Death to the tornado

Yarrgh, but I hate that thing—that animated collection of whirling poop-flecks that the History Channel has inflicted on us with that ad on the right. It’s supposed to only show up every 12 hours, and it’s supposed to be disabled on browsers where it causes conflicts (like Safari, where it disables every link it spins over and also shuts down my key commands), but it just keeps coming.

We’re stuck with it for a while—commitments were made—but they’re not supposed to ever put up anything that intrusive again.


  1. CCC says

    Firefox. Adblock. I’ve never seen a thing. Sorry, scienceblogs revenue people.

  2. says

    Aggh…it disables link in Opera, too. Ads need to remain confined in their little box. Make sure Seed never puts one of the ads that expands when you mouse over it up here.

  3. outeast says

    My main objection is that since it appeared the ScienceBlogs page has slowed right down – takes 30 or 40 seconds to load for me now. Hugely annoying. And I don’t even get the poop flecks (it must use some kind of scripting that my computer has switched off).

    It’s almost annoying as having to sign into typepad all the time:)

  4. BlueIndependent says

    Ha ha, no worries. There are far more intrusive examples on the sites of most daily rags.

    At least it’s not a car ad.

  5. steve s says

    I saw people complaining about this at Respectful Insolence. I didn’t know what they were talking about since I use Firefox with Flashblock and Filterset G. So I opened Scienceblogs with Internet Explorer. Man. I have no idea why you guys subject yourself to such crap as ads like that. Why don’t you just cut out the middleman and poke yourself with needles everytime you go to a new webpage? I can’t stand moving flashing blinking crap when i’m trying to read. Using those extensions, I never have to.

  6. says

    Agreed Steve. It really is amazing how quickly you get used to a useful internet… and how horrifying it all seems when you’re not using your own setup and you’re submitted to the full force and horror of the contemporary web.

    Just like poking yourself in the eyes, in fact; with *long* needles.

    I read somewhere recently that the next version of IE won’t have so much in the way of ad blocking features cos Microsoft obviously try to make money out of those adverts too. Nasty conflict of interest. Luckily they don’t make browsers for my OS anyway, so I don’t even have to bother about dismissing them out of hand. :-)

  7. says

    The ad is extremely annotying, but I have to admit that, as a programmer, I can really appreciate the clever use of modern browser capabilities.

  8. aineko says

    I haven’t seen the Tornado, but I have the FlashBlock extension ( installed which replaces all Flash objects with a play button that you can use to play the animation if you really want to see it. FlashBlock protects you from annoying Flash-heavy sites of all types, not just ads, while letting you click on the 1-2% of Flash objects you really want to view.

  9. Bob O'H says

    Ah, the irony:
    “Mega Disasters: Can it Happen Here?”
    Yes, every day when we look in here.

    Right, off to…


  10. Coragyps says

    Nobody’s even mentioned junkyards or 747’s yet. I’m deeply disappointed.

  11. Steve LaBonne says

    Firefox users- get Adblock Plus 0.7 and Adblock Filterset.G Updater That combo handily takes care of a lot of garbage automatically, including our “friends” at the History Channel.

  12. James says

    I hate to read while things are dancing around on the screen. So…

    In IE, if you double click the middle box (third from the left) of the Status bar (View-Status Bar if you don’t see it), you will see the Manage Add-ons window in which you can disable the shockwave flash object and turn it on when you want it on.

    Also in IE, if you hit Esc after a page loads, all animated gifs will stop.

    Lastly, if you feel funny about using your email address for TypeKey, go to You can use to register at TypeKey, check the email at and never have to worry about spam of any kind.

  13. Torbjörn Larsson says

    The tornado is even dumber than TypeKey since it pops up for new SB tabs. The constructors have apparently never used tabbed browsing.

    Otherwise FF in itself keeps most annying ads away. It’s the javascript ones that it has problems with would be my guess. Last time I used an adblock facility it interfered with common javascript applications. Maybe I shall try again.

  14. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Err. Yes, shockwave and animated gif would be a problem too. Duh!

  15. tacitus says

    Shhh!! You guys are letting the cat out of the bag! If too many people start blocking ads then the whole “free Internet” thing will come crashing down and we’ll all start having to pay through the nose for everything. (That or websites start finding ways to circumvent the blockers.)

  16. Sailorman says

    There’s an easy two-part solution:

    1) Firefox
    2) NoScript (if you don’t have it, you should). This lets you selectively bar scripts, instead of taking “everything on the page” or “nothing on the page”.

    For example, this page alone shows I’m blocking scripts from

    while still allowing

  17. PaulC says

    12 hours? Today it seems to be coming every time I look at a page or hit the refresh button.

  18. Schwaumlaut says

    I haven’t ever seen this thing, but I use FlashBlock on Firefox (i.e. all flash applets have to be whitelisted) and a pretty good HOSTS file. Installing that HOSTS file is probably the best thing I’ve ever done.

  19. Karey says

    Safari user here, I have firefox on my mac too but find it a bit bloated and slow sometimes compared to safari so i still use it a lot cos it tends to be simpler. As for the tornado, it has a close button, but it is getting pretty repetitive having to keep closing it all the time. The popup blocker doesn’t have any effect on it. I guess I’ll look into this pithhelmet thing. I’m more irritated that something as respectable as the History channel resorts to such ad tactics. Are they peddling porn now?

  20. Diego says

    That little demon-spawn maelstrom is the bane of my existence right now. Okay, maybe not THE bane, but it’s in the top 40. I close it, but then find that the link I wanted to click on is now disabled because it was touched by the twisted twister. I hit refresh, and my nemesis reappears. Wonderful!

  21. Kagehi says

    Hmm. I am using Firefox, but I only have NoScript installed.. And I haven’t seen any such thing… Maybe they nuked it prior to my logging on. lol

  22. Dustin says

    Personally, I like the tornado. I think it might suck up one or two of those creationist trolls and put them someplace that isn’t Kansas.

  23. says

    Thanks to everyone for the adblock recommendation. My tornado – and all of scienceblog’s ads – are now gone. I politely asked Seed Media Group to stop the animated ads several months ago; they politely replied that they would. Enough is enough; all their ads are gone, and to hell with them. I was quite happily reading many of these science blogs before there was scienceblogs and if loss of ad revenue shuts Seed down I’m sure I will continue to keep happily reading them wherever they land.

  24. says

    My solution to avoiding Flash ads is 100% effective: Never install Flash Player. While Homestar Runner may be cute, being able to watch it just isn’t worth all the annoying popover ads.