- Nothing is original. Ecclesiastes:That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
- You are a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.
- The best way to collect ideas is to read. Read, read, read, read, read. Read the newspaper. Read the weather. Read the signs on the road. Read the faces of strangers. The more you read, the more you can choose to be influenced by.
- The question every young writer asks is: “What should I write?” And the cliched answer is, “Write what you know.”
- This advice always leads to terrible stories in which nothing interesting happens. The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s write what you *like*
- As Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Thursday, March 31, 2011
"If [the letter in reply] had shown any hint of ridicule or disbelief I might perhaps never have trained to become a medical scientist or been driven to achieve the impossible dream, and really make a difference to a human being's life. I remember being thrilled at the time to have been taken seriously. Actually, even nowadays I am thrilled when people take my ideas seriously."
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Information about Howard
Information about Howard
Friday, March 25, 2011
In 1874, publishers Chatto & Windus asked their most renowned author, the inimitable Samuel Clemens, for a brief but quotable review of 'Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California by Dod Grille,' the most recent book by another of their authors, Ambrose Bierce. Given that Clemens and Bierce had known each other since the 1860s and remained good friends, the idea was perfectly understandable; if not a surefire way to generate some positive buzz about a book which had, so far since publication, failed to sell in quantity. What they hadn't considered was that Clemens would respond with brutal honesty. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Boston Public Library.
SLC Farmington Avenue,
Hartford 4/8/74 Gentlemen: "Dod Grile" (Mr. Bierce) is a personal friend of mine, & I like him exceedingly — but he knows my opinion of the "Nuggets & Dust," & so I do not mind exposing it to you. It is the vilest book that exists in print — or very nearly so. If you keep a "reader," it is charity to believe he never really read that book, but framed his verdict upon hearsay. Bierce has written some admirable things — fugitive pieces — but none of them are among the "Nuggets." There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit. The laugh is too expensive. Ys truly Samuel L. Clemens
Craig Dubow‘s pay included a $1.75 million all-cash bonus, reports Jim Hopkins. Chief operating officer Gracia Martore was paid $8.2 million, with a cash bonus of $1.25 million. The bonuses were awarded partly on the basis of cost-cutting… Read more
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Google says it will delay the distribution of its newest Android source code, dubbed Honeycomb, at least for the foreseeable future. The search giant says the software, which is tailored specifically for tablet computers that compete against Apple's iPad, is not yet ready to be altered by outside programmers and customized for other devices, such as phones. via Daring Fireball @gruber
It’s hard not to be curious when the man some have vilified as mortally wounding the classifieds business in newspapers gets into the business of supporting journalism.
Craig Newmark’s most recently announced project, CraigConnects, is, as best as I can tell, a way of funneling Newmark’s attention capital towards (mostly) nonprofit organizations. In the way Craigslist leveraged a simple, open system to bring together people looking for stuff with people looking to get rid of stuff, CraigConnects will play a similar role in supporting work in areas like technology, veterans issues, open government and community building.
And something else called “journalism integrity.” Newmark explains on the site:
Okay, the deal is that trustworthy media really are the immune system of our country, as Jon Stewart says, “If we amplify everything we hear nothing. The press is our immune system of democracy. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker and perhaps eczema.
Or, as I like to say it, trustworthy media should be “the immune system of democracy”.
I swapped a few emails with Newmark, and it’s clear he sees attention as a powerful currency. For instance, when I asked him about the issue of supporting HuffPost, which by most accounts got a nice big bag of money from AOL, he wrote “HuffPost is a high integrity publisher, and individuals need to stand up and support that.” (Of course, it should also be noted that Newmark is a regular contributor to HuffPost.) Attention is good for raising awareness of social causes or building the valuation of a startup. But in the business of journalism, getting attention to translate into dollars (and let’s face it, dollars are a primary concern these days) is not an easy science.
What does Newmark mean by journalism integrity? “It means a reasonable adherence to traditional journalistic ethics like fact checking, and truth in advertising when an interviewee is paid to present a position; more so if the interviewee has been caught lying repeatedly,” Newmark wrote.
Newmark isn’t indicting the media for a lapse in ethics — at least not completely — but more pointedly directing light on organizations that are built specifically for investigative work and transparency. It’s not enough to keep government honest, but journalists have to keep themselves and their organizations honest, putting everything on the table and letting the audience decide.
Newmark told me that means disclosing conflicts of interests not just of reporters, but also their sources. “There are many news outlets competing for our attention and only a limited amount of news any day. That motivates sensationalistic reporting, and devalues traditional values like fact checking and the firewall between reporting and advertising,” he wrote.
The continuing struggle for news organizations, aside from making money to support news gathering, is gaining a foothold or step up on competition. What CraigConnects can offer to some degree is a Craig-approved vetting of reliable news sources for readers to consider. (I asked Newmark what he reads on a regular basis. His list includes HuffPost, TechCrunch, BoingBoing, Buzzmachine, Mashable, and The New York Observer among others.) It’s an extension of the recommendations you get from friends or a fine-tuned Twitter feed, but in this case there’s an implied suggestion to give more than your readership and clicks. I asked Newmark whether he thought news organizations can operate as nonprofits. “I think so, a lot of people are willing to pay for trustworthy news, as in the case of NPR,” he wrote.
Talking with Newmark, I get the sense he hasn’t fully defined the extent of how CraigConnects can help journalism, but he senses it’s an important time to start backing the journalism you use and can trust. And as he makes plain on the project’s website, he’s still figuring out how CraigConnects will work as a platform for all the areas he’s trying to support. Either way, he’s committed to a 20-year calendar for CraigConnects.
We know that one of the ways Craigslist revolutionized classifieds was by getting the buyer and seller in direct contact, eliminating the need for the newspaper. With CraigConnects, it seems Newmark wants to put a middleman back in play for the sake of journalism.
Image courtesy of Stephanie Canciello, unali artists.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I'm very excited to present the first test from "Outside In" that actually represents real footage in progress from the film. Camera moves are still being tweaked and this is cropped version as IMAX-sized stuff does not play well online. But thanks to the new version of Adobe After Effects, "Outside In" can be made as I have always envisioned.
There is a company that sells radar equipment to the police as well as radar detectors to the public. Clorox is one of the world’s worst polluters of water, and also sells Brita filters to get the bad stuff out of the water again. Lawyers create mazes that you have to hire a lawyer to escape. Similarly social software both creates and cures FOMO. If you didn’t know that party was going on, you’d be home contentedly reading your latest New Yorker. But since you do, you hungrily watch each new tweet.
Why watch TV networks at all? You don't go to movie listings and say, "I wonder what Paramount is showing this week"
The entertainment-biz press, led by a report in Deadline.com, has the news this morning that Netflix may be about to acquire a high-profile original drama—political thriller House of Cards from David Fincher and Kevin Spacey—by outbidding the likes of HBO. Does this mean, if the deal pans out, that Netflix wants to become a TV network?Actually, it could mean something bigger: the beginning, albeit the very beginning, of a much-theorized about move to a business model in which TV networks are optional.Why do you watch TV networks at all? You don't go to the movie listings and say, "Gee, I wonder what Paramount has showing this week!"—you just look for a movie. The reason for TV's configuration was, first, technical and practical. A network controlled the means of distribution: it had the hardware and the system of affiliates that were necessary to literally beam a program from a tape somewhere into your living room.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Footage posted online last week by conservative activist James O'Keefe III captured NPR's chief fundraising official, Ron Schiller, disparaging conservatives and the Tea Party and saying NPR would be better off without federal funding.
Fueled in part by the attention given the video by the conservative Daily Caller website, an 11 1/2-minute version of O'Keefe's hidden camera video ricocheted around the blogosphere Tuesday.
It mortified NPR, which swiftly repudiated Schiller's remarks and in short order triggered his ouster along with that of his boss, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, who is no relation to Ron Schiller.
A closer review of those tapes, however, shows that many of Ron Schiller's most provocative remarks were presented in a misleading way.
'There Are Two Ways To Lie'
O'Keefe's tapes show Ron Schiller and his deputy, Betsy Liley, at an upscale cafe in Georgetown for lunch in February. They meet with two men posing as officials with an Islamic trust. The men are actually O'Keefe's associates — citizen journalists, he calls them.
O'Keefe also posted a two-hour tape that he said was the "largely raw" audio and video from the incident so people can judge the credibility of his work.
The Blaze — a conservative news aggregation site set up by Fox News host Glenn Beck — first took a look late last week and found that O'Keefe had edited much of the shorter video in deceiving ways.
"There was certainly a lot there for conservatives and people of faith and Tea Party activists to be bothered about — but we felt like that wasn't the whole story," said Scott Baker, editor in chief of The Blaze. "There were a lot of other things said that may have been complimentary to conservatives and to people of faith and Tea Party activists in the same conversations."
My review was conducted with several colleagues. I also relied on outside people, including Baker, who have expertise in analyzing video and audio to review the two tapes.
Broadcast journalist Al Tompkins said he was initially outraged by what he heard in that first, shorter video by O'Keefe. Tompkins now teaches ethics at the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"What I saw was an executive at NPR expressing overtly political opinions that I was really uncomfortable with," Tompkins said. "Particularly the way the video was edited, it just seemed he was spouting off about practically everything."
But Tompkins said his mind was changed by watching that two-hour version.
"I tell my children there are two ways to lie," Tompkins said. "One is to tell me something that didn't happen, and the other is not to tell me something that did happen. I think they employed both techniques in this."
Sacramento, Calif.-based digital forensic consultant Mark Menz also reviewed both tapes at my request. He has done extensive video analyses for federal agencies and corporations.
"From my personal opinion, the short one is definitely edited in a form and fashion to lead you to a certain conclusion — you might say it's looking only at the dirty laundry," Menz said. He drew a distinction between that and a compressed news story.
O'Keefe's 'Investigative Reporting'
O'Keefe hasn't replied to several requests for comment for my stories on his tapes. On Twitter last week, he replied to me that his editing was no different from what other journalists do in crafting their stories — including my own.
On Sunday, he told CNN's Howard Kurtz that his use of hidden cameras is in the finest traditions of muckraking journalism.
"Journalists have been doing this for a long time," O'Keefe said. "It's a form of investigative reporting that you use to seek and find the truth."
O'Keefe said on CNN's Reliable Sources that his sting was inspired by NPR's decision to drop longtime news analyst Juan Williams last October after Williams made comments on Fox News about Muslims.
"The tape is very powerful," O'Keefe said. "The tape is very honest. The tape cuts to the core of who these people are."
But 26-year-old O'Keefe's own record is checkered. His takedown of the community organizing group ACORN relied on undercover videos that the California state attorney general's office concluded significantly distorted what occurred. Last May, O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after an attempted video sting at the offices of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
'A Big Warning Flag'
In the review of the NPR tapes, O'Keefe's edited video triggered criticism right from his introduction. He ominously describes the phony Islamic group, saying that its website "said the organization sought to spread the acceptance of sharia across the world." (Shariah is Islamic law based on the Quran, although there are wide disparities in how different Muslim sects and cultures interpret what that entails.)
On the tape, Ron Schiller is then shown and heard creased with laughter, saying, "Really, that's what they said?"
In reality, as the longer tape shows, that laughter follows an innocuous exchange as Schiller and Liley greet the two supposed donors at their table.
"That to us was a signal that they were trying to condition the person watching the piece to feel as though there was assent to these ideas," said Scott Baker of The Blaze. "That was a big warning flag."
Tompkins said O'Keefe sought to portray the fundraisers as though they would do anything to appease donors.
On the shorter tape, for instance, one of the fake donors is heard assailing a "Zionist" influence on the media — and Liley, NPR's senior director of institutional giving, is heard responding affirmingly.
The O'Keefe associate posing as potential donor Ibrahim Kassam says NPR is "one of the few places that has the courage to present it [fairly]. There's kind of a joke that we used to call it National Palestinian Radio."
Some laughter follows. But the shorter tape does not include Ron Schiller immediately telling the two men that donors cannot expect to influence news coverage.
"There is such a big firewall between funding and reporting: Reporters will not be swayed in any way, shape or form," Schiller says on that longer tape, in one of several such remarks.
Tompkins found that meaningful, noting that Ron Schiller was a fundraiser, not an official affecting the newsroom.
"The message that he said most often — I counted six times: He told these two people that he had never met before that you cannot buy coverage," Tompkins said. "He says it over and over and over again."
Confusing The Context
In addition, several times the donors seek to goad Schiller and Liley into making inflammatory statements about conservatives or Fox News personalities, and they deflect them. At one point, Liley explains that she attended Purdue University, which she describes as a conservative and respected research university, and that people there relied on Fox to get much of their news.
Menz, the digital forensics consultant, said he found some of Schiller's actual remarks disturbing. But by analyzing time stamps, Menz concluded that many of Schiller's remarks in that shorter video are presented out of sequence from the questions that were posed.
"For me, in my background, it immediately puts things into question," Menz said. "You really don't know what context these were in, what was going on in the 20 minutes before and after this question was asked."
Take the political remarks. Ron Schiller speaks of growing up as a Republican and admiring the party's fiscal conservatism. He says Republican politicians and evangelicals are becoming "fanatically" involved in people's lives.
But in the shorter tape, Schiller is also presented as saying the GOP has been "hijacked" by Tea Partyers and xenophobes.
In the longer tape, it's evident Schiller is not giving his own views but instead quoting two influential Republicans — one an ambassador, another a senior Republican donor. Schiller notably does not take issue with their conclusions — but they are not his own.
Fueling The Public Broadcasting Funding Debate
Upon their release last week, O'Keefe's videos gave fresh life to the push by Congressional Republicans to strip federal funding for public broadcasting. In the shorter video, Schiller appears to be saying that NPR would do just fine without federal dollars, though some stations would go dark. On the longer tape, it's clear Schiller says it would be disastrous in the short term.
Tompkins said O'Keefe's editing is repeatedly and blatantly unfair.
"Except for a couple of unfortunate forays for political opinion, I think that Ron Schiller actually did a fairly remarkably good job of explaining how NPR works and what you can and cannot expect if you contribute money to the NPR Foundation," Tompkins said.
Blaze editor Baker said he emerged from analyzing the tapes with a surprising degree of respect for the professionalism of the two NPR executives, Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley.
"I think if you look at two hours in total, you largely get an impression that these are pretty — they seem to be fairly balanced people, trying to do a fairly good job," Baker said.
In recent days, several influential journalists have written that they regret giving O'Keefe's NPR videos wider circulation without scrutinizing them for themselves, given his past record and some of the objections that the Blaze first raised. They include Ben Smith of Politico, James Poniewozik of Time magazine and Dave Weigel of Slate.
"The speed at which the media operates when a video comes out is a problem," Weigel said Sunday. "I mean, the rush to be the first to report on a video — and, let's be brutally honest, the rush is to get traffic and to get people booked on [cable TV] shows to talk about it — and that nature leads you to not do the rigor and fact-checking that you would do in other situations."
An Accelerated Departure
Late Sunday night, NPR Senior Vice President Dana Davis Rehm wrote in an e-mail that the videos unfairly present several innocent comments by Ron Schiller and Liley as inappropriate.
"No one should be surprised based on O'Keefe's record that the video was heavily edited with the intention of discrediting NPR," Rehm said.
But from the outset, Rehm wrote, NPR confirmed that "egregious comments were made that were not distorted, doctored or fundamentally misrepresented."
Ron Schiller had already announced in early March that he would be leaving NPR for a job at the Aspen Institute in his hometown in Colorado. He had been commuting across the country, at his own expense, since joining NPR 18 months ago. But in the wake of the backlash to the videos, his departure was accelerated to take effect immediately. And then the Aspen Institute announced Schiller would not be joining its ranks. Liley has been placed on administrative leave.
Neither has commented — save for Ron Schiller's apologies for some of his political comments on the day the story broke last week.
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Team Burgers (TeamBurgers) wrote:
Silke Lipp (frauleinschuss) wrote:
@Bunny Guy I'm curious to know how you reconcile your posts with the deceitful phone call made by an imposter the Gov. Walker of Wisconsin. (Again I'm not on the Right.)
Well for one thing the call to Gov. Walker was not distorted.
March 14, 2011 2:20:39 PM PDT
Bob Potter (watches) wrote:
Art Aficionado (Art_Aficionado) wrote: "... Juan Williams' trivial remark ..."
That's not right. It must be a typo. I'm sure you meant to say "... Juan Williams' repeated violations of his employment contract ...". I know you're not one to distort the truth, Art.
March 14, 2011 2:20:30 PM PDT
Dale Keys (DaleKeys) wrote:
I didn't have too much of a problem with what Schiller said in the edited tape. It was inappropriate for him to say the things he said because of the nature of his work and position, but I pretty much agreed with him. Tea Partiers are gun-toting inbreds.
March 14, 2011 2:20:01 PM PDT
Ryan Holdor (landsmatter) wrote:
Doesnt matter how you slice it: What was said by Schiller is true. Furthermore I might add manipulative, subversive and purely inane. It does come as no surprise that NPR is backpeddling on the issue. Deep pockets will do that.
March 14, 2011 2:19:42 PM PDT
Robin B (RockinRobinHood) wrote:
Team Burgers (TeamBurgers) wrote: Robin B (RockinRobinHood) wrote: Where is the proof what O'Keefe did was misleading? #1 he is O'Keefe...#2 The article is full of examples. Read it.
I read it an there is no proof of anything misleading. If you think there is then you are engaging in wishful thinking.
March 14, 2011 2:17:38 PM PDT
c g (cdgraves) wrote:
Ken Vee (KenV) wrote:
Didn't Ron Schiller say "hey, hold on, there is more to this story"? Or was he not even consulted?
He did, but apparently that was not as important as getting the scoop on FOX and CNN.
My only criticism of NPR with regard to this is that their journalism is suffering trying to compete with corporate news. Let FOX and CNN get the first headline wrong. I listen to NPR for thorough coverage. Save the rushed deadlines and breaking news for strict documentary coverage. That kind of hurrying can be excused when important things are happening RIGHT NOW, but not when there is ample opportunity to investigate and find decent sources (including the actual video!) before putting up the main story.
To the constant NPR critics: What course of action could NPR have taken that you would find appropriate or admirable?
If NPR waits to put out a more thorough story, you're upset that they're being sluggish and taking their time to get the slant right. If they put out a story right away, they're being hasty and clamoring to defend themselves. So which is better? What's the ideal course of action?
March 14, 2011 2:15:50 PM PDT
Jeff Schmidt (JeffFromOhio) wrote:
Is anyone that surprised? When that video first came out, and I watched a few minutes of it, I could tell with about 90% confidence that the video was a lie. Most of the time, highly editted videos that show 5-10 second clips of video in montages, are carefully constructed lies.
Ironic that O'Keefe's organization calls itself Project Veritas when it works so hard to lie. It's Orewellian NewSpeak. "Lies" are truth and the "Truth" are lies.
I'm just somewhat relieved that such conservative sources as Blaze are speaking up for the truth - sometimes I'm not convinced that the viewers/listeners of Beck, Limbaugh, et al. have any interest in the truth. I consider myself moderately conservative, and it disgusts me when people have as much disregard for the truth as O'Keefe and his crew obviously do.
Schiller and Schiller (Ron and Vivian, respectively) should both be getting lawyers - Ron to sue Project Veritas and O'Keefe; Vivian to sue NPR for wrongful termination.
March 14, 2011 2:14:37 PM PDT
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Catastrophic earthquakes are inevitable, a certainty of life on earth as unavoidable as the seasons. We’re not yet very good at predicting them, but we’d better get much at better at being ready.
The Sendai disaster in Japan is both a warning alarm and a potentially priceless lesson. When an earthquake like this hits another major population center —and it will — the death toll will almost surely be orders of magnitude larger. Such a quake in Jakarta or Istanbul or even Los Angeles would destroy far more buildings, and thus take more lives as well.
Japan is a model of smart engineering and disciplined practice. Having lived with the inevitability of destructive earthquakes for millennia, they’ve taken seriously lessons most societies shrug off.
For a long time, Japan’s primary way of coping was to build matchstick-and-paper houses that did relatively little damage in collapsing and were likewise easy enough to replace. As geology and structural engineering knowledge increased, so did the capacity to prepare better. Japan is the world leader in doing so.
Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake in 1964 was even bigger than Sendai’s, with a 9.2 reading, but its destruction fell across a mostly unpopulated landscape and thus killed only 131 people. Twenty-one years later, Mexico City’s far less powerful quake (Alaska’s was 10 times stronger) left an estimated 10,000 people dead. In 2008 the even smaller Sichuan quake in China killed 70,000 by official count, and many believe it claimed far more.
The range of variables involved makes it impossible to speak with scientific confidence about all the anomalous death totals, but from a public policy perspective a few common sense observations demand attention.
For one thing, Anchorage was just lucky. I was there that March afternoon, a 13-year old waiting on the street outside a downtown movie theater to be picked up by mom. The quake occurred on Good Friday, a school holiday, which doubtless saved hundreds of lives. Several empty schools were devastated and fatalities there and in public buildings surely would have been much greater on a work day. Knowledge of substrata soils and building codes was scant in the booming frontier town, and property destruction was widespread. Still, only a handful of the 131 fatalities attributed to the quake were in the state’s largest city. The lack of preparedness and warning systems made the subsequent tsunami far more deadly.
A good friend who lived in Mexico City and spent days on search and rescue after the 1985 disaster remembers how he was struck by incongruous examples of adjacent building with hugely different levels of damage. One skyscraper would stand entirely in tact while a neighboring building collapsed to complete (and deadly) ruin. One key difference: privately owned buildings tended to survive, while the biggest death traps were government facilities. The likely culprit? Corruption that meant government projects didn’t follow the building codes private owners insisted on, and thus they shook and fell.
The March 11 quake centered offshore from Sendai, Japan by contrast seems likely to result in far fewer deaths; more than a day after the main shock, fewer than a thousand of the millions in its path were confirmed dead. That will certainly grow considerably, but also seems certain to total far fewer than similar quakes in Mexico, China and elsewhere.
Japan’s buildings are constructed to very high engineering standards specifically designed to withstand earthquakes. Tsunami warning systems are advanced and widespread. Japanese people are educated and drilled in survival skills, and apparently they apply those lessons when needed most.
The conclusion, even at this cursory level of analysis, seem clear.
Deaths from major earthquakes can be reduced hugely by smart planning and preparation. Sadly, I’d bet most societies are unable or unwilling to apply those safety lessons with rigor, and will instead hope, like Anchorage, to get lucky. Not all of them will.
Friday, March 11, 2011
In the Future, Why Walk When You Can Wheel Around on the Peugeot XB1?
The XB1 is a cross between those hovercrafts from Wall-E, a robot, and a silver Honda Civic. The fully electric tri-wheeled concept vehicle would include GPS and smart phone integration, and top out at 35 km/hr. If the slew of recent concept bikes, trikes, and scooters are any indication, it looks like future humans won’t have much use for their legs.
Major networks are sending their A-list anchors to Japan, after scrambling to provide coverage in the early hours
As part of an effort by Unicef to deliver clean drinking water to developing countries, celebrities will bottle tap water from their homes to be offered as prizes in a fund-raising sweepstakes.
What a waste. Why not invest in reporting?