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Archive for September, 2010


Unlikely Twins, Part XXI

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Happy Birthday, this September 28th, to two opposite sides of the show business spectrum:

Brigitte Bardot,
Sex Kitten
Ed Sullivan,
Introduced Guys who Juggled Kittens

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Two of these things are not like(d by) the others…

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

This story is strange on a wide variety of levels.

But first, the facts: Pop singer, Katy Perry, recorded a segment for Sesame Street, in which she sang a (child-friendly) version of her hit song, Hot N Cold, with everybody’s favorite montser, Elmo. The segment was posted on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel as a “sneak peek” at the show’s season premiere. After more than one million views, the folks at the Sesame Workshop received a number of complaints that Ms. Perry’s outfit was too revealing, making it inappropriate for a TV show aimed at preschoolers. The Sesame Street folks decided not to air the segment on television and removed it from the Sesame Street YouTube channel, although they did allow it to remain on other YouTube channels and websites, including Katy Perry’s own YouTube channel and katyperry.com.

Oh, strange story, let me count the ways…

1) Sesame Street pre-releases clips of its shows on YouTube? Is this really such hotly anticipated content that we can’t wait for the actual show to air?

2) Parents actually watch pre-release clips of Sesame Street on the Internet? Are there folks out there who really want to pre-screen Sesame Street on a regular basis?

3) To Sesame Street’s target demographic, cleavage doesn’t suggest anything naughty – it suggests lunch!

To be honest, I don’t very much care that they didn’t air it on television. One of the great things about the times we live in is that television isn’t our only source of media content. Anyone who wants to see Katy Perry sing with Elmo (or just ogle her cleavage) can do so on the Internet just as easily (or, some would argue, more easily) than on television. And if your two-year old is a big Katy Perry fan, you’re free to sit him/her down in front of the computer and let him/her watch. So the TV show becomes the “extremely safe zone.” That used to matter a lot, because the decisions of a select few affected the choices of the masses. Today, not so much.

For those who are curious, here’s the video. But be forewarned – if you click on it, you have to stop claiming that you read my blog just for the articles…

Categories: Primetime TV, Words about Music | 1 Comment »

Unlikely Twins, Part XX

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

If these two September 21st birthdays had gotten together, maybe they could have produced something that both made kids laugh and made adults scream in unholy terror:

Chuck Jones,
Cute Cartoons for Kids
Stephen King,
Horrible Nightmares for Adults

Categories: Unlikely Twins | 1 Comment »

Geek humor

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Here’s one for my more techie friends. If you don’t understand this, trust me – just move on…

The warning message that Microsoft PowerPoint gives you when you open a presentation from a SharePoint site:

Woah, dude…. Check out that PowerPoint deck. Like….totally awesome, man……

Categories: Tech Talk | 1 Comment »

Unlikely Twins, Part XIX

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Both of these men probably received something chocolate for their September 13th birthdays, but only one of them really knew where the chocolate was made…

Roald Dahl,
Charlie’s Chocolate Factory
Milton Hershey,
His OWN Chocolate Factory

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September 11, 2010

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

It’s become a bit of a personal, annual tradition for me to write something on the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Each one, quite obviously, is a little different, and reading through them all now (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), provide an interesting (at least to me) perspective on how one processes a traumatic event like this one over the years.

This year, I once again note the degree to which we are moving on. There will be memorial services of course, but the President’s remarks at his most recent press conference show the shift in emphasis:

I’ll have further remarks tomorrow, but for now let me just note that tomorrow is a National Day of Service and Remembrance and I hope each of us finds a way to serve our fellow citizens — not only to reaffirm our deepest values as Americans, but to rekindle that spirit of unity and common purpose that we felt in the days that followed that September morning.

As was the case last year, I think this is an altogether healthy thing. We should not forget; we should never forget. But there will never come a time when September 11th isn’t the anniversary of the attacks. If we use the occasion as an annual reminder to do something positive, like a National Day of Service, then the day won’t fade into obscurity the way that Pearl Harbor Day has, for instance. As the grief fades, this grim anniversary will come to stand as a regular reminder of the American values that were attacked that day. I can live with that.

Sadly, there’s something else to note about the ninth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The national spirit of unity and community that enveloped us in 2001 has, as one would expect, long since faded. But this year, somewhat suddenly and for no apparent reason, the opposite sentiment – that of hatred, cruelty, and division seems to have sprung up and captured the national spotlight. It is evident in protests, sometimes peaceful but sometimes violent, against the building of places of worship in America, and it’s evident in the suggested burning of sacred religious texts by those of different faiths. Again, I turn to the President’s remarks:

Anne Kornblut: Thank you, Mr. President. Nine years after the September 11th attacks, why do you think it is that we are now seeing such an increase in suspicion and outright resentment of Islam, especially given that it has been one of your priorities to increase — to improve relations with the Muslim world?

President Obama: I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society. And so I think that plays a role in it.

One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam. We were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam, had stolen its banner to carry out their outrageous acts. And I was so proud of the country rallying around that idea, that notion that we are not going to be divided by religion; we’re not going to be divided by ethnicity. We are all Americans. We stand together against those who would try to do us harm.

And that’s what we’ve done over the last nine years. And we should take great pride in that. And I think it is absolutely important now for the overwhelming majority of the American people to hang on to that thing that is best in us, a belief in religious tolerance, clarity about who our enemies are — our enemies are al Qaeda and their allies who are trying to kill us, but have killed more Muslims than just about anybody on Earth. We have to make sure that we don’t start turning on each other.

And I will do everything that I can as long as I am President of the United States to remind the American people that we are one nation under God, and we may call that God different names but we remain one nation. And as somebody who relies heavily on my Christian faith in my job, I understand the passions that religious faith can raise. But I’m also respectful that people of different faiths can practice their religion, even if they don’t subscribe to the exact same notions that I do, and that they are still good people, and they are my neighbors and they are my friends, and they are fighting alongside us in our battles.

And I want to make sure that this country retains that sense of purpose. And I think [September 11th] is a wonderful day for us to remind ourselves of that.

And in response to a later question:

We’ve got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They’re going to school with our kids. They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. They’re our coworkers. And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?

I’ve got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan in the uniform of the United States armed services. They’re out there putting their lives on the line for us. And we’ve got to make sure that we are crystal-clear for our sakes and their sakes they are Americans and we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that WE DON’T DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THEM AND US. IT’S JUST US.

[Emphasis added by me]

It’s easy to say that all of this is just politics rearing its ugly head right before a midterm election. But that was the case in 2006 and 2002 as well. And, one could argue, even more so the case in 2004 and 2008, when a Presidential election was on the line.

I think this is something else. A lot of people will believe just about anything they hear repeated enough times on television or the Internet, like the idea that the President of the United States is a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya, or that mosque-goers in lower Manhattan are the equivalent of Al-Qaeda terrorists. The media attention that naturally follows controversial speech provides cover for two kinds of people: those too lazy to think critically about “Today’s Top Story,” and those who actually harbor bigoted feelings towards entire groups of people who are different than they are.

I hope that September 11th truly becomes our annual reminder to “reaffirm our deepest values as Americans.” I also hope that in future years, it serves as a defense against those who would intentionally divide us for the sake of drawing attention to themselves, regardless of their motives. As the President also said repeatedly in his press conference, “We are not there yet.”

Here’s hoping we’re moving in the right direction.

God Bless America.

Categories: New York, New York, Political Rantings | 1 Comment »

Unlikely Twins, Part XVIII

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

September 7th – birthday of two men who grew to know a lot about crashes…

Buddy Holly,
Killed in a Plane Crash
J.P. Morgan,
Survived a Market Crash

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The Best of TED: Why are we happy?

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Here’s another installment of my Best of TED series, in which I share talks from the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference that have struck me over the years as particularly insightful or fascinating.

Today’s installment represents the only time I’ve found two videos from the same presenter that struck me as worth discussing. Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert, discusses the concept of happiness, and uses the scientific method to examine how it is created and how long it lasts. Here’s a good way to summarize the talk:

We believe that synthetic happiness is not of the same quality as what we might call natural happiness. What are these terms? Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted. And in our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind.

He goes on to present situations where people don’t get what they want, but legitimately come away from the experience happier than they otherwise would have. And he proves that it’s real by testing the same theories on amnesiacs, and through the more traditional control groups.

If you feel like you’re constantly searching for happiness, give this a watch . . . and then go make some happiness of your own!

Categories: The Best of TED | No Comments »