Matt, meet Andy

I love hyperbolic prose. Especially when it’s used to sell something. Better yet when it’s pitching you or something you do.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune is hiring and Matthew Doig penned what is perhaps the all-time best Want Ad ever. It reads more like a call to arms than a job spec.

We want to add some talent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative team. Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.

We do a mix of quick hit investigative work when events call for it and mini-projects that might run for a few days. But every year we like to put together a project way too ambitious for a paper our size because we dream that one day Walt Bogdanich will have to say: “I can’t believe the Sarasota Whatever-Tribune cost me my 20th Pulitzer.” As many of you already know, those kinds of projects can be hellish, soul-sucking, doubt-inducing affairs. But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed  office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

Interested? Click through to apply. I bet you this is a job Friendster Andy could handle.

 

Nike Cosplay in Akihabara

When it comes to Japan, they just do things different here. The video below is actually several years old but is a brilliant piece of advertising. Produced for NikeiD to promote their custom design shoe line.

Jon Stewart’s Closing Remarks

Jon Stewart’s closing speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity was brilliant. On mass media the most tweeted line of the day was, “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Viewing the United States political process from Finland, I have to say the “fun-house mirror” through which Americans portray themselves is a bit comic. Europeans don’t know what to make of all the back-stabbing in the political races. “I am not a witch?” – Really?

My favorite part was how Stewart compares this dark time that we all think we’re going through to the Lincoln Tunnel which takes cars under the Hudson River to Manhattan. It’s a daily ritual where multiple lanes converge into two, everyone hates it but the need to do it and somehow, as divisive in reputation as New Yorkers can be, they all manage to make it. They make it through that tunnel of darkness because they know they’ll get to the light on the other side if they all work together.

I’m not doing it justice. Take 15 minutes and see it for yourself. It’s Stewart at his best, making you laugh and think at the same time.

Laura Miller Kennedy 1925-2010

My Grandmother passed away earlier this month and although I could not make it to her memorial service in upstate New York, I did send along the following anecdote to share with those attending. I will miss her but she lived a very full life and lives on in her stories.

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Laura Kennedy, my Grandmother was a great storyteller. She told her stories in such a way that you knew they were perfected over time, improved with each telling. They were so good that when you knew she was about to launch into one, you took it in and let it wash over you, knowing that you would hear something new and were guaranteed to be entertained. Here is one of my favorites.

Trans-Siberian Railway

I’m not sure when this story takes place. I do know she was in Europe and on her way to Japan so maybe it was when she set out to meet my mother’s parents for the first time before Dad married Mom. This would put us in the early 60’s.

Of course traveling from Europe to Japan by airplane was way too efficient. My Grandmother lived in a different age. An age of steam and fur coats. Efficient modernity caused her nothing but trouble. I remember my uncle gifted her a new refrigerator once her old hulk gave out. This new fridge was gleaming and featured amenities such as water dispensed chilled from the doorway and an automatic ice machine that kept the bin in the freezer topped up. When Uncle Peter called a few days later to check in on his Mother to see how she liked the new gadget, she asked him exhaustively to get rid of the “infernal device” as she couldn’t get a wink of sleep. Probed further, she explained that she had to come downstairs at least every three hours to empty the ice bucket because she feared the freezer would overflow and jam up and the “thing just wouldn’t stop!”

No, a stratocruiser from Paris to Tokyo would not do. She preferred to travel under steam on the Trans-Siberian Railway out of Paris to Vladivostok and connect with a cruise ship to taker her around Honshu over to Yokohama. It was two weeks but she had time and probably secretly was looking forward to some time alone to indulge herself in some reading. In preparation, she brought along a box of books. Two Weeks! She was going to improve her mind during the trip and I could imagine that she shoved in several weighty tomes, maybe she even had that entire series of Arabian Nights books that she had in the Blue Room. There was probably an Olivetti in a trunk somewhere as well just in case an inspiration struck her while rolling across the steppes. You know, no less than fifteen pieces of luggage, steamer trunks, probably several hat boxes. That’s how Grandma rolled. All steam and romance.

Of course, with the kind of convoy required to move such material, unless you were a logistical genius, you would be delayed getting from Point A to Point B. Grandmother was most definitely *not* a logistical genius. We’re talking about the lady that kept her manuscripts in the oven because, if there was ever a fire, “that would be the *one* place something wouldn’t burn. Creative, yes. But not very practical.

So of course she was late getting to the station in Paris and almost missed her train. She got there just in time all flustered, found her carriage and eventually her compartment and began to arrange here things.

She was about to settle into her seat when she popped back up and thought about pulling down her first book, like starting a delicious feast, where to begin? As she was about to sit back down, the train lurched and she dropped her glasses, which she had been holding in her hand, on the bench in front of her. As she fell forward, she spun around and landed with a plop into her seat, her legs thrown out from under her. She then heard a multi-faceted *crack* and *crinkle* and instantly knew what happened. She had sat on her glasses!

As she rose slowly to survey the damage and it was evident that the lenses were beyond repair. They were utterly destroyed, not just cracked but actually ground down, tiny shards of plastic, powder, and bent wire was all that remained. There was nothing that could be done. The train was now gaining speed and headed towards the outskirts of Paris, two weeks, fourteen days, 336 hours of rolling boredom lay before her.

The days dragged on. The green countryside of France gave way to the grey potato fields of Poland. In the evening it grew cold and she discovered there was a small crack up by the window that let the air in. Laura found that by chewing the rough Russian bread, she could soften it into a rough ball and use it to stuff the hole and stop the breeze. During the day, when it got hot, she would take out the bread dough to let some air in, and then repeat the process with some new bread each evening. Days went by as they rolled over the tundra – the image of Grandmother, staring at the fake wood-grain paneling on the walls of her train compartment, unable to see more than a grey smudge of sky over frost-covered fields, the sole highlight being the daily “filling of the hole” exercise still sticks with me as some kind of Kafka-esque punishment. Grandmother had hoped to read Russian novels during her trip, instead, she was living one!

Eventually, she fumbled her way to some of the other compartments. Realizing that her First Class cabin was really an isolation tank that would drive her insane. She made her way to the second and third class cars and ran across what she describes as a raucous carriage full of Russian cossacks. The trip was eventually salvaged by playing drinking games with the soldiers.

She may have been exaggerating. She always stretched the truth a bit. Maybe they weren’t really cossacks, maybe the glasses weren’t really broken. Who knows. I never really pushed her on it. It was the story and her joy in telling it that counted. And it’s message.

You really don’t need vision to see.

Miss Universe National Costumes

Miss Kazakhstan is always easy to find at a crowded party.

I had no idea that there was a National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant. I need to tune in next time. Excellent collection of snarky one-liners over at Tom & Lorenzo’s blog. Part One & Part Two.

Google and Intergalatic Law

What happens when you open Google in a non-standard browser like Opera Mini? You get the following snippet.

Sorry, but this browser does not support web word-processing.

Please see our system requirements page for a list of supported browsers.

If you are working to fix problems with a specific browser and would like to bypass this check, just add ?browserok=true to the end of the Google Docs url.

Please note that it is a violation of intergalactic law to use this parameter under false pretenses, so don’t let us catch you at it.

And, it won’t work very well — really.

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[Humor] Sponsored Conversations

What do you get when you combine speech recognition, contextual advertising, text-to-speech software, and a disruptive business model? A phone that’s free as long as you are willing to listen to advertising.


New Google Phone Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly Into Users’ Ears

Don’t laugh, the idea has been kicked around before. But why stop there? You could link the price of the monthly contract to selected offers. Some other ideas,

  • Use GPS to verify check-ins at certain locations. As long as you’re at that location, long distance calls are free. Mom, I know it’s noisy at this bowling alley but as long as I’m here, this call is free.
  • Use 2D barcodes to redeem mobile coupons that unlock discounts. Buy a Big Mac and get 1000 text messages free.
  • Track coupon history for special offers. Feeling sick after that Big Mac? There’s a gym right down the road from you. Why not stop by for an orientation?

The mind reels.

Friendster Ruins Uncovered – The Onion

The Onion takes a crack at what future “internet archaeologists” from the “Friendster Excavation Project” discover when they run across the ruins of the ancient online civilization, Friendster.”

One day users were posting a seemingly endless stream of bulletins about “awesome parties” and “cool shows” and then, nothing. Total silence. . . Their lives come to a complete stop, live flies trapped in amber.

Friendster Ruins Uncovered

I rarely delete any of my social networking profiles but I deleted my Friendster profile just last week after reading the news of it’s sale to a company in Malaysia. Truthfully, I never really used the service and was only reminded of it when one of my contact’s birthdays was coming up.

My favorite profile was Andy’s but with the redesign my old link no longer works.

Ringtone Symphony

Izumi pointed me this old video from the Improv Everywhere performance troupe in which they orchestrate the simultaneous ringing of a large number of cellphones stored in a normally quiet place.

Mayhem ensues.