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Archives for April, 2006

April 30, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #49

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


"I gotta go. The guy at the end of the bar is about to say, 'What is this, some kind of joke?' and I have to smack him."

"Holy crap, that's the tallest freakin' Jew I've ever seen. Do they let Jews play in the NBA? He should play in the NBA. Or maybe the JewBA."

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #49" »

April 27, 2006

Frak yeah!

Daniel Radosh

bghotties.jpgGalactica prequel in the works [via SE].

SCI FI Channel announced the development of Caprica, a spinoff prequel of its hit Battlestar Galactica... Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better. But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot: a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the Battlestar Galactica), Caprica will weave together corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television's first science fiction family saga.

First off, let me say that I'm a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica (as I was definitely not of the orignal; I was more of a Space 1999 kid). In addition to being an engrossing action-drama, it's got some very smart, clever politics. Even more intriguingly — and rare for television — those politics are conservative, so I'm not exactly inclined to be forgiving. In a way it's the anti-Next Generation. Not that there was anything wrong with TNG or its liberal-utopian politics, but I see them as ideal counterpoints to one another (it's no coincidence that BSG honcho Ron Moore cut his teeth on Trek), and Battlestar definitely reflects our paranoid current era the way TNG reflected the peace and prosperity of the 90s.

The question, then, is what will make Caprica, given the above description, fundamentally different from TNG? "Sexual politics" sounds intriguing, because God knows, Battlestar Galactica is one sexy fraking show. But "family saga"? Well, definitely worth rooting for.

Related thoughts: Young Bill Adama? Well, at least it looks like we still have a chance to shoot down that young Kirk & Spock trial balloon.

I'm mildly enjoying the new Dr. Who, but it's basically the same cheesy show with somewhat better production values. Too bad Russell Davies couldn't have done what Moore did with BSG. Anyone holding out hopes for Torchwood?

Also, since I don't know what other ocassion I'll have to bring this up, Gina pointed out to me a while ago that jai-alai seems like one of those cool (superfast) but slighly ridiculous (fronton) sports that get get made up for scifi shows — much like pyramid. So maybe Caprica is... Earth! Or at least Connecticut.

April 26, 2006

How erect would you say Hillary Clinton makes your nipples?

Daniel Radosh

hillarynatalieclose.jpg I got a call the other evening from a pollster for Hillary Clinton's senate campaign. I've always been a firm believer in participating in genuine political polls on the grounds that it's the only real way to influence the political scene (unlike, say, blogging. Or voting). Now I'm not so sure. After 15 minutes of answering the nice lady's questions, I don't think I was able to give even the slightest hint of what I believe about Hillary Clinton. If anything, I unintentionally, but unavoidably, misled her (or rather, the people who will read her data).

The bulk of the poll was seeking my reaction to a series of statements such as you might hear in a campaign ad or stump speech. I'd be told positive or negative things about Hillary or her opponent (almost always presumed to be John Spencer but once or twice Kathleen McFarland) and asked whether they made my opinion of each "much more favorable, somewhat more favorable, somewhat less favorable, or much less favorable." Here's where the problems began.

First of all, after volunteering, for several statements, that they did not change my opinon (because, for instance, I already knew the information) I was eventually told that I could no longer say that and must choose one of the four options. If I declined, my opinion would not be registered. I can only assume that the rules didn't change halfway through and that my initial responses were all tossed out, which I either should have been told from the start or not at all. But while that's a flaw that could easily have been remedied, there was a more intrinsic one that is the result of not allowing me to explain WHY I answered the way I did.

For instance, when being fed a line of bullshit about how Hillary is bravely fighting the White House over the Iraq war by pushing for more body armor or what not, I said it made me much less favorable — not because of the value of the positions, but because Hillary would have some fucking nerve trying to run on that line of bullshit after her craven support for the war. Now it's true the pollsters get the limited information that this ad campaign will not be effective with me, but they won't know why (unless they have good focus groups). At least I did get to make it clear that Hillary's offensive anti-videogame crusade is a turnoff.

Update: Forgot this nugget: One question was specifically about how I'd feel if Hillary gave a speech on subjects A, B, or C. They all sounded like fine speeches, but for each I had to honestly answer that they would make me much less favorable toward her because if she actually delivered them it would only confirm my opinion of Clinton as a politician who can't even give a policy speech without first testing to see how it polls. Yeah, I know that's SOP for every politician, but every politician didn't call me up.

I also got to make it clear that I will not be voting for Clinton under any circumstances, although they never did ask the one question that might give me pause (what if she were in danger of actually losing?) and which might reveal to them that the main reason I won't vote for her is that I don't want to encourage her to run in 2008. Still, it was borderline insulting of them to phrase the question as, "Do you think Hillary Clinton deserves another term or is it time to give someone else a try." This isn't about giving somebody a try, it's about finding the best person for the job.

Which is why I was also bummed that even though the very first question was how likely I am to vote in the Democratic primary (very), every question that followed was about the general election and assumed that Hillary would be the candidate. OK, that's a reasonable assumption, but I would very much like to have told the pollsters that I will be voting in the primary for Jonathan Tasini. I mean, I know my vote won't make a difference, barely even as a protest. But endorsing him in a poll of a few hundred people WOULD register. It might make Clinton really understand why she's lost progressives. Which might in turn make her wonder whether she can really count on her supposed base in 2008. As it is, all she learned is that it's going to be really easy to run negative ads against John Spencer, once people realize he's not the dead guy from The West Wing.

The other flaw in these polls, of course, is that respondants lie. For instance, in an apparent effort to weed out people who might actually know anything about the candidate, I was asked if I work in journalism. I said no, figuring that Peter Landesman would back me up on that.

April 24, 2006

Somebody send them an Angel

Daniel Radosh

ANGEL-SPARKS-1.jpg As reported here last week founding Huckapoodle Brittney "Angel Sparks" Segal has left the band to spend more time in a reality-based world where she is not, in fact, Hannah Montana. Now a reader alerts us that the funeral baked meats are coldly furnishing forth the casting table, as Huckapoo's corporate overlords have begun running ads for a replacement.

TEEN GIRL POP GROUP Entertainment Properties, LLC is seeking talent for an established teen girl pop group with record deal. Matt Widman, casting dept. Seeking—Singer: girl, 13-18, any ethnicity, must excel at singing, dancing, and acting. Note: Applicants outside NY area must be able to relocate to NY. Auditions will be held in NYC & L.A. Send pix & résumés to Entertainment Properties, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, 20th fl., NYC 10111; or email to casting@eProps.com

Will the new girl actually take over the role of Angel, or will she get a whole new character, like when Eric Carr replaced Peter Criss and the cat was scrapped for the fox? It's hard to imagine a 13-year-old in Angel's biker get-up (not that I've tried). But how great would it be if they actually did find a girl of "any ethnicity"? A little color might be just what Huckapoo needs right now. Also, a decent singer. Unless they're gonna let Groovy have a go at something other than ballads, none of the remaining girls are going to be able to step into Brittney's motorcycle boots. Alternately — and how devious would this be? — they could cast someone utterly untalented but a total hottie, send her out with the band for the fashion shoots and videos, and release the album with Brit's already perfect vocals intact. What's the worst that could happen?

Better yet: The Huckateers are seeking another unknown girl for the role, but why not poach a star who's already on the Radio Disney hit list and turn Huckapoo into the first tween supergroup? The buzz will guarantee that that CD finally gets released, which is what it's all about, right? Well, that and the crypto-ephebophilia.

Update: C4B's Dave weighs in on the first Huckapoo cast change (scroll to #4), when Lindsay Nyman replaced the original Joey Thunders (if anyone knows her name, drop a line!). Original Joey recorded only one song with the band, Perfectly, and Dave rightly pronounces it far superior to the later recording with Britttttney Segal on lead vocals (though I question his understanding of "IP rights"). He also has a link to songwriter (and now Michelle Branch collaborator) Jessica Harp's original recording, mentioned here way back when.

April 24, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #48

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


"Now are you going to play it right, or do I have to tear up the rest of this motherfucker?"

"You're gonna have to do better than that. This is a $20 billion a year industry."

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #48" »

April 20, 2006

Magic Shuffle vs. The New York Times

Daniel Radosh

Could Magic Shuffle — the oracle that answers questions using iTunes shuffle feature — write for The New York Times? Here's how it the paper's new freelancer ethics questionnaire.

Please list your other current employers, whether full time or part time
The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter – Amy Allison. Thanks for your submission, Mr. Dunleavy. We'll be in touch.

For what other employers have you worked in the last three years?
Days Go By – Dirty Vegas. Would that be Mitsubishi or Deutsch Inc?

What sort of volunteer work do you do regularly, if any, and for whom? (Please include any public relations, advocacy or advisory board involvement.)
Imagination – Frank Sinatra. Call it what you want, blogging doesn't count.

Do you do any work paid or unpaid in politics or government? Have you done any lobbying of governmental bodies?
We’re All Gonna Die Someday – Kasey Chambers. Homeland Security?

Do you have any financial investments or financial ties that may limit your ability to cover specific topics free of conflict, and if so, what are the topics?
Are We The Waiting? – Green Day. I'm asking ask the questions here.

Although we don't regulate the activities of spouses, partners or immediate family members of our contributors, do any of their professional or personal involvements or any of their financial investments or ties make certain topics inappropriate for you, and if so, what are the topics?
I’m A Believer – The Monkees. Fortunately, the Times rarely covers religion.

Have you accepted any free trips, junkets or press trips in the last two years? Have you accepted any substantial free merchandise or discounts from people we might cover?
Get Happy – Benny Goodman. Thanks for your submission, Mr. Wilson. We'll be in touch.

Has anything you've written later resulted in a published editor's note or retraction for deliberate falsehood or plagiarism or become the subject of a lawsuit involving allegations of deliberate falsehood? (If yes,please include details about the publication and your role in the article or story. If a lawsuit, please describe the disposition of the case.)
I Wish I Was the Moon – Neko Case. No, we said falsehood or plagiarism, not poetic obscurantism.

[More Magic Shuffle. Also, Krukoff uses Magic Shuffle to interview Frank Portman, lead singer of the awesome Mr. T Experience and newly-minted YA author.]

April 18, 2006

The sad part is, somebody thought it was "edgy"

Daniel Radosh

brazil.0.jpg I saw this ad for the first time today and had to read it twice to make sure the double entendre wasn't in my perverted head. Nah. Ever since Norwegian Cruise Lines, "here" has been the definitive way to refer to tourist destinations in advertising, while "down there" has other, deeply ingrained connotations. A quick Google finds that Copyranter agrees — and like me smells desperation. In the comments, Restless Man points out other ways in which this ad is lame.

At least they couldn't find a travel-themed pun for Telly Savalas.

April 18, 2006

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Daniel Radosh


My sentiments exactly.

April 18, 2006

Choices, choices

Daniel Radosh

Something is wrong with the viewers of WKYC TV in Ohio.


I mean, obviously the cat is gonna be way funnier than the guy.

[With apologies to Gawker]

April 18, 2006

Miraculously, not all of MSM is snowed by bogus kiddie porn figures

Daniel Radosh

Recently, I documented my futile quest to track down the origin and veracity of a widespread claim that child pornography is a $20 billion a year business.

Today, The Wall Street Journal's Numbers Guy joins the hunt. "It turns out it can be easier to enter a big number into the Congressional record, and national press coverage, than to locate its origin," writes Carl Bialik. Like me, Bialik hits a dead-end, but he does get a promise out of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: "If it is determined that this ends up not being a reliable statistic, NCMEC will...stop citing a specific number."

Even if there is a correction, of course, don't expect it to be picked up as widely as the original false claim. Still, score one for accuracy in journalism today.

April 17, 2006

Or you could have checked a dictionary

Daniel Radosh


April 17, 2006

Breaking news: Angel flies the Huckacoop?

Daniel Radosh


WE HEAR (as Page Six says when nothing can be confirmed) that Angel Sparks has quit Huckapoo to concentrate on her studies. While it's probably wise for a young girl to put education over fast-receding dreams of stardom, this does leave the band without its most talented member, and would probably require re-recording the entire debut album if it's ever going to come out. Plus, re-choreographing all those dances for four? Nightmare!

Our sources are second hand, but the photo above lends credence to the story. That's the promo shot for the group's appearance at Palm Beach's Sunfest next month. In the original image, Angel pouts attractively in between Groovy and PimpJ. Now? Down the memory hole.

Update: It's confirmed — Angel is out. Or rather, Brittney Segal is out. Whether Angel will be recast is another question.

But it gets worse. We're also hearing buzz that the entire band may be teetering on the precipice. Can't say more right now, but stay tuned to this blog for all your Huckaneeds. Courage.

April 16, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #47

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


"Henderson started chasing the intruder first, which is why he is several feet in front of the others. But in his haste he forgot to pick up a weapon, and is going to attempt to strangle the villain with his bare hands. Now, it says here you graduated from Oberlin. I'm afraid we're looking for someone more qualified."

"You have an excellent performance record, general. Just out of curiosity, are you likely to speak out against the secretary of defense?"

"You know, from where I'm sitting, he really doesn't look like the most dangerous game at all."

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #47" »

April 14, 2006

You know who seems like a decent guy? That Boykin Curry.

Daniel Radosh

A month ago I commented somewhat harshly (I believe the word "douchebag" was used) about a Mr. Boykin Curry, the subject of a New Yorker profile. How, I wondered, could a savvy writer like Ben McGrath be charmed by someone like Curry (if in fact he was)?

The obvious answer may have been staring us in the face the whole time: Boykin Curry is a charming guy! How do I know? Because he's just written a reply to my post, and unlike some folks who respond to bloggy criticism with threats and foot-stomping, Curry politely offers a couple of corrections and clarifications, leavened with self-deprecation. In my book, that counts as charming! Plus, he even invites "some" of us to come down and see Playa Grande for ourselves. (No dentists or fatties.)

April 13, 2006

I'm in love with The Lovemarks

Daniel Radosh

Sometimes I find myself asking: Why is it that Huckapoo never took off? At all. (I have here in my hand a 2004 Christmas EP with the mocking coverline, "Look for the new Huckapoo CD to be released in January 2005"). Do not suggest to me that the answer lies in the quality of their music. I will not hear of that.

Marketing errors may have had something to do with it. Perhaps they should have spent less time blowing Disney execs (I'm refering only to manager Brian Lukow, of course, not the girls — that would be wrong) and not enough time cultivating a freaking MySpace presence. Hello, 2006 calling! Or perhaps Lukow didn't have the clout he thought he did. I mean, he was basically pitching the Huckapoo version of High School Musical three years ago, and if he can't sell it now, when everyone is looking for the next High School Musical, he's in the wrong business.

My new theory is the counterintuitive one: Huckapoo was not heavily manufactured enough. Which is why, without hearing song one, I'm betting all the chips on The Lovemarks, which is the name Cure for Bedbugs has given to a forthcoming band to be created by advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. Per the trad rags,

Marketers will be able to hire the as-yet-unnamed group to promote their brands in their songs, their clothing and what they eat and drink...

The girls all hold down day jobs and are being groomed into pop stars with singing and choreography training and styling. It is estimated that the agency might have to send over £200,000 a year to develop the band.

The girl group will make its public debut next month in a "mobisoap" -- a series of minute-long soap opera-style films reflecting their real lives relayed via mobile phones.

My only reservation: the girls' stage names are not up to Huckapoo snuff: Mercedes, Chanel, S-Jay and Rockwell. What is this, 1990?

In the meantime: Is Natasha the next Shakira...?

April 12, 2006

William Sloane Coffin Jr, 1924-2006

Daniel Radosh

w_Sloane_Coffin.jpg Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr died today at age 81. Coffin was the first person I ever interviewed, as a 14-year-old aspiring journalist for New Youth Connections. I was already a committed peacenik by then (more so than now), so much of what he had to say wasn't new to me and didn't stick in my memory. But he made an impression when he talked to me about "the sin of pride." A child of the Free to Be, You and Me self-esteem age, I had never really been told that there is such a thing as being full of yourself. No doubt his obituaries will highlight other accomplishments, but I'll always recall him as the man who helped me get my start as the greatest journalist of my generation. After Peter Landesman.

"The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love."

April 12, 2006

An Egyptian speaks of Passover

Daniel Radosh

There's a Passover Seder tradition that as we name the ten plagues we remove a drop of wine from our glasses for each one to symbolize that our joy can not be complete as long as others had to suffer for it. A friend of mine has written a haunting poem on that theme. Break it out at your Seder this year if things are getting dull.

Continue reading "An Egyptian speaks of Passover" »

April 12, 2006

Magic Shuffle vs. Wendell Jamieson

Daniel Radosh

Three months ago, Wendell Jamieson wrote a charming little article for The New York Times in which he got experts to answer his six-year-old son's goofy six-year-old questions. As I am a cyncial bastard who is impervious to charm, of course, my immediate response was, "someone's getting a book deal."

Sure enough, the deal was announced just over a month later, and cynical (evious?) ol' me grumbled, "His kid comes up with the questions, other people come up with the answers, what's Jamieson's job, cashing the check?" Now it gets even better: Li'l Dean Jamieson is apparently shirking his duties, so pop is asking for questions from other kids. (Frighteningly, he's also put the word out on the Park Slope Parent's listserv.)

But you know, there's an even easier way to write this book. Just use Magic Shuffle, the viral meme quiz (kisses, Lindsay) that uses iTunes shuffle to tackle life's biggest questions. Here's how the oracle answered Dean Jamieson's initial batch of questions.

Continue reading "Magic Shuffle vs. Wendell Jamieson" »

April 10, 2006

All Bush's base are no longer belong to him

Daniel Radosh

Good luck selling your next war, Mr. President. On Friday, before news broke about the pending invasion of Iran, I had a funny exchange with a woman who runs the warehouse at the country's largest Christian megastore, in Spartanburg, South Carolina — the reddest city in the reddest state in red America, as the store's owner put it. The warehouse manager was telling me about all the places they ship packages too and mentioned "an American soldier stationed in Iran." I asked if she meant Iraq, and the way she chuckled at her mistake made me feel comfortable enough to say, "I don't think we have any troops in Iran yet."

"Not yet," she laughed sardonically. And then more seriously: "Let's hope we never will."

April 10, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #46

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #46" »

April 9, 2006

Defenders of the Faitheism

Daniel Radosh

It's another dubious trend story, complete with forced coinages and vague data, and a reporter using his friends as sources. So why aren't I griping? Because it was written by a friend, and my family and I are the starring sources. Plus, this one is 100% true!

The story on The New Faitheists can be found on page 3 of this week's Brooklyn Paper [pdf], but for convenience, I've posted it after the jump too.

Continue reading "Defenders of the Faitheism" »

April 6, 2006

Did Judas Iscariot have God on his side?

Daniel Radosh

The conventional wisdom on the newly-translated Gospel of Judas is that it "paints a different picture of Judas and Jesus," in saying that "Jesus requested that Judas 'betray' him by handing him to authorities."

But there's no reason this picture has to be "different" than the canonical gospels, because the Bible never says Judas betrayed Jesus. William Klassen established this 10 years ago in his book Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus. I haven't read Klassen myself, but I've discussed him with my friend Leon Zitzer who has used Klassen's discovery as a jumping-off point for a fascinating book of his own, which will hopefully have a US publisher some day (it's currently being translated for publication in Germany). In his opening chapter, Leon paraphrases Klassen, explaining what most scholars (and all recent news reports) get wrong: "It is Klassen who finally put this point on the map that the Greek word paradidomi used in all the Gospels to describe Judas’ action does not mean betray. It is a neutral word with no connotation of betrayal, meaning “hand over” or “deliver”, as Klassen has it, or “convey” or “escort” or “transfer”, as I would put it." Leon's book deals with why scholars who acknowledge that Klassen is correct still insist on a betrayal narrative, and what the gospels actually say once we get past all that stuff we supposedly know they say. He blogs here.

April 5, 2006

If I want VH1 to insult my intelligence I'll watch Flavor of Love

Daniel Radosh

I got this e-mail today too. Hey, pal, I didn't start blogging yesterday.

April 5, 2006

How big is the online kiddie porn industry?

Daniel Radosh

The New York Times report on yesterday's Internet kid sex hearings dropped a big, round number in its first sentence: "The sexual exploitation of children on the Internet is a $20 billion industry that continues to expand in the United States and abroad, overwhelming attempts by the authorities to curb its growth, witnesses said at a Congressional hearing on Tuesday."

$20 billion? Really?

The full transcript of the session isn't online yet, so I don't know if it was really witnesses, plural, who made that claim, or just the one witness identified in this Louisville Courier-Journal article: "Online child pornography is a $20 billion annual business, said Ernie Allen, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, based in Alexandria, Va."

In any case, both the Times and the L/C-J weren't listening closely. Unless Allen departed from his prepared remarks, what he actually said was that "commercial child pornography" overall "is a $20 billion industry worldwide, fueled by the Internet." Bad enough, but not quite the same thing — and what does "fueled by the Internet" mean in quantitative terms anyway?

But even with the clarification... $20 billion? Really?

Allen attributes the the figure to "a recent report by McKinsey Worldwide" — a report and organization unknown to either Google or Nexis (unless The Firm is branching out). I'm trying to track it down to see how that number was generated, because... $20 billion? Really? I can't disprove it yet, and, yes, I'm sure a lot of money goes into kiddie porn around the world, but the vibe is suspiciously similar to the common claim that America spends $10 billion on legal porn each year, a claim I've griped about before. Keep in mind that Allen was a source for the dubious Primetime Live story on American sex slaves.

Update: Apparently, the $20 billion figure has been out there for some time. It's frequently said to be the amount spent just on the Internet, and it's sometimes inflated to "$20-$30 billion." I have yet to find a verifiable attribution.

Update: A lead, perhaps. This summary of a 2004 report that I can't yet find says the report "refers to studies putting the annual market in child pornography on the Internet at almost 20 billion dollars, adding that paedophile images make up almost a quarter of the images downloaded from the Internet."

A quarter? Really?

Update: No, not really. Still haven't found the report, but here's a direct quote regarding that last figure: "Surveys in 2003 suggest that child pornography accounts for 24 percent of image searches in peer-to-peer applications." Note: P2P is not the entire Internet. "Image searches" isn't even close to the same thing as "images downloaded." It's entirely possible that people search more frequently for something that is harder to find. After all, you can find common files with one try, but you'd have to repeat your search over and over again for files that fewer people are sharing.

Update: Finally got a call back from NCMEC. The flack didn't have the actual report on hand, but she did tell me that it was put together by McKinsey Worldwide ("an Asian company") at the behest of an NCMEC board member. And the figures ($20B now rising to $30-$35B by 2009 -- think about that for a second) in it are based on information from the FBI and the Council of Europe. The CoE report is the 2004 one I referenced above, and as I noted they got the figure from someone else, so NCMEC is using third-hand information and attributing it to the second-hand source. Why? The flack had no idea. Who the CoE source is I don't know since the CoE web site only has a summary; the link to the actual report is dead. I did a quick search of the FBI site with no luck, but I'll try again. Oh by the way, the FBI lists NCMEC as a "partner"; According to Wikipedia (I know, I know) NCMEC gets $30 million a year from the Justice Dept. This is all looking a little, pardon the expression, incestuous.

Update: The plot thickens. After checking with the cybercrime department, FBI spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan refuses to comment on these figures. "That's NCMEC's number. I don't know where that number came from or how it was generated." I asked if that means that the number did not come from the FBI. Her very careful response: "I'm not saying that. I don't know if it came from the FBI. You'll have to talk to them." And I will. Again.

Update: The Wall Street Journal's Carl Bialik takes up the quest with similar lack of results. He does, however, get this (too-little too-late) promise from NCMEC: "If it is determined that this ends up not being a reliable statistic, NCMEC will stop citing McKinsey as the source and will also stop citing a specific number."

Update: The nail in to coffin from Bialik:

In a 2004 report, the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg, France-based human-rights watchdog, attributed the number to Unicef. But Allison Hickling, a spokeswoman for the United Nations child agency, told me in an email, "The number is not attributable to Unicef -- we do not collect data on this issue."

I told Alexander Seger, who worked on the Council of Europe reports, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Unicef, both cited in Council reports, said they weren't the source for the $20 billion figure. He said the Council won't use the number in the future, and added in an email, "I think we have what I would call a case of information laundering: You state a figure on something, somebody else quotes it, and then you and others [quote] it back, and thus it becomes clean and true. ... Perhaps this discussion will help instill more rigor in the future."


What the Times' original story on camwhores got right.

What an earlier report on online child porn got wrong.

How media fixation on sex slaves obscures the true nature of human trafficking.

How the religious right is redefining human trafficking to gut aid programs for consenting sex workers.

Why Peter Landesman is a giant bonehead, even if he does have — sheesh! — Oscar buzz [hat tip: Elon].

April 3, 2006

Men of God

Daniel Radosh

City of God is one of my favorite films of the last few years — an exhilirating, harrowing, moving, and entertaining tale of gang warfare in the slums of Rio. Director Fernando Meirelles followed up with The Constant Gardner, which was visually interesting but otherwise disappointing.

This, however, looks promising: City of Men, a spin-off of sorts that Meirelles originally made for Brazillian television. It debuts here tomorrow on the Sundance Channel.

April 2, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #45

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


"At least now it's harder to accidentally step on one."

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #45" »

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