Sunday, January 31, 2016

Larry Flynt’s Hustler sticks it to the Republican Party with new porn parody

Smut peddler and First Amendment champion Larry Flynt has no love for the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
His Hustler porn studio frequently targets politicians in its movies, but seems to go after family values-preaching Republicans with extra vigor.
Hustler has done six Sarah Palin porn parodies vs. two Barack Obama porn parodies to date.
Last May, Flynt endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
Less than a week before the Iowa caucuses, the first electoral event of the presidential campaign, Hustler released “Republican Candidate Wife Swap.” (The Iowa caucuses are Monday.)
The porn movie features portrayals of Republican politicians Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum, as well as Fox News talker Megyn Kelly.
The movie comes with the following disclaimer: “This is a parody movie featuring a fantasized version of certain political figures and celebrities, and should not be taken seriously.”
The actors likely don’t spend much time discussing the issues of importance in the 2016 presidential race.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Is there a porn app for that?

Ever since the launch of the first video cassette recorders, the adult entertainment industry has stayed on the cutting edge of consumer technology.
The VCR allowed consumers (ok, men) to watch porn at home instead of going to a XXX movie theater or adult bookstore. It created a boom in the porn industry and helped to spur adoption of home video more broadly.
The porn industry also gets credit for jump-starting the commercial Internet by providing a killer app for going online: dirty pictures and videos. And it pioneered in e-commerce by taking online payments.
Earlier this month in Las Vegas at the CES trade show, still known to many by its old name the Consumer Electronics Show, virtual reality was a huge topic of interest. Commercial headsets from Samsung, Oculus, Sony and HTC are just starting to hit the market.
While Hollywood tries to decide what kind of content to make for VR goggles, at least one major adult studio, Naughty America, is already making VR porn. It was at CES demonstrating its VR offerings at a hotel near the convention.
It’s a running joke in the consumer electronics industry that when a new technology emerges the porn industry will be one of the early adopters. New technology? What’s the porn app for that?
That was the case with high-definition video, 3D video and now 4K ultra high definition video. It also was true with apps and online video streaming for smartphones and tablets.
Late-night TBS talk-show “Conan” even made fun of the pornification of technology in a comedy sketch. In a parody of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” the judges are only interested in whether they can have sex with the product.
For a history of how adult entertainment has shaped the technology industry and vice versa, check out “5 Ways Porn Created the Modern World” by Cracked, “8 Ways Porn Influenced Technology” by Thrillist, and “In the tech world, porn quietly leads the way” by CNN.
Let’s look at some recent technologies and see if there are porn applications for them.

Virtual reality

Before the first true virtual-reality goggles even hit the market, adult movie studios were making VR porn for do-it-yourself Google Cardboard smartphone headsets. They ramped up their efforts after Samsung’s smartphone-based, Oculus-powered Gear VR hit the market.
Up next are high-definition virtual reality goggles from Sony, HTC and Facebook-owned Oculus.
Prominent virtual reality porn providers include Naughty America and BaDoink. (See article at Investors.com)

Google Glass

When Google Glass was seen as the next big thing, some porn makers rushed to be the first to shoot video with the smart eyewear. Google Glass provides a small eye-level display and a forward-looking camera.
In July 2013, adult film actors James Deen and Andy San Dimas filmed a point-of-view porn movie using Google Glass for MiKandi and XBiz. (See article by XBiz.)

3D printing

When consumer 3D printers arrived on the scene, people wondered what anyone would want to make with them.
Well, the sex products industry came up with an answer: 3D-printed dildos and other sex toys.
(See article by XBiz.)

Drones

When small unmanned aerial systems, aka drones, started to become popular as flying cameras, Brooklyn film studio Ghost + Cow Films shot what it said was the world’s first drone porn. The movie, called “Drone Boning,” was released in November 2014.
(See articles by The Cut and AVN.)

Wearables

Wearable devices like fitness trackers (Fitbit) and smartwatches (Apple Watch) are becoming a big new category of consumer electronics.
Of course, some entrepreneurs see wearable devices as a way to track sexual activity and performance.
Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone last year came out with a fitness tracker bracelet called GeeksMe, which includes a sex tracker. (See article by TechCrunch.)
And a firm called Lovely launched an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to make a smart sex toy designed to worn at the base of the penis during sex. It tracks performance and provides additional stimulation through vibration. (See article by the Huffington Post.)

Snapchat

When messaging app Snapchat introduced a feature called Snapcash, porn found an application for it. Snapcash allows people to send money using payments service Square.
“Strippers and porn stars have started to use Snapchat to send videos and photos of themselves naked for a small fee,” New York Times writer Nick Bilton said in a Feb. 25, 2015, article. “Some transactions are as inexpensive as $1 to $5 for a few personalized photos. The prices can reach double digits for personalized sex shows.”
In the world of social media, porn stars also have found a home on Twitter and Tumblr.
And in terms of payments, online porn companies were early adopters of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Robotics

Some erotic product companies want to take virtual reality to the next level by adding a physical stimulation component to the visual one.
Masturbatory aid purveyors are making robotic sleeves than that imitate the sensation of oral, vaginal and anal sex for men.
(See articles by XBiz, the Huffington Post, AVN and BuzzFeed.)
Can humanoid sex robots be far behind?

Photos: Promotional art for Naughty America’s VR videos; Conan O’Brien jokes about drone porn.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A record 12 post-apocalyptic TV series currently airing

A record 12 post-apocalyptic themed TV series are currently airing on U.S. television networks. And it could soon be 13.
A good argument could be made that pop culture mirrors the present collective mindset of the populace. People have a pretty gloomy take on the world right now. The global economy is sputtering, the Middle East is war torn, Europe is being flooded with refugees, and the U.S. is mired in political conflict.
Since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, 19 post-apocalyptic TV shows have premiered. (It’s 20 if you count “You, Me and the Apocalypse,” which premieres Thursday on NBC. That show begins with a pre-apocalyptic scenario that could go post-apocalyptic.)
During the two terms of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, two post-apocalyptic shows premiered in the U.S.
The popularity of such end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it type shows brings out the dime store psychiatrist in me.
Maybe it’s cathartic to watch characters surviving under the worst situations imaginable. Viewers can always tell themselves that at least they’re not THAT bad off.
Apocalyptic events in TV shows currently airing include zombie uprisings (“The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Z Nation”), alien invasion (“Colony”), biblical rapture (“The Leftovers”), viral pandemics (“The Last Ship,” “The Last Man on Earth” and “12 Monkeys”), animal uprising (“Zoo”), and war (“The 100,” “Into the Badlands” and “The Shannara Chronicles.”)
“You, Me and the Apocalypse” will bring a seventh apocalyptic scenario. The comedy takes place in the last days of mankind as a comet is on a collision course with Earth.
Is that comet a metaphor for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becoming the next president of the United States?

Photos: Promotional artwork for season three of “The 100,” the midseason premiere of season six of “The Walking Dead,” and the premiere of “You, Me and Apocalypse.” 



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016 predictions: From politics to entertainment

The year 2016 has just gotten started. But one thing that’s basically finished is making year-ahead predictions.
Here’s a roundup of the 11 articles I did on the subject for Tech-media-tainment.

Ballsy tech industry predictions for 2016 (Dec. 31, 2015)

A year from now Hillary Clinton could be president-elect or in jail (Dec. 31, 2015)

Fingers crossed for Alzheimer’s breakthrough in 2016 (Dec. 31, 2015)

Hit “Star Wars” movie could lead to popular baby names (Jan. 1, 2016)

Entertainment predictions: Final season for ‘Walking Dead’ announced and more (Jan. 1, 2016)

Top 20 celebrities predicted to die in 2016 (Jan. 1, 2016)

2016: The year we drink our meals (Jan. 2, 2016)

Psychic predictions for 2016: celebrity breakups, babies and deaths (Jan. 2, 2016)

Late predictions for 2016: Obama becomes a dictator, Europe overrun with terrorists (Jan. 23, 2016)

Cuba the hot travel destination for 2016 (Jan. 24, 2016)

Marijuana legalization movement seen growing like a weed in 2016 (Jan. 25, 2016)

Photos: Mad magazine covers featuring 2016 presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Marijuana legalization movement seen growing like a weed in 2016

The marijuana legalization movement is expected to pick up steam in 2016.
Forbes contributor Debra Borchardt says 2016 will be a “big year” for legal marijuana.
“2015 was a pretty amazing year for progress in the legalization of marijuana. Four states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, many states decriminalized it and several more states approved medical marijuana. But for all the advances made in 2015, the year was just a run up to 2016, when the presidential election is expected to be accompanied by a ramp up in legalization,” she said.
Fortune predicted last month that six more states will legalization weed in 2016.
“Initiatives to land marijuana legalization on 2016 ballots are well underway in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nevada, while a handful of other states could also put legalization to a vote,” Fortune.com writer Tom Huddleston Jr. wrote.
They hope to join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and D.C., which have already legalized marijuana.
Leafly, an online cannabis information resource, said Nevada is almost a sure bet to legalize weed this year. It also said the odds favor legalization in California and Maine because of their strong medical marijuana programs.
Based on T-shirts and knick-knacks I saw for sale in Las Vegas earlier this month, I’d say businesses there are generally in favor of legalizing cannabis. And hotels like the Excalibur are making sure non-smoking rooms also prohibit pot smoking.

Photos from gift shop and non-smoking hotel room at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in January. (Photos by Patrick Seitz)


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cuba the hot travel destination for 2016

Several travel and market research firms have pointed to Cuba as one of the hottest tourist destinations of 2016.
“Since the December 2014 announcement that the United States and Cuba had agreed to restore diplomatic ties, travelers have been rushing to see the last of the old Cuba even as brands are competing to be the first in,” research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence said in its year-ahead report.
Airbnb, American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue are among the travel firms fighting for tourist dollars in the newly open market.
“Cuba’s tourism market is set to take off, and a full repeal of the U.S. economic embargo – an idea that seems to be gaining steam – would have far-reaching effects,” JWT Intelligence said. CheapFlights.com listed Cuba among its top five hot destinations for 2016.
“Tourist travel to Cuba is still officially banned, but the reestablishment of diplomatic relations in early 2015 has cracked open the door for visitors. And signs point to more and more of an infrastructure for Americans to gain access to Cuba,” CheapFlights.com writer Emily Fisher said. “There has already been a notable upswing in Americans traveling to Cuba and, as travel to and within the country gets easier, interest will grow even faster.”
Global travel search engine Skyscanner listed Cuba as its No. 2 destination for 2016, behind Ponta Delgada, the Azores.
“After years in the cold, Cuba is back on the world stage as the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with the country in July and continues to loosen restrictions on trade,” Skyscanner said. “If more restrictions are lifted we may see flights from the U.S. and the arrival of U.S. hotel chains opening in Cuba in 2016.”
Many people want to experience Cuba before it changes from the influx of foreign brands and financing.
“Having been shut off for so long, Cuba is trapped in a time warp, with crumbing colonial buildings and 1950s cars. It is like nowhere else on earth,” Skyscanner said.
One question I have about Cuba is: When will we see the first Major League Baseball team based in Cuba? That might take a while, but I’d expect to see a AAA minor league franchise in no time.
In December, the MLB asked U.S. government for special permission to sign players in Cuba, Reuters reported.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Late predictions for 2016: Obama becomes a dictator, Europe overrun with terrorists

For a day or two around New Year’s Day I published a host of 2016 predictions curated from around the World Wide Web.
Unfortunately, some prognosticators didn’t stick to that timetable and posted their predictions for the year ahead after 2016 had already started.
What follows are some of those late predictions for 2016.

Barack Obama will be the last president of the United States

A blind psychic from Bulgaria who died in 1996 allegedly predicted dire events for the U.S. and Europe for 2016.
Baba Vanga, known as the “Nostradamus from the Balkans,” reportedly said the 44th president of the U.S. would be an African American and that he would be the last president the country ever had.
This prediction could mean that President Barack Obama “will attempt to usher in a New World Order by oppression and indoctrination, followed by tyranny and a complete takeover of the nation,” conservative blog Mad World News said in a Jan. 4 article. “Not only that, but many believe Obama will institute martial law to cancel the elections and stay in power, which would be unprecedented and likely cause a violent insurrection.”
As for Europe, Vanga reportedly said the continent would be overrun by Muslim terrorists this year.

Tough presidential race ahead for the Republicans

Republican political consultant Karl Rove made his 2016 predictions on Jan. 6 in an article in the Wall Street Journal.
He predicted that the GOP will hold its first multi-ballot convention since 1948. At least two ballots will be needed to pick a Republican presidential nominee.
If Donald Trump gets the nomination, the GOP will lose the race, he said. If Ted Cruz gets the nod, his chances are “dicey.” But if “any of the other major (Republican) candidates” is nominated, he or she will beat Hillary Clinton in a close race.

Big growth ahead for e-sports

Many are predicting e-sports to be the next big professional sport. Competitive video gaming already has 100 million engaged fans, says investment bank Jefferies.
“E-sports has exploded in popularity due to the emergence of connected gaming platforms like Twitch, which has audiences larger than many cable networks,” Jefferies said in a Sept. 17 report. “More people watched League of Legends finals than NBA Finals Game 7.”
Jefferies included e-sports in its Jan. 13 year-ahead predictions.
Here’s a good question: When will Sports Illustrated devote its first cover to an e-sports player?

Some mega-unicorns to go public this year

RBC Capital Markets on Jan. 12 made its predictions for the Internet sector in 2016.
In its “Top 10 Internet Surprises for 2016,” RBC made a list of potential “surprise” events in the year-ahead. It defines surprise events as those that the average Internet investor would find highly improbable, but that RBC thinks has a reasonable chance (30%+) of occurring.
Those predictions include:
  • Some mega-unicorns will go public in 2016 instead of waiting until 2017 or later, which is the prevailing wisdom. Those high-value private companies include Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, Snapchat, Dropbox, Pinterest and Lyft.
  • Facebook will enter China.
  • Twitter’s monthly active users will decline.
  • Yahoo!’s fundamentals improve and Marissa Mayer remains CEO.
  • Yelp gets acquired.

Media industry mergers and acquisitions

BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield posted his top 16 media industry predictions for 2016 on Jan. 4.
Among his predictions:
  • Comcast bids for T-Mobile.
  • Lionsgate acquires Starz and sells Epix.
  • Amazon creates a standalone streaming video service.
  • Comcast launches an over-the-top Internet TV service.
  • Biggest movie of the year: “Finding Dory.”
  • Biggest movie flop of the year: “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

Big changes at Yahoo

S&P Capital IQ analyst Scott Kessler released his 16 predictions for the Internet sector for 2016 at the start of the year.
Among his predictions:
  • Yahoo will announce a CEO change.
  • Yahoo also will announce a major M&A transaction worth more than $1 billion (perhaps involving the sale of an important asset or business).
  • Alphabet will start disclosing YouTube revenues.
  • Akamai is announced as an M&A target for a larger company looking to get strategically stronger and take share in “the cloud.”

Artwork: Illustration of President Barack Obama as a dictator from TeaParty.org.

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