Clickbait Headlines

I’m happy to report that the tidal wave of clickbait headlines — infuriating, manipulative teaser headlines whose writers will do anything to make you click — seems to have peaked.

For one thing, Facebook has tried to block clickbait headlines in its news feed and has had some success. For another thing, clickbait headlines seem to be moving, at last, into the public consciousness. We’re on to them. We understand them. We’re tired of them.

But that doesn’t mean that clickbait is going away. The growth of the tidal wave may be slowing, but we’re still getting drenched.

The editors who crank out these headlines are blatantly tacky and deceptive, so I take tremendous pleasure in yanking the carpet out from under their feet. Here, then, is my seventh installment of Pogue’s Clickbait Spoilers. If a headline says, “You won’t believe what happens next,” I’m going to darned well tell you, ruining the mystery.

Clickbait: It Took Him Only Four Minutes to Bring an Entire Middle School to Tears

Spoiler: This video shows a talk by former professional wrestler Marc Mero. He tells the school kids about how he used to get high and drunk but felt terrible when his mother died.

Yes, some kids are shown crying in the 4.5-minute video, but guess what? It Took Him More Than Four Minutes, Because This Video Is Only an Excerpt of His Full-Length Talk.


Clickbait: If You Drink Warm Lemon Water Every Morning for a Year, Here’s What Will Happen

Spoiler: Nothing happens.

The article doesn’t even answer the question. It says nothing about drinking lemon water for a year. In fact, if you click on this headline, you discover a different headline. They’re using one headline as clickbait and another, less breathless one for the story itself!

That story is: “20 Reasons You Should Drink Lemon Water in the Morning.” It’s a bunch of stuff like: Lemon water is hydrating, helps digestion, fights infections, helps you lose weight, benefits your skin, blood, joints, liver, bowels, blood pressure, fetus, teeth, etc.

Sure it does.

Clickbait: I Was Blown Away When I Realized What This Image Really Was

Spoiler: An elderly man with cerebral palsy creates amazingly good art using only the symbol keys on a typewriter (it’s a video). That’s it. Are you blown away?

Me neither.


Clickbait: Tim Cook said this word 5 times on Apple’s earnings call last night — here’s why it’s so important

Spoiler: “Switcher.” Because it means more people buying iPhones.

Clickbait: George Clooney Had the Perfect Response at Comic Con When a Fellow Actor Called Him Old

Spoiler: Beats me.

It’s video clip of a Comic Con panel, where George Clooney makes a “surprise” appearance to promote his movie Tomorrowland.

Hugh Laurie: “He’s 75 if he’s a day.”

Clooney: “It’s not lost on me that I’m spending my honeymoon at Comic Con.”

(It’s funny, but how is that a perfect response to the “old” remark?)


Clickbait: Dad Opens His Birthday Gift and What’s Inside Is So Overwhelming, Everyone’s in Tears

Spoiler: EnChroma glasses, designed to help colorblind people.

In fact, only one person tears up in this video: the colorblind guy.

I’m hugely disdainful of the text that accompanies the video, which implies that the guy can’t see the color blue (that’s not what happens with colorblindness) and that he can’t tell if a traffic light is red or yellow (um, how about noting its place?).


Clickbait: What Joe Biden Explains in 1 Minute Will Change Your Life Forever. Seriously.

Spoiler: Here’s another Facebook headline that leads to a different headline on the article: “Joe Biden’s 2012 Advice to Grieving Families Is All the More Poignant Now.”

Biden’s advice is this: When you lose a loved one (Biden lost his wife and son) and can’t imagine how you’ll go on, begin writing down your grief levels on each square of a calendar. “You’ll find that your down days get further and further apart. That’s when you know that you’re gonna make it.”

Clickbait: Forget the iPhone 6. Next Apple Sensation Revealed.

Spoiler: Apple Pay, apparently.

This one’s actually a clickbait ad. I see it all the time on Facebook and on the Yahoo front page.

Ordinarily, I would never click on such a stupid, clickbaity ad. I’m a tech columnist, for goodness’ sake — if Apple had a post-iPhone sensation, I’d have heard of it.

But for the sake of spoiling this clickbait, and to save you time, I went for it. I clicked.

What you get is an endless video — typed words on a screen, read aloud by a male voice — that, after 30 excruciating minutes of talking about how great Apple is and how great the Motley Fool is, turns out to be a pitch for a free annual report (regularly $99!) that’s plugging shares in an unnamed “patent-rich supply lab.”


I want my 30 minutes back.


Money. We all love it. But do you actually know what money is? What is its value? What are the policies that govern the monetary system?

The monetary system is the most misunderstood and taken for granted. Never the less, understanding the monetary system is critical to understanding why our lives are the way they are.

Unfortunately, economics is usually viewed as one very difficult to understand and boring topic. Lots of math, a lot of charts… who cares about that? Right?

Actually, no. The complexity behind the monetary system is because we take it for granted and don’t care to look deeper into it.

There are some things that you need to understand about money like, where does it come from? How does it get its value? What is inflation?

How does money come to be?

The United States government decides that it needs money. So it calls the national reserve bank and requests the amount. The Federal Reserve Bank buys the amount requested in US bonds.

The government creates some treasury bonds and values those bonds in the sum of the amount requested and sends them to the Federal Reserve Bank.

The bank then prints money-notes in the value of the requested amount and exchanges them for the bonds. Once the government places that money-notes into a bank account, it actually becomes tender money.

In reality, this transaction happens electronically on a computer. No paper is used at all, nothing is printed. Only records of the values are stored. Yes, including the money itself.

In the USA only 3% of the currency is actually available in real money. The rest is stored in credit forms.

One important note is that the government bonds are actually a form of debt. Once issued they mean that the government owes the Federal Reserve Bank an X amount. An in return, the FRB just issues a record that an X amount is now available for the US government in a commercial bank account.

By low, the commercial bank has to keep a 10% of the deposit as reserve. The value may vary from time to time. The amount left, the 90% is called an excessive deposit.

If someone takes a loan in the amount of the money created from that specific bank and puts it into their own account in another bank. That other bank has to keep 90% of the money as an excessive reserve and can keep it in circulation.

What gives those notes their value?

Money takes its value from other money that already exists. New money steals value from the existing money supply. Now that new money is available for the public, money value starts diminishing and loses some of its purchasing power. This is usually known as Inflation.

What is Inflation?

Continue reading Money


Language as a definition is “A set of spoken, written, or signed words and the way we combine them to communicate a meaning.”

Perhaps we should change that definition to include “Using complex grammar” to really distinguish human language from animal languages especially that a lot of animals are capable – when taught – to sign away their feelings or needs.

A language is not necessarily spoken, written or signed. For example if I want to find a bathroom in Sweden or Thailand and really had to pee, people would still understand me even if I spoke a totally different language.

Language is important for expressing our thoughts and communicating them to other people’s brains, and actually to our own consciousness. When you see something new, you have to ask “What is this?” because otherwise you wouldn’t have a way of communicating it to other people or even to your own memory.

We humans have nearly 7,000 languages. But no matter how they sound we can break down their structure into three building blocks:

  1. Phonemes: Very short distinctive sound units. Different languages vary considerably in the number of phonemes they have in their systems. The total phonemic inventory in languages varies from as few as 11 in Rotokas and Pirahã to as many as 141 in !Xũ. Some languages use a different subset of phonemes like such as Arabic which doesn’t have the /p/ constant.
  2. Morphemes: The smallest unit that carry a meaning. These morphemes are words or parts of words [a prefix or a suffix].
  3. Grammar: The system of rules that enable us to communicate with and understand others. If you didn't know those rules you wouldn't be able to communicate your thoughts to others and you wouldn't understand what others are talking about. You can still understand the things they're saying but it wouldn't make much sense to you.

Just as the structure of the language starts small, so does how we learn language. We start very young.

Continue reading Language

Words of Wisdom by Steven Wright

Some words of wisdom by Steven Wright

  • All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.
  • The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.
  • OK, so what's the speed of dark?
  • How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
  • If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
  • Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.
  • When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
  • Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
  • Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
  • Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.
  • Shin: a device for finding furniture in the dark.
  • Many people quit looking for work when they find a job.
  • I intend to live forever - so far, so good.
  • Join the Army, meet interesting people, kill them. Continue reading Words of Wisdom by Steven Wright