Weekly Round-Up: The Streisand Effect

Have you ever heard of the Streisand Effect?  No, it doesn’t have anything to do with her being an incredibly successful (and highly parodied) entertainer.  Rather, the Streisand Effect refers to an incident where Streisand, while trying to keep a picture that showed a portion of her property from being published (along with 12,000 other pictures of the California coastline) inadvertently led to tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of people seeing the picture she fought so hard to keep under wraps.  Now, the term ‘Streisand Effect’ is used anytime that attempts to repress information actually end up spreading it further, due to the Internet and other media sources stirring up further attention.

The Streisand Effect has been on my mind quite a bit lately, particularly given what is going on with The Oatmeal vs. FunnyJunk.  In case you haven’t heard, The Oatmeal is an incredibly popular webcomic page (so popular that it routinely shows up in links on my Alexa Toolbar, which requires being one of the 1000 or so most popular webpages in the world, period) while FunnyJunk is user-provided content site focusing on, well, funny junk.  (Think YouTube, particularly back in its earlier wild days, but for humorous pictures.)  To make a long story short, here’s the basic summary:

  1. Some comics from The Oatmeal were being posted on FunnyJunk, frequently without even any attribution to allow people who enjoyed the comics on FunnyJunk to find their way to The Oatmeal,
  2. The creator of The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, asked for them to be taken down,
  3. FunnyJunk acted as if they had no ability to control what their users posted (although even an UN-tech-savvy person such as myself can tell you that they really should, if I can control who posts comments on my blog),
  4.  After several attempts, Inman threw up his hands and decided to just ignore the lose of traffic and potential money,
  5.  A year later, a lawyer for FunnyJunk, Charles Carreon, threatend to press charges against Inman, demanding that he pay $20,000 to FunnyJunk (the site posting Inman’s comics AGAINST HIS WISHES, as you may recall) to avoid a lawsuit,
  6. Inman, being a fellow who makes a living from comedy, instead started a fundraiser among his followers, trying to raise $20,000, not for legal expenses, but just to prove that he could, and then would give the money to the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society,
  7. Inman’s readers proceeded to raise over $100,000 in donations in one day,
  8. After quite a bit of legal struggling (read ALL the details on PopeHat, a blog from a California lawyer), Carreon replied by suing not just Inman and The Oatmeal, but also Indigogo, Inc. (the firm collecting the donations) and, in what Ken of PopeHat describes (highly accurately, in my view) as ‘legal cartoon-supervillainy’, both the National Wildlife Federation AND the American Cancer Society for, I guess, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not refusing donations (which haven’t been made yet, no less) from people Carreon doesn’t like.

All of this is pretty much the sort of example that future textbooks would use to explain the Streisand Effect, if they didn’t think that future students would assume they were just making it up to prove some sort of point.  Heck, I’ve been following The Oatmeal since the original complaints against FunnyJunk were leveled, and I still can’t believe it’s come to this.  I can’t say what will happen, of course, but now, thanks to the all the legal action taken on by Carreon and FunnyJunk, all my readers can count themselves among the people who know about what could have just been a fairly small, never considered again issue between FunnyJunk and Inman.  Amazing how things work in the information age, isn’t it?

Alright, that took longer than I was planning to cover (although, I do think it was worth it).  Now it’s time to get to the real fun of this post, the links to great posts!  We’ll start with:

Good Yakezie Posts

What is a Longevity Annuity? – I can’t say I’ve heard of this type of annuity before, and judging from Evan’s reaction on My Journey to Millions, it’s apparently a pretty new one all around.  Still, as insurance against an extraordinarily long life, it could have potential.  While we’re talking about Evan, he and his wife apparently celebrated their 4 year anniversary last week.  Congratulation, Evan, and here’s to another 40 years (and much, much more) with her!

Cash Out Your Roth IRA to Fund Your Small Business-Horrible Mistake Or Blessing In Disguise? – This is a tough call; Roth IRAs do have lots of tax advantages, but small businesses that are successful (like the one described by Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents in this Yakezie Post) can yield many times the amount of profit, to say nothing of much more flexibility in your work, compared to even highly successful IRA investments.  My thoughts: You should definitely look for other sources of funding first, but if the business is really what you want to do with your life, you’ll regret it more if you don’t try to do it.

How Much For a Date? – Here’s an interesting post: Little House in the Valley shares an infographic (from  TurboTax, it appears) comparing the costs of a fairly standard date (a dozen roses, a movie, a few drinks, and a cab ride to get you to all these places and back home) at a number of different cities.  The US cities listed are about average, apparently.  (Although, let’s be honest, New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago are going to be more expensive than most places in the US.)  Interesting stuff.

The Three V’s of Success – If you’ve been following my Round-Up posts for the past few months, you might have noticed the occasional mention of an alphabet-themed series of posts from KrantCents.  Well, we’re getting near the end of the alphabet, and the three V-words that were included just so happened to quote Julius Caesar.  (If you can’t already tell what the words are, you should probably be spending more time reading the classics.)

The Irresponsibility of Borrowing Money to Borrow More Money – While this might at first glance seem like an impossibility (when do you have to borrow in order to borrow more?), the examples given by the Financial Samurai do make a lot of sense (borrowing from parents for a house down-payment, putting your car down-payment on your credit cards).  While there might be some rare cases where this works out for the best (the parents helping with a housing down-payment thing might work out, if (a) you treat their money as a loan, not a gift and (b) you work to pay off the mortgage, and don’t let the bank foreclose), but for the most part, it’s just piling one debt on top of another, increasing the trouble you’ll have paying off both.

Why Are Europeans So Skinny? – This is an interesting one; although 101 Centavos says he’s focusing on Italians, I can vouch from my own experience that most Germans (yes, the people known for drinking beer all the time and eating bratwurst) are pretty thin, too.  He covers several reasons why, ranging from walking more to eating less (yes, Italians eat less than us Americans).

Finance Lessons From ‘The Hobbit’ – Being the huge dork that I am, there’s no way I can resist including a post that references Tolkien.    Here, LaTisha of Financial Success for Young Adults extracts a few financial lessons from ‘The Hobbit’, before encouraging those who haven’t read it to read it before the movie comes out.  (Although, if you, like me, haven’t read it since eighth grade English class in mid-nineties, it might be time for a re-read…)

Contests and Giveaways

Mrs. Accountability of Out of Debt Again is holding a $250 giveaway from Credit Sesame between now and June 22nd (that’s this Friday, by the way).  It seems like a pretty neat service, and when you can win $250 while spending $0, that is the sort of math that I like.

Crystal of Budgeting In The Fun Stuff has a review and giveaway of a Miche Bag.  Being a straight man who fits just about every stereotype associated with straight men (except for the interest in sports), I don’t see the difference between a Miche Bag and a purse, but then, I’m not really the target of this giveaway.

Marissa over at Thirty-Six Months is giving away 2 $50 Old Navy Gift Cards, if you happen to be an Old Navy type of shopper.  She’s also using Rafflecopter, the same service I did with my last giveaway, which kind of amuses me.

Where The Amateur Financier Was Featured

My article on Being Truly Prepared for an Emergency was included in the Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #240, hosted by the mysterious and spooky (and altogether ooky) Cult of Money.

On the subject of emergencies, my article on Getting Your Life Back In Order After a Fire or Other Disaster was included in the 159th edition of the Cavalcade of Wealth- Early Edition, hosted by My Wealth Builder.  It was also included in the LinkedIn Hacked, Security Suggestions & Round-Up (which has a few pretty good suggestions) hosted by The Wealth Artisan.

The always interesting, frequently offensive author at Control Your Cash discussed my thoughts on Will Having Money Change You? in his Carnival of Wealth, Speed Edition.  He has some pretty sharp words for me (and for Financial Samurai and Finance Fox, the two bloggers I referenced), but that’s the advantage of having a blog, you can get all kinds of different opinions, many of which can make you sit down and think.

That should be it for now; here’s hoping you all have a wonderful week.  (And keep an eye on that dispute between The Oatmeal and FunnyJunk; something tells me the real fun has just begun…)

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