Google Flu Trends? Cool. But What Else Can Google Predict?

An Obama Baby Boom, Perhaps? Find Out in the Latest NSFAQ (Not-So-Frequently-Asked Questions)

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As a service to real readers, Media Guy fields imaginary questions about the media landscape from nonexistent readers. He does this every few months in deference to his very busy actual readers -- saving them the trouble of writing in with questions they simply don't have time to ask. Herewith, the latest batch of NSFAQ (not-so-frequently-asked questions).
MSNBC has put Joe Scarborough on seven-second delay after he dropped the F bomb on his "Morning Joe" show last week. Do other cable news nets have any similar plans to protect the delicate sensibilities of viewers?
Oh fudge! Former crusader against filth on TV practically begs FCC for a spanking.
Oh fudge! Former crusader against filth on TV practically begs FCC for a spanking. Credit: Paul Drinkwater

So far, no, but apparently CNN viewers are clamoring for at least a 15-second warning when the network intends to invoke its hologram-interview feature, so they can hit the bathroom or fridge instead of enduring its state-of-the-art (-for-1976) lameness. And I think it'd be great if CNN would insert a siren noise every 60 seconds into "Larry King Live" to keep that show's audience -- and Mr. King himself -- from nodding off. Also, it'd be great if Fox News put Ann Coulter on, say, eight-year delay.

So I read on Gawker that a Newsweek reporter used publicist Peter Shankman's popular Help a Reporter Out service to try to determine the likelihood of "an Obama baby boom nine months from Election Night," asking potential sources, "Did you make love in the name of Obama on election night?" Do you think the Obama Mama phenomenon is real?

The thing is, despite the Bush administration's well-known evangelical-base-fueled antipathy to birth control, it didn't actually succeed in banning condoms and such, so the Trojan Effect will likely suppress, uh, Democratic baby turnout. But anyway, weren't all liberals too busy weeping with joy to have sex? Then again, given liberals' penchant for crying during sex, perhaps all those tears were a turn-on? Oh, hell, I'll get back to you in August 2009, OK?

About that rumor that the Obama girls might appear on "Hannah Montana": I was pretty dubious, especially since Billy Ray Cyrus, father of the show's star, Miley Cyrus, was quoted by Access Hollywood as saying, "You know the 'Hannah Montana' film comes out in April. Maybe something might happen around then." Oh, really?

Well, given that Disney just announced its earnings fell 13% in its fiscal fourth quarter, it'd be mighty nice of Malia and Sasha to step up and do their part to help rescue American media. They really should take a cue from their father, whose Jan. 20 "Hope" special -- aka inauguration -- will serve as a perfect lead-in to the Jan. 21 two-hour season-premiere of "Lost" on Disney unit ABC.

Speaking of ABC, I read on that Google's new Google Flu Trends site "will monitor search trends to [gauge] abnormally large numbers of searches for 'flu' and related terms" -- because Google tracking such search queries allowed it to predict regional flu outbreaks two weeks faster than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neat! What else can Google searches predict?

Well, in September, when Google's YouTube began hosting rediscovered clips of Sarah Palin's swimsuit-competition star turn from the 1984 Miss Alaska beauty pageant, Google was able to predict, two weeks ahead of the CDC, that outbreaks of blindness and palm hirsuteness would afflict Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia and other Southern states most severely. Similarly, on Nov. 12, the No. 7 most searched phrase on Google, according to Google Trends, was "Cindy McCain affair." So we can predict that, two weeks from now, John McCain will follow in Bob Dole's footsteps and become a pitchman for Viagra.

Popacular, a site that has been keeping count of Twitter tweets, announced last week that we've now passed the billion-tweets mark. Wow! What's your reaction?

Totes hungry, heading out 4 sandwich.
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