Friday, June 22, 2007

A Paean

to irrelevance:

Fast amateurs give ad makers hits and headaches

If you read the story through, several things become apparent. First, several companies including Pepsi, are allowing their consumers to produce their advertising for them. Hence, the expensive advertising firms they're paying bajillions to are getting suckers customers to do their work for them. Meaning someone, somewhere, is going to realize that it's pointless to spend those bajillions when they can have those same suckers customers volunteer to do it.

Another thing I noticed is that, as usual, the corporate types just don't get it. There's talk of mad scrambles to buy up media & technology companies to handle this kind of marketing. But anything done in a scramble is usually a bad idea - you haven't thought through the consequences of the mergers, or the needs, or how you're going to make it work. An ounce of strategic planning is worth a pound of edgy new media.

Finally, did these yokels really get to go all the way to Cannes to sit through dopey seminars? How the heck did they explain this one to the bean counters and get away with it? "Uh, yeah, Frank, I'm going to a conference on New Media and advertising - I'm gonna need a speedo and a wine budget for this trip. Plus a suntan lotion allowance." I am definitely going to the wrong conferences.

One dopey Reuters article does not necessarily a trend make. Regular ad firms will continue to swindle willing corporations out of millions to write and produce ads that make you want to put a sledgehammer through the TV (yes, I am talking to you, the 1800 Sleepy's folks and the creator of every car commercial ever filmed). But I think there's something happening here, and I think the ad folks should start thinking about this phenomenon in a methodical, intelligent way if they want to still mean anything to anyone but themselves.

Or they'll just keep churning out crap - what do I know?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

ehhh, What's Up, Doc?

This story gave me two distinct reactions:

15-year-old performs surgery in India

The first, naturally, is that I wouldn't trust the average 15 year old to take out the garbage properly, much less perform surgery. I accept that there are teenagers with exceptional abilities, but this strikes me as the most irresponsible act a physician can allow. I'm sure the father was there ready to take over if necessary, but this is clearly not something in the best interest of either patient. Yes, all doctors have to start somewhere, but home surgery is probably not the best idea.

That aside, I have to admit a second reaction - a certain admiration for the father breaking free of the constraints of the establishment to teach his son a trade. Granted this is not plumbing, but historically, I don't think every physician went to medical school. It was a trade you learned by apprenticeship to an established practitioner. I'm not suggesting medicine should return to the 18th century, but there's a hubris about the medical establishment that deserves taking down a peg or two.

Oh, I understand that medicine is not the same as blacksmithing or carpentry - people's lives are more generally at stake here. But I can appreciate a father wanting to pass skills on to his son. And I don't think that modern medicine has a stranglehold on absolute truth of the medical world. I believe the father deserves to be punished for what he's done, but it doesn't hurt to remind the medical world that it ain't entirely brain surgery.

Groundhog Day

I am beginning to understand how Bill Murray felt in that movie. Only because I continue to repeat the same conversations with certain people over and over. Things I (wrongly) assumed we had clearly established are open to conversation again, as if we never discussed it in the first place. As if the mockups we designed never existed, where we clearly laid out what we wanted.

As I said to my colleagues who were on the call with me - we have one action item. That's to go through this identical conversation again the next time they ask us to revisit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is it unreasonable

to ask that all crises, large and small, be held in abeyance until my current head cold is gone?

The leaking ceiling in one of my storage rooms at work was an unexpected (and, naturally, unwanted) surprise this afternoon. I am glad, in retrospect, that someone called looking for something in that room. I have on occasion gone several days, even weeks, without needing to go in there.

I was wondering why the door was opening with some resistance, until I got the light on and found a ceiling tile in several soggy pieces on the floor. And a steady (thankfully slow) drip drip of water coming down. I found one wet box on the floor outside the room (reason #1 not to store anything directly on the floor) where the water clearly seeped out from the VCT to the carpet. Happily the contents of the box are quite dry, reason #1 why things are stored in boxes.

I have no idea why there's a bleeder in the ceiling, or how this one went bad, but it's just example #3,765 of the problems I've had with the HVAC in this space. I might be more willing to work with this, but my throat feels like they just ran a road grader over it, and tea is not helping. Not even the swiss alpine-horn blowing cough drops are working.

I know, it's not quite a Swedish Crisis like some people have, but it's still interfering with life as I know it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I don't imagine

it occurred to anyone threatening this lawsuit to actually keep an eye on what their children were eating:

Kellogg to raise nutrition of kids' food

I'm glad that the company decided to improve the nutritional quality of the food they sell. But this is just example #45,681,298 of the continued lack of a)parenting and b)personal responsibility afflicting the world these days.

My kids get treat cereals. Only on the weekends, and only if they let us sleep in. A few bowls of Froot Loops once or twice a week will not make your kids fat. Especially if you take care of their nutrition the rest of the week. A bowl or two a day will make your kids fat. Solution? Don't let your kids eat too many sugar cereals or snacks.

Again, I'm delighted to see the company work towards making its products healthier. But threatening a lawsuit is the sort of crap that weaselly, mealy mouthed busybodies pull long before they ever bother approaching these companies with a reasoned request.

'Cause it's for the kids, you know.

Too good

I have a beef with the media, no question about it. I live for the times when their self-parodying existence turns around and smacks them in the face with a juicy piece of karmic response for the rest of us to enjoy. A little schadenfreude is not a bad thing, huh?

On the other hand, once in a while I feel a small amount of pity for journalists. Not the Katie Courics or Dan Rathers of the world (and don't think I only have a beef with CBS, they're just the convenient punching bags) to be sure, but the working stiffs who actually try and do their jobs with decency. Perhaps occasionally there's even a bit of integrity, hmmmm?

So that makes this story my rare example of sympathy for the fourth estate:

Kiss Me, Katie

Fairy tales can come true. Why, they can even win you an award from Dallas' less-than-vigilant press club.

The story is amazing - how a person with enough chutzpah can hoodwink hundreds of people and create a life that never really existed. I don't feel that bad for the people who hired her or the Board Members who let her do her own thing - they got suckered, and some of them should have been more vigilant. But I do feel bad for the people who entered their work for the awards. They worked hard on their stories, and deserved a real chance to be acknowledged for their work.

Give it a read - it's quite a tale. (And hat tip to the Corner for the link.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I understand

that race remains a touchy issue for a lot of people. And as a rule I have no real interest in discussing comparative suffering and its ramifications. But I have to ask this question - who on earth appointed the various hucksters that claim to speak for the entire black community? And why do these shysters continue to defend the indefensible?

I ask because of the following: Group announces support for Jefferson

When the William Jeffersons and Marion Barrys of the world are compared without irony to Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver (I am grateful at least that they stopped short of Martin Luther King comparisons), you have to assume that the moral stance of these defenders is awfully skewed. I'm frankly disappointed that any man of the cloth would step up and defend a man caught red handed. Innocent until proven guilty, to be sure, but this is hardly a Republican plot.

Can I also ask that people stop using the term "justice" when they mean "we want our guy to go free regardless of his guilt"? Justice has become a buzzword for the disaffected when they don't get what they want. Stage a protest or a news conference, scream "no justice, no peace", and wait for the news buzzards to lap it up like the trained dogs they are. Justice as it used to mean would suggest that guilty men pay for their crimes, and the innocent are cleared.

Let me also note my two favorite lines in the story. First, from the Feds:

Asked to comment on allegations aired at the news conference, Bryan Sierra, a Justice Department spokesman, said "I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."
and this one from a "supporter" of Jefferson's:
he said his confidence in Jefferson was strained by some of the evidence, in particular an allegation the FBI found $90,000 in bribe money in the congressman's freezer.

"That's hard to explain," he said.

You got that right.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just as I was thinking

there wasn't anything to blog about, a gift from the fourth estate:

Fox reality show roils Texas town

Here's what I consider the critical part of the story:

"One of the last sacred grounds of integrity in local television is the local newsroom, so I guess I would say I'm disappointed to see a station, much less one in our own community, that has evidently sold its integrity," said Brad Streit, vp and GM for KLTV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Tyler.

Adds KETK-TV GM Mike DeLier of the NBC affiliate: "I see this as a stunt, and it's a self-admitted stunt and not a journalistic endeavor."

Al Tompkins, broadcast group leader for the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., is more blunt: "It devalues the work of real journalists who are trying to do real work. It doesn't do anything to help the reputation of journalists there and around the world."

No one, I repeat no one, but a group of journalists could refer to integrity, selling out, and journalism in the same breath without laughing hysterically. I give the GM of the participating station credit - he acknowledges the tawdriness of his profession, and is being honest. The rest of them just demonstrate the hackdom that is now their bread & butter. I suspect the other GMs are just mad they didn't think of it first.

In its own peculiar way, this restores my faith in America just a little.

And to prove

that I'm not going to disappear completely, here's a link of interest to the historically, architecturally, or technology minded folks:

Experience ancient Rome, virtually

What I love about such an effort is the sheer cleverness of it, and the ability to put technology to use to understand history. It's so much more useful for people to have a physical representation, even virtual, of a space at a point in time. It's all very well to show people a ruin of a column, but it's so much more meaningful to show that column in it's proper setting - part of a building, or the base of a monument, whatever.

No, the electronic version of the forum or the Coliseum is not as powerful as seeing the actual space; but it's much easier for most people to see it in it's proper context when you can see all the surrounding buildings and spaces as well.


This seems to happen to me sometimes. I get into a period where time does not permit blogging, or I just run out of stuff to say. I think the last three weeks has just been one of those times.

I think the hiatus started because of a terribly sad event at work - a young woman I worked with on occasion suddenly passed away. She was 37 years old, and perfectly fine a day or two before, and then she was suddenly gone. We weren't that close, but I knew her well enough, and I liked her a lot. I had some thought about blogging it, but I found I just couldn't think of anything to say.

So, for good or ill, I ended up on hiatus. Any number of things have happened since - we've taped a podcast for our intranet, which I think will end up being a really neat addition to the site. It was a lot of fun to record, and the editing portion has been fun as well. We've also finally begun the work on moving to our new platform for the site, which does not look like it will be any fun at all. The three days of training I just went through for it were not entirely encouraging.

Mrs. Skinny's cousin got married this past weekend in Rhode Island, which created any number of logistical issues. The wedding was on Saturday, and began three hours before Shabbat ended. So we stayed in the hotel/wedding factory (we saw three others besides the one we were there for) for the entire weekend. It was mostly fine, though for various reasons we had to switch rooms in the middle of the weekend, and the water closet in the 2nd room was down the hall and also had an electronic lock on it, which is a problem for Shabbat.

We managed fine with the hotel, and the wedding itself was lovely. Mrs.' cousin is a little older than many brides, and we're delighted that she found someone. More importantly, the guy is a terrific gentleman, and we like him a lot. Two other pleasant aspects of the trip - we found gas for $2.91/gallon in RI, and we stopped for lunch in both directions at a kosher restaurant in New Haven, CT. that has fabulous cake. And extra buttercream frosting.

So that's the update. I'll try and be more on top of things, since I'm sure you've all been pining away for more blogging from me.