Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Dangerous Flashlights

Monday, July 11th, 2011

We bought this flashlight recently. It was only after we got it home that I discovered the fine print on the packaging. I have so many questions. img017You know, questions like: Why is this flashlight so dangerous that it can only be operated by adults? And why are “students” not also “persons?”


Community college management classes apparently open enrollment to aquatic-Americans

Thursday, January 28th, 2010



I see that they’re putting sharks in management roles at the Parks & Rec office nowadays.

Fail Tree

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Mobile Photo Nov 25, 2009 10 01 02 PM

Experimenting with Closr

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Despite the fact that I’m sick and tired of the fact that every little startup from here to New Yrk thinks it’s cool to remove a vowel from their name, I’m giving Closr a try. It lets you upload full resolution photos and then zoom in to see the photo in minute detail. Interesting.

Editors: Money Well Spent

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Last weekend we found ourselves in Spokane, where we partook of a slice of Americana: a fast food restaurant Which I’d previously never heard of, Zip’s. On my Zip’s beverage cup, I discovered they were apparently proud of something. But what?

cup Since 53… feet? What does that even mean? Did they intend to say that the establishment has been around since 1953? You know, “Since ‘53?” According to Wikipedia, yes… that would be what they were trying to say.

Good grief, guys, since 53’? Really? That’s an epic fail of the same magnitude as Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge. At least they could claim the rock and roll lifestyle as an excuse. That, and the fact that they’re fictional.

How many cups did you print?

I bet the $75 it would have cost you to get an editor to proofread this thing is looking like a better investment now. Though admittedly, any 5th grader probably could have done that for free.

Update: Incidentally, here is another case where $75 for a copy editor would have gone a long way.

All Aboard the Crazy Talk Express

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

On a recent flight, I was thumbing through a magazine and found an awesome advertisement (download the whole thing). Check out the headline:

soc-h Well, to be accurate, it’s not quite a headline. It’s more like a massive pull quote that just happens to be where the headline should be. And right next to it? A picture of some dude from 1963. Who is this amazing hasn’t-yet-heard-The Beatles-guy? Who knows? The article never once mentions his name. Did he write the full page advertisement? Good guess. But no, the ad (which, I should point out, is less an advertisement and more a full page of densely formatted text, sort of like a high school newspaper editorial) is attributed to this lady:


Okay, maybe Richard is a red herring. Perhaps I should stop worrying about him and concentrate more the message in the ad. You can get the gist of the ad just from the headline/pull quote/rambling introduction. You see, even though Mr. Wetherill was photographed on his way to his Bewitched-era public relations office*, apparently the author of the article had fully internalized John Lennon’s Imagine, because this is a full page plea to imagine all the people/living life in peace. Try this on for size:


Whatever this thing is, you might want to pull out your checkbook, because it holds the key to eradicating—once and for all–100% of the world’s poverty, crime, law enforcement, lawyers, drug dealers, and locksmiths! You heard me right… locksmiths! Sign. Me. Up.

Oooh, wait a minute. You totally had me, but as I continue reading, I start to get a whiff of crazy sauce.


Really? But you just put all the cops, lawyers, and locksmiths out of business a few paragraphs back. What are all those folks going to do for a living, in this Land of Full Employment and Unique Opportunities? Maybe picking beans on the The Leader’s farm. And I’m intrigued; how exactly do we get nonpolluting vehicles out of this deal? Is that like the free toaster that comes with my checking account? Maybe you’ve got a warehouse full of bliss-powered hoverbikes sitting in China, waiting for us to sign up?

But wait.


These people can freakin’ control the weather! That’s right; all the Hope you’ve been saving up for Barak Obama will first cause in wholesale bankruptcy of the global locksmith cartel (okay, I can sort of see that), but then also unexpectedly result in gentle, misty rains and 5 mph winds out of the NNW, every day, forever more.

Seattle will be totally awesome without all the rain.

*Maybe he’s an architect.

Think for yourself (just like George Harrison told you)

Friday, October 26th, 2007

I rarely make political posts, but this time I had to make an exception. In fact, this really isn’t a political post at all — it’s a post about critical thinking. I saw this Youtube video which got a few hundred Diggs. The title of the video is Employees Expose FOX NEWS Distortions, and there were scores of comments from people that appeared to agree with the video. I was intrigued, so I watched.

The video starts with Bob McChesney, founder of an organization called Free Press, asserting that Fox has “eliminated journalism.” That’s an interesting premise, and one I was interested to learn more about–after all, Fox’s methods bother me. “There is no journalism at the Fox news channel,” he says.


Next, a collage of video images include Bill O’Reilly, Hannity and Colmes, and others (didn’t recognize everyone–I don’t watch much Fox). The problem? These videos, apparently intended to back up McChesney’s “no journalism” premise, aren’t showing any of Fox’s journalists or news anchors. These are all pundits, commentators, and talk show hosts. These people are not journalists. It’s like complaining about the quality of news in the newspaper, and then pointing to the editorial page as an example. And as outright annoying as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly are, their bully tactics have absolutely nothing to do with any alleged problems with journalism on the network.


At about 1:10, the video directs its energy at proving that Bill O’Reilly lies about not saying “shut up.” Indeed, after O’Reilly asserts he’s only said the phrase once in the history of his show, we’re treated to seven examples of O’Reilly using the phrase. But… why? What does that have to do with the thesis statement “There is no journalism at the Fox news channel” or the title of the video, “Employees Expose FOX NEWS Distortions?” The answer: Nothing.


Then it gets worse. Larry Johnson, a former Fox News correspondent, asserts that some Fox employees “express great reservations” about communicating “almost as if they’re being monitored by a Stalinist system.” It’s hard to know what that really means, given the gushing hyperbole, but the disappointing truth is that:

  • Many companies monitor employee e-mail.

  • Most companies expect employees to behave like good corporate shareholders and act in the best interests of the company.

Is it surprising to anyone that Fox would not think kindly of a Fox News booking agent that trash talked her own company?


Around 3:00, an anonymous source tells us that people tried to ruin his career because he didn’t “leave on their terms” and because he refused to sign a confidentiality agreement. Again, I have to ask what this has to do with the statement “There is no journalism at the Fox news channel” or the title of the video, “Employees Expose FOX NEWS Distortions?” Moreover, this assertion is so steeped in undisclosed backstory that it’s valueless. It sounds like the he-said half of an acrimonious divorce.  

At 3:35, we get a real shocker: employee activities are “monitored.” I would certainly hope that on-air activities are being monitored! As employees of a news network, how could you possibly expect to not be monitored and evaluated? I had to listen to this section twice to see if I wasn’t being punked. But the source gives no indication that he’s trying to say his cubicle or car is bugged (which is illegal, by the way, and thus, if true would be grounds for the lawsuit of the century). If he did mean that, I’m sure he would have been far more direct in saying so. So all we really get is an utterly obvious and common sense statement presented in a sinister way to make it sound really bad.


At 4:00, we get new a bombshell: Clara Frenk says that she was warned by friends not to work at Fox because “it is a really conservative news network.” I waited for her to say something incriminating, or something we didn’t know. Of course they’re conservative! The only thing I can really take away from this exchange is that Clara–and most of her friends–are liberals. There’s nothing wrong with that. But how is that different from being a somewhat conservative journalist, going to a job interview at Newsweek, and being warned by friends that “you might not want to go there; it’s a very liberal news organization?”


I love one anonymous source at 4:30: “If you don’t go along with the mindset of the hierarchy in New York… you’re history.” Does that make Fox News evil? Lack journalistic ethics? No, it makes their management structure inflexible, anti-collaborative and probably not a lot of fun to work for. If you’re hoping to work there, I suppose, caveat emptor.


Around 4:35, we talk about the memo of the day–and see examples of memos in which Fox executives identify daily news focus themes. Again, there’s nothing unethical about that. Indeed, while a couple of the memos made me somewhat uncomfortable (emphasizing one particular political hot button, like abortion, in the judicial nomination process, for example), others seemed like reasonable memos. Every news organization needs to identify clarifying themes, and I found one memo on the 9-11 commission to be practical guidance for a news organization that needs to know where to direct its energies. Or how about the “damning” memo about one of John Kerry’s speeches: The memo identifies his likely topics, and then (I hope you’re sitting down) suggests covering the beginning of the speech but moving onto other more important news as appropriate. The memo says, “It is not required to take it start to finish.” Keep in mind that speeches like this are rarely, if ever, carried in their entirety (unless you’re watching CSPAN).

Around 7:00 we talk about the network’s “fair and balanced” slogan. (It’s a great marketing campaign, we’re told.) And then we move on to the razzle dazzle of the animated graphics. But by this point, I could go on no further. Where’s the evidence to back up the statement “There is no journalism at the Fox news channel” or the title of the video, “Employees Expose FOX NEWS Distortions?” In the first 7 minutes of this video, I saw a lot of imprecise venom being hurled at Fox, but nothing meaningful. There was virtually nothing at all said about their actual journalistic practices at all, so I doubted any surprisingly coherent arguments would spring up in the video’s final 120 seconds. Which makes this video pointless–and in fact the dude that named the video is the one practicing outright distortion. But that didn’t stop all those folks from dogpiling in the comments section. It’s that kind of non-critical groupthink that depresses me. I think I’ll go take a nap now.