Monday, December 24, 2007

Laptop Project Enlivens Peruvian Hamlet - New York Times

The real test of this program comes when we see HOW the computers actually were used by the young people. Do they make better people of themselves as a result, or do they only have a good time? The latter is certainly positive, but the former has so much more potential. Which will it be? | Federal budget bears gifts for Triangle

The real question with all of these items is whether they were subjected to debate and discussion or whether any of these are earmarks and if so, who put them in the legislation.

Girl Power Is in Full Force Online - New York Times

Quoted in the News? Post a Comment, Please - New York Times

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Newspaper/Web Readers More Likely to Be 'Influencers'

Trees in North Carolina

I sent this note today to Hampton DELLINGER, one of the candidates for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina in next year's elections:

"This news is really discouraging, especially after seeing so many trees recently cut around us in Southern Village.

You should consider - if you have not already - a campaign pledge to halt the decline in North Carolina trees. In other words, take the position that under your watch, you will work -- i.e., do all that you can from the bully pulpit you will have as Lt Gov - to retain and expand the total number of trees in the state. Surely there must be measures of this and I believe that this is the sort of bold initiative that GORE talked about in Oslo today.

If you choose not to do so, I'll be real interested in knowing why."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturn of Chapel Hill

I encountered a Saturn of Chapel Hill van on 15-501 the other day. It was tailgating, moving between lanes in an unsafe manner and traveling well above the speed limit. When I called the dealership, I got the runaround and finally was told by the general manager that he would not assure me that they had taken action and suggested I call the police next time. One would have thought that a firm that sells motor vehicles would care about road safety a lot more than surely seemed to be the case. When I called the Chapel Hill Police, they asked for the details - the Saturn people did not - and promised to follow up with a call to the dealership. They were promising to do their job; Saturn of Chapel Hill seemed to me to be shirking their community responsibilities. The manager told me it was not my business. My answer to that is that anything that affects road safety is the business of all of us.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

HADLEY interview on NPR

Why should NPR have run out of time interviewing Stephen HADLEY, the National Security Advisor, about Iran two days ago? Shouldn't we expect NPR to change its schedule when there is something as important as this with someone as close to the "action" as is HADLEY? I would expect NPR to do this, and - perhaps most surprising - I would have thought that they would have continued the interview off air but on line if that was the only option. To do less than that, as was the case, is a big disappointment.

Citizen to Citizen

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dow Jones CEO Resigns, As News Corp. Moves In -

C.I.A. Destroyed Tapes of Harsh Interrogations - New York Times

This is not the US system of criminal justice as I came to love it. How can any of us read a story like this and react with anything less than horror that people who work for us, sworn to uphold principles critical to our system of justice, could do such things. Those in positions to do so should initiate investigatory actions aimed at all who may have been involved in such actions, and they all should be brought to justice. It is the only way we can begin to regain a system of justice from the damage inflicted upon it in recent years.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

TV people out in the cold....

Why is it that TV performers, all too often called reporters or correspondents, insist on standing outside in the cold, rain, snow or other inclement weather to do their "standup" performances? Why wouldn't a reasonably intelligent human prefer to get out the bad weather if they could, which they can most of the time?

PC Pro: News: Controversy over secret Wikipedia society

Monday, December 03, 2007

GE appliance energy consumption - why so hard to get?

We are in the market for a smaller oven to use when we want to cook something that really does not merit using the oven yet is better cooked in a regular oven rather than in a microwave oven.

So I called the GE "answer line" and finished an hour later with only a vague comparison between our current oven and microwave and a GE Advantium oven that could go over our gas burners.

Why should it be so hard - in this time of escalating environmental consciousness - to get an answer to my question? There was nothing on this point on GE's website that I could find and the people on the phone gave me the impression that no one had ever raised this question.

GE has a long way to go in my book to measure up to the environmentally-conscious image it tries to construct for itself through advertising.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ousted Justice in Pakistan Urges Defiance - New York Times

Where are the rest of us - the world's lawyers - at a time like this? Are we prepared to go to Pakistan to show solidarity?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Swamp: Obama on Justice Department interrogation memo

This is the right response to the Justice Department memo. I will be interested in following what the other candidates, especially Hillary CLINTON, have to say....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Justice Dept. Said to Endorse Harsh C.I.A. Interrogations - New York Times

This is an outrage. I am now at the point where it is no longer possible to refrain from demanding that we return to the principles of fairness and justice upon which I always was taught to believe that our country was built.

A President who condones such actions no longer deserves to hold that post, and we Americans ought to convince him that he and his Vice President must resign. I never thought I would have to think and write this, but this is now beyond quesiton.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Time to think about this...

As the news spins on the possible Microsoft investment in Facebook, think for a moment what it means that 42,000,000 people have "joined" this site. It is second to MySpace! Now think for a moment about the difference that either one has made to you and your life, if any, regardless of who "you" are......

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In ’08 Campaign, Money Chase Circles the Globe - New York Times

I sure wish the campaigns were more focused on "winning" the election in the hearts and minds of people who are not rich Americans, especially those who are not US citizens at all. Instead, it's all about money in the same way that Alan GREENSPAN correctly wrote that the Iraq invasion was all about oil. How sad we have come to this point in the US political system evolution. It could be - and should be - so much more than that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

$1 Million Given to Literacy Group - New York Times

Bravo to Random House for this move! Others should follow in very large numbers, both in dollars contributed and in people contributing. Which bookstores offer an option, with each purchase in stores and online, the chance to buy a book for someone who cannot afford one? Are there any that do this?

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Edwards to Pull Out of Fund for Lenders" - The New York Times

I'd put this in the category of "more bad judgment exercised by John EDWARDS". My vote for President is going to the candidate with the best track record of showing good judgment. EDWARDS has already amassed a huge deficit on that score that I think will prove impossible to overcome. See my earlier comments on the same point.

Banner blocking

The version of Norton antivirus software that I use allows me to block banner ads on most websites. It also gives me the option of allowing some, but I have not taken the time to figure that out. I had originally blocked all banners, and thought many web pages looked more attractive and simpler without the banners.
Recently, I unblocked them to see what I was missing. Yes, there were a couple of banners that caught my eye, and I was intrigued by some of the interactive functionalities provided in some of the banners.
But.....I have now switched back to blocking. Yes, I realize I am undermining some of the web revenue model, but I found most of the banners to be irrelevant, too distracting, taking more time to load when I access the sites where the banners appear, and generally not worth it.
Why would anyone want to see all those ads unless for others, the ads turn out to be either of direct interest or simply entertaining?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Push and Pull

The question of whether we like finding the newspaper in front of our homes or prefer to go find it on the web is an important one. A lot of the economics of the news business depend on that answer. Think about the different ways you now get news, the news that's important to you and the news you might like to have had earlier or better. If the obligation is entirely on you to go find "it" somewhere, you may or may not get there ahead of the others in front of whom you would like to be - whether family, friends or others. The concept of delivered news is under assault for the wrong reasons. It merits some reconsideration that does not start off with either the inevitability of the internet or this morning soggy newsprint newspaper.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New newspaper points of sale

Nice, France, saw the dedication yesterday of a new kiosque for newspaper and magazines next to the local courthouse in the Old City. It is remarkable to note how many local leaders are reported to have attended the event, and to realize that the city has been working to renovate a number of important kiosques around town. So far, seven have been done.

The real question is how big a difference this makes for the value proposition of printed newspapers and magazines. It would be interesting to see what impace the new structures has on both sales and image.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TB-infected "man"

Why is no news organization reporting his name? Surely, finding the name cannot be hard, and what does it say about the news media that they cannot do the research - apparently - to produce the name while relying simply on relaying what the government and health people tell them?

After posting the preceding paragraph, CNN - no doubt putting dozens of sidewalk-friendly reporters on the assignment - has just reported that the "man" is a lawyer who practices in the Atlanta, GA area. What a breakthrough and how embarrassing for the news business.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"IPI Says Cartoonist Arrested in Vienna over Poster Carrying Image of President Putin" - But what position does IPI take on the arrest?

This report, if accurate - based on unnamed "information provided to the" IPI - seems to take no position on what appears to be a gross restriction on free expression by police in Vienna. I wonder if the hesitancy to protest - or so it seems - might have something to do with the undisclosed but rumored financial relationship/support between IPI and the City of Vienna? This would be an excellent time to disclose the details of all money and privileges extended to IPI because of its headquarters location in Vienna.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Developing world news

Surely, there have to be some ways - as yet unused - to increase the interest among people in the US in the news of the developing world. Is it time to start a new initiative in this area? I am tired of news in the US that always makes one person in the US the equal of 20 or 40 or hundreds of people in other countries....whether it be natural disasters, wars, or even good news.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Non-profit solicitations

We, like so many people in the US, make some number of contributions to non-profit organizaitons. It is our pleasure to do what we can, we always wish that we could do more for more good causes.

Having reached that personal limit of "what we can do" at any given time, it pains me greatly to see all of the money that almost every group then wastes in trying to get us to give more. We receive pads of papers, enough address labels to last a lifetime, and most recently, a handmade keychain.

What I would like to be able to do in each case is to go to a website for the organization and tell them not to send anything more for 6 months. After 6 months, send me a note, if you like, and then send me one a year from now. Nothing more.

It would increase how much we give, and it would decrease my frustration at tossing so many printed resource dollars into the recycling bin. What a terrible waste and how eminentaly avoidable.

These organizations should be leaders in eveyr sense, including the creative use of what an electronic connection to contributors can achieve to make everyone happier and more good causes well-served.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Second Life in France

I have not paid much attention to the Second Life phenomenon. For those who are "into" that, more power to them. That said, I thought a story on French morning television to be at least notable. FR2's morning show reports that two young French men have launched their own advertising agency on Second Life. Their clients are inside and outside Second Life. The program showed electronic sandwich boards worn by Second Life characters. They claim 30,000 people saw their first advertisement. I don't know if they are paid in virtual or real money, or any money at all. Perhaps they receive only psychic satisfaction compensation.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our "neighbor", John EDWARDS

Today's Chapel Hill News carries an opinion column by one of the Chapel Hill (NC) Town Council members, Laurin EASTHOM. In it, she attempts to respond to an article in the (Raleigh) News & Observer about US Presidential candidate John EDWARDS.

Ms EASTHOM contends that we should ignore EDWARDS' new, very large house here in Chapel Hill and the report by the N&O that EDWARDS does not say hello to a local business owner across the street from the new home (with the highest assessed value of any home here in Orange County).

She says that we should look to other wealthy US presidents and all the good works they have done for the poor, starting with Franklin ROOSEVELT.

I am afraid that she misses the point. It's a question of judgment.

Mr. EDWARDS keeps exercising very bad judgment as he demonstrated on Meet the Press today. While he says now that his vote for the Iraq "war" was wrong, he continues to say that he would have voted for the action even today if the "war" had been managed better. This says to me that he simply does not have the knowledge of other countries and cultures, and especially the Middle East, to be President. He said that he ignored evidence to the contrary on "weapons of mass destruction" at the time.

The judgment that he made on casting his vote the way he did, the time that it took him to admit he made a mistake (more than two years) and the judgment he still applies in saying better management would have resulted in him still voting the way he did all say to me that he does not have what it takes to by my President.

This all comes in the wake of a couple of things. One was the visit here last week of some people from Northern Europe who had never been to NC previously. They were struck by the absence of poverty. It also comes in the wake of a rough calculation that what the President is asking for Iraq and Afghanistan over the next two years amounts to about 10,000 USD for each citizen of those countries. If not 10,000, then it is a very healthy sum.

Alongside Ms. EASTHOM's column was a story that reports on the trials and tribulations of a small family restaurant (average meal $7, the N&O reports) only a few miles from Mr. EDWARDS' new home. The reporter found that the restaurant "more times than not, operating at a loss".

Mr. EDWARDS and Ms. EASTHOM both know that all politics are local. Walt's Grill is about as local as it gets for both of them.

Finally, one other piece of this "picture" is an invitation to a fund raiser for EDWARDS at the home of D.R. BRYAN, the developer of Southern Village. The invitation seems to be looking for contributions at the levels of $500 and $1,000.

Where will that money go? Much of it will probably go for EDWARDS' staff and more fund-raising. If not used for that purpose, it will wind up television advertising or other candidate promotion.

Ms. EASTHOM says we should look not at EDWARDS' house, but at what he has "done in his work,is currently doing in his campaign, and will continue to do for all Americans as he proactively tackles the complexity of poverty in America".

Ok, so let's see what John EDWARDS has done in Chapel Hill, with his neighbors and others to deal with the poverty here that our European visitors did not see. He may have done a lot, and many of us would like to know so we can appreciative. I hope he will share this with us.

In the meantime, imagine what might happen if he took all the money donated for the lunch on 9 Feb and created a fund that turned the contributions into meal tickets redeemable at Walt's for those in our town and county for whom an occasional free lunch might make a huge difference. That would give the so-far missing strength to Ms. EASTHOM's words about "actions". And, most important, it would wind up being one of the actions to put on Mr. EDWARDS' "very good judgment" list. He needs all he can find.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Advertising on

I am all for advertising to support a free press, including The New York Times. But I wish advertisers and the Times could work out an alternative to the jarring banner ads that now appear in the two "ears" at the top of the home page. There has to be a way to sell that space and not include content that looks like it could have been copied from a highway billboard somewhere. How about figuring out a message that really works with New York Times readers and including that? Design it better and I bet more of the people visiting this site will wind up responding to it, the Times will earn more revenue, and the world will be a better place for it!

The Boston "Cartoon Network" incident reflects declining professionalism in the media and elsewhere

The incident in Boston in the news yesterday and today - the setting out of devices as part of a promotional plan for the Cartoon Network - is another indication of how much high ethical standards, in the media especially, are under assault today. The advent of unbridled "guerilla marketing" poorly managed by people who must care more about making money than any responsibility they have to people in any community is a real danger both to the media and to the rest of us.

My advice to Time Warner executives is to start firing people and start writing checks to the City of Boston and to all of the government agencies to cover their costs, and a multi-million dollar gift to the people of Bosotn to reimburse them for their inconvenience. Those checks should not be drawn on Time Warner but taken out of the personal accounts of Time Warner executives, all of whom - collectively - bear responsibility for this. That includes CNN; no one in the Time Warner corporate hierarchy should escape liability.