Category: Society

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Like Father, Like Son

Yesterday I sat near the water fountain adjacent to the Lakeforest Mall kids play area, while my daughter and two friends romped around nearby. Maybe 10 minutes after I plunked down near the water, a chunky kid, probably nine or 10 years old, ran by and spotted a penny on the carpet. “Is this yours?” he asked. I said, “No”. Up ran another kid, much smaller and no older than six years old. “It’s mine!” He grabbed the coin, threw it in the water and ran up the stairs.

“What a little liar”, I thought, completely taken back. I knew for a fact, the coin didn’t belong to this kid, who clearly had just arrived at the play area. Not just a liar, but he took the coin from a much bigger kid, too. The exchange really bothered me, and I wondered what kind of adult this kid might become. 

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Journalist’s Trust is Inviolate

This week, I saw the movie “Shattered Glass” on cable for the second time in a week. The film unravels the deceptions of Stephen Glass, the former New Republic writer who made up quotes and even whole stories. If I correctly recall, the magazine found problems with 27 of the 41 stories he wrote while working there.

The film got me to thinking a whole lot about ethics, the temptations journalists sometime encounter and dangerous deceptions. When a reporter for CNET News.com I worked out of a home office for four years, which meant only modest supervision. If I had ever wanted to fabricate anything, probably no one would have noticed. I never did, of course, or else you wouldn’t be reading this post.

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The Lost Generation

In a today’s New York Times column, Nicholas Kristof writes about Baby Boomers as the “Greediest Generation.” I couldn’t agree more, although I long have called them the “Lost Generation.”

“When boomer blood raged with hormones, we staged the sexual revolution and popularized the Pill,” he writes. “Now, with those hormones fading, we’ve popularized Viagra.” He warns of how the Boomer population’s looking for handouts as the young has turned to demanding them still as they grow older: “Our slogan has gone from ‘free love’ to ‘free blood pressure medicine.'”

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An Encouraging Development

A story in today’s New York Times pictures a U.S. soldier unloading bottled water in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The U.S. $350 million aid commitment and rallying of local resources—in this case the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln—is an encouraging improvement over the earlier U.S. “stingy” commitment to aid.

I’m too young to remember the America of World War II; it’s all just history to me. But goodwill went a long way in Europe and Asia, even turning enemies like Germany and Japan into allies following the war. 

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The Times is Right

In October, I slammed the New York Times for leading off a story about the Bush-Kerry debate with a political ad for Kerry. That was bad form. Good form: Yesterday’s gripping analysis about U.S. aid in the wake of the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. With respect to U.S. aid response, the story’s headline makes the point: “It’s About Aid, and an Image.” I agree, and I contend that the country’s response so far has been slow and, yes, stingy.

Even viewed from the most selfish perspective possible, public relations, the Bush Administration missed an important opportunity in the hours following the horrific disaster, which, I might add, based on the number of missing Americans, might have a death toll close to the Twin Towers disaster. 

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Small-minded American News

I am in one of my ticked-off moods at the U.S. news media. This morning’s seaquake off the coast of Indonesia has wreaked untold devastation, not that you would know anything from U.S. news outlets. Kudos to BBC for taking charge in delivering painstaking, breathtaking coverage.

My fear is that sometime during the next 12 hours that someone will figure out there are probably a bunch of U.S. tourists missing or found dead. Then, suddenly the story will tick off some headlines, but I’m sure nothing like the 24-7 coverage that followed 9/11. Right now, the estimated death toll—in six countries!—is more than 10,000, or more than three times the horrific loss from the attack on the twin towers. But, of course, America the small-minded country pays no mind. 

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Law and Disorder

Good thing I was interested in live TV last night rather than using the DVR. Disappointing would have been the recording. I turned off the TV about half way through the first of two “Law and Order” episodes, disgusted how one-sidedly political the show has become. Naively, I had hoped for respite with the cast change. No such luck.

Episode one sought to put alleged Iraqi prisoner abuses on trial. The timing and context had to be deliberate given the election year. As if we hadn’t watched or read enough already about the prisoners’ treatment for it to be repackaged as entertainment. Geez. I tuned into episode two during the last 20 minutes, which made nonsense out of people devastated by the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers. 

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It’s Not Your Spam, Ma`am, But His

Reducing spam is painful. I sent a friend e-mail at the domain she owns. She didn’t get the message, because she changed her e-mail handle off her domain. The reason isn’t rocket science: spam.

I feel her pain. I recently sold a domain I owned since 1995. In parting with the domain, I relinquished an e-mail addressed used for almost nine years. The e-mail change is liberating, because of the greatly diminished amount of spam. 

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Must Be: Familiar, Approachable, Extending and Better Enough

My prevailing thinking on why high-tech products succeed or fail boils down to four criteria. Editor’s Note 2/8/2014: I expanded the number to eight and wrote book about them: The Principles of Disruptive Design.

A product must:

  1. Build on the familiar
  2. Do what it’s supposed to do really well
  3. Allow people to do something they wished they could do
  4. When displacing something else, offer significantly better experience
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Spanish Solidarity

I would like express my solidarity with and condolences to the people in Spain whose lives were ripped apart by this week’s devastating and unconscionable bombing.

But, watching Spaniards fill Madrid streets with grieving and protest elicits great regret. Americans acted more like victims following the 9-11 attacks that felled both World Trade Center towers. Rather than outrage, Americans withdrew—from traveling, spending, and living. Raised fingers looked to blame everyone but ourselves.