⋅ Our names both start with the letter M.
⋅ I'm a limeonaire. He claims to be a humannaire.
⋅ I own epigrammatic.org. He owns (but hasn't yet used) ecopathic.com.
⋅ I'm on MetaFilter. He's on MetaFilter.
⋅ Our names both start with the letter M.
⋅ I'm a limeonaire. He claims to be a humannaire.
⋅ I own epigrammatic.org. He owns (but hasn't yet used) ecopathic.com.
⋅ I'm on MetaFilter. He's on MetaFilter.
Well, of course I want to opt out of placement of cookies by advertisers. That sounds great! So I visited the Network Advertising Initiative site linked to try to do just that. And—sigh—of course there's a catch. It turns out that in order to opt out of placement of Facebook advertising cookies by more than two of the sites listed, I have to enable placement of cookies by third parties in Firefox across the board.
Um, no. I'm guessing there are many reasons why they chose to set up an opt-out system this way—and I don't purport to know any of them for sure. But this strikes me as a rather clumsy solution.
The best part? When I went back to the Facebook Site Governance note to comment on the issue, I found that despite the note supposedly being open for comment until November 5, I could read others' comments, but not leave any of my own. Awesome.
P.S. Facebook, "opt-out" is not a verb. "Opt out" would be the correct spelling; the hyphenated form finds more proper use as either an adjective or adverb.
Or, as a very smart friend rephrased it: "It was the rubber, not the band."
That's a nice response, and does promise some action; I'll have to go check out the area again to see whether the specified progress has been made. In any case, the highway lights she mentions definitely do not adequately light the area in question, especially not on an overcast, rainy night. And I never did hear back from any of the others I copied on the letter.
(As previously conceived here.)
To further clarify what those opinions might be, I've gone through my Twitter feed and compiled a list of 10 biases I think my posts there exemplify.
I've long liked the idea of creating a personal statement of bias. Full disclosure. 'Cause in the world to come, that is your raiment, not some trumped-up, imagined objectivity. There's a reason people mock Objectivists. Why shouldn't they also mock journalists who pretend to have achieved such distance from their citizenship? Not even the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics demands that journalists do things like abstain from voting.
I made a rather clumsy attempt at something like this back in college, with significantly less than stunning results. ("Irascible ranting" is probably the best way to describe it.) More recently (and more lucidly), I also wrote this on the subject.
The list I compiled this week isn't a mea culpa; actually, some of the items may be reminiscent of the tack taken by the would-be job-seeker who, upon being asked the classic question about "your worst workplace mistake," turns the question around: "Well, there was this one time when I was overly zealous in defending the personal liberties of my fellow Americans..." It makes me wonder whether I'm even thinking about the question the right way. But the list I came up with is more subtle and more encompassing, I think, than a rote recounting of positions on an arbitrary checklist of contentious "issues."
On to the biases.
Instead, I quickly found myself on an unlit, half-paved drive, surrounded by overgrown brush. The drive narrowed as I crested a small rise—only to find myself at the edge of a vast expanse of muddy gravel. S. 14th Street, it seems, currently dead-ends in a vacant lot behind a currently under-construction Walgreens. The only way out, since S. 14th is a one-way street, appeared to be driving toward the already-constructed parking lot. I drove slowly across the gravel, headed for the parking lot—only to find myself stuck in the mud right next to what turned out to be a curb. After a series of fits and starts, I finally got my car unstuck—and came down with a big crunch on the other side of the curb.
Hyperventilating, I parked next to the building, where the light was better, and got out to check the car. Nothing creaked or popped or looked obviously broken, so after moving a traffic barrel to secure safe passage out of the lot, I made my way home on I-44.
Tomorrow, Alderwoman Phyllis Young is going to be hearing from me. I can't believe they don't have that street blocked off.
Edit 1: I moved my car the following morning and checked the street where I'd been parked, and saw several fresh oil spots. I took a flashlight and peered under the car, and it looked like the plastic housing over the oil-filter area had come partially dislodged. I couldn't see anything else that looked obviously damaged, but it was clear a visit to Dobbs was in my future. Thanks, Ward 7 and Koman Properties!
Edit 2: Read my letter to Alderwoman Young (which I addressed to her and a small selection of others by certified mail) here.
Edit 3: Read a transcript of Alderwoman Young's response here.
Pro tip: When correcting someone else's work, get your facts right. There is no such car as a "SmartCar," at least not as named. In addition, even if the aforementioned SmartCar does exist, well, I'm not sure what style guide they're using over at the Telegraph, but I would guess that "20km" isn't proper. Also: The "when" beginning the phrase "when fleeing from the police" should be capitalized, as it begins a complete sentence.
"OK, that makes sense," I thought. But then I came to this quote from publisher Gregg Hano:
Oh. Yeah, that is a challenge. An unfortunate conundrum, if you will. [slaps forehead] Haven't these people ever heard of PayPal?!
I'm all for diversity of URL shorteners—that's one reason why I roll my own—but when 90 percent of a service's links never manage to load, well, I'm all for the inevitable evolutionary progress that follows.
In an odd burst of synchronicity, in fact, I just this afternoon found a scribbled Post-it note to myself from July 2:
But outrage makes careers these days. And it's a habituating drug—the more you read, the more it takes to create the same high. I can often tell when someone's been paying too much attention to the news by his or her overall agitation level.
This is also (one of the reasons) why editorial cartoonists are difficult to date.
After calling around to a few numbers in the Missouri capitol Friday, Mary Cottom of the Missouri Women's Council (who administers the state's Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, an entity completely separate from the Cervical Cancer Prevention Fund) was able to connect me with one Joel Allison at the Department of Revenue. After calling around a bit himself, Allison explained to me just what had happened.
It seems that a glitch occurred when I e-filed through TurboTax, and the $4 value entered on line 45 was lost or discarded. Thus when the return was processed, the system deduced that I had overpaid and summarily (er, four months later) cut me a check for the overage.
To remedy the situation, all I have to do is return my check to Allison (with a Post-it reminding him of where I would like the money to go) at the following address:
So if anyone else out there on the Internet happens to have this problem, that's the solution, and I'd suggest calling Allison at 573-757-5855 to give him a heads up—he said I was the first person he'd heard of this happening to, but if this is a genuine glitch in the system, I fear I may not be the only one. If so, it could be a major problem for this (and perhaps other) state trust funds.
To wrap things up, Allison checked with the website folks at the DoR about the trust fund listing. In his words: "I couldn't find any reason why it wouldn't be there." A day later, the Cervical Cancer Prevention Fund was listed.
The site still claims "There is a total of seventeen trust funds eligible for contributions on Missouri’s income tax returns," which is too low by three; in addition, the entire DHSS subdomain, including the Show Me Healthy Women site, seems to be down at the moment—but hey, we're making progress, neh?
Doing that was supposed to ensure two things:
1. That the total amount I paid in both federal and state taxes this year wouldn't end in three sixes, a.k.a. the Devil's number
2. That my additional $4 would end up in the hands of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' Show Me Healthy Women Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Program
Apparently neither of those things happened, and I now have a completely unwanted check for $4 sitting on my desk.
When I called the number listed for the program in the MO-1040 instructions, I found that it had been disconnected. A call to the new number listed on the website went unanswered, though admittedly, I did call after-hours. More to the point, though, the trust fund is no longer listed on the Department of Revenue site.
I'm calling again tomorrow. I mean, seriously, WTF, Missouri? Did some wires get crossed? Was there a reorganization of some sort? Did the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention program lose its funding within the last three months?
I want some answers! I don't want this money.
So I wasn't wrong when I saw Goldman mentioned in this Boston Globe story Tuesday and immediately thought (and wrote in my delicious comments), "Goldman is involved with fucking everything—you see a disaster, and there they are."
Nice to know my instincts were telling me right on this one. Or at very least that my instincts are in line with Taibbi's.
It's all pretty spot-on, but of particular note to me so far, as it confirms some of my conjectures in this earlier post about the cultural differences between Facebook and Twitter, has been the section called "The Social Practices of Facebook." Writes Peterson:
Alas, when I clicked on the survey link, I found that they basically only wanted to know two things: my age range and my income bracket. That was it; end of survey. Could it simply have been a screening questionnaire?
If it turns out that it wasn't, and that that's all they want to know about me for all time, that would be unfortunate, as I'd appreciate the opportunity to tell them a thing or two about their publication. I figure they might want to know, for instance, that
1. They sent me the wrong selection of articles in Issue No. 1, which unfortunately included pieces from Travel + Leisure and GOLF in place of the requested ones from Food & Wine and Money. (Thankfully, this has since been corrected.)
2. My coworkers and I have been creeped out by the tone-deaf wording of some of the Lexus ads, including the back-cover ad on Issue No. 1 that stated, "The all-new 2010 RX. Now with more [your name]," as well as the advertising band around Issue No. 2 that claimed the issue to be "Inspired by someone we're both familiar with. You."
Um, clearly you're not that familiar with me, guys.
Further, the stock market only works the way it does because it's a closed system—the only way to make an investment in the companies that participate is to buy stock. Whereas my guess would be that not every media company is going to get on board with the idea of selling shares in the "content market"—thus desirable content, including content which "scoops" content market–based creators and distributors, will still be available elsewhere.
Not only that, but why the hell would independents creating their own content want to get involved with this? Without the middleman—the "distributor"—independent content creators could make a whole lot more money. The only reason to get involved with a distributor would be to get your content in front of more eyeballs—but people can already make their content available to the entire Internet via a number of other means.
And guess what—the content that's out there now is already subject to a "market" of sorts, competing with other content for eyeballs. The only thing this model does differently, as far as I can tell, is artificially inflate the role—and the profits—of distributors, regulatory bodies, and market-infrastructure providers.
I don't get it. Why the hell would we "content creators" want more infrastructure in our lives?
(Thanks to King Kaufman for the bizarre link.)
Immediately afterward, I opened up The Pacer, Parkview Gardens' monthly newsletter, and noticed a column called "Curmudgeon Corner"—and strangely enough, found that the topic concerned none other than the two aforementioned phrases.
"Listen up, whippersnappers," writes the anonymous columnist.
"Young people, I'm not against all your linguistic innovations. For instance, 'sweet' strikes me as a plausible replacement for 'cool,' though I suspect cool will make a comeback. One of your expressions, however, really gets on my nerves.
"It's the adverbial phrase 'real quick,' which is used in asking permission, as in, 'I just want to use your computer real quick.' This is an underhanded way of putting on the pressure. It suggests that the request is so modest you really have to grant it. There's a further suggestion that the speaker is in a hurry, so you should come up with that yes right away.
"In my opinion, 'real quick' does not represent an advance on the words it is replacing—words like 'please' and 'may I.'
"Still, I haven't attained total curmudgeonhood yet, because I can remember being young and asking permission brusquely—I can also remember an occasion when I made an old person angry, and how surprised I was.
"So here's the explanation that I would have benefited from back then. If you have to ask permission, it's counterproductive to do so in a way that annoys the person you're hoping will grant it. Drop that obnoxious 'real quick' from your vocabulary."
I done been told!
I'm down with his blog and Twitter feed—the latter of which truly is "best of the Web" material—but this had so many proper nouns my eyes were scarcely able to focus on any one phrase, sentence, or paragraph.
1. I hadn't bought my plane ticket yet (I'd apparently been planning all along to buy it the day of),
2. I hadn't packed yet,
3. I wasn't even sure I had enough money in my bank account to pay for the ticket,
4. I don't speak German, and
5. We were just leaving to drive to the airport (on completely iced-over roads) as of 9:30 a.m., when we already should've been at the airport by then. The flight's departure time was 11 a.m.
My guess would be that there were other reasons people objected, not least of which would be his nuclear follow cost. (The follow cost metric, the milliscoble, takes its name from him. That alone should tell you something.)
All snark aside, though, I think they most likely objected because the ethos of Facebook is completely different.
Facebook is mainly used for networking with people you already know and showing them what you have become or are becoming, whereas Twitter is largely used for sharing and developing ideas. Both social networking spaces are full of people sharing the latest news, but the idea of what's newsworthy greatly differs between the two. Status updates on Facebook are mostly about personal news and life events, whereas Twitter seems to have developed into a much more entrepreneurial, collaborative space.
I've certainly gotten the "magical experience" Scoble speaks of from Twitter. It just comes about in a different way, through sharing and building on ideas, interesting turns of phrase, and plays on words. Facebook isn't the sort of space where that sort of interaction can take place, in part because it doesn't foreground raw text the way Twitter does. Moreover, an account on Facebook automatically invokes a set of inescapable preconceptions about who you are, in the form of data re: where you come from, where you were educated, where you live now, who you work for, etc.
How did he manage to miss that fundamental difference between the two social networks?
To see how that might work out, one need look no further than the farce that is our own local bloggers' guild. The bloggers most up in arms about "protecting their content" are quite often those whose content is the least worth protecting—and those most concerned with establishing themselves as authorities possessing specialized knowledge of the "rules."
The whole point of blogs is that anyone is qualified to write one. Not only members of a guild or press corps. And there are no rules, only recommended practices. The whole enterprise is meant to be democratizing. Further, those who want to raise the bar to entry have failed to notice something crucial: The psychological bar to entry for blogging is already incredibly high.
The most interesting thing about this recent TechCrunch article, for instance, was its use of the phrase "formal blog post." A blog is far too much responsibility for most people, who continually apologize to their audience for not having enough to say until, two to three months later, they finally throw in the towel. When even sending an entire email or typing up a coherent argument now strikes many as too stiff and formal, where exactly would we find warm bodies to man a credentialed "blogger corps"?
Why are those left aboard the ship seemingly incapable of thinking beyond the whole "send 'em off to school and slap a label on 'em" model? If it works, it works—no need for credentials.
I mean, I'm a magazine editor. I read stacks and stacks of magazines growing up, was greatly inspired by a handful of book authors in my teens, and got into a bunch of comics writers and artists in college—but I'd be hard-pressed to list off many dead-tree magazine or newspaper writers I particularly care about. I know along the way I've liked certain writers' styles, and saved copies of certain columns for my files, and I'm sure I've picked up tricks here and there from a number of them—but for the life of me I can't remember most of their names!
But yesterday, it finally occurred to me: If you flipped the question to ask me about my favorite Internet writers and essayists, I could rattle off a full complement. Paul Graham. Jessamyn West. Matt Haughey. Alex Zola. Orson Scott Card. Andrew Baio. Bill Keaggy. King Kaufman. Nate Silver. The writers of n+1 mag. The McSweeney's crowd, for starting down that path in the first place. And a bunch of people whose real names I don't know, like dirtynumbangelboy, jonmc, grumblebee, and ikkyu2.
I'm suppose I'm not bereft of inspiration after all.
The conservative establishment has its own top-down talking-point distribution system—but where the Obama team emphasized decorum and patient discourse, these clowns are injecting angry displays of power and tone-deaf, ill-conceived spectacle. Guess which one earns people's respect?
Then again, I guess that's the point: These people aren't interested in earning our respect. They're trying to start a civil war.
Also, in this article about layoffs at TheStreet.com, you said the company estimates laying off 18 people will save the company $2.4 million. Does that mean those people were seriously earning an average of $133,000 apiece? Or is there some other explanation you neglected to print?
Finally, the title of the email I received from you today was more than a bit creepy. Seriously: "we can make your phone ring"? All lowercase? I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop: "we can make your phone ring...with our minds!" Or something. Because otherwise, your claim fails to excite; anyone who knows my phone number can make my phone ring.
Thanks for thinking of me, though.
Edit: Half an hour after I commented on that top story, the title was changed to "Top 5 Worst Mag Names Ever." Good deal.
That's all well and good, but here's what I think: The argument fails unless you actually define what constitutes a "substantive" fact-check, as opposed to what Britnell calls "double-checking the spelling of source names and spot-checking the odd factoid." Define your terms or go home, buddy. You're talking to fact-checkers here.
For my part, I do what I consider to be a pretty rigorous fact-check on every piece that comes across my desk, and it would be awesome if that work were recognized in some sort of visible way, but calling for standards without even trying to define those standards always bothers me.
Talk about an argument lacking substance.
The Fact-Checking Dept.
Forest Park Parkway to I-170. The big MoDOT sign: "11 months 11 days."
The courtyard at work. Pause. Postcard-perfect. People rush by, not seeing the big picture.
Upstairs, from the big picture window in the conference room: blowing sideways. A minute's difference. Four floors' difference.
11 new emails. Work.