What Was Felix Salmon Thinking?

April 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Videos

Financial journalist Felix Salmon, who writes in unusually clear prose about economics, has announced that he is leaving Reuters to join a mysterious entity called “Fusion.” The hopping of journalists from media-entity to media-entity is not ordinarily interesting, but Salmon is an unusually perceptive writer about trends, and his announcement contained an incredibly bizarre set of assertions about the future of journalism. By contrast to those who feel that the decline of books and in-depth journalism is unfortunate, Salmon says that the true problem is that Web journalism is too detailed:

“The reason why I am going to Fusion… is that they have the ability to help me communicate in the ways that people are going to consume information in the future. Which is not 1,500-word blocks of text.”

1,500 words, mind you, is not much text. It’s hardly a 40,000 word New Yorker profile or a serialized Dickens novel, though I suppose it’s a little longer than the average listicle or piece of Slate counter-intuition. A ceiling of 1,500 suggests an incredible level of uniform shallowness.

Salmon did release a long-form statement giving a bit more context. Fusion is “a TV channel aimed mainly at millennials, whose only real guiding rule is that it’s going to stay away from anything conventional.” In case that’s unclear, Salmon tells us that out of all possible business models, its is “cross-media,” although he says that label, too, doesn’t quite capture it. It will also be “promiscuous media.” Either way, it will “serve up high-quality Fusion-branded content to a new generation of digital natives.” If any of that’s decipherable, I certainly can’t make anything of it myself.

In the most stunning part of the announcement, Salmon writes that “the core of what I do at Fusion will be post-text.” Salmon says that while “text has had an amazing run, especially online,” its time has basically passed, and he implies that not just books, but text itself will soon be a relic. Banishing 1,500 word text-blocks is just the start, even tweets will soon be laughably prolix.

Salmon doesn’t explain what a post-text world will look like, though he reassures us it’s going to be “fun.” Detractors might concede his point, and say we’ve already seen this world and it consists mostly of cat photos. Salmon does say that it will involve animations, and possibly other new things. But if there’s more to it, we have to wait.

The thing about Felix Salmon is that he is very smart, and the statement is unusual in his oeuvre for its mushiness and empty industry PR jargon. Those who don’t understand why this announcement is significant or head-scratchingly weird are encouraged to go back and read his astute and often beautiful blog.

I’ve tried every explanation out in trying to figure out what Salmon is thinking and none of them make sense, except that he’s either ten steps ahead of us, has been abducted and replaced, or has joined a cult. It’s possible, of course, that he’s a visionary, and that all of us who were snarky and naysaid him will soon find our faces coated with egg. My suspicion, however, is that even possession of a critical intelligence cannot in itself eliminate the allure of glitzy new-media trendy bullshit. Hang around this stuff long enough, even as a detached journalist, and as a rule you’ll end up believing in it.

A Brief History Of White Guys Singing Songs Like This

April 24, 2014 by  

It’s only April but the annual competition for Song of the Summer is already in full bloom. There’s Chromeo’s “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” and Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better,” Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” and Katy Perry’s “Birthday,” and this: 5 Seconds Of Summer’s “She Looks So Perfect.”

As noted on ThinkProgress, it’s a pretty catchy tune, the kind that you’ll hear in every mall in the contiguous United States from now until Labor Day. (Pity the men and women who work at Hollister Co., since they will likely listen to “She Looks So Perfect” roughly 400 times this summer.) It’s also just like every other song released by post-punk white dudes in the last 15 years. Ahead, a brief history of boys singing pop songs like this. (Let us know which of your faves we’ve forgotten in the comments below.)

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Renee Fisher: Improving My Brain With Lumosity

April 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Humor

Lumosity is an online brain training and neuroscience research company that offers a brain training program consisting of more than 40 games in the areas of memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving. Life in the Boomer Lane has several friends who subscribe to their service and all speak highly of it. LBL decided to look into it.

Read more: Lumosity, Aging, Baby Boomers, Humor, Satire, Fifty News

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31 Marvelous Cats Who Truly Define Sophistication

April 24, 2014 by  

Each of your actions is a product of thousands of generation of finely tuned evolution… And calculated consideration.
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Tech Millionare Who Beat Girlfriend 117 Times Ducks Jail Despite Damning Video

April 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Videos

RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence and battery charges last week, dodging 45 felony counts for the videotaped 30-minute beating of his girlfriend.

Chahal, 31, faces no jail time. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, 52 weeks in a domestic violence training program and 25 hours of community service. The Internet mogul was arrested in August after police responded to a 911 domestic violence call at his San Francisco penthouse apartment.

His girlfriend told arriving officers that she was unable to breathe and that Chahal had told her four times, “I’m going to kill you,” San Francisco Officer Anh Nguyen told the San Francisco Business Times in March. “She stated she was in fear for her life.”

Home security footage reportedly showed Chahal beating and kicking his girlfriend 117 times during the 30-minute attack. Prosecutors said Chahal lashed out at his girlfriend upon learning that she had cheated on him with another man during a trip to Las Vegas, according to court documents.

Soon after Chahal posted his $1 million bail and hired former federal prosecutor James Lassart as his attorney, his girlfriend stopped cooperating with the investigation and refused to testify against him. During a preliminary hearing, Lassart, who is also defending embattled state Sen. Leland Yee (D-Calif.) on corruption charges, did not deny that Chahal repeatedly struck his girlfriend, but insisted the physical damage was overblown.

In a crippling blow to the prosecution, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy ruled that the surveillance video could not be used as evidence because police seized it illegally from Chahal’s apartment. The prosecution argued it likely would have been erased if police had waited for a warrant.

Alex Bastian, spokesman with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, issued a statement after the guilty plea on Thursday.

“We disagree with the judge’s suppression of the video. The judge’s ruling substantially weakened the evidence we had for prosecution,” Bastian said. “Though it is not the outcome we had hoped for, the case has reached a resolution where the defendant acknowledges guilt, is placed on domestic violence probation and has to take domestic violence classes.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The deal also means that Chahal — with no felony conviction — will be allowed to stay on the board of his $100 million-a-year social advertising technology company, RadiumOne, which has been preparing to go public.”

Chahal, once named one of America’s “most eligible bachelors” by ExtraTV, managed to advance his online-advertising network into its final stages for an initial public stock offering despite his arrest. He also secured a new partnership with publisher Condé Nast in April.

Chahal sold his first online-ad network, ClickAgents.com Inc., to ValueClick Inc. at the age of 16 for $20.5 million in stock. Seven years later, he sold BlueLithium Inc., which he also founded, to Yahoo for $300 million in cash.

In 2009, he authored a book about himself called The Dream: How I Learned the Risks and Rewards of Entrepreneurship and Made Millions.

Southern California City Sees Spike In Whooping Cough Cases

April 23, 2014 by  

By Laila Kearney

April 23 (Reuters) – A Southern California city has seen a spike in reported whooping cough cases so far this year, with the number of infections nearly tripling compared to all of last year, possibly due to a less potent vaccine or lower vaccination rates, officials said on Wednesday.

Some 43 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have been documented since January in Long Beach, a city of about 470,000, up from 15 cases reported in all of 2013 and four cases reported in 2012, Long Beach Health Officer Michael Kushner said.

“We’ve never had so many cases in such a short amount of time,” Kushner said.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that often begins with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough, followed by severe coughing that can last for several weeks.

The infection, which can be treated with antibiotics, is spread through the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. It is especially dangerous for young babies, who can develop pneumonia and other sometimes fatal complications.

Kushner said the rise in whooping cough cases in Long Beach was likely due to a drop in vaccinations or booster shots, a weakened vaccine or infections that are left untreated.

Across the nation, the number of reported whooping cough cases has ballooned since the 1990s, when there were fewer than 10,000 reported infections each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, U.S. infections hit a 50-year high in 2012 with 48,277 reported cases, but the number dropped by half last year and appears to be decreasing slightly in 2014, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Jason McDonald.

McDonald said the long-term increase could be linked to the vaccine, which was modified in the 1990s to decrease adverse side effects, such as seizures.

“What we may have done is given up to a little bit of potency in doing that,” McDonald said. Vaccination rates have consistently remained high and are likely not the cause of any spikes in reported cases, he added.

The Centers for Disease Control are currently researching possible potency problems with the current vaccine, McDonald said. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft)

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Polls Find Close Races For 4 Crucial Senate Seats

April 23, 2014 by  

Four southern Senate races with vulnerable incumbents — Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Louisiana — all remain closely contested, according to polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation for The New York Times’ The Upshot.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) are deadlocked at 44 and 43 percent, respectively, with Grimes leading by 6 points against Matt Bevin, McConnell’s tea party challenger. In North Carolina, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) is also roughly tied with two candidates, taking 42 percent to state Rep. Thom Tillis’ 40 percent, and 41 percent to physician and conservative activist Greg Brannon’s 39 percent.

The poll also found surprisingly strong showings by Democrats in two states. In Arkansas, the poll finds Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) 10 points ahead of Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). The NYT/Kaiser poll is one of two recently finding a substantial edge for Pryor — a poll for a pro-minimum wage group also gave him a 10-point lead. While Pryor’s numbers seem to have seen a recent uptick, however, other polls conducted this year have ranged between a 6-point Cotton lead and a 3-point Pryor lead.

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John Wayne Gacy Investigation Helps Solve Unrelated Murder

April 23, 2014 by  

CHICAGO (AP) — Four decades after John Wayne Gacy lured more than 30 young men and boys to his Chicago-area home and strangled them, his case has helped authorities solve another killing — one he didn’t commit.

Investigators have identified the remains of a man who in 1978 never returned to his home just a few miles from Gacy’s house. They also say they know the identity of his now-deceased killer. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to announce the findings Wednesday — the result of an ongoing effort to name several unidentified victims of Gacy, who was executed in 1994.

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How Rand Paul may owe his presidential bid to Hall of Fame journalist Mark Hebert

April 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Videos

Blue moon of Kentucky
Keep on shining

-Bill Monroe

If Senator Rand Paul becomes President Rand Paul in 2017, he may have Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee Mark Hebert to thank.

Follow my logic here.

In 2002, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton was finishing his second term with high popularity ratings and his eye on taking on incumbent Senator Jim Bunning in 2004. An incumbent Governor in Kentucky has little trouble raising money and Patton had a terrific campaign organization. Odds are very strong that he would have beaten Bunning, who won his race in 1998 by a small margin.

Instead, Patton’s political career was derailed when television journalist Mark Hebert broke the story of a fascinating scandal. While serving as Governor, Paul Patton was having an extramarital affair with Tina Conner, a nursing home operator that Patton had also appointed to Kentucky’s lottery board.

Without Patton in the race, the Democrats went to a relatively unknown State Senator from Hazard, Dr. Daniel Mongiardo. Mongiardo was outspent about five to one by Bunning, but still came within a percentage point of winning. In a year when Presidential nominee John Kerry lost Kentucky by a large margin and an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment brought out a large conservative vote.

Mongiardo gave himself a chance to win, but millionaire Paul Patton would have matched or exceeded Bunning in fundraising and organization and cruised to victory.

Bunning left the Senate at the end of the term and Rand Paul took his place. If Paul Patton had been Senator Paul Patton, it’s unlikely that Rand Paul would have taken him on and even more unlikely that Paul would be elected.

It took a journalist with Mark Hebert’s talents, and courage, to dig out a scandal about a sitting Governor and make it a national story. With a long-term national impact.

I’m thrilled to see that Mark is being inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Before Hebert took a top job at the University of Louisville, he was considered by many to be one of the best investigative broadcast journalists in the history of Kentucky.

I would suspect that Paul Patton would agree. Hebert told me that Patton always treated him with professional respect and candor, even after Mark did the story that sunk his political career. Patton was the ultimate political professional who understood that Mark Hebert, the ultimate journalism professional, was doing his job of digging up news and letting people know about it.

As he was the ultimate journalism professional, and eventually my friend, Mark and I got off to a rocky start. Mark, who never lost the bluntness of his upstate New York heritage, was very unhappy when I started appearing, in 2004, on the ultimate Kentucky journalism television program, Comment on Kentucky.

Although it is common now, especially on Washington-based news shows, for journalists to have outside business interests, not be affiliated with a legacy media outlet and do various things to promote themselves, it was extremely unusual in 2004 and I suspect I was the Kentucky pioneer in the genre.

Although it took Mark and other establishment journalists a while to warm up to me, eventually they did as host Al Smith (a newspaper publisher who understood living in two worlds) was stubborn enough to make me a semi-regular on Comment on Kentucky.

I got into journalism midlife as I wanted to do what Mark, Al Cross, Tom Loftus and the establishment types were doing: taking on the bad guys.

Mark got to see that taking shots at politicians, without the protection of a multibillion dollar media chain, had some extreme risks. Especially for me.

I started to notice that every time I was critical of the Governor on Comment on Kentucky or in my syndicated newspaper column, various state inspectors started showing up at my financial business. It could have been coincidence, but I viewed the stream of inspectors as an scare tactic or a shakedown.

I did what any good journalist would do when someone is trying to intimidate them. I wrote about it.

Hebert did what a good journalist should do. He followed up on my story himself.

Mark interviewed me and my office staff; he did an open records request of the inspectors schedules, interviewed various people in the departments and ran his own story. He did not find a Chris Christie-like trail to the Governor’s inner circle, but he did find a lot of smoke and a lot of suspicious activity.

Before Mark did his story, I seemed to be audited or inspected by every agency in Kentucky state government on a weekly basis. Even some that had no regulatory power over what I do.

Once he did the story, that stopped completely.

I am thrilled that Mark is going into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. An interesting class as he goes in with highly acclaimed Eastern Kentucky University Journalism Professor Liz Hansen and the “Doctor of Gonzo Journalism” Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I hate that Mark is not out on the beat, keeping the rich and powerful from feeling too rich and powerful but he made a great career move at the right time.

It takes a lot of courage and passion to be willing to take on powerful enemies, but Mark has both.

Coming from a Democrat who has watched Rand Paul from ground zero, he will be a formidable presidential candidate. He often gets underestimated, but that is a mistake for anyone going up against him. He is a complicated candidate in a complicated world. I suspect that the public is so tired of cookie cutter, poll-driven, blow-dried talking heads that a person like Paul, who is a little off the beaten path is going to get some attention.

Inheriting his father’s organization and fund raising skill, I can see Paul becoming the 2016 Republican nominee. Hillary Clinton seems like a heavy favorite to be the Democratic nominee and next president but Paul is such an unusual candidate, who picks unusual issues that he could be the kind of candidate that drives Clinton crazy in a one on one race.

He is the first real presidential contender from Kentucky since Harry Truman’s Vice President Alben Barkley and connects with voters in a way that Washington insiders have a hard time understanding.

I only know Paul on a superficial level and was a friend of both of the candidates he beat for Senate. However, I picked Paul to win very early as I could see that Kentucky voters were on his wavelength.

Like him or dislike him, but respect the idea that he could be president.

I have no idea where Hebert stands politically. Like most professional journalists, he has kept his politics to himself and was equal opportunity in his ability to inflict pain on candidates in both parties.

It’s said that journalism is the first draft of history. If Rand Paul becomes president or a presidential nominee, it can be said that the very first draft came from the dogged investigative work of Mark Hebert.

Who is now in the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Don McNay is a former syndicated columnist and is a best selling author. You can read about him www.donmcnay.com

New Study Proves That Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

April 22, 2014 by  

A little laughter can go a long way, a new study reveals.

We all know the mood-boosting benefits of a good laugh, but researchers at California’s Loma Linda University set out to find out if humor can deliver more than just comic relief. The study looked at 20 healthy older adults in their 60s and 70s, measuring their stress levels and short-term memory. One group was asked to sit silently, not talking, reading, or using their cellphones, while the other group watched funny videos.

After 20 minutes, the participants gave saliva samples and took a short memory test. While both groups performed better after the break than before, the “humor group” performed significantly better when it came to memory recall. Participants who viewed the funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6 percent, compared with 20.3 percent in the non-humor group.

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