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.