawker also claimed that the dealer said he supplies “a lot of prominent people in Toronto [who] purchase and enjoy crack and powder cocaine.” If I were this dealer, I would leave town fast. Let’s get out of here, kill the video, and move on before the police and others move in on us.

That’s where I think this story is going next. Rob Ford may be doomed as a result of the video. But so should the media and drug dealers who perpetrated the events of the last week.

Update 2: The Facebook post the Post forgot to delete

national post facebook promo

Click the image to read the Facebook post.

That’s right, in their efforts to put this piece into the Memory Hole, the history editors at the Post forgot remove the Facebook post promoting the article. A reader found it for me, and I’m sharing it with you.

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i have an enormous favor to ask you

This rejected New Yorker comic comes from The Best of the Rejection Collection: 293 Cartoons That Were Too Dumb, Too Dark, or Too Naughty for The New Yorker, and it would’ve been one of their most-recirculated had it been approved — maybe even bigger than this one.

If you don’t get the joke, ask anyone who has a dog. And in case you were wondering, the proper response for such a question — unless you’ve got some really relaxed boundaries (and hey, more power to you) — is “I’m your friend, but I’m not that friend.”

Thanks to Inside Hook for the find!

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florida kmart plushie

Gives the expression “I have to see a man about a horse” a whole ‘nother meaning.
Click the photo to read the story on The Smoking Gun.

As if being a 19-year-old guy with hormones coursing through your veins wasn’t a rough enough ride, there’s also the fact that in Florida, no idea is a bad one. Pair these two together, and you get Sean Johnson. The Smoking Gun summarizes what he did at a Walmart in Brooksville, Florida (located about 50 miles/80 kilometres north of Tampa):

According to a police report, Sean Johnson, 19, “selected a brown, tan, and red stuffed horse from the clearance shelf in the garden department.” He then went to the comforter aisle in the housewares section, “proceeded to pull out his genitals,” and“proceeded to hump the stuffed horse utilizing short fast movements.” The lewd act was captured by surveillance cameras.

After Johnson “achieved an orgasm and ejaculated on the stuffed horse’s chest area,” he placed the “soiled stuffed horse on top of a bed in a bag (comforter set) contaminating that property also.”

Johnson very quickly left the store after the act was completed, but was later arrested by Brooksville police. In a statement that was poorly written in every sense of the phrase, Johnson admitted that he “did unmentionables to a stuffed animal”:

BPD 2014-004308 SEX OFFENSE  EXPOSURE OF SEXUAL ORGANS

Click the statement to see it at full size.

After posting a $1,500 bond, he was released from custody. To the Walmart branch’s credit, the stuffed horse and any merchandise that came into contact with it has been taken off the shelves and deemed unsuitable for sale.

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florida governor debate

definitely florida

If Florida is America’s wackiest state, it stands to reason that its governor should be a standard-bearer for wackiness. Florida’s current governor, Rick Scott, certainly didn’t let us down in that department during last night’s gubernatorial debate with challenger Charlie Crist. He refused to come onstage in the beginning because Charlie Crist’s podium had an electric fan in it, and said that Crist was breaking the rule that bans the use of electronic devices in the debate.

Here are the opening minutes of the debate that almost didn’t take place:

Rick Scott finally came out, and in a strange fit of anti-logic, said that he refused to go onstage because he’d heard that Charlie Crist wasn’t going to show up — in spite of the fact that Crist had been onstage for several minutes, waiting:

The spirit and the letter of the electronics rule

The purpose of the ban on electronic devices during the debate is likely to prevent participants from receiving coaching during the debate. That makes sense. If we use the spirit of the rule, the use of an electric fan to keep cool (it was 90 degrees F/32 degrees C that day) is not a violation.

It’s likely that people on Scott’s team will resort to arguing the letter of the rule, and if they do, they’ll lose. The ban is on electronic devices, and there’s a difference between electric and electronic. These are electric appliances…

electric appliances

…and these are electronic appliances:

electronic appliances

The simplest way to make the electric/electronic distinction is:

  • Electric devices use electricity to transmit, manipulate, and convert power. They use electrical energy and convert it into usable light, heat, and mechanical energy.
  • Electronic devices use electricity to transmit, manipulate, and convert information. They use electrical energy in the service of transmitting and receiving information in analog or digital form, as visual, audio, or numerical data.

An electric fan — and yes, it’s an electric fan — is decidedly not an electronic device.

Oddly enough, the rule banning electronics has a very notable exception — each participant in the debate is required to use the electronic aid pictured below:

microphone

After this debate, I wouldn’t be surprised if this image kept popping up all over the place:

im a fan of charlie crist

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On vacation

by Joey deVilla on October 15, 2014

smartphone vacation

I’m taking a week off work and blogging, and The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century will be back to regular articles on Monday, October 20th.

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