Monday, March 31, 2014

Breaking News

This week in 1981,  President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley.  And anyone 50 or older can tell you exactly where they were when it happened.  It was one of the biggest news stories of all time. 

Watching the news coverage of the event was enthralling to say the least.  The networks broke in with their coverage during the afternoon soaps, and as word spread, millions upon millions turned their sets on to find out the latest.  And the newsrooms of the big three did a lousy job of reporting.  We got to see how giant news operations worked up close.  Every new detail regarding the shooting was passed to the announcer on air via a piece of paper regardless of whether or not the new detail was vetted or not.  For the most part, the details were wrong.  Jim Brady, the White House Press Secretary was declared dead then alive a few different times during the networks' broadcast.

Surely, facing another one of these huge stories today, 33 years later, the news organizations would perform better, right?  Don't be so sure.  Due to the social networks, we now have millions of additional news outlets all ready to contribute to a breaking story on a 24/7 basis. 

How many times has flight MH 370 been incorrectly spotted during these past few weeks?  And most recently, both Wayne Knight and Pele have been incorrectly identified as dying by so-called established news agencies.  The desire to be first in reporting the news has trumped the desire to be accurate.  Time, as they say, is money. 

It would be great if there was an index for every news reporting entity (paper, radio, tv, etc.) that took into account both speed and accuracy so that the viewing public knew on a regular basis who was providing the most complete and best coverage of any given story.  In the words of Frank Reynolds on that fateful March day in 1981, "Let's get it nailed down.  Let's get it right."

ABC Coverage of the Reagan Assassination Attempt

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Riddle

A resident of a high-rise has a peculiar habit.  He lives on the 18th floor.  When he arrives in the elevator at his building to go home, he presses the button for the 10th floor, gets off and walks the last eight flights up home.  When leaving his unit, he gets in the elevator on the 18th floor, presses the button for the lobby and goes on his way. 

He does this each and every day.

What is the reason?

Friday, February 21, 2014

How Do You Pick Which Books To Read?

We are inundated with information in our 24/7 world.  It's like standing in front of an open fire hydrant.  I don't need to list the sources, we all know them and channel them.

But books are the bedrock of them all.  And as we get older, it becomes apparent that time is running out to be able to get to all of them that we want to.  So what's the best way to choose as we go?  Readers all have lists, whether solely ingrained mentally or written down somewhere.  And the lists are ever expanding.  At least, that's the case for me.

If you could, please leave an idea or two of how you navigate through this issue either in the comments here, or the alternative ways listed below.  I'll post each and every idea thrown my way.

Thanks for reading.

Twitter @roykissel
Facebook  Roy Kissel

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why Everyone Should See "Mitt"

It's easy to understand that over 50% of the US population will never even consider watching it.  "It's political."  "I didn't vote for him."
But that is not what the film is about.  It's about having hopes, dreams, and a path to get there.  If that sounds too simple and corny, maybe it is.  All good family movies usually are.

Yes, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  All doors were open to him, and he walked through them with ease and comfort.  For many, there would not have been any reason to try and accomplish anything more.  Being wealthy and powerful was enough.

He chose differently.  He looked around, listened and believed that he could make things better.  He put himself and his family out there to be judged and scrutinized.  And they were.  He gave it his full effort, and his family gave him its full support.

And it didn't work out.  That's always the risk of thinking big.  You can fall on your face.  People don't take you seriously.

He felt bad afterward.  He let people down.  That's always the worst part.  They gave him 110% and he felt that he gave them zero in return.

There's no swearing, monster green screen scenes or unethical behavior.  Just a 1%-er who writes "Dad" on top of his debate notes to remind him of how lucky he really is.  Simple and corny.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So Twitter Walks Into A Bar...

...And there stands Apple, Facebook and Google.  If the bar stays open for ten years, who will be left bellying up?

That's the question a lot of stock market investors are pondering right now.  Twitter's IPO is set to launch tomorrow.  Round and round it goes, what its valuation ultimately will be, nobody knows.  A case can be made that it is valued much higher than Facebook was at the same time in its history.  And it sure seems that Twitter is trying to do everything that it can to avoid the mistakes that Facebook made during its IPO, i.e. using different bankers and choosing an alternative listed exchange on which to trade.

Perhaps they're focused on the 50% drop in Facebook shares that occurred just three months after going public.  And Facebook was growing at the time--by any measure,  new Twitter users are stagnant at best.  How many of your parents' friends have been newly tweeting?

Most likely the people most nervous about the listing tomorrow are huddled in meetings at the New York Stock Exchange.  A PR nightmare will ensue if they don't pitch a perfect game.  Their reputation and credibility are on the line.

Twitter is a good idea.  It is informative, thought provoking, and fun.  However, not all good ideas are good businesses.  Iridium and Webvan come to mind.  Will today's first graders know what Twitter is when they graduate from high school?  Tough to say.

Just in case, when you place your buy order with your broker for Twitter tomorrow, ask to have the physical shares sent to you.  That way, at least, you'll have the ability to offer them as collectibles on Ebay if and when the time comes.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mind Your P's and Q's

In our formative years, we were all taught to consistently use "please", "thank you",  and "you're welcome".  But have you noticed lately that the response given to any heartfelt "thank you" these days has automatically become "no problem"?

The connotations of the two responses are quite different.  "You're welcome" denotes a complete willingness to provide advice, counsel or service not just at this instance, but at anytime in the future.  If one is ever able to help someone out in this manner, receiving a "thank you" in return not only feels good, but makes one want to act similarly again sometime.  "You're welcome" provides that direct message clearly and succinctly.

On the other hand, hearing the response "no problem" infers that, hey, you know what?  That favor that you asked me for could have been a problem, so be careful in asking me for something similar again.  Saying that a task was "no problem" only more closely associates that task with indeed being a potential problem.

Maybe it would be easier to respond to "thank you" with "happy to do it"-- a phrase whose meaning cannot be misinterpreted.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

They're At Every Farmer's Market

The Pro
-asks multiple questions of each vendor
-carries his/her own shoulder bag to hold purchases
-slowly eyeballs each individual piece of produce before deciding whether or not to buy
-often empties containers to cherry pick their contents

The Sampler
-goes from vendor to vendor asking for a taste of their offerings
-successfully completes a full meal in the process for zero cost
-never makes a purchase

The Flower Lady
-wears a large straw hat
-only interest is in taking home as many types of fresh-cut flowers that she can physically carry
-not at all aware that fresh produce of all kinds is readily available

The Browser
-visits each and every stand, hands clasped tightly behind back
-slowly peers over all of the offerings , often squinting
-asks the price even though there is a 4 foot high sign immediately in front of them

The Dog Lady
-accompanied by a small white canine weighing less than 15 pounds
-completely unaware that the dog is devouring anything and everything off of the ground
-has no control whatsoever over the dog's penchant for barking

Any others that immediately come to mind?