Archive for June, 2008

Mon 30 Jun 2008 11:43 pm   //   Posted in: In the news

Corrupting the marketplace of ideas

I’m fascinated by the conservative whispering campaign that’s turning people against Obama not because of his ideas, but because of his skin color and a factually inaccurate narrative that depicts him as a Muslim. I’ve written about this before. People can be made to belive almost anything when they’re motivated by sufficient fear.

So I was not surprised to read this excellent Washington Post story: In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying

I’d like to assure my international readers that the bigoted idiots of Findlay, Ohio, quoted in this story (“All I know for sure about Obama is that we’re not ready for him”) are not typical Americans.

UPDATE: The Findlay Courier opinion page responds with a breathtaking failure to see the big picture.

Sun 29 Jun 2008 9:48 pm   //   Posted in: Photos, Transit

Where to?

Sat 28 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: TV commericals

Say anything with a smile

A lot of people didn’t find that Cadbury drumming gorilla ad as amusing as I did. Well, here’s another Cannes Lions winner that I like, and which might be funnier:

Related post on my work blog: Why Ad Competitions Suck.

Fri 27 Jun 2008 6:30 pm   //   Posted in: Media

What I did this week

Apologies for two work-related posts in a row, but I worked hard on this story and I’d like to share it:

Who Murdered Trent Keegan?

Feedback and criticism welcome.

Fri 27 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Videos

Reporting from the United Nations…

… I’ve always wanted to say that. Here’s a video I made yesterday night for work:

Standard disclaimer: I still consider online video a learning exercise; I hope to get better at it.

Thu 26 Jun 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Music

Cold War Kids in Prospect Park

Last summer in California Brian introduced me to the rock-and-roll music of the Cold War Kids. Friday evening the kids are playing a $3 show at the Prospect Park Bandshell. This concert is mandatory. Either you’re going to be there or you need a valid excuse.

Thu 26 Jun 2008 10:00 am   //   Posted in: Stray data

Something I never learned

How much do you tip a barber? I guess every time, based on what the guy ahead of me does. What’s the rule here?

Wed 25 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: In the news

The gut check

Sometimes a news story doesn’t pass the gut check. That means, when you weigh your own life experience, the story in question is believable only in the face of overwhelming evidence. Journalists need to work extra hard on such stories. Some don’t.’s “pregnancy pact” story is one such case. A group of Massachusetts high school girls making a pact to get pregnant together? Didn’t smell right. Especially since none of the girls was on record saying so. That didn’t stop every TV news program in the country, and many elsewhere, from picking it up. Now a few new facts confirm the gut-check: The pact probably existed only in the imagination of the school principal.

Elsewhere, how about the Amazonian tribe that had never been contacted by outsiders? Not so much. Gut check wins again.

What do you think explains the five human feet that washed up on the beach in British Columbia? Does not pass the gut check, but seems true. Police are on the record saying the feet are real, though a sixth foot was a hoax. I wonder how this one will play out.

Related: Jack Shafer of Slate is a master of knocking these things down.

Tue 24 Jun 2008 10:03 pm   //   Posted in: Hard times

This system you sold me isn’t working

My 401(k), planned quite carefully to grow over the long term, is down 6.1 percent for the year. Anybody beating that?

Tue 24 Jun 2008 7:35 am   //   Posted in: Food & drink, New York is different

The sidewalk economy

I work in a big office building in the East Village, a few blocks below Union Square. On a nice day, it’s impossible to walk around the neighborhood without being accosted. There are two kinds of distractions:

  • People who want money.
  • People who want to give you something for free.

The people who ask for the most money are with the United Homeless Organization, a dubious outfit whose supporters set up tables with blue water bottles and say, “Even a penny will help!” Second place is Greenpeace, which dispatches young and enthusiastic volunteers to humiliate themselves by flagging people down on the sidewalk to sign them up for contributions. Third place is people with pets and cardboard signs… Some may or may not be homeless, some may or may not be associated with animal shelters.

Only slightly less annoying are the “street teams” that give away free samples. Energy drinks, energy bars and other miracles of food science are common freebies. Yesterday I was handed an entire bag of free samples and coupons by one of the city’s big drug store chains. It contained:

  • Advil.
  • A Soyjoy bar.
  • A tablet of guava leaf extract marketed as a hangover cure.
  • A 2-ounce plastic bottle containing an “energy shot” fortified with vitamins and caffeine (but merely 8 calories).

I can imagine the marketing brief: We’re trying to target influential, busy, exhausted young people with discretionary income. Recommended location: East Village. What are they, drug dealers?