Friday, November 28, 2008
This kick off of the Christmas shopping season is called Black Friday. And today it lived up to its name. A crowed at a Long Island Wal-mart trampled a 34-year-old store employee along with a 28-year-old pregnant woman. The store employee later died and the woman is in the hospital for observation.
What happened was a tragedy, but not an unexpected one. Several years in a row reports of somebody being trampled nearly to death at a Wal-mart store would appear on Black Friday. One cause for this is the low quantities of the Black Friday merchandise the retailers have in stores. This creates a sense of urgency which then causes otherwise rational human beings to stampede like cattle killing people in the process.
This is consumerism at its worst. And that makes me sad because it cheapens Christmas. Maybe it's time people started to think about the gifts they are going to give instead of just buying things because they are on sale at 5 AM.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I am not going to delve into the age before newspapers because information back then was quite unreliable and got from place to place at the pace of a comatose tortoise. Unless something happened at the next town, it might be weeks or even months before you heard the news. And by then it might already be too late to do anything.
Eventually this situation was rectified by the invention of the printing press. This, in turn, lead to newspapers which covered various events and got these reports out to people somewhat quickly. However, these same newspapers still took a while to get from city to city. So, if you did not reside in a metropolitan area, by the time you read the paper it was already ancient. Also, not all the news made it into the paper.
Fast forward a little bit and telegraph along with railroads arrived on the scene. Now the distances that were impossible to traverse quickly no longer seemed so impossible and did not stand in the way of the news. A reporter, who was able to roam freely, could cover a story and then send it, using the "wireless," to his editor. And after the newspaper was printed it could be delivered to the readers by rail. So, if you did not reside in a metropolitan area, by the time you read the paper it was no longer ancient, merely old.
The next technological development that altered the news business was the invention of the radio. This was a huge step forward because it lead to stories being covered in real time by reporters right on the scene. An infamous example of this is the Hindenburg crash at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in 1937. But, despite the invention of live coverage, the newspaper business continued at the same pace as before.
This brings us to the invention of television which gave us the ability to see the story instead of just hearing about it while a reporter commentated the events as they happened. Another byproduct of television was the nightly news, a recap of the day's news that was broadcast several hours before newspapers could even hit the stands. Despite these developments the newspaper business continued, at a lesser pace perhaps, but it continued nonetheless.
The televised news lead to the birth of the twenty four hour news channels and now you could see the world in action. The reporters were scattered around the globe covering it like a blanket and bringing stories from all over right into your living room. And yet the newspapers remained in business. Somehow, with all the news that was fit to be shown live, there was still room for articles, columns, and photo spreads. Somehow the people who had the news piped into their living room still wanted to read the newspaper.
And now we are in the age of the Internet which gave rise to blogs allowing ordinary people to publish their own take on the news instead of being force fed the thoughts and opinions of the pundits, columnists, and talk show hosts. These so-called Citizen Journalists are now giving the newspapers a run for their money because as a solo reporter/publisher a blogger can cover the story and then put it on the Web without first getting it approved, or even turned down, by an editor.
Newspapers also face huge competition from blogs and bloggers because they have not embraced the Internet the way they ought to in order to stay competitive in this instant age. Majority of newspapers simply have a website on which they display an electronic version of their printed copy without embracing all the wonderful things a newspaper can do on the web.
One thing that a newspaper can do to enhance its site is to have staff blogs hosted on it. This will draw people to the site and provide content other than the already outdated stories. Another is to create a discussion board for the readers so people can comment on the news and post their opinions. This can even replace letters to the editor which would free up space for more advertising.
There are a lot more ways a newspaper can embrace the Web and thereby provide something other than a paperless version of itself, but the important point here is that in the Web 2.0 age newspapers need to evolve beyond the stagnant state they have been in since they have been invented. Sure there have been technological improvements which made the newspapers better and faster, but now they are at a point were, if major changes are not made, they could become obsolete.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It wasn't too long ago that the same Time magazine declared us, the people who create online content, person of the year. So why such a sudden change? Did we all of a sudden fall out of favor with the publishers of Time?
I have no idea why Time's opinion of bloggers suddenly changed, but I think that there is room for everybody out here on the World Wide Web. Not every blog out there is dedicated to politics or sports or technology. There are bloggers who have a large readership and some that don't, but regardless of whether of the number of readers their message is still important.
I would not consider myself a blogger with a large following, but I would like to think that what I have to say is worth reading. The content I provide is usually well thought out and thoroughly edited. But I guess unless you work for Time magazine you should not have a blog. Oh, wait! Time just fired a whole bunch of their reporters. So, it seems, it's a good thing that I don't work for Time.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This, of course, takes time. Sometimes, it takes a lot of time. Quite frequently this is the time I should dedicate to more noble pursuits like beating back the army of dirty dishes in the sink, making a heroic last stand (for the millionth time) against the invading hoard of my daughter's toys, or climbing Mount Laundry in search of its clean, white peak.
Instead I sit in front of my computer pondering my web based navel. I know that I need to be more productive and more organized. And lately I have been doing much better at this task, but, like with everything else in life, there is still plenty of room for improvement. So I intend to work on this problem with all the dedication I can muster. But I wonder if it's too early to start on my New Year's resolutions.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
But as much as I love their shows, I love their movies even more. Life of Brian is by far my favorite because it makes fun of all the things Judeo-Christianity holds most scared. The gentlemen behind Monty Python have not made a movie in years, but now they bring snippets of their shows and movies to YouTube.
Yes, now there is a Monty Python YouTube channel. Please watch the following announcement.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Personally I use it to keep up with breaking news which are delivered to my cell phone by CNN via Twitter. Also Twitter is great for first person accounts of various natural disasters such as the current California forest fires. When a story breaks, you can always find somebody on Twitter who is right in the middle of it
Now, it seems, the idea of using Twitter for business is sprouting wings. A YouTube search for this topic resulted in 945 results. Here is one of these videos. It was made by O'Reilly Media and it's called Twitter for Business.
Friday, November 14, 2008
But, having said all that, I also have to say that Christmas can be ruined by being overdone. Here is a perfect example. Yesterday, Lili and I went to a local supermarket in order to restock our rather depleted grocery supplies. The first thing we saw when we entered this warehouse of food was a display of poinsettias. Later, we went to the little cooler that usually contains Turkey Hill iced tea of different varieties in half gallon jugs only to find that it was filled to the brim with eggnog.
On a recent visit to Wal-mart we were bombarded by Christmas music while being surrounded by wreathes, bows, and ornaments. I am not a strong person, I am not able to let this Christmas overkill not bother me. It drives me crazy that all these companies which are only out to make a dime, since making a buck in this economy would be a miracle, are ruining a holiday that has been a favorite of mine since before my daughter was born on Christmas day in 2006.
So, to all of the people who have already put up their Christmas decorations, I say Bah Humbug! Christmas season does not start until Black Friday. Until then I will be figuring out what we're doing for Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
On the last day of our trip to Florida we went to Ft. Myers Beach, where we sat on our beach towel and ate hot dogs surrounded by seagulls. Eventually the Sun set and we left the beach and returned to the hotel to pack, but not before I took this picture.
This the view from Heitman House in Ft. Myers, FL where my friend Andy's wedding reception took place. We missed the reception site the first time and ended up driving across this bridge with Carl, Andy's brother and best man, in tow. I always wanted to drive across one of these Florida bridges and now I have.