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March 8, 2012
I released the first article of the new year in late February on homework (over two million readers again). I hope to put out at least two more related articles to complete the series on education by early April, then get into a few other issues going forward. My workload has calmed down a bit, so with any luck I should be able to get at least one article out per month for a while.
September 11, 2011
The article on the economy came out in late August and was picked up by a fairly standard number of papers - it was circulated to about 1.5 million readers. The September 11th article was picked up by virtually every paper that's ever run my material - 332 - with over 2.25 million readers. School is back in session so the best I can do is maybe an article per month until the end of the year. Stay tuned.
August 20, 2011
I've had a soft publishing schedule over the last few months due to work and teaching commitments. In May, I wrote about the end of the world and followed that with an update on last year’s Memorial Day article about William Caddy and Ott Farris. The article about a delusional preacher and his Doomsday prediction was picked up by 317 papers with a total circulation of over 2.08 million, but the article about service and sacrifice was picked up by 20 local papers with a cumulative circulation of 200,000. Oh well.
I hope to put out at least a couple of articles about the economy – specifically the debt – before the end of the summer comes and I’m back in the classroom. I plan to paraphrase Clubber Lang when offering my prediction for the economy:
The Vast Wasteland
In the last two days, I’ve seen advertisements for a reality television show called “Hillbilly Handfishin’” and “Whisker Wars.” The network airing the fishing show describes it as follows: “Famed hand-fishermen Skipper Bivins leads a group of city-slicker clients through the paces of Noodling - using your bare hands and feet to catch giant catfish!” These are not special one-off shows – they're television series. Episode after episode of people catching fish with their hands and growing facial hair. I'm sure that will never get old.
Speaking of facial hair, Michael Jordan apparently woke up one day and said, “Hey, I bet I’d look great if I grew a Hitler mustache!”
January 30, 2011
First Update of the New Year
I’m going to stop saying that I’ll update the site more often: every time I do, something gets in the way and by the time I look up, it’s four months later. Anyway, I’ve resumed a slightly more regular publishing schedule and put out two articles this month: Generation Distraction and the Multitasking Myth. Somehow, both articles ended up running in more papers than any previous article by a margin of about 35 percent. Each article ran in 270 papers in 21 states with a total circulation of over 1.86 million. To date, my articles have run in 274 papers with 1.94 million readers.
I can understand the motivation for political unrest, especially in a place like Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak has remained as a virtual dictator for the last 30 years (his amazing political success is largely due to the fact that he usually runs unopposed in elections). However, I don’t understand why the people seeking change would break into their national museum and destroy part of their own history, culture, heritage and legacy.
There are always elements in every crowd that are only interested in the opportunity to practice the anarchy, violence or looting that such an occassion provides. But it would be a shame to see Egypt lose its priceless artifacts, including those from Tutankhamun’s tomb, after seeing something similar take place in Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
After surprising me all season, the Patriots have left me with nothing to do on Sunday afternoons. Upon reflection, here’s why: they really weren’t that good. That’s not to say they weren’t a good team, they just weren’t as great as their 14-2 record would indicate.
All season long, I shook my head in amazement as what appeared to be a borderline playoff team won almost every week, often by huge margins. They played virtually flawless football during the second half of the season - then the playoffs came and it was obvious that when they didn’t play flawlessly, they simply weren’t strong enough to overcome their shortcomings.
Decent teams become miraculous when they limit turnovers, and in that regard, the Patriots had just about the most ridiculous season ever. Then Tom Brady was intercepted early in the playoff game against the Jets, and things looked decidedly different (I think not throwing an interception for half the year was a bad thing, since it looked like it got into his head a bit against the Jets).
If they draft as well as they did this year (Hernandez, Gronkowski, McCourty, Spikes, and Cunningham) and draft for offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, and maybe receiver or running back, they have a chance to be truly great next year and they won’t need a monstrous turnover margin to get there.
October 1, 2010
Long Time, No Nothing
It took six months, but I finally got around to updating my website. Yes, I've been busy, but the big reason behind the delay is the truly awful site builder included in my web page package. It might be quicker to carve my comments into granite with a hammer and chisel. On the plus side, I didn't need to comment on the big stories of the summer, like the oil spill in the Gulf or the Double Rainbow Guy. I did, however, write a few articles - they've been uploaded in the archives:
On March 18, I wrote about the attacks made against the Justice Department lawyers defending terrorist suspects; during April and May, I released a four-part series on the American health care system; over the summer, I examined grade inflation and the NYC mosque; and most recently, I took a look at the controversy surrounding vaccines. Most of the articles continue to reach about 550,000 - 650,000 readers.
A Hero's Passing
On Memorial Day, I wrote about how a wrong turn led to the discovery of an amazing story of sacrifice. During the battle of Iwo Jima, William Caddy of Quincy, Massachusetts, threw himself on a grenade, giving his own life but saving the lives of two others sharing his foxhole. While researching the article, I spoke to Ott Farris, a Marine whose life was saved by Caddy. Sadly, Mr. Farris passed away Septmber 1 at age 89. He made a career of the military and was awarded more than 30 medals during his service in three wars.
Due to the local angle of the story, syndication was limited to Massachusetts papers (including Caddy's hometown paper, The Patriot Ledger) with a total circulation of 234,559. I plan on re-releasing the story for Memorial Day 2011 with an addendum regarding Mr. Farris's passing; hopefully, the article will be nationally syndicated the second time around and bring some much deserved attention to the lives Mr. Caddy and Mr. Farris.
March 16, 2010
Update and Latest Articles
I hope to post some new info on the home page within the next few days (I should also have an article out by March 18th or so). Until then, here are the two latest articles:
Polls are used to measure opinion on just about anything - and rarely do the results make a lot of sense. You can read my article on the topic here.
Modern politics has become a waiting game; one of the two parties waits for the other to fail so the reins of power can change hands. In the meantime, nothing gets done. My article, The One-Sided Coin of Politics, examines the issue.
Febraury 19, 2010
The Thrill of Over-hyped, Tape-delayed Victory...
When I was a kid, the Olympics seemed like a much bigger deal. I could get excited about watching someone sweep a broom in front of a sliding rock, or ski for a while before stopping to shoot a rifle. Today? Not so much. There are a couple of reasons.
First, there are more options. As a 10 year old stuck in the house during February vacation, I could choose between going outside or watching one of the five television stations available at the time. Watching the bobsled competition in Innsbruck seemed better than freezing to death or suffering through a mid-70s soap opera.
Second, NBC continues to butcher its program delivery by showing the most popular events on tape delay in primetime, splicing clips together as if the events were just another reality show. As usual, most of the interesting aspects of sport are being sucked dry by those who think they know how to make it more interesting. There’s not much “thrill of victory” when you watch events that happened hours earlier. ABC will forever be the subject of my wrath, because when I watched arguably the greatest upset in sports history – the 1980 US Olympic hockey team beating the USSR – I already knew who won (“do you believe in anti-climatic tape delayed programming?").
Finally, as an adult with kids and bills to pay, I have trouble with context. Lindsey Vonn won the gold medal in downhill skiing after years and years of work. When she was interviewed shortly after her winning run, a tearful Vonn said, “I’ve worked so hard for this. I’ve given up everything for this, and it means everything to me.”
I appreciate competitiveness as much as the next person, and while I was happy for her and understand that she may have been caught up in the emotion of the moment, her comments got me thinking:
“I’ve given up everything for this.”
“It means everything to me.”
Vonn has spent the majority of her life working at her craft, giving up everyday pleasures that most of us enjoy. She chose to train, battle injuries, and literally risk her life to accomplish her life’s goal: to slide down a hill with planks on her feet slightly faster than anyone else. I don’t know, call me a killjoy, but I hope that it doesn’t really mean more to her than anything else.
...and the Agony of Defeat
I can’t watch any of the skiing events without remembering the “agony of defeat” scene from the Wide World of Sports intro.
Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis knows something about the agony of defeat: she fell last week during her Olympic competition and was denied a medal. Her fall was compounded by the fact that she also fell four years ago at the Olympics. However, that time, she threw away a sure gold medal because she tried to add some style points to her final jump. Instead, she watched her opponent pass her while lying on her back. I can’t say I have a whole lot of sympathy:
There are worse moments, of course. This might be the most stunning episode of instant karma ever recorded. The lesson: don’t take anything for granted.
And finally, the coup de grace for the concept of “the agony of defeat.” This one has nothing to do with showboating or lackluster effort. It’s simply amazing – and truly agonizing. The scene: a 1994 Texas high school playoff game between Tyler and Plano East. Plano East trailed 41-17 with about three minutes to go:
January 27, 2010
Corporations Are People Too
Hopefully, the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to directly pay for political ad campaigns won't have the negative impact some expect. However, if it does, we'll have a new flag to salute:
December 17, 2009
Credit Cards - Deja Vu
The second part of my two-part series on credit cards can be found here. This one went to 162 papers with a total readership of more than 821,000. About 36 papers didn't go with part two after printing part one - talk about a cliff-hanger.
December 10, 2009
Happy birthday, Ma.
Over 1 Million Served
The first in a two-part series on the credit card industry was picked up by a record 198 papers for a total circulation of 1,000,999 – the first time a single article broke the million-reader mark. Part two will be out next week.
Tiger by the Tail
When I saw the initial report that Tiger Woods crashed right outside his house in the middle of the night after Thanksgiving, I was suspicious. When reports noted that his wife told police that she used a golf club to break the window of the car to “help” him after the accident, I knew he was toast. I just assumed that they fought, his wife chased him out of the house swinging a golf club, and Tiger sped out of the driveway to get away.
And now, everyday, more of his love connections pop up in the media (drip, drip, drip). The Chinese media's animated portrayals of what might have happened are more than bizarre, but personally, I’m waiting for the jokes to pick up a bit more. Here’s one: what’s the difference between a golf ball and a car? Tiger Woods can drive a golf ball more than 300 yards.
November 18, 2009
My article about the never-ending scourge of “Christmas Creep” was picked up by 118 papers with a total circulation of 782,090, the second-highest readership for any article I’ve written to date. For the record, I’ll put the tree up after Thanksgiving because of the extra time off, but the lights and outside decorations won’t be up till at least the second week of December.
Much has been written about whether New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was right to go for a first down on a 4th and 2 from New England’s own 28 yard line. Some criticize the call; others go to great lengths and statistical gymnastics to defend it. Given the way the Patriots defense had been playing – and the way the Colts were moving the ball – it was the right move. Two yards and the game is over. What was wrong was calling unnecessary timeouts, committing costly turnovers, and throwing the ball just 1.5 yards down the field when they needed to gain 2.
For all the “conventional wisdom” regarding sports, there is a high school coach in Arkansas who has achieved great success by always going for it on forth down. He doesn’t even carry a punter on the team. I’d like to see a bit more of this – it would certainly make the games more interesting than watching an NFL coach elect to punt the ball into the end zone from the opposing team's 40 yard line.
October 29th, 2009
Sorry for the lack of updates, but with my regular full-time job, part-time teaching, writing and a couple of side projects, things have gotten a bit busy lately. I ran a previously released article on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks HERE, then followed it up with an article on the role of the Massachusetts Legislature and the election process to replace Senator Ted Kennedy.
Most recently (October 28), I released this article about Roman Polanski and his band of supporters. I hope to put at least two articles out in November and update this place at least once, but don’t hold me to it.
My distribution hasn’t been increasing at its previous pace, but I still pick up a few new papers now and then – I’m up to 150 in 20 states and my regular columns are usually picked up by about 100 papers with about 550,000 readers.
Regarding Polanski, Gore Vidal was interviewed by The Atlantic, and had this quote about Polanski's 13 year-old victim: "Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?" Vidal hasn't been in the press very much lately. That's a good thing.
Missing the Point
The Boston Red Sox recently clinched their sixth playoff birth in seven years, then proceeded to seal off their locker room and spray each other with champagne in a raucous celebration. Was the party prompted by a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth (I refuse to use the term “walk off”)? A pitcher’s duel that was stolen at the end? No. The Red Sox lost their seventh game in a row, then sat back and watched the California Angels defeat the Texas Rangers, thus eliminating the Rangers from playoff contention and pushing the Sox through the backdoor and into the playoffs. Where they were immediately swept by the Angels.
October 14, 2009
Win Some, Lose Some
Obama’s attempt to help secure the Olympics for Chicago fell flat, but he won the Nobel Peace Prize as a consolation. I suspect the Olympic committee blew off Chicago because they could – a bigger group of pompous, self-important blowhards you’ll never see (it’s also harder to predict their votes now that they don’t take quite as many bribes as they used to). See, they were important enough to bring the President of the United States to beg, and they’re so powerful, it still didn’t matter; they got the attention and then got to put the U.S. in its place, despite the huge financial contributions the organization gets from America and its athletes.
These are the same people who decided to drop baseball and softball from the Olympics, but for some reason still keep events like the biathlon – you know, the one where people ski in the woods for a while, then grab their rifle and take target practice? Baseball and softball are mostly American games with limited popularity around the globe, but the sports are hugely popular in Central and South America, as well as much of Asia. How many parents around the world drop their kids off after school for biathlon practice?
Taking the place of baseball and softball are golf and seven player rugby. Rugby should be fun, but we'll also get to watch a few millionaires pump their fists, walk around and squint. I'm sure they deserve the shot at a gold medal more than the hundreds of amateur softball players from around the world.
As for the Nobel, few people short of Yasser Arafat have taken more grief for winning it than Obama. Based on the nomination process, Obama had to have been chosen something like eleven days after his election. It's obvious the Nobel committee acted in precisely the opposite manner as the Olympic committee - they were eager to appease the U.S. for the perceived positive change to be gained by voting Obama into office. Just as obvious is the fact that they picked Obama not for what he's done, but for what they hope he represents. Based on the attacks Obama has faced in the aftermath of his selection, the Nobel committee didn't do him any favors.
US Declares War on the Moon
NASA recently shot an empty rocket into the moon – "bombing" it to stir up some debris for further scientific examination. Here is an early photograph of the mission.
I Told You So
Amid all the current economic turmoil, one headline I’d like to see: everything went just as the experts predicted. Good or bad, just once I’d like to see those who are supposed to know what’s going on prove that they actually have a clue.
The Unavoidable Osmosis of Celebrity Culture
Jon and Kate. I’ve never seen their show, I never will, and I simply don’t care about what happens to them. Yet I know who they are because I can’t avoid it. The media force feed us anything that is remotely perceived as a story that the masses might want. By simply watching the news, reading a newspaper or perusing headlines online, these kind of stories just kind of attach themselves to your subconscious – they're ubiquitous and permate everything. If only our nation was as preoccupied with economics or science.
>>>To read more of the blog, click here for the archive.