Thursday, April 30, 2009

Top U.S. Economists talk in New York!

Live from the Grace Rainey Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Featured panelists: Senator Bill Bradley, Paul Krugman Niall Ferguson, Nouriel Roubini, George Soros and Robin Wells. Moderated by Jeff Madrick. Introduced by Robert Silvers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

**UPDATE: My 84-year-old father is on Twitter!

Dad is now on Twitter! You can follow him at (But there are no posts, yet. He says he is trying to work out TweetDeck and needs some time.)

Talking about Twitter with my 84-year-old dad...

My papa (father, not grandfather) is awesome. This is what he looks like: (--------->)

That's his desk and he spends most of his waking hours there, working. My dad has been a lawyer since he finished law school in 1951. Though he officially retired in 1987, he still works everyday.

Papa is totally online now. He e-mails daily and can do attachments (though, learning to attach took a bit longer to master). His most recent cyber-coup was signing up for Gmail and learning he can chat from inside the inbox. ("But how did you know I was online?" he asked, the first time I appeared on his screen at home in Hawaii while I was at my computer in New York.)

For an 84-year-old, I'd say my papa is ahead of the curve when it comes to being Web-savvy.

Yesterday, he asked me about Twitter. I tried my best to explain. This is how it went (edited for clarity and typographical errors):

geanwcannon: I really don't have any idea what twitter is although I see a lot of reference to it online. Could you give me some idea what it is and what use can you make of it?

me: twitter is a service whereby you can post very small messages online
they must be smaller than 140 characters
so it's a bit like a micro-blog
people write these tiny messages
sometimes from their phone
all day long
and it's open for the world to see

geanwcannon: Where online does it go? How do you get it "online?"

me: you either send a message from the twitter web site, or hook up your phone to the web site
and [the messages] go to a kind of collective cloud
of messages
to organize it, each person has an account
then they announce to other people that they have an account
then someone [another Twitterer] can hit a button and become a "follower"
so on your own personal page, you will see your own messages, as well as the messages of people you follow

geanwcannon: Has an account -Where?

me: on twitter
to use twitter
each user has to establish an account on the web site

geanwcannon: What web site?

me: twitter
twitter has a main web site
you go there, set up an account, then send messages through your account
then other people can follow your messages from their own accounts
here's an example
you and me and leilani [my sister] and tom friedman
each of us want to use twitter
so each of us go to the twitter site, which is
then, we each open an account. my account is very simply "mailecannon"
so now we all have accounts
from my account, i write short messages
they get posted on my account page
(which is what i see every time i sign into twitter, just like how i [see my inbox each time I] sign into my e-mail account)
so let's say, you and leilani and i want to follow each other
we would find each other my entering our respective account names
then, we would hit a button to become "followers"
so if we all did that, all of our messages would be seen in all of our respective pages

geanwcannon: Fascinating- Now
Now i know. It is a shortcut form of e-mail.

me: well, yes and no
anyone could see it
not just you and me and leilani
it's not that personal
for example: tom friedman
i follow him on twitter
so all i do is enter his name
and press a button to become a follower
so i can see all of his messages
but it isn't like we communicate
he doesn't know who i am

geanwcannon: I want to give this a try. This is an easy way to broadcast to the world.

me: very very easy
and sometimes
total strangers follow me
because there is a search function
so let's say i go to a mozart concert
and i send a message about mozart
and maybe
at the same time
someone is looking for something about mozart
and they see my message
so if they like it, they might want to follow me
i did this recently [followed strangers]
there was a big student protest at new school
and i didn't have the time to go down and see the students. so what i did was make a twitter search. then, i aggregated messages from people who were there and writing messages about it
so it was like live news
though i have to say, it's flawed. because it is so personal, people just write some very silly things and that is impossible to control.

geanwcannon: You have roused my curiosity. I want to sign up on Twitter. I have some foolish things I want to say.

What is most striking to me about this conversation is that it made me realize that there really is a huge gap in natural understanding when it comes to technology and the Internet. Now, it's obvious that younger people usually have the advantage over older people when it comes to technology, but I think it's assumed that that's because older people just didn't learn this stuff, nor care to learn it. However, what became obvious in chatting with my father was that he was approaching Twitter with a mental landscape very different from my own. If tailored handbooks were available to teach people about Twitter (or Facebook, or whatever), my dad's book would not look like mine. For example, I recently explained Twitter to a friend of mine my age and the conversation was simple: "Go to and sign-up." There wasn't too much discussion about where these messages might be going, how they got there or what happened to the messages once they got sent. But with my dad, he really wanted to know more before he would buy into it.

For me, all this says a lot about the learning process and how one relates to the world now. To have access to the newest (though arguably not the best) information, one must be in a constant habit of learning HOW to do it. But, from my understanding, learning, in general terms, is the realm of the young. Though people talk about developing a "love of learning," that usually meant maintaining a life full of interests and reading books about them, or perhaps taking a class. This was almost always available to everyone because the method of transmitting information (reading books or talking face-to-face with people) held true once one overcame the initial burdens of learning to read, listening carefully and thinking critically.

Now, with the Internet, people must alter their entire understanding of HOW to GET information. And if we want people, specifically the elderly, to continue being able to stay on top of things, that means we have to consider seniors as a unique learning group, and then develop learning techniques to cater to their specific needs. I don't think this has ever been an issue before, and that's pretty interesting.

This makes me miss China...

Just had yet another mediocre American breakfast (eggs, toast, a muffin and some juice). Then, I saw this. Boy do I miss China.

The Menu Stealer - episode 1: Guilin Mifen from PraxisLanguage on Vimeo.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lunar Eclipse

The fellow who made the baby video also made this lovely clip.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

" We, the greater good mob, contributed..."

Here is an interesting conversation I just had with my best friend at the j-school, Venkat. (Sorry Kim, Venkat just edited my last lit journ paper, so now he's number one.) He's a brilliant writer from India and he used to be an engineer. (I like both of these details.)

In any case, Venkat alerted me to a story in the New York Times about the Freddie Mac executive who hanged himself. (Or at least, he was found hung without any evidence of foul play.) This guy, David Kellerman, was brought in as CFO after the government seized the company last September. Then he was awarded a $800,000 bonus during a time when people don't think much of these things.

This is how our chat about this went:

you know what my mother would say
in her chinese accent?



no that isnt right
much as it feels that way

i never said that my mother was reasonable, venkat!

:) alright
but seriously
the guy was employed after the collapse

this is pretty hardcore

if i may, i am going to pick out some sentences

1. Mr. Kellermann, 41, had been Freddie Mac’s chief financial officer since September. He was named to the position when the federal government seized the company and ousted its top executives last fall.

2. Mr. Kellermann had received a bonus of about $800,000.

3. caused some controversy earlier this month, and some lawmakers called for them to be rescinded (*edit: lawmakers were acting on emotion)

4. Mr. Kellermann hired a private security firm after reporters came to his house to ask about his bonus. (*edit: kellerman threatened, hounded)

we drove him to suicide?
the media did it?

i dont know the details at all
but i am inclined to believe we, the greater good mob, contributed.
who is to prove suicides, after all.
they almost certainly don't have a single factor.
it's just a bloody volatile world I live in.
anyway, nuf said.
back to reading and at some point, writing about copper.
i want one hard hitting compassionate story for the financiers.
I think Venkat really does bring up some valid points. But like he said, we don't know all the details. Kellerman might have had personal problems totally unrelated to his work, or mental health issues, or there is a sliver of a chance it was foul play. But yes, the media can really make life hell for others, especially when there are so many media groups ruthlessly competing for the same stories.

Something to think on...

Ever wonder where babies come from?

Xeb passed me this, which was passed to her from someone who saw it on Boing Boing. (See this attribution?! That's a degree in journalism will do to you...)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Russian hairdresser rapist; pissed on while flying and pigeon carriers

My friend Xeb is pretty brilliant. (Though she's not brilliant enough to have permalinks on her blog. I can say that 'cause I've just learned how to put them in.) She's an anthropologist and here is an example of the interesting things she comes up with:

The wonderful thing about doing what I do (socio-cultural anthropology) is that you can take voyeuristic delight in human absurdity and nobody can accuse you of procrastinating and being a flake (well they can, but you have valid counterarguments), because this is precisely what you've been trained to do. So for today, let me chronicle some of the more absurd, err, absurdities I have come across:

The Russian Times reports the fascinating story of a Robber, tuned into a Sex-Slave by a local Hairdresser: According to RT, "A hairdresser from the small Russian town of Meshchovsk subdued a man who tried to rob her shop, and then raped him for three days in the utility room. The incident occurred on Saturday, March 14. The working day was coming to an end at a small hairdressers, when a man armed with a gun rushed in and demanded the day’s earnings. The frightened employees and customers agreed to fulfill his demand, but when the shop’s owner, 28-year-old Olga, was handing the money to the robber, she suddenly knocked him down on the floor and then tied him up with a hairdryer cord. The 32-year-old Viktor couldn’t have known that the woman was a yellow belt in karate. Olga locked the unlucky robber in the utility room and told her colleagues that she was going to call the police – but didn’t do so. When everybody left home, she approached the man and ordered him to ‘take of his underpants’ threatening to hand him over to the police if he refuses to cooperate.After that Olga raped her hostage for three long days. She chained Viktor to the radiator with pink furry handcuffs and fed him Viagra. She eventually let the man go on Monday, March 16, saying: “Get out of my sight!” Viktor went straight to hospital as his genitals were injured, and then to the police. Olga was resentful when she was taken by the police. “What a bastard,” the woman said about Viktor. “Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I’ve bought him new jeans, gave him food and even gave him 1.000 roubles (around $ 30) when he left.”. After that she wrote a notice to the police claiming the man tried to rob her shop. Both Olga and Viktor may now face prison terms. The woman could be convicted of rape, while the man of robbery".

In other parts of the world the Honolulu Advertiser tells the sad tale of a man who decided to take a bathroom break in an airplane and proceeded to urinate over his 66-year old fellow passenger. Not much of an advertisement for Honolulu as "Federal Court judge Leslie Kobayashi yesterday sentenced a 28-year-old man from Saipan to 21 days in prison for assaulting a fellow passenger on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Jerome Kenneth Kingzio had pleaded guilty. The incident took place on March 21. U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said court documents show the victim, a 66-year-old woman, was watching the in-flight movie when Kingzio stood next to her and began urinating on her. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Marshall H. Silverberg.

If anyone doubts the value-added by resorting to the indigenous over the 'modern' let them consider the inherent genius behind this crime spree in Brazil, reported by Yahoo News. So, the story is that in San Paolo, inmates have devised an innovative way to smuggle in cell phones into a prison farm in Brazil: carrier pigeons. Guards at the Danilio Pinheiro prison near the southeastern city of Sorocaba noticed a pigeon resting on an electric wire with a small cloth bag tied to one of its legs last week. "The guards nabbed the bird after luring it down with some food and discovered components of a small cell phone inside the bag," police investigator Celso Soramiglio said Tuesday. One day later, another pigeon was spotted dragging a similar bag inside the prison's exercise yard. Inside the bag was the cell phone's charger, Soramiglio said. The birds were apparently bred and raised inside the prison, smuggled out, outfitted with the cell phone parts and then released to fly back.

Check out her site at

The machine is us/ing us...

The Internet is changing how we perceive and interact with information, and communicate. At the same time, how we use the Internet shapes its function. Here's a really brilliant little video I ripped off of my pal, Xeb's, blog.

Good grammar is sexy...!

OK, so let's see if I get this "embedding" thing. Here's a YouTube clip. It's features "Hot for Words" grammar sex kitten, Marina. Good stuff.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The money war...

I like this. So true, so true...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I think I like ShareThis better...

You'll note that I've removed "Add to Any" and have added "ShareThis" instead. More an aesthetic decision than anything else. Plus, "ShareThis" has a few more options.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A better blog...

I have learned two things today. Neither of them have allowed me to advance on my assignments. However, they are pretty cool and very "new media," so I don't feel totally useless.

The first was to set my blog so that titles appear for each blog post. This allows for the creation of permalinks--dedicated unique addresses (links) assigned to each invidual post (as opposed to just one address for the entire blog). This means I can now send out links to specific posts.

The second thing I learned was how to add "Add to Any" to my blog. After each post, you will now see a little box that says "Share/Save." (It's also what you see in the image above.) This will allow readers to share my blog on Facebook or Twitter, as well as other social Web applications.

While I recognize this is pretty amateurish stuff for hardcore bloggers, I must say I'm pretty chuffed with myself for sorting this out.

So now, dear readers, share away!

J-school cover girl...

Wow, I'm on the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's Career Services Web page! The school hosted a career fair two weeks ago, and to stand out from the crowd, I ordered a lei from Hawaii to wear to the event. I was noticed. You can check out the site at (You'll have to scroll along a bit...)

Friday, April 10, 2009

New School haters in the Twitterverse

(Photo taken from the Daily News Web site)

So that was quick. Now check out what some of the haters in the Twitterverse had to say about the New School students. Stunning! (All of these posts were taken from a TweetDeck search.)

protest at the new school? wtf. get a job hippies
desusnice, Fri 10 Apr 12:01

the socialist pieces of scum occupying the new school are the REAL pigs- not the policemen #NSIE
talster, Fri 10 Apr 12:23

I would love to know what is so atrocious at New School they feel the need to overtake the building. Seriously? Still doesn't excuse NYU.
sueelio, Fri 10 Apr 12:31

Okay New School kids, I understand you're upset, but no one is taking you seriously anymore.
dayla, Fri 10 Apr 12:36

new school protesters-- if you are so anti-capitalism just move to a commune and stop bothering the rest of us #NSIE #newschool
talster, Fri 10 Apr 12:37

Spoiled New School kids lose. FAIL.
waityourarobot, Fri 10 Apr 12:38

Bored cops pepper spray bored New School students. Oh New York.
youLukas, Fri 10 Apr 12:38

Another revolution at the New School is apparently underway. I am feeling not revolutionary today so they better finish up soon.
andreagl, Fri 10 Apr 12:49

The college brats "occupying" a New School building got their heads swiftly beat in by the NYPD. I hope this protesting trend dies off soon.
gregchiasson, Fri 10 Apr 12:52

This gal talster was especially offended (and offensive). She kept her rants up while many tweeted, retweeted and moved on. (And get this, she's not some crotchety geezer shaking a cane at them youngins. Check her out here Here's more of what she said:

#NSIE you broke into a bldg,took down a cleaner&a security guard, hurt a policeman and NOW youre crying that they used mace?! gimme a break!
talster, Fri 10 Apr 12:49

oh, BOOHOO... they deserve it!! RT @studentactivism: Campus paper says one New School arrestee was "bleeding from his forehead" at booking
talster, Fri 10 Apr 13:00

@tomaplomb how ab being disgusted at the students for breaking into a building, hurting an innocent cleaner&taking his phone, then a guard?
talster, Fri 10 13:04
Given the current state of affairs in this country, and in this city, especially, I'm surprised that there are still folks who take up these rather negative attitudes. I'm just impressed that the young protesters care enough about their cause to unstrap their wrists from the keyboard and pry their bottoms from chairs long enough to hit the streets (or take over a building). But that's my take on things.

Twitter coverage of New School protests

I can't get down to this site, but here are some Twitter feeds coming in from the New School protest!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

This is a little bit insane...

Higher Education
Journalism Bust, J-School Boom
Lauren Streib, 04.06.09, 3:00 PM ET

When the current class of optimists from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism prepared for their March job fair, some were stunned to learn that, along with The New York Times, Forbes, Dow Jones and other national publications, they'd also been signed up for interviews with Cat Fancy, a lively consumer magazine "for people interested in all phases of cat ownership."

It was, of course, a prank. But it's easy to understand the confusion. The Pew Research Center estimates 5,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2008. Since 2001, more than 10,000 newspaper journalists have lost work, leaving the total count of those still employed at 47,000 nationwide. It's getting worse, fast. Erica Smith, who runs the online layoff tracker Paper Cuts, counts nearly 7,500 newsroom jobs lost so far this year.

Yet punishing times for journalism have been an unlikely boon for journalism schools. Would-be Woodwards and Bernsteins hiding out from the bad economy or learning new skills to compete stormed the admissions offices of top-tier programs last fall. Columbia, Stanford and NYU applications increased 38%, 20% and 6%, respectively, from the previous year. Same thing at state schools. The University of Colorado (up 11%), University of North Carolina (up 14%) and University of Maryland (up 25%) all saw gains. "I'm amazed that enrollment continues to be so healthy," says Associate Professor Stephen Solomon at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Costs are up too. The average price for graduate school and living expenses has reached $31,000 per year. This despite earnings for journalists with a graduate degree averaging just $40,000 in 2007 ($10,000 more than for those with just bachelor's degrees).

"I've never met a single person in 35 years who went into journalism out of pure economic reason," explains Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism. "It doesn't make us recession-proof, but it makes us less recession responsive."

What are all these people going to do for a living? Some may actually get jobs in journalism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2016 the number of positions for entry-level reporters and news anchors will increase 2%, while those for experienced writers and editors will grow 10%. Expect trade publications, freelance work and digital media to supply the bulk of the jobs.

And, perhaps, academia. Old media expatriates looking for a life after layoffs and buyouts are flooding schools looking for work. Brooke Kroeger, director of the Carter Journalism Institute at NYU, says interest in teaching has tripled in the last five years. Columbia's Lemann says he receives several e-mails every day. Says Neil Henry, interim dean and professor at the Berkeley School of Journalism: "It's becoming increasingly common and it is difficult emotionally to deal with."

Luckily, all those new students should create need for more professors. And, it turns out, Cat Fancy is hiring. Parent company BowTie, Inc., has openings for an associate book editor and summer magazine/book editing interns. Interested?

Original link

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

In writing this, I am avoiding a very heavy assignment due tomorrow morning. Around the corner from 29, even I am proof that old habits die hard.

Some musings... There is a panic, among journalists and people who care about journalism, about the state of the industry. Papers are collapsing. Newspaper people are getting laid off. Veteran journos are looking to 12-year-olds for advice about Twitter.

Everyone wants to know how to make money with the Web. Is it possible? How do we do it? Some people say that non-profits are the way to go. But then those opposed to the .org model believe non-for-profit endeavors will eventually fall victim to the desires of whoever does provide the money (as if that doesn't happen with corporate news organizations already).

All of the chatter is rather maddening and it's clear that no one has a clue. Everyone says some "out-of-the-box" thinking is in order, but all anyone is doing is repeating and reorganizing various elements of tired ideas IN the box.

But let's say this: Let's say that newspapers as a concept are dead. Then what? Let's accept that NO ONE in the future will ever read a newspaper. THEN WHAT?


Let's say advertising CAN'T make papers profitable anymore. It's just not an option. Then what? Where does the money come from? Doesn't anyone think that having a business model effectively based on ONE form of revenue INHERENTLY FLAWED? So now what?

I think if we start to imagine a world without newspapers, we'd get much closer to real solutions. Because right now, most people are trying desperately to cling to the notion at the other end of the idea spectrum. If the truth (or solution) is somewhere between the extremes, let's start at the polar opposite of a world WITH papers, then work our to the middle.

And in terms of money, let's cut out the whole notion of advertising. Surely there are products that rely income generated for its value and not for it's power to distribute tag-along information. So how do we make news more valuable? A very tough question...

So I guess the point of my ramble, aside from avoiding my work, is that I haven't really heard too many new ideas about the direction of journalism from anyone in the field. They are all too terrified, or too trapped in their own panic, to start asking the scary questions that might lead to real solutions (not that I am suggesting I know better, or even that my two measly ideas mean anything). But I do think it would be good to start hearing a little dialectic about all this. It just doesn't make sense to feel more secure clinging to a crumbling cliff than taking a leap, possibly into the unknown, for the chance of a new and different landing.