If there is an award for best magazine cover unrelated to a major issue or crisis, this is it. Sports Illustrated’s latest issue features Kevin Durant’s spindly self shooting a free throw. In the background, a pull quote on his determination to finish first — finally.
Safe bet this cover is coming to a varsity locker room near you. Well done, SI. Good to see legacy media teaching these young digital bucks what’s what.
Facebook is rolling out its new Timeline profiles this week, and people – namely, my peers – are freaking out.
For those of us who joined Facebook under the premise it would only be for college students, the Timeline profiles more easily expose messages we probably never would’ve shared online had we known someday our parents, bosses and even grandparents would be able to read them.
What’s the big deal? Well, Facebook’s wall has always maintained messages back to the start of one’s account, but to read posts from, say, 2005, one would have to scroll through every message over the past five years to get there. Timeline now indexes wall posts by year and month, and its featured pretty prominently on the upper right-hand corner of each profile.
I don’t say 2005 by accident, either. I joined Facebook in May 2005 — my sophomore year of college. That fall, I turned 21. Relatively speaking, my college experience was pretty savory and boring compared to most. But I took a little a trip down memory lane last week and found myself wincing at some of the stuff I wrote. Just immature, stupid college guy stuff.
I will not be going on a deleting spree, though that’s a perfectly viable option for avoiding embarrassment. I believe there should be a social media statute of limitations. In other words, what I wrote in 2005 while a bumbling college kid shouldn’t be held against me now as an adult. I don’t know how you enforce something like that, but frankly, I would be more concerned about the individual who has taken a deep dive into my personal Facebook history than what they actually might find. Get a life.
While I understand the concerns of the people, I enjoy the Timeline profile. I like it better at age 27 than I would have at age 21, but in a few years, it’ll be cool to read back on how Beth and I met each other, the awkward Facebook flirting, the moving to Portland, the moving back from Portland, the getting a dog, the getting engaged and getting married. Timeline is all about capturing the moments. (Jesus, what am I? A Canon commercial?)
Unfortunately, it’s also about digging up long-hidden messages should people choose to use it for evil. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always poo-pooed the value of privacy, claiming its value is little and its future it bleak. That’s fine, so long as we know up front. Timeline profiles, which become the new standard on Thursday, will receive the largest outcry in Facebook’s history, because it invites people to our past. People whom, at the time, were never within Facebook’s context. Nana wasn’t supposed to be here. Bosses didn’t need Facebook — they had PowerPoint. Our parents had email and that seemed like enough.
It’s about to get real interesting on the Facebook front, but the bottom line is this — leave it or delete it. You can still hide your Facebook history by turning a few knobs and bumping a few switches. Facebook life will go on, but in a cleaner, more wholesome manner.
Last night, the 40-year-old slugger reached the exclusive 600 Club by belting two towering home runs against the Detroit Tigers. He was met at home by what seemed like the entire Minnesota Twins organization, and then his family. Perhaps the classiest part of the celebration was the Tigers fans, who gave Thome a heart-felt standing ovation, despite the fact 65 of those 600 home runs came at their expense.
Thome became just the eighth player in MLB history to hit 600 home runs, but more impressively, he did it without accusations of PED usage. (That same can’t said for fellows like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez.) It might be a long time before we see another player hit an asterisk-free 600, too. Vladimir Guerrero (36 years old) and Chipper Jones (39) are tied at 446, but they’ll likely run out of gas. Albert Pujols is 31 and has 437 homers, making him the most likely candidate — assuming his body holds up.
Hats off to Mr. Thome, a guy who turns 41 in just a few weeks, but looks like he’s never had more fun playing the game. He’s an original, and the league will be worse off without him.
* * *
Last week, I droned on about Americans love all things stupid and inconsequential. Then, billionaire Warren Buffett writes a letter for the Sunday New York Times titled “Stop Coddling The Super-Rich” and the damn thing goes viral. I can’t remember the last time a letter or op-ed resonated so firmly with the public. It was the water-cooler conversation yesterday.
“I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.”
If you haven’t read Buffett’s letter, take five minutes. It just might restore your faith in America.
* * *
For whatever reason, I’ve been devouring information from the GOP race and reading up on economics. Have I quit fun? No. Not yet.
I graduated with an English degree, and got my math credit from a 100-level course called Perspectives in Mathematics. (You don’t want to know my perspectives on mathematics.) Anyway, so I’m not a math guy, right? I’ve been reading New York Times columnist Paul Krugman nearly every day, and I love it. Krugman’s a Nobel Prize-winning economist who explains complex economic systems and scenarios in ways that are digestible and, sometimes, delicious. What’s better — the guy has a sense of humor:
One blog post, he writes about Modern Monetary Theory. The next, he’s relating a song by The New Pornographers to an upcoming trip to Europe. He’s the sassiest economist out there, and that’s saying something. (Actually, it’s not.)
* * *
Finally, TLC has canceled the debacle formerly known as “Kate & Jon Plus 8″ after 150 episodes. Years from now, history will regard it as the most destructive reality series of all time. The way their parents spiraled out of control, I’m amazed a few of the eight weren’t lost in the past few years. The show might be over, but you know it’s going to have a lasting impact:
3:1 At least three of the children are addicted to Oxycontin by high school.
10:1 TLC creates a new channel to allow each of the children to have their own reality series.
20:1 Kate and Jon reunite. Kate overdoses on fertility drugs. Kate gives birth to 35 children. TLC buys the rights.
50:1 The eight children divorce their parents. Kate finds out two years after the fact. Jon, resigned to their decision, sends Ed Hardy t-shirts every birthday.
150:1 The eight children turn out completely normal, but lose contact with Kate because their “boring asses” don’t make for good TV.
I’ve been relatively unaffected by the Minnesota shutdown. I’m still working. I haven’t needed any paperwork completed. I haven’t canceled any camping trips. I haven’t suffered from the closed up rest stops. Sure, I’ve been affected in that I’m a Minnesotan and this is a massive black eye on our state and its caused great ire and embarrassment. But beyond that, everyday life has been the same.
Let’s get a few things out of the way: I’m a registered Democrat, but I voted for Independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner in the last election. My greatest budgetary concerns revolve around the funding of quality education and public safety. I believe the eventual solution to the shutdown will be a mix of new taxes and difficult cuts. That is, if the Republicans give an inch.
As someone who runs hot or cold and never lukewarm, I’ve only been offended once since the state shutdown on July 1. It happened Sunday morning while watching WCCO-TV here in Minneapolis. WCCO’s Esme Murphy interviewed State Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) and State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel (R-Edina).
Murphy, obligated by the good reason of any journalist worth a paycheck of their own, clumsily asked Dibble and Michel about their decision to receive pay. Not that the question itself was clumsy, but rather Murphy, who was visibly uncomfortable and framed the question as delicately as possible with both candidates.
Dibble went first. (The clip is here. The paycheck question is at 0:44. I’ve transcribed the question and answer below.)
Murphy: “Let me ask you about taking the paycheck. You have a family, as does Sen. Michel. Times are tough. You are taking a paycheck. Are you getting any feedback on that?” Sen. Dibble: “Well, you know, a number of my constituents have asked about that. Certainly, state employees are wondering, and that’s a fair question and I totally respect the anxiousness folks have about that. I respond just by saying, you know, I’m in no position to take this hit and I would never put state employees in this position. This shutdown is a function and a result of a failure to compromise on the part of the [Republicans]. I’m working very, very hard, all the way through this shutdown. I have no savings to fall back on. I don’t have another job. It’s a completely untenable and intolerable situation. I totally understand why people are interested in that question.”
I wonder how many of the 22,000 state employees who were laid off had second jobs or savings to fall back on. I wonder have many of them find the situation untenable and intolerable. But give Sen. Dibble credit for being (somewhat) forthright and answering the question. In her next interview, Murphy twice — TWICE! — let’s Sen. Michel off the hook as he evades both times by babbling through Republican party rhetoric. (Starts at 0:27.)
Murphy: “Let me ask you the question I asked Sen. Dibble. You are amongst the majority of Republicans and Democrats who are taking a paycheck. What is the reaction you’ve been getting for that?” Sen. Michel: “Well, two things on pay. I am personally not taking per diem, which is another form of legislative compensation. And at the beginning of the year, the state senate and the state house unilaterally cut legislative compensation, so we have tried to build that into a balanced budget. We thought legislative compensation had gotten a little too high and that we should be part of the solutions. So, that continues to be on the table for the budget we’re presenting right now.”
Murphy: “But you’re in the leadership. A lot of people of are pointing the finger to Gov. Dayton. They’re also pointing the finger to you as Republican legislative leader. Do you think it’s right for you to take a paycheck?” Sen. Michel: “Well, people are frustrated and I think they are ready for solutions. We’ve gone past May 23, which is the legislative deadline. We’ve gone past July 1, which has put us into a shutdown. And we are very unique. There is no other state in the country — there is no other state in the country — that doesn’t have a budget set right now. And what we keep pointing to and working on is people want to see a reduction in spending — you can’t spend more than what you have — and that there’s only two governors in the whole country that’ve balanced their budget with tax increases. Only two. So, we think, uh, what this conflict- … a lot of what this conflict is about and debate with the governor is how much are we going to stand out and really be outliers when it comes to taxing and spending?”
And then Murphy relents.
Here’s my feeling: The shutdown has become an absolute cockfight. It’s all about sticking to your guns and playing the party line and building up for re-election season so you can run a campaign of principles. (“When the state was shutdown, I said there’s no way we’re adding taxes!”) The problem is people are suffering. People are without jobs. Forget the unemployment rate, the outright stubbornness of our state legislature has put Minnesotans out of work. That’s unforgivable. That’s reprehensible. And you know what makes it even worse? The fact 138 of our state legislators are still getting paid.
Someone has to hold their feet to the fire. Too bad Murphy missed her chance.
Have you heard about Justin Bieber’s interview in the latest issue of Rolling Stone? The 16-year-old mega pop star of the moment awkwardly answered questions about premarital sex, abortion in cases involving rape, politics and health care, and it went about as poorly as you’d expect.
Initially, I wanted to throttle Bieber for some of his responses. Among his more notable gaffes:
On abortion:“I really don’t believe in abortion. I think [an embryo] is a human. It’s like killing a baby. [In the case of rape], I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don’t know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.”
On Canada:“I’ll never be an American citizen. You guys are evil. Canada’s the best country in the world. We go to the doctor, and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard’s baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby’s premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, then you go home.”
On sex:“I think you should just wait for the person you’re … in love with.”
This is why stars have publicists. Nothing Bieber said will compromise his stock. However, Rolling Stone’s got this interview waiting in the archives if a) Bieber interjects himself into the aborton debate b) Bieber becomes an American citizen or c) Bieber preaches abstinence before marriage a la Justin Timberlake-and-Britney Spears circa 2000.
At first, I wanted to say shame on Bieber for his insensitivity toward rape victims. I wanted to tear holes through his depiction of the American health care system. I wanted to chide his morality play when you know there’s plenty of strippers and blow in his future.
I thought back to high school when I was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. Not long ago, I was going through some old boxes at home when I found some clippings with my old columns. There was one where I bemoaned the 2000 presidential election recount and encouraged the U.S. Supreme Court to hand George W. Bush the presidency. There was one where I insulted people who wore camoflage for fashion in a time of war. There was one where I even argued in favor of war in Iraq.
What did I really know at age 17? And what does Bieber really know at age 16? Your teen years — and face it, most of your 20s — are about evolving and shaping opinions and finding perspective. Will Bieber at some point contradict himself? I hope so. I’d hate to think he’s done with turning things over at such a young age.
Shame on Vanessa Grigoriadis and Rolling Stone. Bieber’s fame obviously warranted the feature, but the conversation didn’t require discussion of hot-button issues. And sure, it’ll sell copies of the magazine. Sure, it’ll insert Rolling Stone in the conversation, as evidenced by this post. It may even be good for Bieber’s career — his puppy love shtick can’t outlast puberty. Look at his mentor, Usher, who never avoided heavy innuendo in his earlier years.
But in the interim, Bieber will surely be lampooned for his uninformed responses, as would any kid his age attempting to discuss sex, politics and religion in a public forum. But should we fault the naive, insulated 16-year-old, the 38-year-old professional journalist or the magazine that employs her?
Take it from a guy who gags at the first note of a Bieber song — he did nothing wrong. He was poorly managed, placed in a can’t-win situation and taken advantage of. This won’t be the last time it happens, either.
Good journalism is hard to find, especially on television.
A career in broadcast journalism usually equates bouncing from market to market every few years, so by the time a reporter finally gets a grasp of the community they’re serving, it’s on to the next city. It’s a tough gig to be sure, and few do it well.
I’ve settled on DeRusha and WCCO-TV as my go-to TV news source in the Twin Cities. He’s been in the local market since 2003, acting more as a concerned citizen than the know-it-all news guy. DeRusha’s bursting with curiosity — an essential trait for any journalist — and that’s most apparent during his Good Question segment, which seeks to answer viewer submitted queries that run the gammut.
Last night, DeRusha took on a tough one — “Why have so many Somalis chosen to come here?” Most journalists would avoid the question in the name of cultural sensitivity, but DeRusha went for the jugular:
It is perhaps the least likely place to find tens of thousands of African refugees: the cold, snowy, middle of America. So why are there so many Somalis in Minnesota? … The Somalis are here as legal refugees, largely. The Somalis Minnesota story tracks to 1991, when civil war broke out in Somalia. Millions fled to refugee camps, many in Kenya. Two years later, the first wave of Somali refugees were sent to Minnesota.
Is it a sensational story? Is it riddled in scandal, sex, crime, blood — the accoutrement we expect to make the 10 p.m. news? No. But it’s answering a matter of public curiosity with facts and research — you know, actual journalism.
Kudos to DeRusha and WCCO-TV for winning this viewer over. Why can’t we get more broadcast journalists like him?
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is worried about player safety tonight.
Yesterday, after the Vikings held a walkthrough at TCF Bank Stadium to test field conditions, Kluwe tweeted the field was “unplayable,” adding, “The field is as hard as concrete an hour and a half after they took the tarp off, and anyone that hits their head is getting a concussion.”
Thousands of people — many of whom were temp workers – worked around the clock the past week to help remove the 17 inches of snow that fell on the Twin Cities last weekend. A few weeks previous, TCF Bank Stadium had been winterized and put into hibernation until spring, but when the Vikings faced playing a second straight home game outside of Minneapolis, a deal was made to revive/thaw the field for one more game. In Minneapolis, it’s being considered the sporting event of the year, even if the Vikings are 5-8 and out of the playoff picture.
Back to Kluwe. He’s right in that the NFL should’ve considered moving the game if player safety is the concern they claim it is. However, everyone outside of Kluwe — who won’t be a part of more than eight or nine plays — claims the field is hard, but playable. Maybe everyone else is playing tough guy, though.
You know what drives me up the wall? Football players who refuse to wear long sleeves when it’s freezing out. They have no problem gathering around the portable heater or heated bench on the sideline, but when they’re in the game, they wouldn’t be caught dead whilst properly dressed for the conditions. Wearing long sleeves in a commercial? Well, money talks:
Luckily for both teams, it’s supposed to snow 4-6 inches today and overnight. That could create more padding on the field, but more importantly, it’ll keep the temperature up. (Pardon the meteorological nerdery.) Monday’s forecast has gotten a little warmer each day since TCF Bank Stadium was officially named the site of tonight’s game. Originally, the guess was anywhere from 5-10 degrees at kickoff with something like a (-15) wind chill. If that was the case, players could’ve suffered frost bite to exposed skin in 45 minutes or less.
Kind of offsets Kluwe’s concerns about player safety, doesn’t it? Hard to ask the NFL to move a game hundreds of miles to Indianapolis or St. Louis for player safety when half your team refuses to put on a long-sleeve shirt like petulant children.
In 2002, I played in a high school football game where the temperature was 12 degrees. The field was actually frozen — our cleats were more like tap-dance shoes, unable to penetrate the rock-hard sod. We wore layer over layer and huddled around a propane space heater at every chance. On punts, the ball would bounce upward as if it’d landed in a parking lot. We won that game, no one suffered frost bite, and — most importantly — no one got a concussion.
It’s not something I would ever want to do again, but it wasn’t “unplayable” like Kluwe would probably claim.
Today seems like a fitting day to announce I’ve accepted a job offer at Fast Horse. Effective mid-January once my internshipexpires, I’ll be hopping on full time as an Associate.
I waited until today to break the news — I found out last Friday — because it’s Lose the Laptop Day at Fast Horse, which is ironic considering laptops had everything to do with me earning my internship and eventual employment. The reason I’m so excited about this job opportunity is for the fact I work at an agency that stays on the cutting edge, but not without challenging itself to get better. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, the whole staff is working away from their computers. That’s like an auto repair shop saying, “All right guys, no drills today.”
But as with mechanics and their power tools, marketing and public relations existed long before the Internet. It’s a relationship industry, after all, and while social media makes it easier to maintain contact, Lose the Laptop Day forces us to go out and engage, to meet people, to re-hash friendships, to learn the world we’re selling to, to be a consumer, to be inspired. We’re channeling our inner Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons, as my boss writes.
This isn’t a stunt or a drill. This is an exercise about checks and balances, well-roundedness, self-awareness, moxie and avoiding complacency when it’s just so damn cozy. Forget an arbitrary seminar, workshop or motivational speaker — we’re living the lesson today.
So, thank you, again, to everyone who voted in the Intern Search back in June. Every week, I seem to meet a new person who voted in the contest. Recently, the conversations would end with me saying, “Now I just I hope I get the job,” and I would walk away a bit sullen, fearful of the reality things might not shake out the way I’d hoped.
But, I got the job. Holy shit, I got the job. Thanks again!
Once every few weeks, I write a blog post for Idea Peepshow, the official blog of Fast Horse Inc., the consumer marketing agency where I’m currently an intern. Today, I wrote about Project, Richard Branson’s iPad-only magazine:
Turns out all the banter about tablet devices and the future of publishing wasn’t just conjecture. Finally, we’ve got something promising.
Project, the iPad-only magazine backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, hit the iTunes app store on Tuesday. Described as a “revolutionary multimedia magazine, ” Project includes lush video and images paired with audio and interactive content to create a media-rich experience.
Of course, we’ve already seen plenty of traditional magazines come to the iPad, but most of these are essentially PDF replicates of their hard-copy editions. Project isn’t the first iPad-only magazine as Branson claims, but it is dazzling. Here’s the requisite video demo:
I live about three blocks from Edison High School, where one of the most popular rap artists on YouTube is a senior.
Antonio Henderson-Davis, 17, is better known as 50 Tyson. His viral YouTube videoshave been viewed more than 10 million times, he’s been featured on Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 and even landed a record deal with former NBA point guard Troy Hudson‘s label.
One more thing: 50 Tyson has autism.
On Sunday, the Star Tribune ran a feature on Henderson-Davis and the story is now free online. It’s a gripping tale about the autistic teenager, bombarded by newfound fame, whose eager to please. He’s surrounded by watchful parents, concerned teachers, supportive classmates and handlers, like Hudson, who may or may not have his best interests in mind.
You can read the story here. And if you do read it, I’m curious what you think. Please come back and comment.