Monday, January 17, 2005
Desirable Roasted Coffee has moved!
Now roasting and grinding in new digs at allanjenkins.typepad.com
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All previous posts have been moved over to the new location.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Ruskin Didn't Burn Turner's Erotic Paintings After All
I can think of few better ways to spend an afternoon in London than enjoying the art of Turner and Constable. Their discipline, imagination, and invention leaves me pretty much stupid with joy. After your first Constable, you don't go back to Rembrandt.
So I'm pleased to learn that John Ruskin, Turner's artistic executor, did not burn, as he claimed he had, Turner's erotic art. Ian Warrell of the Tate Gallery has done the research: Apparently Ruskin, while detesting the erotica, could not bring himself to destroy anything painted by Turner.
And the world is the better for it.
Full story at The Guardian.
Via Arts & Letters Daily
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Bloggers: Write Like Wire Journalists, not Prima-Donnas
I have a lot of feeds to catch up on after a week off, and as I plow through them I find myself doing triage. Some I read, some I mark as "All Read"... some I poke through.
What tempts me to simply mark a feed as "All Read", despite a 100 unread entries, is the use of short, cryptic headlines. For example, Eschaton, one of my favorite political blogs, renders itself indecipherable with headlines such as:
I can't be bothered to figure out what those headlines might mean, and certainly can't figure out if the articles are relevant. Atrios is an A-list blogger, but you should never write as if you have Old Media Cred.
Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, a blog that I read no matter how bad the heds, is even worse. Recent headlines:
Here's a question...
We'll be saying..
One of the...
A number of....
Since the last...
Useless for deciding to check into that particular article.
Compare with B. L Ochman:
Dan Gilmour Embarks on New Journey, Pens Last Column
Fortune: Why there's no Escaping the Blog
Wall St. Journal: Video Blogs Break Out with Tsunami Coverage
All bloggers should know by now that they are read (mostly) through RSS. That's a wire service, no more no less. But some bloggers act as if they are Old Media columnists (a cub reporter would be fired for those heds). They'll write the cryptic headline, because they assume their reader has already bought the paper.
I think it a mistake. But then... I'm not an A-lister.
Jeremy Wright Fired for Blogging
First oddity of the New Year. Jeremy Wright of the Ensight blog is fired for... blogging.
Hoi Polloi Turns to Tsunami Relief
IABC/Phoenix leader Angelo Fernando has turned his marcom/PR blog, Hoi Polloi to focus on relief efforts in Asia.
Via Neville Hobson's Nevon.
"The tsunami of December 26th changed all that. It suddenly became not so important to cover topics such as Wi-Fi, and viral marketing, when tens of thousands of people in some eleven countries are dead, injured, orphaned and have lost everything they had, with no hope for the future. Their needs are fresh water, medicines, and a comforting hand of a loved one --not the latest mega-pixel camera, or that 40-gig iPod."
Most Generous Nation? No...
When the Bush Administration pledged a paltry $15 million (later grudgingly upped to $35 million), I thought I would not be alone in thinking it tightfisted.
In correspondence to friends, acquaintances, and a couple US mailing lists, I said so (coincidentally, at about the same time of Egelund's statement), and said that I, here in Europe, had not heard any compelling arguments about why the contribution should be so small (on a per capita basis or a percentage of GNP). After all, the upcoming Inauguration budget is $40 million.
The response was so surprisingly, and vehemently against government aid to disaster relief -- that even $35 million was too much -- that I realized just how out of touch I am with Red-State values (I come from the South, so I know a lot of Red-Staters).
The howling fell into four main groupings:
1. The US wasn't affected by this; anyway, we had our own disasters (hurricanes) in 2004.
2. The "UN will waste it".
3. We can't divert funds from the War on Terror.
4. The US Government doesn't have to give foreign aid, because Americans have the heart to give through charity. In other countries, people aren't naturally charitable, and so must be taxed so their countries can give foreign aid.
Holders of deep beliefs are rarely swayed by facts or numbers, so I am afraid I converted no Red-Staters into advocates for greater foreign aid or disaster relief.
But some facts and myths simply deserve to be more widely-known.
The US wasn't affected by this; anyway, we had our own disasters (hurricanes) in 2004.
Myth: 4000-5000 Americans are still missing as of this writing. Many, one must hope, will be found. But since many who were in the tsunami are already back home argues that the number of American dead and missing will be high. To say that America isn't affected simply means you don't know anyone who travels in Asia.
Fact: the US was struck by four hurricanes this year. But $13 billion was set aside for disaster relief. Yes, I agree that Florida is closer to home than Sri Lanka. But not 867 times closer.
"The UN will just waste the money"
Myth: While the UN is a favorite bête-noire of the Red-Staters, no aid money or disaster relief need be channeled through the UN.
We can't divert funds from the War on Terror
Myth: With over $120 billion already allocated to the Iraqi Adventure, no disaster aid contribution is likely to doom the effort. Anyway, the funds don't come out of the Defense Department budget.
The US Government doesn't have to give foreign aid, because Americans have the heart to give through charity. In other countries, people aren't naturally charitable, and so must be taxed so their countries can give foreign aid.
Myth: Americans do give to a lot of charities: $3 billion a year, according to this article.But that amounts to just 0.03 of Gross National Income. In comparison, the US government gives $15 billion, or 0.15% of GNI. Even if no other citizen in any other rich country gave a single dime, the US at the back of the pack of generosity.
Public giving is a public policy decision, ultimately decided by collective public. Personal giving is a personal choice. So if it is the will of Americans to give less, given the country's wealth, through public or private choice, so be it. But, really people, let's stop kidding ourselves that we are the most generous nation on earth.
Update: In the last few days, the Bush Administration either came to or was shamed into its senses. So the disaster relief was put up into the hundreds of millions. Still cheap, but getting there.
I've been wondering how they would justify it to the Red-Staters... who thought $35 million was more than enough. The answer lies in the War on Terror.
Say what you will about Karl Rove, he knows PR.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Chilling on the spot reporting from Evelyn Rodriguez, blogger of Crossroads Dispatches PR blog.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Looking for Fools, but only if you are Wise
This weeks Economist is looking for fools and uses James I as an example of the Right Stuff:
IT IS not quite clear whether it was Henry IV of France or—more likely—his chief minister, the Duc de Sully, who described James I (of England, VI of Scotland) as “the wisest fool in Christendom”. It is not even clear what prompted the coining of the epithet, though James (above) was certainly a mixture of opposites of every kind. In the words of Sir Walter Scott,
"He was deeply learned, without possessing useful knowledge; sagacious in many individual cases, without having real wisdom...He was fond of his dignity, while he was perpetually degrading it by undue familiarity; capable of much public labour, yet often neglecting it for the meanest amusement; a wit, though a pedant; and a scholar, though fond of the conversation of the ignorant and uneducated...He was laborious in trifles, and a trifler where serious labour was required; devout in his sentiments, and yet too often profane in his language..."
That's my 6th grade report card.
The Only Website I Would Take to a Desert Island
My local newspaper has a column in which they ask business leaders what they read. What's on their nightstand, what books most inspired them, which books they had to give up on, what books they would take to a desert island.
4 or 5 times a month, I know the person in question. So I cover up the answers and guess at them. I'm usually way off.
Actually, I think the whole exercise is an exercise in bogusity, because it cannot be true that:
1) Most Danish business leaders have Joyce's Ulysses on their nightstand.
2) Most Danish business leaders read Soeren Kirkegaard more than any other writer.
3) Most Danish business leaders would take Joyce's Ulysses to a desert island.
Now, I am not picking on Danish business leaders in particular; I am sure the results would be the same anywhere. And I am sure the leaders who respond "I read the Far Side, Dilbert, and my own grocery list" are not published. Still....Ulysses? Kirkegaard? I don't think so.
Were I asked in 2004, I would say Arts & Letters Daily is the website I would take to a desert island. Prints of its articles are a big part of my bedside and "in the train" reading... Where else can you go for 200 or more snippets, daily, of critical essays, reviews, and commentary?
Between Arts & Letters Daily and The Economist... one is thankful for the gift of reading.
Sort of like Munich Airport
6 to 7 years ago, I had a wickedly terrible travel schedule. And, for some reason, I was always sent through airports that were being rebuilt, apparently from the ground up. Munich was one. Heathrow. Prague. Newark. (But never Reykjavik which, by God, needs a make over).
Always there was a cheerful little cartoon bear (or bee, or what have you) on a sign to tell me that I should be happy to walk a couple of extra kilometers because "We're upgrading for your convenience!" Of course, a) it was not convenient at the time and b) they had no assurance that I would ever be back again to enjoy the new convenience.
Irritated me to no end. Much more honest to write "We're adding on. Excuse the mess. Get over it."
So, if you notice some problems and oddities with Desirable Roasted Coffee in the next week: "We're adding on. Excuse the mess. Get over it."
I'm moving the Coffee over to Typepad, and throwing in a few design changes. Aiming to have the whole thing migrate on the 30th. But it might mean a few disruptions for you, dear reader. Bear with me. Bee with me. We're upgrading for your convenience and you won't have to walk an extra step.