Monday, March 31, 2003

Madeleine Peyroux & Rachelle Garniez

Madeleine Peyroux
Two of the performers who caught my attention at the harmonica party on Sunday were not harmonica players. Both Madeleine Peyroux and Rachelle Garniez played some terrific music. I did a little web searching and discovered that Peyroux, whom I had not heard of before, has a strong cult following for her songs--thought she has only released one CD, Dreamland, there are 1,570 references to her on Google, many of them postings by fans.
Peyroux is playing 3 gigs in New York in the next 2 months, and I hope to go to at least one of them.

Rachelle Garniez
Accordionist and songwriter Rachelle Garniez is less well known than Peyroux, but she's definitely one to watch. She plays regularly at Terra Blues in NYC, and has released two CDs--Serenade City(1997) and
Crazy Blood(2001).

If AOL's Running Man is the best Sharon Stone has ever had, does that mean she's not getting any, or that she'll say anything for money?
Dumenco's wickedly funny take on the new AOL television commercials is in the April 7-14 New York Magazine.

HOW I SPENT MY SUNDAY 2--Roulette Performance: Notes on Desire
Our good friend Valeria Vasilevski directed a piece performed by Lynn Book and Kevin Norton called Notes on Desire that was performed at Roulette, an alternative performance space.
This was the kind of performance that was interesting and well done, on one hand, and on the other, a prime candidate for caricature on Mad TV or Saturday Night Live. We decided not to decide.
Afterwards, we had pho at Hoi An, a Vietnamese restaurant in Tribeca. This was the best Vietnamese food I have had since I came to New York--but still not as good as in San Jose.

HOW I SPENT MY SUNDAY 1-- Harmonica Heaven: Hanging with the Brass Reedsters Tribe

Spencer Jarrett and Steve Freund blowing it out

Harp player and singer Robert Paparozzi spent two months pulling together a harmonica house party for serious players that took place in a midtown loft in New York this Sunday afternoon. Over sixty musicians, some from as far away as Columbus, Ohio, all with gear in town, showed up to hang out and play in what Paparozzi billed as a “gathering of the tribe.”

Since my honey is a harp player (the wonderful Spencer Jarrett), I was lucky enough to tag along and listen.
Hot players present
Cham-ber Huang, chromatic master
Howard Levy, contemporary composer for piano and mouth organ
William Galison , café jazz--Playing at Joe's Pub April,17th
Steve Guyger, Chicago blues style powerhouse
Rob Paparozzi , entertainer par excellence
Bernard “Pretty” Purdy, the world's most recorded drummer
Jon Paris, guitarist and NY club staple
Louis X. Erlanger, former Mink Deville guitarist and R.L. Burnside record producer

The blues harmonica world has always reminded me of the small press poetry scene--there's no money in it, and little mainstream glory, so the people who stay involved do it because they love the medium and the closeness of the world.
This gathering was true to form--fifty-something guys with graying ponytails toting cases of harps, younger players wearing significant hats (there is some important, as yet unexplained connection between harp players and their headgear), CDs spilled on the kitchen table, all for sale, people in corners comparing customized mikes, harmonicas, and cases, the few women present accompanying their musician guys.
The music was terrific.

WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? Monday morning notes
Why we're fighting: CNN's history of how we got into this war:
"Fuck Saddam. we're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase.
Read the whole thing here.

A Christian's Duty--To Pray for President Bush
U.S. Soldiers in Iraq asked to pray for Bush
In Touch Ministries is distributing booklets to soldiers in Iraq which include a tear-out section to mail to the White House to show the soldier who sends it in is praying for Bush and his government.
Daily prayer suggestions:
"Pray that the President and his advisers will seek God and his wisdom daily and not rely on their own understanding"
"Pray that the President and his advisers will be strong and courageous to do what is right regardless of critics."
I can think of some other prayers as well.

MOTHER JONES WAR WATCH: Have you seen this? Quite different than, and quite compelling.
(Thanks to Gratitious Sax and Senseless Violins for this one.)

WORDS OF WAR ((via Mother Jones)
The only effect (the bombing) has on the Iraqis is that it pisses them off, and they can't wait for the U.S. soldiers to arrive."
-- Peace Activist Doug Johnson, in an email from Baghdad

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Paul Frankenstein recalls the 1996 Pathfinder era at Time, Inc, and notices that the Pathfinder URL actually has links to the Time Inc. web sites, including Progressive Farmer.
What Frankenstein doesn't mention is that this is the week when many of the most popular Time Inc web sites become available only within the AOL browser environment, for AOL subscribers.

When I was back in Silicon Valley about a month ago, I stopped at Recycled Books and bought myself a library of dot com era classics, all of which had been dumped at the bookstore by unemployed techies. Hyperwars: 11 Essential Strategies for Survival and Profit in the Era of Online Business by Bruce Judson was one on the books. Published in 1999, the opening chapter recalls the days when Bruce Judson was "one of the early Internet pioneers...working as the leader of the team that created one of the first large-scale Internet sites."

Just as Judson's book seems irrelevant in today's climate, I wonder to whether the Time Inc web sites are also irrelevant. Will anyone notice or care that they can't read on the web anymore?

Sunday: Day of rest
Heading out to Roulette tonight to see a performance by Kathleen Supove, Valeria Vasileska and other friends.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Talking: Jargon Patrol

Forget about those Williamsburg hipsters who made up and speak their own language.
This is the incomprehensible stuff the rest of us spew out.
Thanks to Anne from the pho list for this one.

BAKING: Snickerdoodle goodness
Oh, god, the smell of the butter and the cinnamon! Tonight my son made Snickerdoodles, his favorite cookie. These traditional butter cookies are rolled in a cinnamon-sugar mixtures before baking and they have that homey goodness.

Land O Lakes has a pretty good recipe here. We've also used Lee Baily (excellent), Mark Bittman (fair), and Joy of Booking (poor).

PLAYING: Winston thanks you

Winston, my 110 pound American bulldog was very interested to learn about Urbanhound, the city dog's survival guide. Thanks to The Morning News for the link.

Jason Kottke has a link to Google's Building a better query page.However, the Google page doesn't offer any tips for refining what you get when you type in gold teeth jesus miracle, or my dog he is my baby kisses. So many of pages found as Google query results are the result of serendipity.

According to a story in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas school trustees agreed to create an armed police force that will be stationed in the district's high schools and middle schools.
This news gives new meaning to the term "police state."
(Source: EdBriefs 3.31.2003

Iraq--The New Vietnam ?
Dave Farber sent this amusing list out today, courtesey of Gabe Gold

1. Cabal of oldsters who won't listen to outside advice? Check.
2. No understanding of ethnicities of the many locals? Check.
3. National boundaries drawn in Europe, not by the locals? Check.
4. Unshakable faith in our superior technology? Check.
5. France secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
6. Russia secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
7. China secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
8. SecDef pushing a conflict the JCS never wanted? Check.
9. Fear we'll look bad if we back down now? Check.
10. Corrupt Texan in the WH? Check.
11. Land war in Asia? Check.
12. Rightists unhappy with outcome of previous war? Check.
13. Enemy easily moves in/out of neighboring countries? Check.
14. Soldiers about to be dosed with our own chemicals? Check.
15. Friendly fire problem ignored instead of solved? Check.
16. Anti-Americanism up sharply in Europe? Check.
17. B-52 bombers? Check.
18. Helicopters that clog up on the local dust? Check.
19. Infighting among the branches of the military? Check.
20. Locals that cheer us by day, hate us by night? Check.
21. Local experts ignored? Check.
22. Local politicians ignored? Check.
23. Local conflicts since before the USA has been a country? Check.
24. Against advice, Prez won't raise taxes to pay for war? Check.
25. Blue water navy ships operating in brown water? Check.
26. Use of nukes hinted at if things don't go our way? Check.
27. Unpopular war? Check.

Vietnam II, you are cleared to taxi.

AOL REVENUE: $400 Million Off?
The SEC is exploring whether AOL TW did the nasty with Bertelsmann AG when it booked revenue against a large advertising deal tied to AOL/Bertlesman's joint investment in AOL Europe.

In a memo to employees on Friday, Chairman Dick Parsons wrote:
"It is not possible at this time to predict how this issue will ultimately be resolved, or for that matter, to predict the ultimate outcome of either the SEC or DOJ investigations. What I can tell you is this: We are committed to dealing with these questions forthrightly and as expeditiously as possible."

The SEC announced last summer that they were conducting an investigation into AOL accounting practices..looks like it ain't over yet.
Raise your hand, children, if you think AOLTW will have to restate $400MM in revenue?

What's that you say? A future stock price of $8.00? Removal of the AOL name from the company masthead? A sale of the AOL unit to Yahoo ?
Rumors, all of them.

Saturday in New York
A pleasant afternoon on the Upper West Side. After Vietnamese food at Monsoon, my 6 year old nephew and I sit on a bench near the restaurant and play a game: Every time a stroller with a baby goes by, we will whoop like Indians. If a person passes us talking on a cell phone, we will flap our lips. When a big dog goes by, he will kiss me, and when a little dog goes by I will give him 50 cents.

Cooking: Saturday breakfast
Carmelized french toast with maple syrup and toasted pecans
Dog drooling next to my chair

(I had this amazing french toast at the City Bakery three weeks ago, and wanted to try to replicate the flavor--strong vanilla, with burnt sugar hint. We were able to make something very similar, and it was devoured.)

More stories on N.J. murder of 3 year old; 10 year old neighbor accused.
"This is another child that the division has known for quite some time." -- Cecelia Zalkind, executive director of the Association for Children of New Jersey, calling on NJ child welfare agency DYFS to review all cases involving at-risk children still in their own homes
Read the latest Associated Press story
Tot's mom urges mercy for killer
Track Google news stories here.

Friday, March 28, 2003

BARK: Artist/Musician Kevin House

The April issue of Bark, the modern dog culture magazine, highlights Kevin House, artist,
He's from Vancouver.
Here are two of his paintings--neat, huh?


Just finished Sea Glass by Anita Shreve.
I have read most of her novels, and thought this one was one of the best paced and perhaps most nuanced (thought not as good as The Pilot's Wife, my favorite).

The best non-pizza pizza
Stopped at the uptown branch of the Sullivan Street Bakery on 47th Street in Manhattan, late the other night, and feasted on wonderful breads.
This is the potato bread, which is thin-crusted and delicate. Potatoes are smothered in onions and garlic and the whole thing is slightly moist, yet oven-browned.

Here's a link for the recipe, which I will try.
Not surprisingly, NYC food maven Arthur Schwartz says that the owner of Peasant, one of my favorite New York restaurants, handwheels a truck over to Sullivan Street Bakery (downtown branch) to get their fresh bread.

Is this proof the Internet is rebounding?
AP just filed a story today about how the Gap Inc. hired eToys founder to run their online division. Lenk will work with Gap's CEO Paul Pressler, who worked with Lenk at Disney.

Gary Hart is blogging. But does he have anything to say?
(from Instapundit)

Who the hell was watching out for this kid?
News outlets today carried the story of the 10 year old boy charged in killing a 3 year old. According to reports in the New York Post, the 10 year old was an angry child whose mother had died the year before and who seemed "abandoned" by his father, with whom he shared a house. Neighbors suspected the father might be sexually abusing him.
It amazes me that this child was acting out in home and at school and that the only comments about it seem to be neighbors saying things like "The kid's got a mouth on him."
Wasn't anyone paying attention--or was this a 10 year old the community was ready to just throw away?
Newsday reports the ten year old may be the youngestr accused murder in N.J. history,

Mom Dated Jack Kerouac: Brett News tells the tale

Imagine that your mother was 19, and that she was working as a waitress in Amarillo, Texas, and that it was, say, 1958, and that one summer morning around 4 am,. Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady came into her cafe on a cross-country road trip, and Jack thought she was cute, and they hung out together. Want to read more? Then Brett Leveridge's story Men My Mother Dated is a don't-miss.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

I started this blog last Friday. Of course I am now obsessed since I have a compulsive--and enthusiastic--personality.

Dinner: Home-made salmon croquettes (this is one of my new recipes, and definitely a keeper--salmon patties with cilantro, red peppers, onion, scallions)
Spinach salad with olives and pimentos
Animal crackers

Why I read Popbitch every week:
"If my son had pulled a gun on Lil Kim, I wish he'd blown her brains out" - Notorious Big's Mom
Saddam Hussein's
astrology birthchart

Gak Attack--Cocaine rituals of the famous
One of life's great mysteries is 'how do celebrities take drugs without spiteful on-lookers telling all to the papers'?
Snorty Spice has a clever trick. Rather than have a line in front of other people,someone racks out a line and then everyone else has to leave the room.When they came back in, mysteriously, the line is gone. How discreet.

Secrets of a War Blogger: Jarvis Revealed

Jeff Jarvis, blogger extraordinaire (and my former boss), has written an informative piece on blogging for the Star-Ledger, the biggest Newhouse paper.
Read and learn.
Plus Jeff's list of war blog links.

TRUE CRIME: Sons & Fathers
1: Damon Dash's son busted with dad's pot

The New York Post reported today that the 11-year-old son of Rock-a-fella rap exec Damon Dash was busted after bringing what he said was his father's pot to school and showing it to his teacher. According to the article, the kid brought dad's stash to school in Alpine, NJ to complain to a teacher; the teacher then arrested the child for possession. Dad, meanwhile, withdrew the kid from that school and moved him to Manhattan after the bust occurred. Meanwhile, Dash was arrested in NY yesterday on a warrant for "absconding with a child" after the kid's mother said he intended to move the boy out of state.

2.Teen credit card hacker has IBM Security Chief pop

According to Kiernan Crowley's exclusive story in the NY Post, the father of Loren Anderson, the 17-year-old alleged hacker arrested on Long Island in a $100,000 credit-card computer scam is Clain Anderson, director of client security for IBM - and a specialist in fighting hackers and preventing computer fraud.
The piece has some great color from Dan Verton, author of The Hacker Diaries: Confessions of Teenage Hackers. Verton, who reportedly served on a security panel last yester with Anderson pere, who suggested that the son most likely has "top of the line equipment" to learn on at home because of his father's profession.
Apparently, according to Crowley and to other published reports, Anderson Junior started running his ATM counterfeiting scheme at home in Chapel Hill in July, then dropped out of school and moved to Long Island--alone and 17--to live with two boys he met on the web and develop the alleged credit card scam.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

this is what democracy looks like--pictures of the war
From Memoryhole, via JD Lasica:

Spinach rigate with fresh tomato sauce with basil and mushrooms
Baby spinach salad with red peppers, cilantro, sweet onion

Blogalicious: One Good Blog begets another

I stole this picture from Tony Piece to get your attention.
Came across Paul Frankenstein's" blog today and started talking to him.
He links to Tony Piece, who seems exciting, a little dangerous, and has great pictures.
Tony Pierce links to Amy Langfield, who has a New York diary.

I feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole, except instead of encountering creatures, I am encountering sites and people attached to them--so much to read!

EMAIL: My in box
Let's see, what kind of mail have I gotten in the past few days?
1. Make it bigger--increase your penis size
2. Pay off your debts for free
3. Teen slut loves to have you watch
4. Voliation of AOL TOS--click here or we will turn off your account
5. Online doctors prescribe Xanax, Fenfentermine, Viagra
5. Jobs in New York!!! Hurry---they're going fast (this is from an association I belong too, moderator must be feeling desperate)
6. (Name here) has signed your ryze guestbook ( I love ryze)
7. Re: Susan Mernit's blog--these are really fun, lots of comments and feedback

Naive and excited
've been reading about blogging--and reading blogs--for almost a year. Probably the first one that caught my attention was Buzz Machine by Jeff Jarvis, which evolved out of his dramatic story of escaping from the World Trade Center disaster. My passion for blogs reminds me of my passion for the Internet back in 1992-93--I wasn't one of the first people to discover the possibilities of the web, but I was on the early arc of the curve when it came to the mass market.
I remember how much there was to read and to learn in those days, and how I struggled to catch up to everyone else I admired. SGML, HTML, gopher trees, perl, pine...I was consumed with all the tools that helped build the communications platform I found so fascinating. When the web hit, I launched one of the first commercial web sites for consumers--The Scholastic Network for Scholastic, a kids and school publishing company.

Now I feel like I am in a similar position with blogging. I am so into the concept of social networks and the social web (have been for a while), am fascinating by RSS, and eager to see blogs become available as tools for more people. Today I discovered something that probably all the cool people in the blogging world are already taking for granted--the amazing work being done by
phil pearson. Wow! This guy has done some great stuff!
He started the Internet Topic Exchange which is a database or taxonomy of the blogging world, similar to The Open Directory Project (I know everyone who is not techie is scratching their heads as they read this, sorry).
Also, the remarkable Blogging Ecosystem, which tracks how blogs are linked together, including this one.

Naive and excitedI
've been reading about blogging--and reading blogs--for almost a year. Probably the first one that caught my attention was Buzz Machine by Jeff Jarvis, which evolved out of his dramatic story of escaping from the World Trade Center disaster. My passion for blogs reminds me of my passion for the Internet back in 1992-93--I wasn't one of the first people to discover the possibilities of the web, but I was on the early arc of the curve when it came to the mass market.
I remember how much there was to read and to learn in those days, and how I struggled to catch up to everyone else I admired. SGML, HTML, gopher trees, perl, pine...I was consumed with all the tools that helped build the communications platform I found so fascinating. When the web hit, I launched one of the first commercial web sites for consumers--The Scholastic Network for Scholastic, a kids and school publishing company.

Now I feel like I am in a similar position with blogging. I am so into the concept of social networks and the social web (have been for a while), am fascinating by RSS, and eager to see blogs become available as tools for more people. Today I discovered something that probably all the cool people in the blogging world are already taking for granted--the amazing work being done by phil pearson. Wow! This guy has done some great stuff!
He started the Internet Topic Exchange which is a database or taxonomy of the blogging world, similar to The Open Directory Project (I know everyone who is not techie is scratching their heads as they read this, sorry).
Also, the remarkable Blogging Ecosystem, which tracks how blogs are linked together, including this one.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

READING: Just finished reading Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety.
Several members of my book club, aka The Cupcake Book Club, said that this was their favorite novel, so I got a copy. Crossing to Safety is about the 30-year friendships between two couples and how their lives evolve over time. Beautifully written, the book offers powerful insights into family relationships.

Broadband--cool news from Europe

Up until 5 minutes ago, when Reuters and ABC News launched new broadband news products, and Yahoo launched the Platinum service, there hasn't been much interesting new broadband product from U.S. companies that I have seen. Much of the interesting activity is in Europe, where there are 10 million broadband users, many of whom bypassed dial when they first got online.
A just-released Yankee Group study reports that the broadband market in Europe will expand by 68 percent every year for the next five years and be worth 17.8 billion euro ($19.02 billion) by 2006. Another study released by custom consulting firm Datamonitor predicts that a total of 41million households in Europe will be connected with high-speed Internet services by 2006.

MTV UK launches Peep
Meanwhile, MTV UK has just begun transmitting an new interactive broadband service, called 'MTV Peep' that allows users to choose from news broadcats, clips from prime time shows, racy late-night clips, and alternative or rare content that the network says is 'innovative, funny stupid and just plain weird.'
(Source: Broadband Bananas News)

When is some of this goodness going to hit in the U.S.? Hurry up, broadband folk, where's the good stuff?

Interactive Chat w/Pix launches in Spain
Broadband Bananas also reports that Barcelona, Spain based agency Random One, a provider of mobile and cross-media marketing solutions has launched FOTOCHAT, a solution which enables users to chat via SMS and to view their messages broadcast on TV together with a photo of the message author. The photo can be sent either via MMS or the web.

This is exactly the kind of interactive broadband application the U.S. needs to develop--is anyone out there making this kind of product?i>

Notes from the Jupiter Conference: Day 1
2nd Panel : Structuring a Business Model for Content
Mark Josephson,, Inc
Charlie Fink, American Greetings & Charlie, Co.
Mark Jung, IGN
Mitchell Praver, NatGeo
Lowell Selvin, Planet Out

This was the best panel of the day in terms of exploring how content-focused sites can do strategic planning and use research--and common sense--to make money. Each of these CEOs has gone through the fire in terms of challenges building their businesses, and they shared practical strategies grounded in strong business analysis. Some key points and impressions:
Mark Jung of IGN, formerly SNOWBALL, was very articulate.

He explained how his company has honed in on the opportunities with the 12-19 year old male market, a group it can be hard to get dollars from at the younger end of the age spectrum, but also an area where there isn't alot of other competitive media such as magazines and web sites. Jung is very research-oriented and studies the pathing of users' behavior on this sites to determine both interest in content and services and sales opportunities for both content and premium services.

Here's a picture of Jung.

Jung also outlined how they make decisions about restricting content to subscribers or buyers:
a) content can be "locked" forever--it's always available only at a cost
b) content can be locked for a period of time--it costs money to get it fresh, or it costs money to get it when the pathing analysis on Jung's site suggests the user is desperate to have it (i.e. a teen boy searching for cheat codes for an online game he is in the middle of playing--and losing.)
c) content is not locked, ever

Jung quote: "Before you build your business, identify the competitive advantage you can have with both online and offline entities--you're not only competing with other web sites for attention."

More on the others on this panel TK, along with reports from day 2.

Notes from the Jupiter Conference: Day 1
1st panel: The Paid Content Debate
Michael Rogers, Washington Post Interactive/Newsweek
Dennis Mudd, CEO, Music Match
Jacob Weisberg, Editor, Slate
Debra Wilson, Pres. Weather Channel Interactive

Wide-ranging dicussion of subscriptions, premiumn services, critical audience mass versus revenue from small group.
Best marketing advice came from Mudd of MusicMatch who was eloquent on the value of:
a) offering a basic free service to use as an upsell
b) testing and development to refine the most attractive offers for your paying segments
c) closely trracking who those best users are, what they want, and what you can sell them that they can't get elsewhere.

Debra Wilson of the Weather Channel provided wonderful insights into how they have developed very specialize, niched products as incremental and ancillary extensions of their core business--extreme weather alerts across multiple media platforms for example (get a phone call if there's a tornado coming into your area, for example).

The most futuristic comments--among many good point he made--came from Michael Rogers, who is thinking about what comes next in web publishing, or what is post browser publishing?

This is an area that really interests me--think about the disconnect between newspapers needing to put up PDF-like digital editions of their print products to save cost--and the kind of real-time video blogging and multi-media reporting we are starting to see, and it's clear there are some converging streams to work out.

Rogers and the teams he is working with are exploring how to create non-PDF, dynamic pages that literally go beyond the browser. This was definitely the most intriguing idea I heard and one I want to pursue.

Hey, you out there: If you know anything about next generation, post-browser, publishing" please let me know, okay? I'd appreciate emails with any tips or pointers to smernitataoldotcom. Thanks,

Notes from the Jupiter Conference: Day 1

Keynote 1: Barry Briggs, COO, CNET Embrace ROI!

Briggs' speech focuses on how CNET is developing an in-house set of tracking and measuring tools to provide automated, versatile ways to measure ROI on behalf of advertising and transaction partners. "Meaurability is the key to providing marketing value," is his rallying cry.

Brigg's goal: Ensure all CNET properties are able to track users through the learning cycle (this is where they read articles, test software and game demos, listen on community and ratings), then move them into the buying cycle, ideally right on the CNET site, but on the partner site if need be.

While his measurement solutions are far too enormous and grand for most in the audience to adopt, Biggs has some nice comments about ways to offer value to the audience that are relatively more attainable--free white papers, webcast and community discussions, free downloads.

Monday, March 24, 2003

More on Kevin Sites/CNN

Notes and comments are flying about CNN asking Kevin Sites to cease posting to his war blog. Jimmy Guterman says he is talking about it and pointing to Jarvis. The message below was sent out by Dave Farber. to folks on his list.

Has it occurred to anyone that the simplest solution would be to bring Site's blog--or some web page version thereof--onto the CNN site?
Of course, that would mean highlighting one correspondent above the others, which is not part of the CNN m.o., not unless it's an anchor they select...

Forwarded Message
From: Bonnie Bucqueroux
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 10:16:28 -0500
Subject: CNN foolishness

I posted to the Society for Professional Journalists listserv about CNN
ordering Sites to stop his weblog. I was surprised that it generated
relatively little comment and that most of the posters seemed to view this
as a copyright or contract issue rather than a free speech right. My hunch
is that the CNN lawyers also saw it this way -- that they own whatever
Sites produces over there, by contract, and that they do not want to be
liable for something they do not control. One poster noted that CNN, of
all the cable networks, was the only one to demand that all field producers
get script approval before putting anything on the air.

For all the live coverage of the fighting, so much of the war reporting
seems as processed as American cheese. I am truly sorry to see an
independent voice silenced.

Bonnie Bucqueroux
Michigan State University
Victims and the Media Program
School of Journalism

Spending most of the day at the Jupiter Conference on Online Media; will post items of note.

CNN calls halt to war correspondent's blog--pundits jump into fray

CNN asked journo Kevin Sites to stop blogging, saying covering the war is a full-time job. Not only have The New York Times and The Washington posted picked up on the story, but web pundits Ken Layne and Jeff Jarvis have jumped into the fray.
Jarvis' comments:
Kevin Sites, CNN correspondent, has been told to stop blogging. Others have
decried this and now I'll join the chorus.

I'm a big media executive type -- in a suit, even -- and I have to say that
this is short-sighted on CNN's part.

I have no idea what CNN's problem is. I can imagine a few scenarios -- e.g.,
some editor worries that Sites won't do his work (he's in a warzone; what else
is he going to do?) or some editor worries that they're not editing what he
writes (if you don't trust him, don't hire him).

Bottom line is that CNN proves it is out-of-date.

MSNBC has weblogs.

FoxNews has weblogs.

My big media company has weblogs. Knight Ridder has weblogs. USA Today has
weblogs. The BBC has weblogs.

But CNN doesn't.

CNN is not only disrespecting Sites, it is disrespecting his audience, and it
is disrespecting bloggers as a whole -- which is a mistake, since we, fellow
bloggers, are now influencers. Ken Layne says CNN is the old fart network.
We're quoting that. It is a meme that can take over -- unless some wise CNN
executive sees the trouble and slaps some bureaucratic underling on the wrist
and begs Sites to begin again.

CNN used to be the cutting edge network. It is no more. It needs blogs to get
back to the future again.

Compare this to what a highly placed CNN news executive told me last week:
"CNN does not blog and does not plan to. We prefer to use a more structured form to present information."

The reality is that media types will complain, CNN will ignore them, and no one there will care so long as they stay ahead of At, they are already having columnists write blogs, and my guess is they'll be the ones to step up and meet the demand the media pundits will help shape.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

CALIFORNIA K-12: Still recruiting amid prospective layoffs

Spurred on by what was thought to be decade-long teacher shortage, California school districts are spending $9MM in 2002 to recruit new teachers through six regional teacher recruitment centers and a series of job fairs and beating the bushes for people interested in training for positions in the classroom.
Meanwhile, faced with a statewide budget gap of $30MM in education, most school districts are preparing for layoffs.
-- Oakland Unified has warned more than 1,000 teachers that their jobs are at risk.
--San Diego has sent notices to nearly 1,500 teachers. Another thousand have been notified in Fresno.
--San Juan Unified in Sacramento County, has notified 600 teachers, or 20 percent of the staff, they could be laid off.
The California Teachers Association estimates that as many as 10,000 teachers have received provisional pink slips this month alone.
(Source: Sacramento Bee, March 18, 2003, State spends millions luring teachers amid layoffs via EdBriefs.)

BLOGGING: What compels my attention most?
This is day three of writing the Susan Mernit Blog. Which blogs do I read on a regular basis?

Romenesko: media news-- I tune into Romanesko several times a day, hoping for updates.
Gawker: Media, gossip and Nooh Yawk stuff-- The day Gawker launched, I started checking it as compulsively as AOL execs check their stock portfolios.
Boingboing: A directory of wonderful things--If only magazines were as interesting as Boing Boing!
Buzzmachine: Politics, news & blogging--Stylings, observations and sometimes rants from the inimitable Jeff Jarvis
Marc Canter's Voice:Got bandwidth, baby? Visions of next generation, high-bandwidth tools & products
Ross Mayfield: Mapping the blogosphere--Cogent analysis of the development of social networks meets rampant blogging evangelism

There are probably about 20 other blogs I check out periodically and enjoy, ranging from well-know blogs like Joi Ito's to family and friends' blogs such as SheRantz and P.Leopold Bloom's Journal.

Suggestions for blogs I might like--or blogs you like? Email me at smernitataoldotcom and I will check out your notes and post items.


Practicing calm on Lafayette Street
“Leave your cell phones in the hall, but bring your souls inside,” announces a sign posted at the entrance to Jivamukti, the downtown Manhattan yoga center I wandered into on Saturday in search of a Village bathroom not clogged with fellow anti-war demonstrators. Famous as the yoga studio of choice for Christie Turlington and other celebrities, Jivamukti is a cavernous, purple-painted space with a yoga boutique and a stunning granite waterfall wall in the entranceway. Entranced by the vibes, I signed up for a 5-session trial series at 50% off.

Debating War on the IRT
“Ladies, you ladies, you anti-war demonstrators are nothing but intellectual masturbators, unwilling to consider the nuclear cloud hanging over Manhattan three years from now!” The man shouting these words in the center of an uptown IRT subway car was 35-ish, neatly dressed in jeans and a Polo windbreaker, with a little flag pin in his lapel. “Do you consider what it is like to watch your mother being raped and sent into the desert to die as the Iraqis have? What makes you think they do not want to be liberated?”

This tirade was addressed to three middle-aged women with unbound breasts and graying hair who looked to be from Northern Connecticut or someplace close to Vermont and on their way back from the march to catch a train. The women muttered things about not liberating with bombs and freeing countries that had asked for it, like Somali and the Congo before getting off at 42nd Street. The provocateur continued to debate the war with several people in the subway car before getting off himself at 59th Street. “He didn’t seem to have a coherent point of view,” the man next to me muttered as I departed at 68th. “His arguments were pretty emotional, they didn’t make that much sense.”

These are the things I love about New York: the contrasts are extreme and everyone has an opinion they’re only too happy to share.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

MARCHING: Against the War in NYC
We joined the march at 34th street and Broadway at 12 :30 pm. It took two hours to march along Broadway to Washington Square. When I left the Square at 3:30, marchers were still coming down Broadway into the park. Some of the slogans on the home-made signs:
Noo Yawk Sez No
Bush: Weapon of Mass Destruction
Who would Jesus Bomb?
We Mourn US Imperialism
Shock + Horror
Asses of Evil
Issues with Baghdad--or issues with Dad?
Loot the economy, plunder the environment, hid it behind a war!
Support our Troops--Send them home
Little dicks grow up to be big dictators
Prune Bush
War--What is it good for?
It's all about the oil

SIGHTINGS: Demonstrations are always filled with faces from the past.
On the way in, I ran into Meredith Sue Willis, a writer and old friend who used to work with me at Teachers & Writers Collaborative, and Carla C, who was a fellow AOL'er. After the march, in Washington Square Park, I ran into Jessica Siegel, the amazing journalism teacher who was profiled in Sam Freedman's book about a year at Seward Park High School, and who so ably ran the ArtsConnection journalism program when I taught at Erasmus HS as part of the program. Trying to get into the bathroom at Barnes & Noble at Astor Place (and ducking out because of the endless line), I saw Judy K, a woman I went to Camp Walt Whitman with when I was eleven. I'd last seen Judy about six years ago, when we used to take Zack to Washington Park in Tribeca on the weekends--Judy and her family lived nearby. For some reason, I was thinking about her and wondering if she still lived in NYC--and there she was! My world often works that way.

THIS JUST IN: News sources reporting "tens of thousands" at NYC protest. AP story snippet (filed 2:55 PM):
The crowd snaked for 30 city blocks, with demonstrators still joining the march at Herald Square even as the first marchers arrived at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. The marchers filled Broadway from sidewalk to sidewalk.

No arrests were reported, but police scuffled with some protesters on a side street north of the park.

Among those marching were U.S. Rep Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., singer Patti Smith, and actors Roy Scheider, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Rangel said the marchers were anything but unpatriotic.


MARCHING: Going to demonstrate against the war in New York City today. Will post more when I return.

JOKING: K-Mart Closure
All K-Mart stores in Iraq will be closing on/or before March 14th, 2003
After that, they will all become Targets
(Sent by Lita, my wonderful mother-in-law, queen of net jokes)

Friday, March 21, 2003

COMPARING: California versus New Jersey:
I've moved back and forth from New Jersey to California and back to New Jersey in the past three years.
This means that I constantly compare the two states.
Here's the latest comparision--the number and type of agricultural commodity boards, trade marketing associations that support the distribution and promote the consumption of specific foods:

Through my (California) Baker's Dozen group, I came across the web site of the San Francisco Professional Food Society.and learned that--California is the nation's number one agricultural and dairy state, and grows half the nation's nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
And in California, there are 51 ccommodity boards---for
Artichokes,Avocados, California cherries, figs, pistachios, salmon, strawberries, tomatoes and walnuts all have their own boards--as do, of course, those famous California raisins.

New Jersey --which is also a significant agricultural state, has 7 commodity boards-- for blueberries, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and of course, NJ wine..
What, no board for toxic waste?

Eating Abroad: Japanese Hungry for New Theme Park Concept
Big Blue Dot , a kids trend watch and consulting company, reports that indoor
"food theme parks" are popular in Japan. The first, Shinyokoham Raumen Museum, opened in 1994 and allows visitors to sample many varieties of Ramen noodles all in one location. Since then the Yokohama Curry Museum has opened (2002), followed by The Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium in Tokyo featuring gyoza--dumplings--stuffed with minced pork and vegetables, and The Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho in Osaka, which has a1960s-era Osaka retro food court feel.
Given that the Japanese economy is in the toilet, it's no surprise folks are comforting their sorrows with food.

It's fun to imagine what the U.S.regional versions of these food museums might be:
--San Jose, CA, The Pho Palace, featuring 30 kinds of beef and pork entrails and organs
--New York, NY, Moe's Knish and Calzone Deli Museum, featuring items ripped off from Nathan's, Ray's Famous Pizza and the Stage Deli
--Los Angeles, CA, The Healthy Living Salad Strip Cafe, featuring assorted sushi rolls and ten different kinds of frozen Jello-shots.
More info:
Trends in Japan
Shinyokohama Ramumen Museum
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Restaurant

Long established restaurant of Okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake with vegetables and other foodstuffs.

READING: Business 2.0 has published its third annual The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business. Amazingly, AOLTW isn't mentioned until # 89-91, when Biz 2.0 lambasts the company's stunning devaluation.
That's fine, but I'm surprised that some of the AOL brand's brighter moments aren't mentioned in this article, such as:
1) Announce a new series of commmunity and content initiatives in October 2002, then switch strategies less than 3 months later.
2) Make a big deal about the Microsoft plastering New York City with MSN butterflies in October 2002--after all, doesn't calling the city to complain about the butterflies prove AOL 8.0 is the better product?
2) Announce that Netscape will be a key partner in distributing AOLTW content on the Internet--then less than 3 months later, announce many of the most popular Time Inc brands will be available only on AOL service.
(Disclaimer: I was employed by AOLTW through December 2002.)

WARRING: "This is the real live stuff, ladies," said Sgt. First Class Cyndee Carnes, 36, of Santa Rosa, Calif., as her colleagues from the 12th Aviation Brigade's F Company stripped off their baggy green chemical-suit jackets and pants after one missile alert. "If we weren't soldiers a few minutes ago, we are now." Story by, Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post March 20, 2003 (registration required)

Watched the war on CNN, MSNBC and Fox this morning. Is the video Saddam Hussein the real Saddam Hussein--or is he a Saddam Hussein stunt double? As Baghdad burns, this seems to be the question of the moment.
Meanwhile, the folks at Deviant Art, a site I have trouble navigating, have posted a gallery of artwork devoted to the war--and artists' commentary on it. Here is one picture--

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Blogging: I have been blogging like crazy for the past 24 hours. Didn't go to the gym, didn't go into the city for my meeting, just kept working on items for this blog. It kind of feels like when I first got Winston, my 110 lb. dog, who at the time was a little fuzzy puppy, and I spent all my time taking care of him. In the crate, out of the crate, piddle, clean it up, poop, clean that up, teething, give him a toy, etc.
Blogging kind of feels like the same thing, except my brain is doing it--reading, thinking, talking, watching--selected pieces are ending up here.
Jeeze, I am sick of sitting at this computer! Blog, go to sleep.

The BIP logo--definitely NOT an AOL keyword.

One last item tonight--Revolution is not An AOL Keyword, Brother.
Boing Boing pointed to a wonderful blog from students at the Berkeley J-School. Eddan Katz, one of the student editors, posted a ditty created in the spirit of Gil Scott-Heron''s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
Here's an excerpt:

There will be no screen grabs of you and
Jeeves the Butler one-click shopping at My Yahoo,
Or outbidding a shady grandma on eBay for
That refurbished iPod 20-gig. will not predict election results in Florida
Or fact-check the Drudge Report.
Revolution is not an AOL Keyword.

Also found the link to the staff bios. In addition to John Battelle and Paul Grabowicz, Scot Hacker is working on the project, and he has a sweet blog called The Bird House that I hadn't seen.

God, there are a lot of smart people!

Is there something wrong with blue-collar Connecticut town mayors?
First, Joe Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport,was found guilty of collecting more than a half-million dollars in bribes and kickbacks while leading one of the poorest cities in the country. Now, former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano is on trial on two federal charges dealing with "sexual activity" involving a child.

Giordano, who may be one of the biggest slime to ever walk the earth, admitted Thursday that two preteen children may have watched him receive oral sex from a prostitute, but he denies forcing the girls to perform oral sex on him.

What did they call the inmates in prison who took care of their fellow prisoners by doing wash and performing other services? Maytags? I hope Giordano is practicing his washing skills...if he is guilty as charged, he deserves a special place in jail.

I have been posting to this blog for less than 24 hours. So far
--3 of my posts have been lost in limbo and never appeared after I published them
--I accidentally deleted 2 posts and a photo, never to be recovered
--Blogger has turned all my entries to bold and deleted some of my hyperlinks
Right now, Blogger Pro, which is what I am using, seems closer to AOL Hometown, the AOL home page template tool, than to the elegant Moveable Type, the place people seem to go once they figure out what they are actually doing (I realized I may not know what Iam doing for quite a while.)

ANOTHER SCAM FROM MY INBOX--Only publishing the first part.





Internet Radio--Will advertisers spend?
According to Digital Media Wire, a group of independent Web radio broadcasters have formed
the Internet Radio Marketing Group to offer advertisers charter rates across its network of members, which reaches 500,000 unique radiollistener per month. I'm curious who would want to advertise on these sites, given the millions that listen to traditional radio and the resistance radio advertisers have had to putting dollars into web-based advertising.
Is anyone spending real dollars to advertise on AOL radio? If not, does what kind of case does that build for these folks?

MTV MUSIC MEMO--No War footage
A supposedly authentic memo leaked from MTV Europe recommending the network refrain from playing music videos with images of war, soldiers, etc, including the following:
System of a Down "Boom!" - anti-war video containing facts and figures
Aerosmith "Don't want to miss a thing" - contains footage from the film Armageddon.
Manic Street Preachers "So Why So Sad" - contains footage of soldiers being killed and man throwing a hand grenade.
Passengers/U2 "Miss Sarajevo" - contains missiles, guns and buildings being blown up.
Bon Jovi "This ain't a love song" - contains war scenes and victims in distress.
Iggy Pop "Corruption" - contains wars, riots, guns and captions "we love guns" and "we love rifles".
Paul Hardcastle "19" - contains war footage.
Radiohead "Lucky" - contains war footage including injured children.
Billy Idol "Hot in the City" - contains an atomic explosion.
Armand van Helden "Koochy" - contains an atomic explosion and ships being blown up.
Trick Daddy "Thug Holiday" - contains soldiers being killed at war.

Apparently, two of the cities with the highest unemployment rates are New York City (where I live now), and San Jose, CA (where I lived until September, and where I hope to return). All my unemployed editor, content programmer, and other literati friends in the Bay area will probably feel the same sadness I do at this story about how The Writers Guild of America has singled out media-industry consolidation as a culprit in the loss of 10,000 California jobs over the past three years.(Source: David Hirschman, mediabistro)

War Blogging, War News Coverage:
Chris Hedges, a former war correspondent for The New York Times and other media outlets,and the author of the new book WAR IS THE FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING( Public Affairs Press, September 2002) is interviewed by someone at the Poyntner Foundation about journalistic coverage of the current war.
Hedge's makes the point that most of the "embedded" journalists will not have much in the way of military skills and will be totally dependent on the military for all logistics and support--and that will suit the military just fine, says Hedgers. What the military really fears, he say are the "independent reporters who break free from the pack, who have their own transportation. We saw this in Afghanistan, we saw it in the first Persian Gulf war, and I am sure that we will see it once again."

Hedges is right that there is a shortage of independent voices in this war, and it is especially sad that Kevin Sites, the CNN correspondent who was posting regularly to his new blog, seems to not have been able to get anything up today, 24 hours after CNN asked him to place a disclaimer on his site. The disclaimer reads: (Note: Kevin's personal website and this guest-blog are not affiliated with, endorsed by, or funded by CNN. Archives of Kevin's work with CNN are available here, and at --it is not clear whether anything new has been published to this site since this disclaimer went up.

Meanwhile, very few newspaper sites are pointing to Site's blog. Those that are include The Spokesman Review aka in Spokane, Washington. At Advance Internet, many of the local sites are carrying Jeff Jarvis' cogent war blog, updated frequently, with lots o'links. ( Corporate disclaimer here: I worked for Jeff for some years.).

Jon Dube writes that Cyberjournalist, is keeping track of war blogs and war journals, and
Cory Bergman of
Lost Remote, has an excellent collection of links to diaries and weblogs from reporters in the Gulf region.

Jimmy Guterman has a smart piece up on Business 2.0 today, entitled Memo to News-Site Executives--How can Net-based news services best serve their audience during the imminent conflict?. Among Guterman's points:
Deploy broadband sparingly.
Use weblogs to jump-start discussion.

Apparently, CNN is now the only American news network with a reporter and a crew in Baghdad. Additional U.S. news agencies still in the city include the L.A. Times and The New York Times.

Two new war blog resources:
From Howard Rhinegold and the smart mobs crew on the power of mobile

A new war watch blog from the San Jose Mercury News, edited by SV senior editor John Murrell.

More Celebrity Notes

Monica Lewinsky will host a new reality TV show, according to Page Six's Paula Froelich in the New York Post. Poor Monica--a self-proclaimed "girl who can't keep a boyfriend," will preside over a show where 20 men compete for the affections of one single girl. The suitors will hide their identities from the woman by wearing masks and hoods in her presence--kind of like courtin' in the Klan.

Gandolfini-ed? Is Michelle Branch pulling a Gandolfinii? According to The NY Post's Page Six, Bert Fields, lawyer for Maverick, Branch's record label, Branch is upset because Warner Brothers received revenue from a recent tour, reducing her cut. Page Six quotes a "spy" saying This is all about money." Galdolfini-ed?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

At War: The United States has launched a strike against Saddam Hussein. Footage from the video pool shows a highway in Baghdad, 6:39 AM. Hardly any traffic on the road, a couple of pedestrians scurrying about. The chiron crawl at the bottom of the screen quotes Bush saying "This could be a longer and more difficult war than anticipated."

A unique offer: I received this email tonight:
Subj: Mail to you
Date: 3/19/03 6:39:27 PM Eastern Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)


Wema Bank Plc
Lagos - Nigeria.
I am the manager of bill and exchange of the Foreign Operations
Department of Wema Bank of Nigeria. I am writing following the
impressive information about you through one of my friend who run a consultancy firm.

He assured of your capability and reliability,Although I did not tell him the details of the business I want to do with you. In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of $15million dollars (Fifteen million United States Dollars) in an account that
belongs to one of our foreign customers who died along side with his entire family in November 1996 in a plane crash.Since we got information about his death, we have Been expecting his next of kin or relation to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines.

Unfortunately we learn that all his supposed next of kin or relations died along with him at the plane crash leaving nobody with the
knowledge of this fund behind for the claim. It therefore upon this discovery that I and two other officials in the department now decided to make business with you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation of the deceased for safety keeping and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and we don't want this money to go back into Federal Government account as unclaimed bill. The banking law and guidelines here stipulates that such money remained after six years the money will be transferred into banking treasury as unclaimed fund. The request of a foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Nigerian cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner.

We agreed that 35% (negotiable) of this money will be for you as foreign partner. Therefore me and my two colleagues will visit your country for the disbursement according to the percentages indicated. Please be honest to me. Therefore to enable the immediate transfer of the fund to you as arranged you must apply first to the bank as next of kin of the deceased.

Upon receipt of your response I will send to you a text of the application with the name of the deceased and his country and
other information about him. Note this transaction is confidential and risk free.

As soon as you receive this mail you should contact me through my e-mail address (

Best Regards

Clearly an amazing opportunity, no?

Having trouble getting these first posts onto the site. This is a test



Reading: A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me, by Jon Katz, the slashdot columnist, lives about 10 miles away from me in Montclair, New Jersey. This book is an account of his relationship with Devon, a high-strung border collie he adopts.


Cooking: Totally into cooking these days, now that I am working from home. Last night I made Salmon Croquettes, salad with avacado, chana masala and brown rice. Tonight: Rice Noodles with Basil, Thai style. Have to stop making cookies, we are all going to get fat.


Writing: Working on piece about Kevin Sites Blog and the wonderful team that is putting this site together--Xeni Jardin, John Parres , David Ulevitch, and other folks. I find it amazing that these folks, who are outside of the traditional online newspaper and TV reporting media world, reached out to Kevin, who works for CNN, a company that is not blogging, and does not see blogging as part of their news agenda or format, and got him up. Meanwhile, online news sites are putting up very little interesting content that is not repurposed from their newspapers, AP feeds, or TV video.


I spoke to an old friend who is a highly placed news executive at CNN and asked him whether was planning to link to Kevin's blog. His response: "CNN is interested in a more structured presentation of the news than blogging offers. We will present online photo galleries, brekaing news stories, video and text as a way to give our audience immediate access to new about the war in Iraq.

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