Monday, December 20, 2010

"Threadless designs success with crowd-sourced business model"

"New Security Features from Google" -

I would have expected, in a more perfect world, that newspapers would not leave this kind of reporting to a distant company and its computers. Instead, I would have expected this sort of thing to come from newspapers, helping customers.

"Britain - OK 2 Txt n Tweet in Court, Judge Rules" -

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Only in Madagascar" -

I am not sure that this story says anything about this?

" : Shipping & Delivery"

Very impressive, customer-responsive service if I ever saw one!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nook and newspapers

Today I saw a television commercial for Nook Color from Barnes & Noble. What struck me as they mentioned "newspapers" alongside books as the value a customer would derive from having one of these devices, was how rarely I see the newspaper promoted by anyone else in the value chain. That was nice to see and newspapers should look for more ways to arrive at the same result, not to mention working on ways to encourage people to use this and other devices to access what newpspaers have to offer.

"911 responders bill" - Google Search

See post on my Facebook wall about Jon STEWART and this legislation.

It's remarkable to me that nothing pops up in these search results that empowers us to DO something, if inclined as I am to act, to advance the legislation.

How do we explain this failure of something that I would have expected someone to have set up? More volunteer work needed?

This happens all too frequently, for me anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Made in North Carolina

I am especially interested in the subject of what gets made, grown, produced in some way in North Carolina and how much of it winds up getting consumed there. I will be adding some posts tagged Made in North Carolina in order to record some of the things that I am finding.

"Bully’s Killing Is Unsolved, and Residents Want It That Way" -

I am going to start posting a newspaper article each day, more or less, that really seems quite worth the effort for someone to read it. These will come from different newspapers in different places.....and I will tag them Daily Newspaper Stories.

For example, I am including this one because it provides us with a fairly comprehensive look at a case capable of repeating itself anywhere - a longstanding unsolved murder. It also is here because one could imagine that this story MIGHT have some impact on where, if anywhere, the case goes from here. Might it inspire a breach of the secrecy wall that seems to have been constructed?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"End Of Days For Bookstores? Not If They Can Help It" - NPR

"U.S. Survey Data Reveals Pockets of Wealth and Poverty" -

I've got to say that it is really irritating to read something like this, find no mention of where to get access to the data or when it might be available. Equally irritating is to go to the Census site for this survey and find nothing at all mentioned there. The New York Times and the Census Bureau should really look more carefully at themselves in their mirrors. One hopes they would see, shall we say, a wonderul pair of improvement opportunities.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Directory: People (Find People)"

One of "life's perplexing quesitons" that I cannot seem to answer is exactly why no newspapers have ever decided that maintaining the local director of people in the markets those papers sever was not the right strategy to deploy. How many times have you wanted to reach someone locally whose contact information you simply did not have.....? The answer to that is a lot of potential revenue for newspapers and huge potential value delivered to the market, I think.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Foreign Language Programs Cut as Colleges Lose Aid" -

There is a principle that unfortunately works in many circumstances --- that of a "downward spiral". When we choose - for whatever reason - to make it harder to learn the languages of other lands, I fear the impact on how we think and especially how we see the rest of the world. And I worry how much and quickly it can build on itself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Eating the Irish" -

Everyone's an Irish expert, and everyone thinks they have solutions to the economic crises that confront "us" in so many places. To understand what is really happeneing requires a level of understanding and intelligence that I do not think we can muster. The alternative is to accept the world as we find it to be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Google Wants to Help People Shop Offline Too" -

When was the last time anyone recalls reading of a newspaper's initiatives to help customers make these kinds of better-informed choices while shopping in the newspaper's market?

"The Local East Village Blog" -

I hope this will get better than on first blush.

"Super Sad Super Crunching" -

Why different sizes?

I sometimes reflect on why things are different between here and there, with there most often being France. Why is it that the standard letter size here is just a little bit wider and a little bit shorter than the printing paper in France - regular letter size? Why do we call it letter size and they call it "A4"? Why do I have to use different numbers to buy a pair of shoes here and there? Occasionally, I just write it off to being a reminder that here is not there and vice versa. And I suppose that the loss of the French franc and the Italian lira made those two heres and theres a little more alike.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"Netanyahu Sharply Insists on Building in Jerusalem" -

The United States needs to make the right decision in this case, free of any pressure from Israel or its supporters. That proper choice is to forge ahead with a result that either forces Israel to become a multi-religious country covering a large area or forces it into the small space it merits and let it continue to be a Jewish state, whatever that is. But the world should not allow us to be Israeli lapdogs any longer, accepting actions and policies that we would loathe if they happened in our own land.

"An Unknown Soldier" -

I am still in France. On one of tonight's national news programs, there was a disheartening story - very well presented - about how many "marginal" people in France are facing personal ruin. That's ruin not limited to financial terms. It's ruin in terms of what they can afford to buy to eat, what health care they can access and quite simply how they can live their lives. We have many of these same sorts of real people in the US. How anyone from South Carolina, or from any other place in the US can argue for war against Iran is well beyond my ability to comprehend. Whether in France or in the US, our first obligation is to help our fellow people live respectable lives; it's not to bomb others because one small country supported by influential and wealthy groups in the US feels threatened.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

"Do Consumers Want Location-Based Social Networking?" -

The answer to the headline's question is I don't know. We tend so often to assume what can be done is what people will choose to use. Maybe they will this time, too. But I also can imagine this resulting in a blizzard of useless information and offers cluttering up lives that already cannot make room for anything else.

"Wearable Cameras Move Beyond Sports to the Mainstream" -

It was inevitable. And I can imagine just the people who will rush out to get one.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"Times of London Reports More Than 100,000 Paying Customers for Web Site" -

I'll let others declare victory on this one. This is the way newspapers should have operated from the beginning of the digital world, but I am not sure if there is still time to make it right.

"10 astuces pour que vos e-mail soient lus" - Journal du Net Management

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Rethinking Early Retirement in Europe" -

"Débat à Nice-Matin: où va le mouvement des retraites ?" -

We have had a long period of civil turbulence in Nice and in France more widely. Strikes. Demonstrations. Etc.

In order to address the competing concerns, the local newspaper - Nice Matin - did what a lot of smart people might recommend. They organized a meeting at the newspaper of the leaders of the principal groups involved on the many sides of the issues, and had a debate/discussion and reported on it in the newspaper the next day.

When was the last time a US newspaper did this? I am sure it has happened often, but I just don't recall, and I don't recall it recently.

This was not an editorial board meeting. It was designed to be a debate, with the leadership of the newspaper "animating" it as the French would say.

There are many variations, of course, on this excellent theme!

Has it helped solve the problems? Perhaps not, but the newspaper obligation here, I believe, is to try. It met that obligation very well.

"Top Execs from Reuters, Google, AOL, Microsoft, WSJ Headed to Monte Carlo" - Beet.TV!

"Divided We Fail" -

I guess I share KRUGMAN's concern. Surely, I hope the many predicted, or even assumed , Republican victories don't happen. But in thinking about this and how much negative feeling I have toward many Republican leaders, I realize that this is the wrong place to which to direct these feelings. Instead, we all ought to be seeking out friends, neighbors, family, others who support these people and figure out better ways to engage in some good old-fashioned conversation. It's not the Republican leaders who will deserve the blame, at least in the first instance; it is the people who elect them, and if each of us cannot convince at least one person to consider changing some votes, well, we'll get what we've earned next week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"No U.S. Sanctions on Four Countries With Child Soldiers" -

We elected Barack OBAMA expecting him to have the backbone to do the right thing in a case like this. He has not, and I am getting increasingly disillusioned as disappointing choices are followed by more disappointment.

"How to Save a Third of Your Income" -

"A Budget Travel Pioneer" -

"Travel Guides Don’t Measure Up to Books" -

"On the Daily Show, Obama is the last laugh"

One of the biggest problems here is that the President clearly needs help that many of us did not think he would need, and he does not know it. How do we all get him to the point of realizing this? It's hard to imagine moving forward on anything without him having that understanding of the mistakes he is making and the changes he needs to implement in order to achieve more, even if achieving more is explaining better what he has done. I don't think that's enough, tho.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"On Balance, Hype, Climate and the Media" -

"Future Dim for Condé Nast Digital?"

It never should have been created in the first place.

"Arianna Huffington: Amicable Breakup: HuffPost's Health Coverage Moves Out of Living Section, Gets Its Own Place"

"Les consultations médicales par internet"

We need to move on this in the US as well, as long as the net effect is not to drive the cost of seeing doctors in person any higher. Even if that is the effect, a gradual move in this direction has to be better for everyone's health, the most important test.

"Hotels Seek Quicker Redress on TripAdvisor Reviews" -

Friday, October 22, 2010

Helping to make my life work better.....

I expect a lot of "my" newspaper wherever I am.

Sadly, I am usually disappointed.

My first step in judging how good the newspaper is doing is to see how high is the pile of pieces of the newspaper that I have torn out by the time I turn the last page.

This morning, I had quite a stack from the Nice-Matin in my other home here in France.

But now that I go through them, I find that the newspaper (and all newspapers I know) does virtually nothing to facilitate my use of what I have clipped. No help moving along the path toward a possible purchase of something; no help contacting someone to whom I would like to present an opinion; no guidance on where to go for more information.

It is so irritaing to see this chronic and, I believe, cataclysmic failure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Juan Williams’s NPR Contract Is Ended" -

I often find myself disagreeing or not liking something that Juan WILLIAMS says, but my initial reaction to his being fired is not positive. While I would take issue with his remarks about Muslims, if that is the way he feels, I don't see why he should not be free to express them. NPR, naturally, can employ anyone it chooses, and those who contribute to the network's finances directly and indirectly can make their choices as well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Home builders switch on the 'invisible' solar panels" - CNET News

It seems to me that this sort of approach is going to gain a lot of traction once they work out all of the bugs and get the cost to where it is a no brainer for anyone needing a roof.

"In Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks" -

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Transcript of "The Art of the Recap"" - On the Media

Why is this not happening for other events, like plays and concerts?

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Newseum | Today's Front Pages | Map View"

"Leaf collection in Chapel Hill" - The Carrboro Citizen

Why shouldn't we all be required to clean the leaves in front of our homes and properties and to compost them? How much money would this save and how much good would it do for the environment and out gardens? A lot.

"Mine Coverage Taxes BBC News Budget" -

So much money could have been saved by so many in covering this story if they had only agreed to work together without giving up any independence. Surely, if there was ever a case to be made for news efficiency opportunities, this is it. What a shame that the BBC now has to reduce other coverage. It's their and everyone else's fault, as this could have been, and should have been, avoided with a little cooperation.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Reporters" in Chile

It is great to see full coverage of the Chilean mine rescue, but imagine if the coverage had been pooled by a team of great reporters and the people and resources - in the thousands - who came to "cover" the story had been assigned to cover places and issues in other parts of the world? Why would that not have been better?

"Abbas Says - Let's Focus on Hope, Not Failure" -

This is a better view.

"An End to Israel’s Invisibility" -

This is surely one point of view.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Two reasons why the First Amendment is so important...

The first is this story, reminding us that what goes around, comes around. Today's favored or disfavored religious views may be seen quite differently over time.

The First Amendment that we enjoy here protects the less-favored from those who would suppress those views in some way. Over time, the wisdom of that becomes apparent to most if not all.

The second is this editorial that comes down on the right side of a painful case, also tied in some bizarre way to religious views. But what we need to remember, always, is that once we empower any element of government to filter and decide what ideas we hear, we lose some of our ability to make fully informed judgments.

Our system of freedom of expression is designed to protect the free exchange of all ideas - and religions - and we cannot subject it to compromise decisionmaking in the name of purportedly competing values, however obnoxious that may be. We have seen too often that we are very bad at deciding what thought, which ideas, what beliefs are bad and should be restricted; the First Amendment is the best antidote for this that anyone has ever devised.

"Netanyahu Suggests Twist to Loyalty Oath" -

Israel can do whatever it likes, of course. As an outsider, I view a move like this as akin to trying to introduce a phrase into the US Pledge of Allegiance that affirms loyalty to the
“nation-state of the Christian people". And, as I have said in the past, I do not support the lavish assistance and allegiance we give to a country that moves in this freedom-restricting fashion.

"Some of’s Health Advice Will Be From Advertisers" -

I wonder how good our schools are today in explaining to students how to approach a site like this in order to draw value without being drawn in market-driven directions as they make health decisions? Something like this is really going to test this skill in very new ways and I am not optimistic that people are generally up to the task. The site is free, of course, to do as it likes, but I think others need to offer critiques and commentaries that add whatever seems to be missing in terms of balance, disclosure and perspective.

Aveeno - Johnson & Johnson

I just finished a container of this product which is quite good. I called them - J&J - to ask if I could buy a refill or if I needed to buy an entirely new container with the pump, etc. I explained that in France, I increasingly see refills for such products offered in much less packaged plastic sacks, for example, that can be squeezed into the old bottle easily and then recycled. The woman on the phone said she had never heard of this and assured me that the one I had finished was fully recyclable but I said I was not sure about the pump. In any case, it is a #2 even though they put their "lot" stamp right over the triangle that would tell me this. I do not recall whether our local recyclers can process this or not.

My comment was that Johnson and Johnson ought to be more respectful of the environment by providing their products in less packaging. She said she would pass it along. Right.

Facebook - UNC Health Care

I added a comment yesterday to the Facebook wall of UNC Healthcare because of the tremendous treatment a good friend has been receiving at UNC Hospitals in the Intensive Care Unit. It should not be as exceptional as it is, but UNC nicely acknowledged my posting this morning. For me, that just reflects even better on the quality of what they do there.

When was the last time you posted something in a place like this, and got a thank you?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"At Sam Zell’s Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture" -

How Would You Improve the New York Subway? -

This is great except for one thing. Suppose someone comes up with a really good idea and posts it here. What happens next? Buried in the dark blog hole? Or, I might suggest, packaged up in an easy-to-consume fashion and sent on to the decisionmakers for the subway? The latter is what I expect of a reasonably intelligent and customer-oriented newspaper. Anything less ought to be embarrassing for anyone assocated with the Times. So why is this absent?

Monday, October 04, 2010

"In Haiti, Rising Call for Displaced to Go Away" -

"Rejet de l'appel de Mairead Maguire contre son expulsion d'Israël" -

I am not related, as far as I know, to Mairead MAGUIRE, but I respect her very much.

"Group Unveils Program to Let Users Opt Out of Web Ads" -

"NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts" - NPR

I am a huge admirer of NPR, and listen to many programs.

The network has created a deep sense of trust in my mind, and I rely on it almost without exception to be accurate and usually fair.

That said, I think there is a problem with the obvious best-funded part of NPR being the Ego Department. Reducing that department's budget would add a lot to the program quality, I think.

"High school journalism programs prepare students for life a deadline at a time" -

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Newspapers - The Multi-Medium

This is very good. Click and enjoy!

"Cosmopolitan Ad Campaign Puts Viewers in the Photo Shoot" -

Newspapers need to do a lot more of this and not just report that other media are doing it first!

"The Secret Sponsors" -

It seems to me that this is working a lot better than some may have feared.

The problem is that the "working better" means that we are letting people make decisions about what to believe and which advice to follow.

That's pretty revolutionary, don't you think?

I make it a personal practice either to ignore or never take on face value any such representation from people who are not disclosed, whether it be an expensive message on television or a gratuitous anonymous posting anywhere in the web.

I choose only to spend time considering the varied views of people who idenitify themselves and their relationship to the issue addressed.

Is that too much to expect of fellow Americans?

I hope not. It is also much more consistent with our system of freedom of expression than are arbitrary spending limits, in my view.

"Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Colbert" -

I sure agree with this.

How do we make more of it happen?

"Rock for Reproductive Rights with Maya Azucena" - Facebook

This turned out to be a superb evening!

What's amazing to me in this era of networking, social connectivity, and just the ease of putting words like these together for others to read, if they choose to do so, that not one person seems to have written anything about the performance so far. No reporters. No attendeees. No others.


As is usual for almost any event, there is a certain amount of promotional chatter in advance of an event, but then total silence after it actually happens.

My feeling is that people who attended like to see where they were and to read what someone else thought of it, and those who did not attend often find it interesting to learn what they missed, no?


I like to test out lots of new things that relate to the media in some way. Twitter has been no exception.

But, I am just not sure I have yet figured out Twitter and its value proposition. Every time I look at my Twitter page, I am overwhelmed by gibberish that really adds little or no value to my life. If I take the time to wade through all of the tweets to find a couple that prove to be worth something, I've blown a lot of time.

So what's the value, when you take everything into account, of this?

Yes, it's a nice tool to have, but overused and abused, it seems nearly worthless to me.

"Muslims in America" -

Very well said. The saddest part is that the letter has to be written in the first place. We in the US should be so much better than the way too many of us are.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

"What’s Dumb, Really?" -

What this says to me is that our schools really are failing us. This says that 35% of 18-29 year olds don't know that the House has a Democratic majority and 51% of the same group does not know that Joe BIDEN is the Vice President. I'd love to see the same questions posed to school age young people and see how they do, starting with the local schools where I live.

"Apps for MoMA, Museum of Natural History and Others" -

Which newspapers are doing better than this?

"USPS says droopy newspapers to cost more to mail " - Online News

Despite the fact that many of these "droopy" newspapers have been doing better than the bigger city papers, it's hard to imagine that this is where the future lies, no?

Friday, October 01, 2010

"Marketers like that you "Like"" - Marketplace From American Public Media

With the technology and the applications evolving so fast, it's nearly impossible to establish some sort of balance in one's life. How does a reasonable person sort it all out?

"Blue Haiti" -

How can the newspaper world, collectively, do a better job of telling the world about Haiti, both what the rest of the world wants to know and what they ought to know? How do we put the Haiti story into a continuous news environment and not merely a postcard from last January? Surely we have the smarts, the technology and the market access to make that happen? Why have we done such a poor job?

Is it, as some have suggested, that "we" regard Haitians as somehow inferior, or as failures, and we prefer to keep those people cordoned off from us and our thinking on an island?

If not, what and why is it so?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"A Pork Cookbook in Israel? Not Kosher" -

I support Israelis exactly to the same extent as I support Palestinians, other Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and all the rest who practice a religion and those who don't.

The United States is seen as the patron saint of Israel and of no other country in the world.

It's stories like these that make me wonder out loud about what kind of a freedom-loving place receives so much money from us every year? Yes, I wonder the same thing about Egypt and many other countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, but somehow we don't see as a country to be bothered by the actions Israel takes, or may take, that demonstrate only that it wants forever to be a religiously monobelief territory that does NOT embrace our fundamental commitment to separation of church and state. Yes, I realize the growing number of people in Israel who are Muslims, but I also believe that Israelis really don't want them there and I rarely here any Israeli talk about the benefits from living in a country made up of Muslims and Jews.

Why else would the "settlements" be an issue?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Press Release: Number of Consumers Who Multitask While Using Media on the Rise"

"Readable on a Smartphone, Bar Codes Come to TV" -

Spammers and scammers on Saturday and Sunday?

It's remarkable to me that spammer and scammers even take the weekend off. I get so much less of this garbage on the weekends than I do during the week. Maybe there is hope for civility after all!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries" -

There are no links in this story to more information. Why does the NYTimes make us all "change channels" in order to learn more?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Alan RUSBRIDGER advice

Alan RUSBRIDGER of the Guardian spoke at a conference in Jaipur, India, a week ago and had some very interesting comments to make, winding up with these ten points for newspapers, roughly reported here:
1 - Encourage participation
2 - No longer "us" to "them" publishing
3 - Involve others pre-publication and seek their ideas
4 - Help communities of interest form
5 - Be open to the web and be part of it
6 - Aggregate and curate the work of others
7 - Recognize that journalists are not the only experts
8 - Promote diversity and shared values
9 - Publishing is the beginning of the journalistic process rather than the end
10- Be transparent and open challenge, correction and addition

"Under a Tax-Exempt Cloak, Dollars Flow to Political Causes" -

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Customer surveys

I wonder if my perception is correct that we are being given more customer surveys to complete than in the past. Last week, I took a tour with a guide in India and after a 4 hour session, I got handed a clipboard with "satisfaction" questions. One of the airlines I traveled gave me a similar kind of survey, but I cannot recall which one. And now I seem to get a survey every time I order something online.

What happens to all these results?

Is service better as a result?

Is anybody listening?

Most seem quite artificial and contrived and allow no flexibility to note exactly what went exceptionally well or what went seriously wrong.  If I were designing the questionaire, I'd ask just those two questions!

"In Europe, a Mood of Austerity and Anxiety" -

"Debt Rising in Europe - Map" -

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

North Carolina exports

Where are the stories and statistics about exported services and products from North Carolina? If we are going to continue digging ourselves out of this economic hole, we ought to be looking very hard on what resources, capabilties and products we have in NC that the rest of the world and the rest of the country want or could use?

I cannot recall a comprehensive story about this anywhere.

The items to be addressed range from exported sweet potatoes to exported expertise from an organization like RTI for example, and includes online education and LED lightbulbs from Cree.

"Anonymous Donors Play Big Role in Midterms" -

I choose not to support any organization whose contributors are not disclosed. Money talks, and I want to know who is speaking.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

"Delusions Of Recovery" -

This is a cause of considerable concern.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"The Herald-Sun - Deli will give profits to help Pakistan"

I added a comment to this badly headlined but very important story.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Government Gadfly in Teaneck, N.J., Is Killed" -

Very sad. She sounds like my kind of person!

"The RL Gang, Childrens Storybook -"

This - from a banner ad on the top of the wesbsite - is billed as "The First Shoppable Children's Storybook". Many will hope it is the "Last". Imagine the next ..."The First Shoppable News Story on the Floods in Pakistan".

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

For the Class of 2014, No E-Mail or Wristwatches - Bits Blog -

The perception that e-mail is declining in importance is an important one. What bothers me about it is the progressive move away from clear writing and communication toward cryptic lines of partial thought.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

American Airlines

A note I sent to American Airlines today:

“Today, I purchased two tickets from AA - one for me and one for my wife to travel from NC to CA and to France and back to NC. Because I was concerned about the connection time for the itinerary that I found - only 35 mins in ORD - I called AA. An international agent said, "don't worry, it's a thru flight and you don't change planes". Relieved, I made the booking. When I called back to check on seat assignments, I was told that this was wrong. 35 mins in December, the day before Christmas, is simply not a reasonable amount of time to make a connection in a very busy airport. We have been switched now to an earlier departure that will be most inconvenient. Despite the misrepresentation upon which I relied, the agent - including a supervisor - neither apologized (until asked) nor offered to rebook us on a flight through Dallas that would have been much closer to our original schedule. It was only when I asked about an earlier ORD flight that one was offered. American should recognize when it makes a mistake, as here, and make the customer "whole" which you have not done, other than waiving the change fee. I believe you should rebook us on the Dallas connection, arriving in San Jose at about 4:30 instead of the flights on which we are now booked. You misrepresented critical information, you should accept your error and make it right. Will you? I was also told by the supervisor that if I appealed his decision on the phone, I might very well have to pay the change fee anyway! End”

"Editorial - The Constitution and the Mosque" -

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Peter Miller: "The Smart Swarm" (Avery)" - The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR

I wonder if there is not for newspapers to learn here about their customers.

"The Washington Post Worries About New Rules for Kaplan" - Media Decoder Blog -

Most newspapers and newspaper companies have not become the knowledge companies that many of us thought they could become. That said, the Washington Post is somewhat of an exception only insofar as it acquired Kaplan a while ago, not really knowing what it would become. It is NOT integrated into the service offerings of the Post. It may, however, be the canary in the mine shaft of the company, however, as it has been allowed to coast along on the strength of Kaplan.

France Asked to Return Money ‘Extorted’ From Haiti - The Lede Blog -

"Rachael Ray Launches iPhone Food Shopping App" -

Why is this not being launched by local newspapers as well, or, better yet, a better version of the basic idea that is well suited to people in the market, their need to keep track of what they have and need at the best prices and optional places in which to obtain what they need.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"The Herald-Sun - It s possible for us to live in harmony"

I started to read this editorial today with the hope that the text would reinforce the headline, but, sadly, it did not. The writer often expresses his strong opinions in this space and, equally sadly, I am not surprised.

This morning, I watched a commentary by Ben STEIN, the often labeled "conservative" commentator, among other things. He talked about how an osprey, I believe, had nested on a bridge that often shook when trains passed over it. (If not trains, then cars...) He marveled at the ability of the bird to focus on the important things.

The important thing about the President's remarks Friday night is that our President has forcefully reinforced a core principle that we need to embrace, and remind ourselves to embrace, every day. It is that we are a land of many different people who think many different thoughts (as is usually the case in comparing my own thinking to that of the writer of the piece in the Herald-Sun), and we are stronger as a country when we not only accept that, but celebrate it.

So I salute this fellow for writing what he thinks, and my ability to write as well, with a different perspective - one that says let us follow the President's lead and focus on the important thing in this discussion. It is - quite simply - our dedication to the principle that we do not discriminate between and among people of different faiths.

Let normal zoning and building regulation handle the matter, but let's applaud the President's "important" point - that there should be no issue here of which religion is practiced in any building otherwise approved. That principle is in the First Amendment to the US Consitution, and it is surely our President's responsibilty to support and defend it whenever and however he can.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Obama's support of mosque near Ground Zero draws strong reactions" - The Oval: Tracking the Obama presidency

The President's words on this issue are precisely why I wanted him to be our President, and I only hope that he will speak so well, so clearly, and so decisively on so many other matters that also may not be popular but on which he knows the right thing to do. He should say so, as here, so much more often than he does.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Pete Hamill, Print Holdout, Goes Direct to E-Book" -

This is likely to be a great book and the whole process - because of HAMMILL - will be well worth any price of admission.

This is a non-fiction book that will have a lot of facts in it. I wonder to what extent the publisher and HAMMILL will include useful links for the engaged reader who wants to "do" something, or explore something, while reading or after completing the book? In other words, empower the reader to use what she/he learns to "do" something more that makes the book part of an eternal research project in a way that simply makes it easier to do, and therefore more likely to be done?

OrangeChat - Today in The Chapel Hill News | blogs

I spent nearly 15 minutes trying to find the story mentioned here about underage drinking. My point is that the newspaper makes it far too hard and I almost gave up. They don't put the story in one database - for the paper serving the community where this happened. Then they give you relevance results on their main page that make no sense to me. Only by searching on date can you get to it. A simple link here would have been so nice, and even if the writer did not have the link at the time he posted it, he could go back and add it later, no? It just seems a question of doing it well or doing it poorly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Better Days?

This letter from the publisher of the News and Observer in Raleigh, NC strikes me as badly missing the contemporary mark. Instead of talking about how much more valuable the newspaper has become for its customers, this is the story of an enterprise trying to weather a financial storm. For most people, which - do you suppose - is the more important message?

Op-Ed Contributor - Slumdog Tourism -

Saturday, August 07, 2010

"Patient Money - Demystifying the Emergency Room Bill" -

I think people ought to be pressing all of these points, even when they have insurance. We need to get patients into a position where they are working to reduce costs, even when someone else is footing the bill.

Friday, August 06, 2010

"The Music-Copyright Enforcers" -

Newspapers never created this system to protect what they produce. Historians will tell us why.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

"Google and Verizon in Talks on Selling Internet Priority" -

We saw this coming back in the mid-80s. Now we'll get a chance to see what happens.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Delta - Coments on each flight

One of my goals is to write about each flight I take, noting the things that either might be useful to others or that others might find amusing. On my last trip from Nice to NC a few days ago, I can comment on everything from the entertainment offerings to the passengers around me, not to mention one late flight attendant on the New York to NC leg. I am still thinking about the best format and searching for the time to do this each time!

Monday, August 02, 2010

"For Data, Tug Grows Over Security vs. Privacy" -

"Lines on Plagiarism Blur for Students in the Digital Age" -

This is a further reflection of one of the problems that the newspaper business has created for itself. Instead of assiduously defending its copyright in content, newspapers have allowed vast hordes of people to take that content and use it for their own purposes without compensation or control. It started largely with the copy machine and now has expanded geometrically with the the internet.

I don't know if it is too late for newspapers to turn this around, but they show no inclination to do so.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Somnolence au volant : une étude choc à l'approche des vacances" - Sciences - TF1 News

This is astonishing - "sleeping" while driving and not realizing it.

"Editorial - The Court, the Constitution and the Reality of Guns" -

It will take a very long time to undo a decision such as this one, but we must be patient and press forward, hoping that smarter justices will make the right decisions in the future.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Across Street From the White House, Coffee and a Chat With Lobbyists" -

As a former paid lobbyist for the newspaper business, I find all of this utterly foolish and downright stupid. "Lobbyist" is a dumb term to start. We all have an interest in what our government does and some choose to take that interest in do something with it. It might mean writing a letter or it might mean joining an association to work on our behalf. That works the same way and should not be distinguished in the case of a business which also has an interest in what government does.

We should do away with the whole lobbyist thing and make all contacts with anyone in the federal government subject to mandatory disclosure. Feel free to say anything to anyone in the federal government about anything, but do it on the record. Period.

People in government should ask if the person approaching them is there on behalf of anyone else, and failure to disclose who should be subject to a fine. It could be your neighbor, your boss or your client; it doesn't matter. Disclose or pay the price, and that disclosure, too, is part of the public record.

Either everyone is a lobbyist who voices anything to the government or no one is. End the silly distinction between good people and bad lobbyists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Editorial - A Bruise on the First Amendment" -

The New York Times got it right; the US Supreme Court did not.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"A Slate for the Digital Age" - Gadgetwise Blog -

Sorry, but I don't get it. If you can't save it, or work with it in some way, other than using less paper, what the devil is the value?

"France Telecom Said to Join Bid for Le Monde" - DealBook Blog -

This has been idea much discussed over decades - a phone company buying a newspaer - but I think this would be the first major move in that direction? Perhaps Canada is an exception? Others?

"Ink Gushes in Japan’s Media Landscape" -

There is a tendency to look at this, and other stories, and say that Japan is simply behind the US on this score, or that other countries are ahead or behind. In doing so, we assume that certain things are taking hold in the US and that it is the standard by which others should be judged. What if Huffington Post, for example, has no future? What does that mean? I think there is at least a credible chance that we will learn the answer to that. Who really pays attention to the Huffington Post except out of some curiosity?

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Culture et Loisirs" -

Something I saw today in Nice Matin that struck me as a good thing that I do not see too often...
In the section of the paper with information on weekend events, the paper has devoted a full page to telling us readers what Nice Matin’s editorial leadership thinks are the best things for “us” to consider doing this weekend. In each case, they not only say what it is – two concerts (both Irish!) and a museum exhibition – BUT also WHY “we” should go in some detail in each case. That takes a lot of confidence to do this, and I believe it is what a good newspaper ought to be able to do and do it reliably well. By tapping the best of what the newspaper has to help the paper make a judgment like this the paper is doing what a lone blogger or fly-by-night news offering cannot do.
It influenced my judgment about whether to go to one of the events, and I have now decided that I will go in part because of the recommendation.
Imagine if newspapers could channel their capabilities better to help people make smart and informed choices in all areas, not just entertainment and culture. That’s the role I always thought newspapers were supposed to play!
The story is not to be found on the Nice Matin website, however!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Ultra-Orthodox Jews Protest Ruling" -

I find myself getting increasingly irritated with what I think is a huge gap between our liberal ideals of equality, integration and multiculturalism and the fanatical commitment of many who call themselves Israelis to some idea they have that they are a special people deserving of some place that others should not occupy. They are precisely no better or worse than the rest of us and I would be a lot more comfortable with the US govenrment if it were in bed with a country that shared these kinds of principles. I find myself questioning whether Israel as a country does, and the no response to that question keeps winning.

When you look at a newspaper home page, what is your first impression?

The New York Times

Nice Matin

I don't think we give enough attention to this question. There has to be a better way for a newspaper website to convey what it is and how it does it than what we see today. There ought to be as distinctive a look and feel to a newspaper website as there is to a printed newspaper. Anything less than this and newspapers are shirking their potential once again.

Distributing free newspapers

One of the oldest marketing moves by newspapers is to distribute free copies to non-subscribers.

In Chapel Hill, I noticed that one of the local papers was delivering a portion of each paper that covers Chapel Hill to non-subscribing households. Most of these papers sat, untouched, on the driveways. I really wonder if this resulted in any new subscribers. It forces the person receiving the paper to actually look at it without any guidance.

Here in Nice, where I am now, yesterday's local newspaper was not put on driveways, but it was free. They do this periodically when they have support, in this case from a local bank. So the papers appear in all the normal places, and one need only pick it up and it is yours. There is a wrapper on the outside with a little info about the bank and a sailing event that it has sponsored. Instead of wrapping the paper in practical and interesitng guidance, there were just platitudes about how wonderful the paper is; if it does not look like there is something wrong with this picture, you are not looking at the right picture!

What's missing in both of these is remarkable. Where is the "guide" for the customer or the non-customer to what lies in that paper. For the customer, it is a chance to remind about the value and the utility of the paper, and for the non-customer, it is a chance to introduce the paper, creatively, and quickly. The absence of this is one of the reasons why I think newspapers are not going to muster enough creativity to get themselves out of the hole in which they now sit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"North Carolina congressman, Bob Etheridge, gets physical with reporter"

Based on what I've seen, if the young man did not touch ETHERIDGE and ETHERIDGE grabbed him, I would advise the young man to press charges of assault and possibly a civil complaint. Our respective rights to speech in a public place include the right to be free of physical assault because someone does not like what we may be saying.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Digital Domain - From Groupon, Daily Deals With Daily Laughs" -

Easy-to-use catalogue model

How many newspapers are as easy to access as is this catalogue?

"Big City - Interest Grows in Arabic Class at Friends Seminary" -

This is a great story that needs to be repeated all over the country. How can we hope to share the planet with so many other people who get up each morning thinking in a language we cannot understand. Bravo for this school and the students who have opted to study Arabic. I wish I could back to that age and join them in the decision.

"Sarkozy s'immisce dans le rachat du Monde" -

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"BP and Officials Block Some Coverage of Spill" -

I wonder who will fight for this access if we start losing significant major media enterprises.

"Caradeux Camp Journal - Haiti’s Displaced See Their Stories on TV" -

We see very little about any role the Haitian newspapers are playing, and even less about the role newspapers in other countries are playing.

"Editorial - The Wrong Message on Deficits" -

So many people sending so many conflicting signals on such a complex and criticially imporant matter.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Bravo Will Make You a Reality Star (if the Web Agrees)" -

The implicaitons of this for news judgment exercised by other media companies are huge and troubling.

"Spillonomics - Underestimating Risk" -

I look forward very much to reading this.

Friday, June 04, 2010

"Oil Spill Resources" - Green Blog -

Is this as good as it could be? Couldn't it be designed and presented in a much more dynamic and easy-to-use manner?

"Wal-Mart to Offer Workers College Degree Program" -

Which newspapers in the world have entered into similar agreements with universities that could provide newspaper customers with a college education? The New York Times has some such relationships, but it seems too bad that Wal-Mart is beating the local knowledge leader in so many markets - the local newspaper - with an offering to help customers further their educations.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"Israel should lead investigation into attack on Gaza flotilla, says US" - The Guardian

If this is true, I find it outrageou that the OBAMA administration is asking the attacking party (Israel) to carry out the investigaiton when an international inquiry would be so much better for everyone involved unless Israel is really guilty of some of the charges leveled against it in this matter. In that case, it would not be so good for Israel.

In any case, I want my President to support the most objective and inclusive determinations in this matter and one cannot expect that result when the fox is asked to asses its assault in the middle of the nigth on the hen house. That is not to denigrate Israeil, but rather to make such an obvious point.

At worst, let their be two inquiries. The truth can then sort itself out between them.

This is very disturbing news.

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Inside Europe - Defending the Euro Is More Than an Economic Issue" -

This is a good analysis but it still omits the European people on whose support all governments rest, including France and Germany. There is a limit beyond which those populations will not allow their leaders to go and I contend that what has been staked out in austerity measures already - and more to come - will push them over that line. Why is no one talking or writing about this limit? If I have its placement wrong, I'd be happy to hear another person explain it to me, but the idea of the limit is pretty hard to dismiss and everyone needs a better idea of just where that may be or unanticipated events will define it for us.

"Europe’s Banks at Risk From Slower Growth, E.C.B. Says" -

"BBC News - German President Koehler quits amid row over military"

This is simply - in my view - a further reflection of how vulnerable European governments find themselves at this time. There is an uninformed assumption that somehow Europe and European nations are a bureaucratic blob capable to doing that which they are forced to do because either economists think it is the right thing or they are pushed to do so by other countries and institutions. That is not the case. So much of Europe's ability to deal with the financial crisis is, ultimately but not remotely, dependent upon governments that are themselves dependent on democratically-obtained support. It is that support that is at greatest danger today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Web Start-Ups Making Deals for Users’ Private Data" -

"As Deflation Looms, E.C.B. Keeps Its Eye Firmly on Inflation" -

"Latest oil spill developments" -

This is a good approach - summarizing latest developments. It's too bad that they don't promise to keep this up-to-date. I still cannot understand why one news organization or another - as opposed to Wikipedia - does not decide to do this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Facebook After Death" - Motherlode Blog -

This headline caught my eye as my battle to retrieve or delete my Facebook accounts continues, unresolved. What has happened since my last post is that the formal complaint I filed with TRUSTe resulted in a ruling in my favor and an "order" to Facebook to fix the problem prior to the end of today. So far, that has not happened, and so I have this at least momentary vision of my Facebook page living on well after I have gone with no one able to change a thing! This is great news, for example, but only if you can get to the controls for your account, something that Facebook has deprived me of doing - without any explanation - for months.

"Wall Street Slips Lower and Euro Weakens" -

"Wall Street Tumbles Along With Europe and Asia" -

"Italy Set to Announce $29 Billion in Budget Cuts" - DealBook Blog -

"Time Flies?" - Freakonomics Blog -

I say yes!

"Britain’s New Government Facing Big Hurdles" -

"Debt Rising in Europe - Map" -

"Op-Ed Columnist - Toilets and Cellphones" -

Monday, May 24, 2010

"BBC News - IMF raises fresh concerns about the Spanish economy"

"Italians Fear Following Greece Into Debt Crisis" - NPR

"Media Behaving Badly" - MediaFAIL

One has to imagine a book titled "An Impartial History of the War of Northern Aggression" written by a Southern plantation owner. If such a book exists, I bet its author thinks just as aggressively that he or she is telling the truth -- as opposed to what others are reporting. It will be interesting to see if this veers toward truth in some objective way or toward the predilections of the site's operators. I am not optimistic it will be the former.

"The Media Equation - News Sites Look Beyond Grants" -

It's not going to work, in my view.

"News Outlets Cut Costs on Covering Presidential Trips" -

For those who believe this - a group of which I am NOT a member, they may say that a planeload of bloggers will take the place of the reporters who cannot afford to fly, no?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Op-Ed Contributors - The Measure of an Oil Disaster" -

I don't believe that any news organization is doing its job in pulling together all of the pieces of tis puzzle. There is far too much reporting on various comments and opinions and self-serving statements and not enough shoe leather used to pin down the details. If it were for me to decide, I would surely focus much more on the putting together of the puzzle than on the announcement of each new piece.

"Payback Time - Deficit Crisis Threatens Ample Benefits of European Life" -

I think we are going to see huge tumult in European countries before these reforms are adopted, and likely will imperil their adoption. It is very hard to imagine how we get from here to there in France or anywhere else. I think the reporting of the situation is not reaching the right people and is not giving us a clear picture of the situation.

"Tragedy in Detroit, With a Reality TV Crew in Tow" -

Why is it that in the course of exercising constitutional rights so many media, especially those media who carry video cameras, cannot exercise prudent judgment and do the right thing? In this case, it would have been to go film something else. The people in this business must look up to the SALAHIs in DC with huge admiration and I feel sorry for all of them.

"Weather Channel’s Move Beyond Forecasts May Be Costly" -

For a while, many thought that niche products and programming would prove the salvation of established media. Now that, too, is coming into question it would appear.

"Op-Ed Contributor - Europe’s Birth Pangs" -

That's interesting. The perspective we really need to hear today is not from a German editor of a business newspaper, but from the Greek on the street or any other person on the street of any and all European countries. In order to determine if there is a solution to the problems we all face, we need their views and concerns and hopes in the middle of the discussion. So far, that discussion is dominated by a few northern European leaders, some intellectuals, and financial people in the north of Europe and the US. This has to change.

Let's see at Op Ed from a 45 year old shop worker in Marseille, or in Bari, or in any town in Greece or in Cavan, Ireland, or any Spanish or Portuguese town.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"YouTube - Greece: a country on the edge"

"Greece Crisis | Athens Protests | George Papandreou"

Missed newspaper and news sites opportunity

The tragic oil spill in the Gulf is on the minds of most of us. I am struck by how much we are forced to bounce along from seeming news item to news item. Much of that "reporting" is simply passing on something heard from some place else, and we are not building and reshaping our full sense of the matter as we proceed. There is an alternative.

Suppose a newspaper decided that it would create a kind of wiki entry on the leak and keep it up to date? Any of us could refer to it when we like, see what has changed (maybe some highligthing or text distinction), and keep the big picture in clearer focus.

Thinking that the unknown Wikipedia contributors probably have done this already, I decided to go check. Indeed "they" are here.

I would feel a lot better if an editor or editors were in control of this. There are many ways in which this could be improved as it is quite long and does not give one a sense of what's expected to happen next. I would hope something could be done to allow as many as wish to do so to check the live video.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Twitter Fighting Order to Reveal Names of 2 Users" -

What will it take for everyone to do the right thing and abandon all of this obnoxious anonymity? It is not contributing to civil discourse or anything else, and those who run sites where these anonymous post their words can clearly adopt rules that posters and commenters will have to follow or go some place else.

"La Bourse de Paris et l'euro toujours en baisse" -

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Scientists Fault Response of Government to Oil Spill in Gulf" -

I hate to say it, but the President is letting us supporters down again. This is so disappointing.

"Twitter Expects Hundreds of Advertisers" - DealBook Blog -

How do newspapers get a piece of this?

"U.N. and International Officials Launch Global Effort to End Distracted Driving"

This is a great move, but they should not stop there. Ban the use of all handheld devices while driving a motor vehicle. That's the only policy that will protect us all from this driver distraction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Gradual Growth of Blumenthal's Military Claims" -

"Op-Ed Contributor - Richard Blumenthal, Vietnam and the Technicality Generation" -

I know Larry PRESSLER, and I never felt that I would be saying he has said something better than anyone else, but he has and I am saying it. As Chris MATTHEWS said tonight on his MSNBC show, how can anyone lie about having served in Vietnam? How can anyone who has ever be trusted to tell the truth, especially as a US Senator. And, as I noted earlier, I speak as someone who came of age and eligible to be drafted about the same time as BLUMENTHAL and PRESSLER. I never dreamed, I can honestly say, that I became a Coast Guard officer only because it was a way to serve during those years; it was for me a clear option to going to Vietnam as a draftee. What PRESSLER has reminded me of in this piece is that because I did not go to Vietnam, someone less lucky than I had to serve......and I'll never know if he survived, and if he did, how well. That's a heavy burden.

"Shays Watched as Blumenthal’s War Claims Evolved" -

This is not the judgment that I expect from someone who might become a United States Senator. I see no way that he can explain himself out of this mess, and I think BLUMENTHAL should withdraw immediately so that another person can run in his place.

"Chinese Stocks Retreat Abruptly From Gains in 2009" -

Richard Blumenthal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is a very interesting comment on information flow to note that nothing appears on the BLUMENTHAL website about this or on the website for the Democractic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But Wikipedia has the story included here:

"Vietnam controversy
On May 17, 2010, the New York Times published an article stating that Blumenthal "never served in Vietnam, despite statements to the contrary. The Times has found that he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war." The Times also published a March 2, 2008, video where he states that, "I served in Vietnam".[57][58]

One of Blumenthal's Republican opponents for the 2010 Senate election, former Representative Rob Simmons released a statement, "As someone who served, I respect Richard Blumenthal for wearing the uniform, but I am deeply troubled by allegations that he has misrepresented his service. Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way. I hope Mr. Blumenthal steps forward and forthrightly addresses the questions that have arisen about this matter."[59]

The article went on to state that Blumenthal has also misrepresented or falsified other parts of his record:

"In two largely favorable profiles, the Slate article and a magazine article in The Hartford Courant in 2004 with which he cooperated, Mr. Blumenthal is described prominently as having served as captain of the swim team at Harvard. Records at the college show that he was never on the team."[57]"

This is the note that I sent him last evening:

"In reading this story in The New York Times, I find myself greatly saddened.

Like you, I am a lawyer.

Like you, I had a marginal draft number in 1969.

Like you, I worked for Katharine GRAHAM -- when she was Chairman of the American Newspaper Publishers Association and I was senior vice president and general counsel.

Like you, I chose an alternative service. In my case, it was to become an officer in the US Coast Guard. I freely chose not to accept the offer I was given upon graduation from the Officer Candidate School training to take command of an 82 foot patrol boat on the Mekong Delta. If you check my story, my bio, my public comments, you will never find me saying anything other than this correct account. I did not go to Vietnam but I did serve during the Vietnam conflict, which I have noted.

I find your judgment in not being able to stay within the comfortable bounds of accuracy to be a fatal flaw – if the Times account is correct? – in your candidacy.

Unless you can show the Times’ report to be false, I think you have no choice but to withdraw from the race. I say this as a Democrat, sadly."

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Scandale fiscal : une ministre grecque démissionne" -

Greece cannot stand many of these. It is good they are doing this, but I fear that rather than making everyone feel better, these sorts of stories will make more people angry and worried about how many more may be lurking there.

"Inside Europe - To Preserve the Euro, Countries Must Give Up Some Sovereignty" -

Extremely dangerous times....

These two pieces point out very well the source of the crisis that I think is only get much, much worse.

From the Times of London and Paul KRUGMAN in The New York Times.

The euro countries and populations simply don’t think much of one another. Believe me, as we read about continued problems in the Balkans, Israel et al, in Rwanda (today) and all of the “troubles” that our Ireland continues to face in just getting people to get along, this takes generations and maybe never happens. Think of the US and how much latent racism and other divides persist all around us.

In any case, the intra-Europe dislike/hatred is heating up now in very negative ways and I think it is going to explode on streets and around many kitchen tables in many places in Europe in coming weeks – and then in voting booths and elsewhere. Governments in Europe will face challenges ranging from confidence to collapse.

As KRUGMAN points out, the kinds of things that have to happen simply are too much for people to swallow voluntarily and there is no one other than chaos to make them do it.

It’s an extremely dangerous situation.

"‘Mummy’ Merkel battered as Germans lose faith in EU" - Times Online

I see an incredible crisis brewing.

It ought to work better than this.....

Our AT&T/BellSouth landline service stopped working yesterday. I had been planting some flowers in the yard, and so I first thought that I had hit the phone line inadvertently. After digging up the flowers that might have posed this risk, I saw no evidence of the phone line. Our phones inside are attached to the phone jack and to the electrical outlet. So I went outside to be sure the problem was on AT&T's side of the "line". The electrical plug did not reach the outside outlet, so had to get an extension chord and a screwdriver. Yes, it appeared that this was AT&T's responsibility. So back to my computer - connected via cable - and after more searching on the site than should have been necessary, I got to the place to report a problem. Very confusingly presented and no 1-2-3 steps on just what to do. And I had to find our password for the account before going anywhere. I filled out the form and then checked to see if it was showing, and the site told me that orders such as that are only posted once every 24 hours! So no way of being sure. No e-mail confirmation receieved either. In what business does AT&T work, for heaven's sake? This morning, still not working. So got out my cellphone which I rarely use and called. I hit the wrong button at one point and called our home number. The phone rang! Dialtone back. Because the site did not let me check to see if there were any outages in our area, I was unable to tell if that was the problem or whether it was my garden trowel or something else. And what fixed it? My call? A repair in the neighborhood or remotely? It's too frustrating to even think of trying to find the explanation for all this. The path of least resistance is simply to hope that the phone keeps working!
Is that the way all of this should work in 2010? I don't think so.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"In Europe, Fears of a Deeper Crisis Are Intensifying" -

This is a very scary report, and I continue to believe that the situation in Europe is going to grow far worse before it stands any chance of improving. The “fear” factor is just too strong, and a few flareup demonstrations in various European countries may destabilize a lot of people. It seems to me that they are inevitable – the demonstrations/protest events – as the cutbacks sink in on all levels. Seeing how far the Asian markets have already dropped – tomorrow – is surely an indication – to me – that this situation remains highly volatile, at best.

"Suit Asks for Names of Online Commenters" - Media Decoder Blog -

Newspapers invited this problem by failing to require commentors to post comments in their real names. Allowing anonymous postings with fictitious names/pseudonymns struck me as dumb when it started and it has gotten more and more stupid over the years. Newspapers ought to do the right thing and bar such comments. Those believing they need confidentiality should be given a route to do so; but these would be rare exceptions to the rule of ... if you want to say something, say who you are when you do. Period.

"Geithner Tries to Calm Nerves Over Europe’s Uncertain Fate" -

This is a very good summary of the situation. What is still lacking in these reports, however, is the most important wildcard and that is whether people in Greece and in other European countries will accept the spending reductions that their leaders have pledged them to make. I continue to believe that those promises are beyond the proverbial tipping point of acceptance by most Europeans, starting with Greece. As the measures sink in, I think we will see surprisingly significant political instability and the resulting impact of that situation on the world's economic system, by fear or fact.

"Insights From a Week as a 311 Operator in New York" -

Isn't this a role that newspapers ought to be playing in the markets/communities they serve?

"Online Journalism Entrepreneurs" -

"Digital Domain - World’s Largest Social Network - The Open Web" -

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Giant Plumes of Oil Found Under Gulf of Mexico" -

It surely is remarkable that we seem to be ricocheting between and among academics, industry and government - with no one seeming as smart as they should be, including, I am sorry to say, the President. If I were he, I would stake my all on the three best experts in the world and rely on them to tell him and us what's going on. Clearly, so far, the government generally does not seem to be relying on anyone who knows anything.
This has to change. Fast.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls" -

This just shows that e-mail is the killer app when it comes to communication. Call it texting, or whatever you like - it's the same core idea of one person sending a message to one or many. That's the winner when it comes to what people most want to "create".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Following the Aid Money to Haiti" - CBS Evening News - CBS News

This is a very interesting and I think, informative, piece. There are two things that bother me, however, about the story.
The first is that no other news organization seems to have dug into this story until now.
The second is that as I write this, more than 12 hours after the CBS report aired, I find no other news organization having mentioned it. This happens all of the time, and I find it very irritating. It likely stems from a sense of competition and a time-worn belief that all television "news" is to be questioned first and relied upon second. That may be true, but there are only several phone calls necessary to confirm some of the core elements of this report and it complelely befuddles me to understand why that has not already happened.

Imagine a "news day" that reflected the people of the world?

It's worth even a few seconds to think about this idea.... Suppose that our individual news days were different than whatever they are for most anyone I can imagine. Think about how the world breaks down with 300 million or so here in the US, 900 million or so in Africa and more than a billion each in India and China. Even those numbers only add up to something a little more than half of the world's population. So here is the "imagine" part --- think about your personal "front page" would look like if the stories were very good and distributed on that front page according to population? Is it better the way we do it now, or is that any better? Again, it's worth a few seconds of reflection, maybe more!

""Inquiétude, amertume et fureur" en Grèce face au "manque de perspectives"" -

This is where attention needs to be better focused for the rest of us - on how the Greek people begin to react to the austerity measures. Spain, as well.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Economic Scene - In Greece, a Reflection of U.S. Debt Problems" -

LEONHARDT is very good, but he spends too little time in Greece. To think that the Greeks are simply going to accept by decree what we are not able to do through our democratic institutions is just wrong. The sale is a tough here as there, and maybe tougher there. It's not the Greek people who agreed to the deal; it was those other people....the Greek politicians. They spoke for themselves and I surely am not optimistic that they will find that they have spoken for the people of Greece.

"Op-Ed Columnist - Greece’s Newest Odyssey" -

Excellent analysis!

"Facebook Executive Answers Reader Questions" - Bits Blog -

No answer here from SCHRAGE to my posted question on the NYTimes site about Facebook, and no way to contact him to ask why!

"E.U. Hopes to Ride Momentum to Healthy Economy" -

Hope springs eternal.

"More Americans Are Paying for Television" - Media Decoder Blog -

"Newspaper Industry’s International Trade Group Cancels Its Annual Conferece" - Media Decoder Blog -

"News Analysis - Europe’s Huge Rescue Raises Long-Term Doubts" -

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday is just one day

The extraordinary announcement yesterday from Euro zone leaders seems to have convinced most world markets that this is enough for now to put their Euro fears at rest. As I type this, the French market is up almost 9% today.
What I still don't fully understand is the extent to which the European commitment really covers all of the European countries at risk (except the UK), and it is in that understanding that I think we will see the full reaction of markets.
The leaders - France and Germany, primarily - who steopped out ahead on this one may very well have gotten ahead of the people they lead and this could cause big problems very shortly as the price tag for yesterday's news becomes better understood......while people in the south of Europe (starting with Greece) also come to appreciate more fully the cutbacks that will affect them individually.
There are many tails to all of this......and lots of ways in which they could start wagging in a destructive direction.
There is much basis for continued concern about how all of this will work out. Roger COHEN discusses some of this here, and I believe we risk a great deal in our search for a quick fix and our ritualistic desire to declare victory and go home right away.
This just looks too good to be true, but I will be delighted to wind up being proven wrong!
In the end, it is a volatile mix of finances/economics and fear/psychology.
Here are two more pieces that help focus one's thinking on Germany and on Greece. Neither one is especially encouraging.
Finally, this is an excellent summary of where things stand at the end of the (US) East Coast's financial day.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Waiting for Monday

Several shoes have dropped in Europe. MERKEL has lost considerable support in the Gemran state election. (For me, this is a bigger problem - suggesting a very serious, if not extreme problem, maintaining European - at least Northern - popular support for helping other euro countries.) No word from the UK on the next prime minister. EU leaders and the IMF are moving forward to help Greece, but the real key is not Greece but perceived willingness to the same for any European country. That's what is really needed, and I doubt very much we will see this.....Tomorrow will tell if this rather impressive announcement is perceived well by the world's markets. The commitment seems surprisingly large.

"The Tell-All Generation Learns When Not To, at Least Online" -

I continue to believe that the best antidote for all of this is to encourage people of all ages to use the technology in their own names in public. Keep e-mail and maybe some other one-to-mostly-one technologies for more personal communications, with care, but use the posting capability in their own names, too, and assume that everyone and anyone will see it. Our public discourse would be immeasurably improved and a lot of people would avoid the disappointments and tragedies noted in this story.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A weekend for show, mostly....

I think most of the scurrying about that we are seeing in Europe this weekend is all window dressing. It is highly unlikely, in my view, that the European Union as manifested through either the European Commission or the European Central Bank will stand behind ALL of its members, and that's what I think the market wants to hear. Greece is not good enough.The European leaders will do the best they can, but their best is not good enough for what the situation demands.
Consider the situation in the UK and the huge risks to the global market that it faces even without the uncertainty of the election results. This article sums up the UK situaiton all very nicely.  And this one is a real cheery piece as well.
Between now and Monday morning, two critical things will happen. One is that we will see if John BURNS, one of the New York Times' very best correspondents, is right in his reporting here and we will know how badly the MERKEL government is hurt by the state election in Germany tomorrow.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The complex European situation remains just that.....

A few notes on things that are happening today…..
+ The British election results are unclear. In reviewing the numbers and the positions of the parties, it is really hard to see which of the two options – a Conservative government with support from Liberals and/or other parties or a Labor government with support from the same – will emerge. Neither will provide the strength of government that many had hoped might emerge, and the uncertainty could last for a while, unless the Queen decides she’s had enough of this (which is HIGHLY unlikely)!
+ There is great “scurrying about” among world financial leaders that may leave people expecting more than they possibly can deliver.
+ Spain is sending quite mixed signals today with huge concern over debt and unemployment alongside of the announcement that they have emerged from recession. It seems to me that the psychology of all this could either make that bad or good news.
+ This FT story sums up much of the activity and underlines the continued grave concerns.
+ The problem with all of these European numbers is that a lot of people have to agree in order for the market to go up, or here, to go down. It’s the sentiment that worries me and seeing lots of rumors flying about is not helping that sentiment at all. Whether it is certifiably “contagious” or not really is not the point; what is clear is that tremendous instability has been introduced into these and other markets. What I keep saying is that I don’t see the person or the institution capable of taking the kind of European or global action that our President (through Treasury or any other means at his disposal) and our Federal Reserve would be empowered and able to do if the situation merited it, as it seems to me it does in Europe right now.
“Markets Alertfrom The Wall Street Journal
European stock markets ended their worst week in 18 months, part of a global selloff amid fears that Greece's financial problems are spreading.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index ended down 3.9% at 237.19, bringing losses for the week to 8.7%. That’s the largest weekly percentage drop for the index since the week ended Nov. 21, 2008, when it fell 11.5%.
The U.K. FTSE 100 lost 2.6% Friday to 5123.02, while the French CAC-40 fell 4.6% to 3392.59 and the German DAX declined 3.3% to 5715.09.”

"Ask Facebook Your Privacy Questions" - Bits Blog -

Note that my Facebook problem wound up as the first comment in the attached..... Already, I have gotten one e-mail from someone offering a posisble solution. I'll be anxious to see what else comes my way!
What's especially interesting in looking at the more than 200 comments that have been added to the New York Times post, is how many of the people who choose to comment do so with pseudonyms of one sort or another. I quickly ran through the first 100, and could not fnd more than 14 people who appear to be using their normal names, as I did. One has to wonder a) why these people prefer to live a makebelieve life and b) how representative they are of normal people who tend to introduce themselves as Jane SMITH instead of something like Pineapple Lady.

"Can Computers Replace Journalists?" - Freakonomics Blog -

KRUGMAN's got it right

I think that Paul KRUGMAN describes well the no-win dilemma which increasingly confronts us.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ειδήσεις Google

I thought it might be really helpful to look at the Google news page for Greece to follow the Greek perspective on what is happening. Yesterday, this seemed quite helpful, but today, there is little to shed any light on the Greek view of what's happening. It may be because of a strike there, but I am disappointed that this does not provide a better opportunity to follow the situation through the Greek news media. Perhaps this is just an "off" day, but clearly one on which there is great interest to see what is happening in Greece.


Everything we are seeing in European affairs – behind the markets - was forseeable and very close to what I predicted, however unfortunate it is to get this one right. I do not expect that any of the European part of this will settle down any time soon because there really is no person or institution (including the European Central Bank) that can (i.e., has the legal or practical capacity/capability) to deal with the full complexity of this.
It is very unclear in my mind what will happen next, but I think psychology and fear are going to drive more than will reason and understanding. I do not think the Greek deal will hold for many reasons, and I think other countries will now be hit very hard, starting with Portugal, Ireland, add Italy, too, and Spain. But the real results of the UK election will be the next predictable shoe to drop – that’s not going to be known before about 11 PM and even then, no one will know the likely shape of a new British government. That new government will determine in the minds of so many how the financial threat posed by the UK impacts and will impact everything else. That could take days to be known.


Le Monde, which remains the most important newspaper in France as far as this crisis is concerned, is now running this story citing a variety of experts, the consensus of which seems to be – as I did the other day – that the euro may very well drop within the “zone” that I described, down to about 1 USD or perhaps even lower, and that this could happen quickly. The article is in French.

More Greece

I have a lot of confidence in what Simon JOHNSON says, and he and the other fellow say it very well here. There is a “tail” on the Greece issue that few are addressing because it is not happening today. That’s the reaction of both the Greek people and its economy to what is being put in place. We may not know this for quite a while, and so there could be a brief period of false confidence, especially if demonstrations are kept modestly under control and therefore do not draw big headlines.

As I have said several times, the complexity of this situation is immense. No one can wave a single magic wand and deal with it, even if that were imaginable. That’s the crux of why I think this is both such a dangerous time with the prospects of zany volatility. Actions and reactions of perceived significance will be coming, I think, from people in the street, people in elected offices, people in appointed offices, voters, bankers, labor unions, retirees, youth, and many more – any of which can have a dramatic impact on any or all of the others.

This Moody’s report certainly sounds like a fair view of the current situation in my view, to be affected next – I think – by the results of the British election (to be known late tonight and tomorrow, with much to happen beyond the mere poll results in terms of how a new government is formed and how it is perceived), and by the uncertainty over how the Greek population and its government is going to come off the events of yesterday.

"Editorial - Fear Itself" -

This case is extremely well put in the NYT editorial and I could not agree more strongly with its message. We all get to decide what we think is "American", and I view the positions of Sens McCAIN and LIBERMAN as being wholley un-American. The values that they attack are among the most important ones upon which the strength of our country rests.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


I am sure that you have seen the reports of the demonstrations in Greece today. Yes, it is tragic that three bank employees (2 women, one man) lost their lives by suffocation in the fire. And we will see that as headlines for the most part over the rest of today.
What happens next is critical because of Greek demonstration history. This could break one of two ways – collective national horror over the deaths and so a dampening of the protest, or something far worse than we are seeing today. Already, other unions have called for more national strikes tomorrow. Today’s demonstrations were not limited to Athens despite what you will see and read. They extended to Thessaloniki, which I believe is Greece’s second largest city – if not 2d, it’s one of the largest. There was widespread damage there to shops and businesses, as reported by the few Greek newspapers adding content in Greek or English to their sites today – all of the reporters in Greece joined in the strike today, and we will have to see if they are back tomorrow.
This is rough translation of one of the only stories coming out of Greece today – from Greek reporters – about how things are going. This, along with a photo outside the bank that was burned, likely will be on front pages all over Greece tomorrow if the papers go to press. In assessing what’s going on, it’s as important to watch the economics and the financial news as it is to imagine how this is going to play with the Greek people.

I would still put the whole matter in the “extremely volatile” category, not just in Greece, but throughout the PIGS and the rest of the euro zone.
From Ta Nea:

“New 3.91% dip made today by general price index of the ASE and stood at 1662.10 points and intensifies the fear of "domino effect" across southern Europe from the Greek crisis. Big rise and spread of Greek bonds, which exceeded 780 basis points. Plunge and the euro, which was found today at a low of 14 months at the rate against the dollar to fall below 1.28.

Since the shares have negotiated 26 shares strengthened, 160 recorded losses and 35 remained stable. The turnover stood at 247.28 million euros. The shares of National Bank closed at 10.65 euro loss 1.84%, Alpha Bank at 5.05 euros to 3.81% loss, Piraeus to 4.88 euro lost 2.20% and Eurobank in 5 euro lost 5.66%.

Fears of domino effect in the euro area by the economic crisis in our country and the unprecedented events in Athens sank the stock markets, the euro dropped and fired soaring borrowing costs in Greece, Spain and Portugal are the weakest links in the European Union .

The Athens Stock Exchange dropped to 2% before the attacks was found to lose 6% and finally ended with a drop 3.91% to 1662.1 points is the lowest year. Madrid, Lisbon, London, Paris and Frankfurt closed with a drop

Fears that the Greek government may face resistance to implementation of tough austerity measures adopted to obtain the assistance of 110 billion from the European Union, the IMF and the warnings of leading European politicians and bankers to risk dominoes in the euro area, sink euro.”

"Glitch Brings New Worries About Facebook’s Privacy" -

Greek taxpayers

I wonder if there is anyway to go to Greece and be sure you are not paying someone for the stay who is not avoiding paying Greek taxes? So many upper income Greeks appear to be avoiding taxes. How can a visitor be sure that the Greek government will receive its fair share of what the visitor spends while in Greece?

Locked out of Facebook!

I have had a very modest Facebook page for quite a while, althought I have not looked at it often. Some weeks ago, I decided that I would access it and adjust a few of the contents, as I think most of us do on occasion. For some reason, I either did not have my password with me, or the one that I thought was right would not work. So I asked for a reminder.

Facebook says that it will send an e-mail with a new password and/or instructions on how to deal with the missing password issue - probably by coming up with a new one. That was fine by me, as most good sites seem to operate like that.

BUT, I never got the e-mail. Not in spam, nowhere.

So I tried again, and again. I bet I have tried a dozen times and no e-mail has arrived, even tho Facebook says that it is sending the message to the correct e-mail address.

So I poked around and found a place where I could report this to Facebook. I have done that a half-dozen times now and no response.

So, here is my page but I cannot change anything on it. Facebook will not let me set up another page at this e-mail address. I don't seem to be able to delete my present "account". They won't respond to me and provide no help desk or number.

For an era where we are to be so interconnected and functioning so efficiently, it is notable if not disconcerting, that a company rolls along as they do casting aside those who run into difficulties as I have. We are simply the cost of doing business, and I intend to let as many people I know who use Facebook, especially as advertisers, know of this and ask for their support in either getting Facebook to pay attention or in going elsewhere with their "eyeballs" and wallets.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Craig's List v. newspapers

Think about this... It appears that Craig's List may have been the service used by the alleged would-be bomber in New York City over the weekend to buy the truck that carried the explosive/flammable materials. Craig's List is also under assault, stretching back a long time but reignited again by television coverage and an inquiry by the Connecticut Attorney General, for carrying illicit sex/prostitution advertising.

Craig's List did not exist a few short years ago.

If we were back then, and those selling a vehicle or sex wanted to place an ad, their best shot would have been a local newspaper, or some sort of magazine or specialty publication.

Those organizations have generally looked at what they publish and made a decision on whether it passed some sort of minimal test of respectability and legality. Craig's List is simply not set up to do this. Instead, it is designed to take all comers and let the buyer beware.

Having said that, I realize that Craig's List says that it is trying to deal with this, but that's not its "business model" and one of the reasons that it can operate so much more cheaply than can a newspaper.

Are we giving up more than we really want to surrender when we opt for a Craig's List approach to publishing v. one that relies on some rules and standards?

"Architecture - Newark Project With Schools and Housing for Teachers" -

As I travel about, I find myself paying more attention to architecture. One of the things I have come to realize is that most architects, or at least the projects that carry their names, design islands not portions of streets connected to other properties by a shared property line.

The result of this is that buildings like the one computer-generated for this article look grossly out of place and needlessly so. Why is it so hard for an architect to design a building that integrates itself well into its surroundings. Sure, it can improve them, but why do designers always ignore how poorly the new building goes with those around it?

And while nothing this, I'll another point that I find quite frustrating. Why is that a building, perhaps such as this one, are not presented in a manner and then constructed in a way that makes the link for pedestrians - and, ok, cars if you must - between the new property and those around it very clear? Designers ought to feel an obligation to sort out where someone walks when they leave the new property, and try to add to the plan something that addresses any obstacles in that path.

Monday, May 03, 2010

"Innocent Abroad…With a Laptop" - Nicholas D. Kristof Blog -

"Teaching New Doctors the Cost of Those Tests They Order" -

I think we all need to take this course!

"L'appel à la raison" des juifs européens à Israël" -

I wish we would see many more such appeals to "reason" coming from Jews in the US. The French and European Jews surely seem to be looking out for the very best interests of all of the people involved, and not just Israelis and Jewish interests. Seeing a little more of this coming from the US would leave me, for one, with more of an open mind than I now have about the Israeli point of view.....

Friday, April 30, 2010


There is a full page advertisement for this in the printed The New York Times today. I was not sure what it was, but I came to this site because the ad told me to do so for more information.....
Ok, it worked, in getting me here.
But how much more valuable might this have been, and how much more certain could the advertiser have been in print that I would make the electronic leap?
It seems to me that this uncultivated territory starting with what appears as inked content on the page of a newspaper and winding up with the person seeing that content actually doing something of value to the customer and anyone providing something more needs a lot more creative care and feeding.
There seem to be so many ways to do this better from the print through to what you see on your screen when you first enter that eletronic link. Being dumped onto a home page that does not recognize how I got here seems like someone simply forgot to think about this in planning the campaign.

"Doctors: Let Me Pay You for E-Mails" - Bucks Blog -

Having just had a highly successful exchange of e-mails with my ophthalmologist in the the US, while I was overseas, I completely agree that offering such a service makes huge good sense!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anonymous "writers"

We all keep reading chilling stories of how so many people are deeply affected by what they find online about themselves. Some even commit suicide, as we tragically see far too often.

It seems to me that a huge part of the problem stems from the accepted norm for so many that when they go online they can transform themselves into someone or some thing that they are not. It might be through some complicated avatar application, or as simple as an anonymous posting on a website.

What I think is needed is a concerted effort to encourage all of us, including all ages and in schools, etc. to stop hiding behind pseudonyms. If we are not prepared to stand behind what we create and place on public view in the web, we shouldn't be doing it. The limited circumstances in which it is appropriate to "post" anonymously are, just that, limited.

Times Wire - The New York Times

Why does it often take so long for this page to reload?

"Students Protest School Budget Cuts in New Jersey" -

Newspapers can only dream of having this much impact on the markets they serve, alas.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Learning About U.S. Immigration With The New York Times" - The Learning Network Blog -

You know, there is something very impressive about this, and something sorely missing.

It is an impressive collection of useful resources. Those who want to poke and prod specific issues and individual news stories can do so. That's all well and good.

What's absent, tho, is something that no newspaper of which I am aware actually does. It is a wiki-style (meaning only that it is subject to easy editing on the "fly") piece that is like a news story that might appear as an encyclopedia entry. In other words, take the immigration issue and all of its tentacles and put them together into about 1,000 words that sums up the state of immigration issues at this moment, making editorial judgments about what's important enough to include and what is not. I tend to think that the Arizona law would appear in any such piece, but the piece I envision would not lead with it, most likely. Instead, it would be placed in the context of the bigger picture of US immigration issues.

Most importantly, this 1,000 word piece would be kept up to date by the Times and would be a place to which any of us could turn for the most current complete picture instead of as now, the breaking news only for the most part plus lots of resources through which information diggers can dig!

Why is no one doing this? Sure, resources. But, sure - too, value!

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Enemy Lurks in Briefings on Afghan War - PowerPoint" -

"Memo From New Delhi - Indian Justice Inches Closer to Chapters of Violence -"

I tried to add this article to my bookmarks in Internet Explorer for an upcomin trip to India. For some reason, I could not do this, although I could bookmark other pages and other parts of the NYTimes site. How does one explain this?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Using the web effectively to tell time-sensitive stories

I wonder why it is that almost no sites with which I am familiar are operated in such a way that they can explain what's going on with complimentary media when users of those media encounter the unexpected, for example. Suppose a newspaper has a printing problem; which newspaper would post this immediately on its website. I am in France and was expecting to see a program on a television channel here at a specific time. The earlier program continues and no announcement of what happened to the one I wanted to seee. Why is this not explained nearly instantly on the station's website?

It's a mystery to me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stimulus Plan for Rail Line Between Tampa and Orlando Shows System of Weak Links -

This is a really important issue - the question of how one gets from a starting point whether it be home, business, hotel, other destination - to the public transport. Even here in France where I am as I type this is a problem, even in good-sized cities like here in Nice. I can walk 2 minutes to one bus and take it to a tram and then wait up to 7 mins for the tram and take it to a 5 min walk from the train station or I can walk 7 mins, wait for the bus, and take it directly to the train station. But I can only do either if it is between 7 in the AM and 8 at night. That precludes early AM or late PM train travel, AND it means that it takes twice as long, if not longer, to take the bus or buses than it would to drive, even though parking would make even a day trip about 10 times as expensive as the bus.

It's all a giant tradeoff.

But imagine if we started with all of this from scratch. We'd all be living much closer to transport or simply not using it. Or accepting the inbetween. We were not given and reallly are not given the first choice very often or in a very well planned manner from an individual's stanpoint. Everything is done from the vantage point of a driver in a car, and that's the big problem with where we find ourselves today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health care costs

One of the issues relating to the health care discussions we're winessing seems to get little attention.

It is how we individually calculate the cost of our health care.

It's not just out-of-pocket expenses as they are normally noted.

One piece is just that - what we pay out of our pockets for doctors, health services and pharmaceuticals that are not reimbursed or covered by insurance. (Not included is the impact of insurance companies negotiating or insisting on low fees and how even those fees are affected by overall costs born in part by others; here, I am just sticking with the expenses we can individually itemize.)

A second critical piece - if one is fully allocating the costs we must cover - is what we pay in insurance premiums. (Not included in that is what people are not paid in salary because employers are diverting that money to pay for their share of insurance premiums.)

And, finally, there is the all other - non-prescription medications, health products, gym memberships, costs of participating in athletic activities, transportation expenses related to health care, and probably a few others.

Only when we add all of that up INDIVIDUALLY can we have a fair idea of what we pay for health care of all sorts.

Calculating the full cost - removing insurance benefits and lower fees because of insurance - is worth doing just to put it all in perspective.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

"ABC News Under Fire For Payment To Murder Suspect" - NPR

What troubling news this is and brings into question, at least, the professional judgment of the entire ABC News organization. What a shame on the heels of the Christiane AMANPOUR announcement and after the very unhappy news of the staff cutbacks. Something seems to be very wrong there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Fess Parker, Star Of 'Davy Crockett,' Remembered" - NPR

With the loss of Fess PARKER and Peter GRAVES this week, my Saturday morning childhood - or at least what I remember of it - died, too. (Even today, I find myself occasionally humming the Davy Crocket song.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Haiti’s only Creole newspaper is out of business" - Blog - Committee to Protect Journalists

"Wife/Mother/Worker/Spy - With G.P.S., Life’s Journeys Have Become a Little Less Mysterious" -

"Op-Ed Columnist - The Spirit of Sympathy" -

What David BROOKS writes here applies in important ways to the evolution of the internet and how media cope with it all. It's interesting to think about the concept of "groups" when considering a news story, or any other content and news organization might provide. The whole notion of "crowds" and "groups" online complicate the process of human interaction in ways I don't think we've yet fully considered. The very good things that all the technology does for us does not come without some negatives, and if we ignore them entirely, we may wind up in the "fix" that BROOKS describes now characterizing US national legislative political decisionmaking. Here is a very good example of a big negative, reported today.

"BBC News - Digital Giants: Jimmy Wales"

I am especially interested in how WALES intends to use in Wiki technology to compile the stories of geographically-defined communities for the people who live in those places.

"Op-Ed Columnist - The Biden Effect" -

I agree with most of this excellent piece except the inalienable commitment to Israel part. I'll only buy that if married with an inalienable commitment to a Palestinian state.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Chief Justice John Roberts: Scene at State of Union 'very troubling'" -

This is all very unfortunate. The Chief Justice is right on the law. The President probably reflects public policy. When there is a conflict, the law always wins in this country. If the President does not accept the dictates of the Constitution and its First Amendment, he is free to propose a change, but I think that would be extremely ill-advised. What I fear will happen is that Congress will pass another law that may or may pass Constiutional muster, that likely will have little impact on what irks so many, and which really cannot go any further unless we want to adorn the First Amendment with a series of unwise limitations in the interest of competing policies.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

New York Times search

What does it say about The New York Times search capability on that twice today, I was unable to find an article in the Times using their search box, but was able to find the article ON the site using a Google search?

"As Biden Visits, Israel Unveils Plan for New Settlements" -

I object to the Vice President's statement about how allied the United States is with Israel. Instead, I believe we should always support Israel when we agree with what it is doing, and, as here, oppose its actions when they are wrong. Underlying the earlier statement is the notion that Israel can do no wrong. No country is in that category and none will ever move there. Instead, we need to approach all countries on an equal basis, supporting what is right and opposing what is wrong.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"The Herald-Sun - Attack on lawyers for aiding detainees a shameful act"

This is an excellent column and I support it fully.

News and Observer Tweetup?

Why not an N&O "tweetup" around the book signing at Barnes and Noble for the book by the former aide to John EDWARDS?

"Book Review - 'This Book Is Overdue - How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All,' by Marilyn Johnson" - Review -

This has always struck me as an area of huge opportunity for newspapers - providing their customers with what they are seeking. What an odd notion, huh?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Advertising on Facebook Strikes Some as Off-Key" -

I actually pursued the iPad offer because of my age for some number of screens until I realized what was happening, or not happening. What influenced me was a misplaced sense of confidence that the positioning of the banner was such that Facebook would not have alllowed it to be there had it not passed some sort of review. It appears that this is not the case. Caveat emptor is so much more important everywhere on the web and it is one of the added values that came from established media, like newspapers, that seem to be disappearing. The results are going to leave a lot of people worse off, at least.