nyt burnishes u.s. "ally" -- for sixty-five years

Jadaliyya (e-zine of the Arab Studies Institute) offers a tragicomic compendium: Seventy Years of the New York Times Describing Saudi Royals as Reformers*



“King Saud has increasingly assumed the role of liberal champion of constitutional reform.”

Note: The Saudi constitution was adopted by royal decree in 1992

Years later:


Announcing that local elections have been delayed for two years, this report nonetheless lauds the king’s reformist intentions before concluding with the following quote: “You have a reform-oriented king trying to push in the direction of reform, but you have a non-reform-oriented structure that is close to impossible to change.”

And finally, Thomas Friedman's fawning over the prince who is currently in the news for "whacking" a critic in the Turkish consulate:

[T]his Friedman piece includes such gems as “he is much more McKinsey than Wahhabi — much more a numbers cruncher than a Quran thumper.”

*Update: The timeline starts in 1953 so "seventy years" is an exaggeration. Post title changed,

divert and conquer


"Liberal guilt" is a term that's gone out of fashion but it's weirdly intertwined with the Silicon Valley brand of paternalism. Witness the endless parade of Others on the search page of a company that, according to Fortune, "still hasn't fixed its diversity problem" in actual hiring.
The image above, from a few days ago, depicts baseball great Roberto Clemente as seen by uncredited artist Roxie Vizcarra. (Subject and artist are never written on the page -- you have to click somewhere to find this info.)
Vizcarra renders Clemente in a generic "clip art" style, transforming him from determined sports competitor to slightly vacant pretty boy. Like many of this company's illustrations it seems oblivious to human anatomy and perspective illusionism. The batting arm, for example, appears unnaturally twisted and lifeless. Clemente stares off in the distance, presumably looking at a high pop fly he just hit -- but appears stupefied rather than focused. In fact, the baseball seems to have sailed past him and landed in a pair of... severed hands. Is that a heart-shape on the ball stitching?
The map of Puerto Rico, Clemente's home island, appears to have been conquered by the sponsoring company, which has appropriated the territory's flag.
The blue molecule next to Clemente's elbow does not mean he is also a nuclear scientist. That's the "share" icon.

corporate ownership of meme sites (update)

A previous post pondered the provenance of eBaum's WORLD and Cheezburger. Who owns them exactly, and what is the chain of possession from previous owners?

So is Viumbe a Literally subsidiary? Is eBaum in transition between owners with dated website info? Or is Literally the "old" owner? Inquiring meme ghouls want to know.

Thanks to polyaenus for emailing with some additional research. The text below is quoted in full from the email:

First, looking at the Viumbe site, it seems quite dead.
It lists three sites in its media kit pdf and two of them redirect to Ebaumsworld.
@celebremix stopped tweeting in 2012 and @viumbe in 2013.
The sales contact listed in the media kit seems to work somewhere else now.

However, the Ebaumsworld and Cheezburger twitters are still active, run by "EiC" @colbydroscher.

Ebaumsworld was acquired by Handheld Entertainment Inc (ZVUE) in 2007. [link]

Interestingly, Handheld was run by Google cofounder Larry Page's brother.
At first his company made a video/mp3 player called ZVUE, trying to compete with Apple's iPod.


I guess this didn't work and they tried to pivot into online media. [link]

Before they made the big purchase of Ebaumsworld, they ran some other sites:
"It offers content through YourDailyMedia.com, FunMansion.com, Putfile.com, Dorks.com, ZVUE.com, and UnOriginal.co.uk Web sites" [link]

ZVUE was eventually suspended from trading in 2014. [link]

I'm not sure how Viumbe got ZVUE's assets but this says it was formed in 2009. [link]

Viumbe "relaunched" Ebaumsworld in 2012. [link]

Viumbe was sold to JoBookit Holdings Limited in 2014 for $2.5 million according to this lawsuit. [link]

"Jobookit develops game changing concepts and dynamic technologies to optimize and ultimately simplify the world of online recruitment."
not sure what that has to do with a meme site.

This guy [twitter] is listed as both the CEO of Jobookit and the Co-owner of Viumbe until it was acquired by Literally Media in 2017. [link]

Literally (founded 2015) acquired Cheezburger in 2016
(look at that fucking url lol)

One weird thing is that according to the above link, Cheezburger "joins" Ebaumsworld as being part of Literally Media, in 2016. Yet Filstein's own site and LinkedIn says Literally bought Viumbe in 2017. Confusing.

one last link i found from a bitter content farmer...

Fractalized Nyan Cat


[hooktube] video (detail of screenshot)

RA (via email): theres a guy on youtube ... manipulating parameters in fractal software. i went to his channel last night and he posted a 'test' of some sort of new texture feature in his software and used the nyan cat in the background as the texture. the end result feels particularly interesting, its a very weird mash up i think.

i should also add ... if you look at his other videos, they are all kind of serious, or he has demos being really helpful teaching how his workflow is. this 'cute' vid kind of caught me by surprise, more so than if the channel was filled with nothing but like funny or silly stuff.

TM (reply): Agreed the mash-up of (trivial) cat and (ominous) 3D borg cube is interesting. The cat improves with all the flipping and spatial permutations. And yes let's hope he doesn't do another 20 like that (with various meme videos).

The nyan cat in the background is blurry (probably enlarged in Firefox!) and then returns to something closer to its original resolution as it shrinks and grows. I suppose fuzzy pixels are needed for the sake of the 3D illusion.

corporate ownership of meme sites

Like the blogosphere, meme sites are a legacy of the previous decade that were essentially eclipsed by the big corporate "social" silos. In other words, you could experience the meme on "social" without having to go to an originator, or originating aggregator. So the meme sites lost momentum as destinations. (This wasn't the only reason: add uniform boring corporate redesigns and simple exhaustion of the original target audience.) In any case, it makes sense that these old sites would become "properties" that some Silicontrepeneur would try to squeeze "value" from. For the morbidly inclined, the current landscape is confusing, though.

Here, "eBaum's WORLD" is listed as a portfolio company of Literally media:


What, no funnyjunk or somethingawful?

Clicking the first Literally link takes you to eBaum's WORLD, which shows another company, Viumbe LLC, as owner:


The Viumbe page lists eBaum as a property:


So is Viumbe a Literally subsidiary? Is eBaum in transition between owners with dated website info? Or is Literally the "old" owner? Inquiring meme ghouls want to know.

Update: A reader emailed with some answers!