Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Back to the train wreck of his life comment, though... Artie certainly deserves credit for his talent and work put in towards his comedy career, but it's both painful to read about his drug addiction and the situations it and his self-destructive behavior have put him in. Through what's likely equal parts luck and his talent (and associated people helping him), he's still alive and not in jail, but there's really no telling how long things will stay that way.
It was interesting reading this book about an entertainment figure who has gone through (and may well still be going through) drug addiction and comparing it to the memoir of a pro athlete who was also hooked on drugs. In his book "Hero of the Underground" (which I reviewed here) ex-Cornhusker and NFL player Jason Peter tells his story of addiction. One huge difference is that while Jason could of course go back to the addiction that held him for so long, it seems like Artie is still there. He hasn't publicly stated that he's on drugs now, but all indications seem to point in that direction.
The "Last Word" chapter from "Too Fat to Fish" is insightful both in that it makes reference to drug problems at the time the book was being finished and the forgiveness and help he's been granted due to his talent and the ability to earn money for people. While it's great that this has helped keep him alive and out of jail, there are limits of how much people will forgive and be willing to bail someone out (as Artie himself states in this section).
To borrow an old phrase, it's a slippery slope that he's on. As a fan... I hope he's able to keep it together and not fall off the metaphorical edge.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Interesting stuff, while most business writing is very doom and gloom, HP is popping up more and more as a company that should both do well through tough economic times and be positioned to thrive once things eventually do turn around.
Additionally, the current (Dec 29/Jan 5) issue had several things of interest:
- A review of the new Michael Lewis book "Panic! The Story of Modern Financial Insanity". Lewis made a name for himself as an author with such varied topics as baseball ("Moneyball"), Jim Clark of Netscape/Healtheon/Silicon Graphics ("The New New Thing"), and football ("The Blind Side") and his new book is actually a collection of different writing during and about multiple financial panics in recent history.
- An interesting piece titled "A Wrench in Silicon Valley's Wealth Machine" about how private tech startups (Digg as the featured example) are seeing a reduction in their valuations... and as such are focusing more now on reaching profitability and less on a target date for going public.
- Many different pieces about the economy... all with a theme that things could get worse prior to getting better and people should attempt the dual tasks of saving (with a target savings of a year's living expenses) and maxing out 401K contributions to take advantage of current low stock prices.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The short essay by Pierce is part of a collection of works from various Esquire writers who describe their experiences and thoughts about Barack Obama's election on Nov 4. I found all of them to be interesting, but Pierce's piece to be the most moving as he vividly paints this day into a historic context.
While the above-mentioned story details the inspiring and amazing, a sidebar piece titled (and subtitled) "Precious Medal: An altruistic act by eight high school runners in Washington reaffirmed the value of sportsmanship" is equally inspiring, just in a different way.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The very well written piece by Jim Gorant details what's taken place with the 51 pit bulls taken from Vick's dog-fighting operation.
Not to give all the details, but keeping in mind the title of the article, the subtitle on the magazine cover and the allusion to a proper Christmas Day story... it's a very cool read.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Featured in the Dec 29 issue are an insightful piece on Obama's current actions and priorities by the excellent writer David Von Drehle as well as a series of the best Obama images and art posted to the photo site Flickr. Really good stuff.
As scary as the current times are, I'm just thankful that Obama is the guy to lead us through them...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Really good stuff about children, tradition and (especially now two days before Christmas) what are supposed to be the things that really matter...
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
There's so many levels on which the book is interesting. In the anecdote about a famous person category, there's the story of Peter's younger brother Damian. A hugely talented high-school football player, Damian was headed to Notre Dame to play for Coach Lou Holtz. However, a freak swimming pool accident left him paralyzed... and according to Jason, also no longer of interest to Coach Holtz.
Additionally, Peter's story shows some of the profound differences between life for a college as opposed to pro football player. He may have had it exceptionally good in college playing at Nebraska for top-level coaches in front of (what I can say from personal experience) extremely knowledgeable and supportive fans, but the NFL was a whole different story. Fans at the pro level were much more fickle towards the players (probably understandable given that they're large contracts) and the coaches much more desperately needed to win in order to hold onto their jobs. As a result, Peter found an environment where it was all about winning... to a point where the camaraderie was gone... and where you did whatever you had to do in order to keep your body performing at a high level.
This concept of health (or lack thereof) and what players did with their bodies in the pros takes the reader to the most interesting, and astonishing at times, aspect of the book... Peter's drug addiction and the hold it took on him. What started as a vicodin habit in order to keep playing then morphed into a full-blown painkiller addition. Throw in recreational cocaine use (often as an attempt to bridge the gap between the social life he loved in college and his outside of football boredom as a pro) and Peter's habits were set. Once his body officially gave out, he found himself a late twenty-something guy living in New York City with a drug habit, money to burn and a unfulfilled identity as a pro athlete.
From there, Peter began his hard-core partying career... including time spent holed up in $400/night LA hotel rooms with hookers and hanger-on fellow addicts. This all became much more complicated (and potentially deadly) when Peter eventually brought heroin and crack into his addiction menu. This whole portion (really, the largest portion) of the book is amazing in reading about the various situations that Peter put himself into and to know that he actually came out of each alive.
His story is certainly still an unfinished one, but after many trips in and out of rehab, Peter appears to have pulled himself through. Reading his story, it's easy to be amazed by the experiences he had, but also to hope that he can continue to keep everything together.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who... loves football, is interested in the psyche of the pro athlete and fascinated by tales of "extreme lives lived".
- In his story "Black Gold: It's Time to Raise the Gas Tax", Michael Kinsley presents a very compelling argument for why the gas tax should be increased. He makes the point that just months ago, oil (and correspondingly, gasoline) prices were at all-times highs, but consumers were dealing with it just fine. Now, the economy has tanked (pardon the pun) and oil/gasoline prices have plummeted as well.
Kinsley's argument is that we shouldn't simply celebrate our good fortune (while the economy remains poor) and aimlessly wasting gas and abandoning the adoption of hybrids and new energy sources and technologies. Rather, we should raise the gasoline tax to keep the conservation direction going... and at the same time cut payroll taxes to stimulate both job creation and reduce the taxes coming out of consumers paychecks.
Seems logical both from an economic as well as a trying to save the planet perspective.
- "The Six-Figure Job Hunt" is an interesting piece about the number of white-collar workers looking for work. One thing that stands out about it is rather than just being a doom-and-gloom story, it makes the point that there's still jobs out there through natural turnover and the right approach through networking and resume targeting can land them for those inclined.
- Time's "Top 10 Everything of 2008" is a list section highlighting the biggest people, stories and things from the past year.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I definitely agreed with many of the views he espouses about politics and found his personal anecdotes to be extremely interesting. That said, I also found myself wanting more personal anecdotes and less about policy. It's not a slam on the book at all, but perhaps just a sign that I would enjoy much more Obama's book "Dreams From My Father".
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
This 2007 Fast Company Magazine article on Han was the first I heard about the technology (now fairly well-known on the "magic walls" used by various news organizations to show election projections.
Then in May 2008, the BusinessWeek article "A Touch of Genius" overviews the technology and then Time Magazine profiled Han as one of it's "100 Most Influential People".
Fascinating stuff both from the perspective of the technology out there right now and what's to come...
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Dec 8 Issue
- Book Review of "Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World"... written by Don Tapscott. Discusses examples of companies like Best Buy that use a company wiki to gather employee insights as well as platforms for social interaction and connection like Facebook. Sounds interesting...
- Piece titled "User-Friendly Finance for Generation Y" on PNC Bank's new "virtual wallet" consumer account offering. Designed by IDEO, the program sounds as if it utilizes a really solid user experience based on the desires of this young banking market.
Dec 1 Issue
- "Facebook's Land Grab in the Face of a Downturn" about the social networking company's efforts to expand it's user base.
- Book Review of "Outliers"... written by uber-insight guy Malcolm Gladwell, the book contains Gladwell's views on what causes some to succeed greatly in life. One concept from the review... Gladwell's idea of a "10,000 hour rule" (practice anything long enough and you'll get good at it).
Nov 17 Issue
- "LinkedIn and Reid Hoffman: Recession Ready" about both LinkedIn founder Hoffman's views on what Web 2.0 companies need to do to survive (invest/grow even in hard times) as well as what LinkedIn is doing to position itself.
- "How Nike's Social Network Sells to Runners" about www.nikeplus.com and how the company is using the site as a social networking tool... and increasing sales as a result. Really interesting from a marketing perspective...
Nov 10 Issue
- "Dell Bets Splashy Design Will Sell It's New Laptops" about the design efforts (led by former Nike industrial designer Ed Boyd) at the computer manufacturer.
Oct 13 Issue
- "The Power 100: The Most Influential People in Sports" featuring the list itself (compiled by panelists including Paul Swangard of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon) as well as features on Yahoo! Sports, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and Gatorade's Sports Marketing head.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The cover story is about Michelle Rhee, the controversial chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system. It's a look at Rhee and her efforts to turn around the extremely troubled public schools in Washington D.C. and makes one think about Rhee's overriding philosophy that students will do better when they have better teachers... and the way you get better teachers is through better pay for the best ones. Interesting read...
Also in this issue was a look at President-elect Barack Obama's actions around the economic crisis titled "Why He Just Can't Wait". It chronicles the steps that have already been taken to prop up the economy prior to the Jan 20, 2009 inauguration and shows someone who appears to be really stepping up to a huge challenge.
Two different smaller pieces of note from this issue are below:
1. "Don't Panic, Retirees" from money writer Dan Kadlec which among other points makes the argument that the market should be going up and people should invest now to realize those gains.
2. The last-page essay from Nancy Gibbs about the current rush to collect items related to the Barack Obama election victory. Gibbs is a very poignant writer and I really enjoyed this piece that takes a broader look at collections as a whole and how as she puts it "collectibles are the memory of the moments that make us who we are."
Friday, November 28, 2008
I came across the general story from reading an excellent newspaper article by Egbert for the Mercury News after the hike. I wish I could find it to post here, but at least for the time being will have to simply say that it was a really good piece and I enjoyed it more than the full-length book itself. While the topic of the through hike for a family that included the youngest person to ever hike the entire distance was interesting, I wasn't a huge fan of the narrative structure of the book that had chapters organized as topics rather than narrative following the duration of the hike.
This said, it was an interesting story and I have to give huge credit to both the then 10 year old daughter who completed the journey and the parents who did it along with her. Further details about the Egbert family can be found on their website, PCT Family.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- "The Wire": In the February 2008 issue of Esquire Magazine, David Simon, creator of the critically acclaimed HBO show "The Wire" gives a fascinating look into the newspaper industry through his story "A Newspaper Can't Love You Back". Really good writing about an interesting topic...
- HBO: In a March 2008 issue, BusinessWeek did an interesting profile "From Hitmen to Hitless" of the management issues at cable channel HBO as they attempt to replicate the success of "The Sopranos".
- "Heroes", "Lost", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" & other sci-fi shows: From it's May 2008 issue, Fast Company Magazine published the story "Rebel Alliance" about the successful young creators of hit sci-fi television shows... and how many of them were influenced by Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
- "This American Life": In May 2008, Time Magazine published "10 Questions for Ira Glass" with the creator of the popular NPR radio show... that has since been adapted into a Showtime series by the same name.
- "Mad Men": I don't actually have a specific article linked, but have come across enough mentions of the AMC show that I'm interested in watching it from the series beginning.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The cover story was written by Esquire writer-at-large Chris Jones, the object of my "writing man-crush". An in-depth profile of Vince Vaughn, it features the same type of great prose that Jones seems to deliver with each piece.
From this same issue, Jason Fagone writes a fascinating profile on iconoclastic video-game programmer Jason Rohrer and his most well-known creation, "Passage". Available for download here, it's a small game with old-school pixelation that has been trumpeted at video game conferences by some of the biggest game designers in the business. Rather than having more bells and whisltes than the current hot titles on the market, the game has enough depth in it's plot to bring both Rohrer and other industry bigwigs to tears... all in the five minutes it takes to play.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Well, while this is a bit of an aside to the book itself, it actually does relate. When I read Jenkins' tale of his various adventures, I admire him for the desire and heartiness to visit these dangerous locales, but don't actually want to myself.
What I can say, though, is that even though I may not wish to climb a mountain after reading about someone else doing it, I am probably a bit motivated to get out and go camping or hiking... and to do so with my son as he gets older.
So, that takeaway combined with the experience of being entertained by the interesting content combined with excellent writing (from someone who's doing what they love)... yep, it adds up to time well spent having read the book.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
November 10 2008 Issue
Time's "Invention of the Year" piece highlighted the various product breakthroughs from in the last year. In the purely entertaining category, the list included the online video "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon and starring Neil Patrick Harris. The 43-minute 3-part musical has since crossed over from mere online video to now having a DVD in the works.
On the more serious front, Time's #1 Invention of the Year is a $399 DNA test that people can use to determine their susceptibility to various genetic diseases. While the test (and current science behind available to the consumer gene testing) has it's detractors, it's still a fascinating concept from the Google-backed startup 23andMe.
October 6 2008 Issue
Contained in this issue of Time was a profile of Michelle Obama, wife of now President-elect Barack Obama (whom I've written about a few times). Written by Curtis Sittenfeld, author of the novels "Prep" and "American Wife" (a fictional look at the life of current first lady Laura Bush that I previously reviewed), it's a fascinating look at this woman now very much in the public eye.
Also in this issue was a James Poniewozik commentary about the ABC Television show "The View" and what it provides to the public. The opinion piece makes the interesting assertion that "The View" is good television precisely because of it's inherent bias.
Poniewozik's point is that watching the show you know where each member of the panel comes from... and how they likely feel about Democrats or Republicans among other topics. As a result of this, people watching the show are able to listen to very different perspectives... while knowing whatever preconceived notions might be behind those views.
This becomes particularly interesting to me when you consider the oft-made argument that the media is biased towards a particular political party. My feeling is that I don't agree with this argument because I think that the media is not a large entity (like "The Borg" from Star Trek), but rather an collection of writers and broadcasters all of whom have their own particular feelings and leanings.
I think we can expect our network news anchors to come across as completely objective, but don't think we need to ask that of each and every person reporting information to us. Thus... you have the interesting dynamic that "The View" provides.
Also from this Nov 2008 issue was a Q&A session with Costco cofounder and current CEO Jim Sinegal. Among other things, it feature's Sinegal's views of how a big publicly-traded retailer can (as some assert) be overly generous to it's employees and still prosper (perhaps due in part to said generosity).
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The first was from Aug 2007 and contained a cover story written by the excellent writer David Von Drehle. Titled "The Myth About Boys" it examines the held in some circles notion that today's male youth are going down the wrong path and pretty much concludes... things are fine.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The book itself is somewhat interesting, but it's primary impact was to make me want to actually watch the lecture itself and to learn more about some of the work that Pausch did while teaching. Two of the outputs of his efforts are the "Entertainment Technology Center" and "Alice".
The ETC is a master's degree program in what sounds to be incredibly cool stuff... robotics, video games, animation, etc. and Alice is a software program that teaches computer programming.
Additional information on these works as well as links to other aspects of Pausch's life can be found at http://www.thelastlecture.com/ and the aforementioned lecture itself is below...
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
From http://www.time.com/, there's Joe Klein telling us that "Obama's Victory Ushers in a New America" or Nancy Gibbs giving us "The Meaning of Obama's Win: How He Rewrote the Book".
Really, though, the best words to use are from the man himself...
Other YouTube videos from Obama can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/BarackObamadotcom.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
- "What I've Learned" by Glenn Fitzpatrick, 46-year old Esquire editor diagnosed with ALS... from the March 2008 issue.
- "What I've Learned" by Carrie Fischer featuring some various ramblings in the Jan 2008 issue from the actress who portrayed Princess Leia. One of the most interesting is “I like having written the same way I like having gone to the gym. I’m a conversationalist more than a writer. I take dictation from myself. I talk about myself behind my back.”
- A Scott Raab written profile of Sean Penn just before the release of "Into the Wild", the movie Penn wrote and directed based off the Jon Krakauer book of the same title. Really insightful stuff...
- "I Do Not Have a Death Wish" from writer David Vann. This story was from the Dec 2007 issue of Esquire and it's a first-person account of Vann's preparations to attempt a round-the-world sail of a homemade boat. The follow-up to this introduction can be found here on the Esquire site. One of the compelling things here is that it's such good first-person writing of an interesting story.
- An obituary of sorts of writer W.C. Heinz by my favorite living writer, Chris Jones (previously posted about here as well as here). Jones references Heinz's short story "Death of a Racehorse".
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
In his magazine story "Coming Attractions", senior writer Austin Murphy wrote about Penn State football and their upcoming game against Ohio State (in which they've now beaten the Buckeyes). It was good writing and reminded me of the two books I've read by him...
In "How Tough Could It Be?: The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad", Murphy recounts his time on sabbatical from SI. Taking over the household management and primary (during the work day at a minimum) responsibility of their two kids provided Murphy a chance to see just how tough the whole stay at home parent thing is.
Several years prior to this, Murphy wrote "The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit of Faith at Minnesota's St. John's University" about his time spent with Coach John Gagliardi and the small-college St. John's football team.
Other Stuff from Oct 27 Sports Illustrated
Not related to Murphy at all, but two other things I found to be of note from this issue...
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Some of those insights are below:
Written for the young adult (teen) audience, it's a very fast read (an hour or two) and contains Bidini's autobiographical path into a writing profession. There's not much in the way of narrative to the book, but there are some interesting things aspiring writers can take away. Below are a few of them...
- Reach out to writers: Bidini knew from a young age he wanted to be a writer and worked towards that... by both spending time writing (outside of school) and sending letters to accomplished writers asking for advice. While not everyone knows that they want to do from a young age (or even middle age), Bidini deserves admiration for his efforts toward his goal of being a writer (and his path reminded me of that Stephen King described is his autobiographical book "On Writing").
- Just write: I suppose this ties into the above notion, but one point that Bidini makes (which also happened to be made in King's book) is the best way to become a good writer is to just write. As he puts it, writing garbage is ok to do, it gives you practice and if you write enough, the good stuff will eventually come out. When it does and you're "feeling it", that's great and you of course keep writing the good stuff, but even when you're not writing well, it's still good to keep putting pen to paper so to speak.
It's not necessarily a criticism, but one thing that I found interesting in the book was that at the end, Bidini comments about writing on the Internet and while he doesn't disparage it, he's also doesn't seem terribly impressed with it as a medium. Where this seems odd to me is that earlier in the book he recommends writers put out "fanzines"... short newsletters on a given topic. To me, this would be in essence a different version of a blog. Both simply mean that the aspiring writer is doing the best thing towards their goal... writing.
All in all, I think "For Those About to Write" is pretty decent book. I came across it because Bidini does a fair amount of hockey writing (I'll be reading his "Tropic of Hockey" book soon) and wanted to see what he had to say about the process of writing itself. If that's a goal of someone, they probably couldn't go wrong taking an hour or two out of their day to see his thoughts on the topic.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
- "Tripping the Parenting Blogosphere" from a March 2008 BusinessWeek issue features mentions and descriptions of various parenting sites including babble and offsprung (started by Neal Pollack, author of "Alternadad"... which I found to be a fairly good book about raising a young kid).
- "When Lead Lurks in Your Nursery" from a September 2007 Time Magazine issue.
- "Fatherhood 2.0" from an October 2007 issue of Time about fathers being heavily involved in the raising of children.
- May 2008 Time Magazine profile of the band They Might be Giants... previously known for songs such as "Istanbul, not Constantinople" and now the creator of children's albums.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Impressed by It
The basic genre (if genre is the right term) is fiction, but I think "American Wife" could be further categorized as what I'll call "story of life" fiction.
Similar to "Straight Man" by Richard Russo (which I finished earlier this year) or "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen (which I'm about halfway through and hope to finish eventually), Sittenfeld's book carries the reader through a life (or at least period of life) history of the main character.
The manifestation of this on the page is Sittenfeld's (as well as Russo's and Franzen's) work comes across as being character as opposed to plot based. One of the thoughts I have reading good character based fiction (especially Franzen's) is "damn, I wish I could write that well." I love the way this type of writing (done well) paints a vivid portrait on the page of who a person actually is.
This is in no way to mean that plot based is bad as there's of course great plot based stuff out there (The "Twilight" books by Stephenie Meyer and "Harry Potter" books by J.K. Rowling come to mind), but just as I think it's good to read fiction in general, it's also good to read really good character based writing.
I suppose it should also be said that there's fiction writing out there that does both character and plot based well, but it's not common (an example that comes to mind is the character of Howard Roark and circumstances of his life... as written by Ayn Rand in "The Fountainhead").
Anyhoo... back to Sittenfeld's work. What I liked about it was the portrait of a first a girl and then a woman growing up in small town Wisconsin. Her meeting and then interactions with the character later to become President was a fascinating juxtaposition (if I'm actually using that word correctly). What the reader sees is how someone assimilates into a family and social class completely different than their own and the emotions and actions that then evokes in the main character. This period of the book was really well done.
Thought it Could Have Been Better
Interestingly enough, the part I liked the least about the book was what caused me to read it in the first place. It's marketed (correctly so, I suppose) as a fictional account of Laura Bush and her life with George W, but for me, the book basically ends with the conclusion of the section just prior to the Presidency.
I suppose this ties into one of the problems with this so called "story of life" fiction... you either have to pick a discreet time period (as Russo did in his book) and have it be manageable for the reader or cover it all (as Franzen did) and have the book take forever to get through (much as I love the writing, I don't know when I'll finish it).
What I don't like about Sittenfeld's book is that it feels the final part in the White House is simply tacked on to be able to say "this book is about Laura and George W". However, I would have been just as happy if that last section were treated as simply a post-script paragraph rather than another 100 or so pages.
That said... all the stuff above about the excellent character based writing is true. That in itself I think is enough to make this a solid read.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Written by Niall Ferguson, it's subtitle is "a noted historian looks at parallels between this financial crisis and 1929 and shows what must be done to avoid Depression 2.0".
Monday, October 13, 2008
1. "Dangerous Fakes: How counterfeit, defective computer components from China are getting into U.S. warplanes and ships" is a downright alarming piece that exposes a systematic problem... with potentially devastating impact on our military servicemen and women.
2. "The Power 100: Most influential people in sports": as compiled by experts from all sides of the industry... including the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
3. "Nokia's Bid to Rule the Mobile Web" is an interesting look at some of the efforts and strategies under way at the phone maker. While not as sexy as Apple with the introduction of the iPhone, Nokia has a huge influence due simply to it's large share (half a billion handsets expected to ship this year) of the market.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The article describes the website as using a statistics-based approach to predicting the winners of political contests. The sports connection (and why this would appear in SI) is that the economics grad creator of the site also has a background in sabermetrics.
This statistical approach to predicting player performance in baseball was begun by Bill James and became more well known as a result of the Michael Lewis book "Moneyball" which was previously reviewed on this blog.
Back to FiveThirtyEight... it's a fascinating site and given that it's about politics and predicting winners, it's probably worthwhile to note that on the FAQ section of the site, the author, Nate Silver, describes himself as someone who votes Democratic the "majority of the time", but attempts to not have his own convictions reflected in any of the statistical predictions.
Really interesting stuff.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The argument is that the Bible's impact as a book that shapes and impacts people's beliefs should be openly discussed... and if that discussion is done properly, there is no conflict between religion as a thing and public school education as a separate thing.
Very interesting idea and the article is a fascinating read.
Additionally (and related in that it's a non-religious look at something closely associated with religion), Time in 2006 ran a very interesting "10 Questions" interview with then President-elect of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Many religious conservatives have taken umbrage with Schori's "liberal" views on gay clergy and in the interview she speaks to that criticism as well as her feelings on the relationship between religion and science.
Again, interesting ideas and regardless of someone's religious beliefs, there's a lot to be said for understanding where such an influential religious leader is coming from.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
The impression that I continually get from reading stories such as this BusinessWeek TED wrap up are that it's full of terribly interesting ideas given by brilliant people. Additionally, I pick up from the linked in BW story column by tech author Sarah Lacy (who happened to write a book described on this blog) that it's also a bit elitist... but, c'mon... it costs $6,000 to attend and everyone wants to. How could it not be elitist?
Anyhoo... regardless of how kind and friendly TED as an entity (kind of like the computer "Hal" from "2001: A Space Odyssey") may be, it does have those aforementioned brilliant people and accompanying ideas.
At the end of the day, maybe you just have to be thankful that the organizers of TED are good enough to provide us common folk with a website where we can view what's been presented by the smarties at TEDs past.
Monday, October 06, 2008
In a September 2007 article, BusinessWeek ran "Netflix: Flex to the Max" about the efforts at Netflix to both attract and retain the best employees... through extreme "flexibility and responsibility" provided from CEO Reed Hastings on down.
Also, from September 2007, BusinessWeek published "How to Make a Microserf Smile" about the efforts at employee responsiveness done at the tech behemoth. Led by HR chief Lisa Brummel, Microsoft has fought gamely over the last few years to keep both it's star employees and overall moral up.
It's probably not necessary to point to Google as a company that treats it's employees well (given the legendary free cafeteria, child care, laundry, etc), but in it's March 2008 "50 Most Innovative Companies" issue, Fast Company has a piece about the perks enjoyed at Google, including an author and Presidential Candidate speaker series (pretty good stuff).
Finally (and more recently), Fred Kiel in his October 6, 2008 BusinessWeek opinion piece, tears apart the notion that employees are motivated only by self-interest. Kiel argues that rather than this, employees greatly value a workplace culture that trusts it's people (REI as an example) and gives them opportunities to advance (i.e. Costco Wholesale).
Sunday, October 05, 2008
"Los Alamos and Sandia: R&D Treasures" about how Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories are sharing their research expertise (for a fee, of course) with private sector companies such as Proctor & Gamble.
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The book is an autobiography of sorts about Martin's time in doing stand-up (was a distinct period of his life), but also has both some fascinating insights into his character as well as interesting asides that reveal how he views things.
At times it gets a bit tedious and reads a bit like a list of the things he's done, but that's outweighed by the good stuff. Some of that is as follows...
- The idea of Martin starting his entertainment career at age 10 working at the newly opened Disneyland. I couldn't help but be jealous of someone who basically knew from an early age what he wanted to do (even though he went from magic to comedy and then movies and writing)... course, I also give huge credit to someone who kept going after that despite adversity.
- Tied to the notion above, Martin had a quote about his "lean" years that I loved... "Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration."
- Martin's depression during his period of greatest stand-up success... right before he ended stand-up.
- His reconciliation with his parents and corresponding reconnection with his sister.
All in all, an interesting read for anyone who is either a fan of Martin or wants some insight into the show business world through someone that has been very successful in it.
It's also short with big words... ;)
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The Sept 29 issue of Sports Illustrated features a great cover story by Gary Smith on the Chicago Cubs... more to the point, on Cubs fans and their devotion (and frequently associated heartbreak).
The story brings Smith together with the same group of fans he met 10 years prior in the Wrigley bleachers and looks at what the team means (as well as what a Cubs World Series title would mean) to them.
Having just come back from a college football sojourn to Lincoln, Nebraska, I understand devotion to a team, but it was fascinating reading Smith's account of that devotion being associated with baseball. it's an entirely different topic, but my thought would be the only rival (in terms of fan association) to big time college football would be said Cubs baseball and soccer outside the US. Pro football, basketball, auto racing and hockey... certainly followed by given audiences, but I don't think with the same level of fervor as college football and Cubs baseball.
Anyhoo... the cover story is a great read and makes the reader think about what it is to be... a fan.
Not Recent: Rick Reilly pieces
"Worth the Wait" about high school runner Ben Comen who competes (and finishes) despite having cerebral palsy.
"Funny You Should Ask" about a made up conversation between a dad and his kid about sports, life and things in between.
Monday, September 22, 2008
This was of course all good and well for McCain until Vieira questioned him about the $45M golden parachute received from Hewlett-Packard by key financial advisor Carly Fiorina when she was fired from the CEO role (and around the time 20,000 HP employees were laid off).
McCain's response... "I'm not familiar with that" followed up by "I think she did a good job".
Friday, September 19, 2008
It beings with an overview from Managing Editor Richard Stengel (who references the cover story from a year ago also on National Service). From there, the issue contains "21 Ways to Serve America"... some of the ones more personally interesting noted below along with the corresponding # in Time:
#1: Support the "Serve America Act": Bill being introduced in the Senate this month.
#4: Give Up One Day: Service events being planned for Sept 27 and Jan 19 (MLK Day). Details at http://www.events.servicenation.org/ & http://www.mlkday.gov/.
#8: Get Out!: Civilian Conservation Corps is an organization helps clean and protect parks and other natural resources.
#9: Work with the Secretary: California is the first state to have a Cabinet (CA) level position around Service & Volunteering (from this came the California website http://www.californiavolunteers.org/.) Done at a Federal level this type of position would be in the President's Cabinet.
#15: Do It Pro Bono: Service opportunities utilizing Professional skills can be found through the Taproot Foundation or http://www.abillionandchange.org/.
#21: Log On: Another place to seek out volunteer opportunities is through http://www.volunteer.gov/.
Friday, September 12, 2008
On the known side we have things like the economy, health care, energy and the environment and the unknown side we have things like foreign policy (the big events and concerns) and domestic disasters.
When I look at the known issues, I think Obama to be the candidate with the much more detailed plans and when I look at the unknown, I'm also much more comfortable with Obama due to his very measured approach (which I don't think McCain as a noted "Hawk" shares).
It appears that the McCain camp appears to also feel their candidate would come out on the losing side should the race be solely about the issues, hence the entrance of "personality"... defined by Sarah Palin (and all of the fictitious slights against her allegedly perpetuated by the Obama camp and members of the media).
There's a fascinating article from the San Francisco Chronicle titled "About Sarah Palin" which both prints and goes into depth about an extremely detailed e-mail written about Palin by a fellow Wasilla resident. My feeling about Palin after reading it is close to what it was before... she seems to have a very good political sense for backing the positions that will be popular and... she is in no way shape or form qualified to be President as soon as this coming January.
I touched on this pick a bit in a prior post about McCain (and of course not at all in a post focused on Obama), but my feeling is that Palin is both not qualified and should not be a relevant asset to McCain's campaign.
When people vote for the Presidency, they are voting for who they feel will be the best in that position (again, best being defined by how they would be in the known and unknown). They (hopefully) are not voting for the personality brought in by the VP candidate.
Hopefully the Obama camp can help steer the conversation in this very important direction. If not, I'm concerned.
This may actually have been my favorite of the Larson books and I felt compelled to post this given the current evacuation of Galveston as Hurricane Ike bears down on it.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Since that time, I've learned that Casey works for Time Inc and writes extensively for Sports Illustrated. From the Aug 25th issue of SI, she wrote "We Are All Witnesses", that week's cover story on Michael Phelps.
Additionally, some of Casey's past SI writing can be found through doing a search on the Sports Illustrated website. Really good work...
Saturday, September 06, 2008
- "True Blood" television series on HBO about a family of vampires. From Alan Ball, creator of "Six Feet Under".
- "Fringe" television series on Fox about a government and corporate conspiracy. From J.J. Abrams of "Lost" fame.
- "Burn After Reading" from the Coen brothers opening 9/12.
- "W" from Oliver Stone opening 10/17.
- "Body of Lies" from Ridley Scott opening 10/10.
- "Changeling" from Clint Eastwood opening 10/24.
- "Quantum of Solace" opening 11/14.
- "Australia" opening 11/14.
- "The Soloist" starring Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx opening 11/21.
- "Twilight" from Stephenie Meyer opening 11/21.
- The new California Academy of Sciences opening to the public on Sept 27.
One week after this, Time published the issue with cover shown below leading into the Republican Convention in Minneapolis.
From this, McCain did an interview with two Time writers that could be described as "prickly" (which is the descriptive language Time uses) and belligerent and angry at worst.
A lot has been written and discussed about the character and leanings of the McCain-Palin ticket, with McCain being a war hero and Pain a staunch social conservative (to put it nicely). This interview, though, illustrates my biggest aversion to McCain... that he seems to get too dogmatic and hot-headed to lead Foreign Policy and interact with world leaders who might not have the same appreciation of the U.S. and it's principles (Vladimir Putin, anyone?). Obama may not have McCain's tenure in government, but I feel more comfortable with him than John McCain in this role.
Conversely, Palin is an interesting choice in that it's an obvious olive branch to social conservatives wary of McCain's past statements and record. Personally, though, I'm much more interested in how qualified she would be to serve as President if needed and occupy that same role "across the table from Putin" (or a similarly surly world leader).
She may certainly prove over time to be the right person for that role, but I don't think she's done enough to show it (and feel that her to proclaim herself more qualified than Obama is laughable at best).
In this same vein of "concern" about the idea of a McCain-Palin President-VP combo, Joe Klein writes in the Sept 15 issue of Time "How McCain Makes Obama Conservative". It details Klein's view of how the ticket came about and finishes off with what I feel is a fabulous paragraph...
"The Palin selection — peremptory, petulant — was another example of McCain's preference for the politics of gesture over the politics of substance, as is his sudden fondness for oil exploration ("Drill here, drill now.") and hair-trigger bellicosity abroad (Syria, Iran, Russia). His lack of interest in actual governance is disappointing; his aversion to contemplation seems truly alarming. He has done us all a favor with this pick: he has shown us exactly what sort of President he would be."
Friday, September 05, 2008
So... as the overall blog introspection is designed as a three part narrative and the first two have been covered, I'm now on to the third, what I can do to try to acquire a readership (this assumes that the content going on to the blog will continue to be similar to what has been posted to date).
On blogger (which is of course used for this blog), there's a story titled "Promoting Your Blog" which features (among other ideas) the suggestions below:
1. Add your blog to listings and make available for search engines (ex: technorati).
2. Set e-mail post link to be shown.
3. Turn on site feeds (subscribe to) so that people can use RSS feed readers to view blog content.
4. Set backlinks to be shown (not sure how this works).
5. Link to other blogs.
6. Install a blogroll (example from article is a site called blogrolling and addthis might be a similar thing.
7. Leave comments on other blogs.
8. Pitch posts via e-mail, but in an appropriate way. Blogger links to this article for tips on how.
The blogger piece also has some good suggestions around content, as does the article "What Makes for a Good Blog" from the popular life organization site 43 Folders. That said, I'm pretty happy with the content being put on the blog so I'm focusing now on some of the specific activities I can try to get readers.
The suggestions above all make a lot of sense to me and I got some ideas from reading Sarah Lacy's book "Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good" (which I reviewed at this blog post).
Specifically, Lacy talks in her book about Web 2.0 companies as being both platforms and applications (with the less successful companies really being just features). From this, I realize that from a platform perspective, I can utilize the profiles I already have sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and think about adding Ning as another platform site.
From an application perspective, I'm fascinated by what Digg does and want to utilize it (also interested in technorati) as a way to try to get readers. The actual steps will be to try to figure out how to alter the html on my posts so that people can easily add or tag either the entire blog or post url.
Seems like things that can be done...