Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Internet's Magician Playground

The one thing that we have learned over the course of the past semester is that in this day and age it is vital for any publication to maintain a Web presence.

Genii Magazine, the oldest magician magazine in the United States, has done just that by using a combination of both older Web tools (i.e, Bulletin Board System) and Web 2.0 tools (user-edited encyclopedias) to create a unique Web experience that will only continue to improve as the Internet gets more advanced.

One of the newer additions to the Genii site, and very Web 2.0 savvy, I must add, is the Magicpedia, "a version of Wikipedia for magicians...that has about 2000 pages of information on it," said Richard Kaufman, 50, the owner and editor of Genii which is based out of Washington D.C.

The Magicpedia allows any Web user to look up different magicians, tricks, and even magic history. Like Wikipedia, Magicpedia also gives users the privilege and ability to edit or create articles, so long as the user has a (free) Magicpedia account.

Genii's Web site also offers a massive magazine database called the Genii Archives. The archives are literally a PDF catalog of "every issue of Genii Magazine from 1936-1998," said Kaufman. "You do have to pay to get this," Kaufman added, and a six month subscription to the archives starts at $45.

"I use the Genii Archives all the time," said David Oliver, 42, a Boston based full-time magician and product reviewer for Genii Magazine. "As a reviewer I need to know what the history of various magic effects are, and I need to be able to go back and find out where things came from, where they're going, who did it first, who did it second, who stole what from whom, and I need to be able to put that in writing with the knowledge that I get from the Genii Archives," he said.

Unlike Magicpedia which allows access and even editing power to anyone, the archives are primarily for professional use. "The people who have subscriptions to the archives are fairly serious magicians," said Michael Patrick, 22, demonstrator at the world renowned Tannen's Magic Shop in New York City.

Both Magicpedia and the Genii Archives are progressive measures that Genii has taken to ensure a dominating Web presence. Magicpedia in particular embodies Web 2.0, as it is a site made up of user-submitted content and is totally user-driven. In contrast, Genii's main competitor, Magic Magazine, offers no interactive content on their site. Instead it provides links for purchasing subscriptions of the magazine and gives viewers a condensed version of the cover story.

Most magicians agree that although Magicpedia and the Genii Archives offer a good source of information, the majority of people visiting the Genii site are there to surf the Genii forum. The forum is an online magic community where magicians can go to discuss either the current issue of Genii or any magical topic with other professionals. The forum is so useful because anyone can start a discussion on what they're interested in and then get feedback from the entire Genii forum community, including the editor of Genii. "I post [on the forum] every day," said Kaufman.

"I think the forum is useful for both professionals and amateurs," said Oliver. "Professionals have a safe place to congregate where they know their ideas are looked at in a serious matter... the Genii forum has an attraction for people who know what they're talking about."

Although popular among many, not all in the magic community would agree that the Internet is the right place for the discussion of a trade and profession based on secrets.

"I'm not involved in main-stream conventional magic," said mentalist Jon Stetson, 49. "My bend is a little bit different, but I feel the Internet is the worst thing that ever happened to the art of magic."

Stetson said that having magic on the Internet offers novices and those with a passive magic interest an easy platform to make videos and deliver lectures as if they were seasoned professionals, something he staunchly disagrees with.

"I've only done a couple of lectures for the magic people of the world," Stetson said. "Basically, because I don't feel I'm qualified to teach, I've only been doing this for 45 years."

Whether one agrees with magic discussion being on the Web or not, there is no debate that having an open market of ideas on the forum can offer guidance and help.

"I've gotten a lot out of reading the posts on the forums," said Rob Balchunas, 21, a senior at Emerson College and part-time balloon-sculptor. "I've read a lot of posts on things to wear, the psychology on creating a show, and things related to constructing a show in general."

With Web sites constantly changing and updating, it is interesting to ponder what the future of the Genii Web site will look like.

"I personally don't think there should be instructional videos on the Web, perhaps a performance-only piece that goes with the tricks or routines that are taught in the magazine each month," said Oliver, "so you could click on a link and see a video presentation of what tricks are supposed to look like."

Balchunas agreed. "I definitely feel that video would enhance the Genii site," he said. "Maybe video interviews of some of the featured magicians from the magazine. I think the way the Net is going and the way digital video is going it would make a good addition to the Web site."

It seems that magicians and magic enthusiasts will be getting the video that they desire on the Genii Web site soon.

"It will have video on it," said Kaufman, "but the video will be generated by us."


Friday, December 5, 2008

Universal Hub

Local blog enthusiasts prepare yourselves. There has been a revolution in ways of finding local Boston blogs and it definitely does not include a Google search. Adam Gaffin, co-founder of Boston blog database, Universal Hub, tells us how it all started.

Gaffin has a full-time day job, but at night he becomes the legendary blogger of Universal Hub, who soars through Internet domains until he finds local boston blogs to add to the Hub's collections. He links those local blogs to his site as a way to bring those blog readers to his site, and also a way for him to direct traffic to the blogs he posts.

Universal Hub does something that not many others have tried by congregating thousands of local blogs and putting them all in one place. Although I would imagine the task to be somewhat tedious for Gaffin, he is quite the blogging hobbyist and has made his blog a business.

Universal Hub does not link to just any Boston blog, but to ones that are relevant and news-worthy. Gaffin emphasized his desire to make the Hub a news gathering portal, where local news that would never have made the Boston Globe would make a popular post on his site. He especially likes stories about the "T" because it is one of the mosst common tools that Bostonians use day-in and day-out, which is why one should expect to see a "T" blog when browsing the Hub. To illustrate my example, the newest blog link on the Hub at this second is called "Sure, it's no T Radio - it's worse," and discusses a new PA system that the MBTA brought forth in North Station. It's stories like this that hold relevance in a Bostonian's mind and stories like this that one would never encounter in the Globe.

I think the Universal Hub is an extraordinary tool to finding local blogs, it offers a unique Web service that I have not seen in any other cities, and for that alone I think it's a tremendous and creative effort. I think it's inevitable for this platform to spread to other cities across the United States taking the example that Gaffin offers with the one and only Universal Hub.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ah Twitter.

Twitter is a very recent social networking phenomenon, it was started in 2006 and has taken-off in popularity within the past year. Twitter is basically a website where people can do one thing, write a sentence with less than 140 characters to be broadcast on the Web. Sounds silly? Well it kind of is, who would ever imagine that people would be so interested in what others have to say in a sentence, but silly or no its here to stay.

I took a look at some Tweets (apparently what a Twitter post is called) to investigate whether Twitter broaches the realm of news and not just gossip, and this is what I found...

The first Twitter account I looked at was that of Fake Rahm Emanuel, the new chief-of-staff of the Obama administration, suprisingly he has a Twitter account. Emanuel post very satircally, and even posts about his opinions on the going-ons in Washington. It's quite entertaining to read and I would consider it news-worthy because this guys opinion will have a lot of influence on the course this country takes come January. Here's a funny post, on December 1st, Emanuel wrote "So what do you think of our defense team? They have a lot of work to do cleaning up the global foreign policy diarrhea bomb Bush detonated."

He's quite unbiased...that was e-sarcasm.

Being a huge NY Giants fan ( team ever...cough) I wanted to check out a Twitter account that talked about my team. I found Roger Resnicoff's Twitter account, a self-proclaimed "Mad Scientist" who does a lot of posting on NY Giants news. Resnicoff comments on stories from the news in most of his posts, but he does not break any news himself.

Suprisingly Foxs News has a Twitter account as well, and this was the most newsy account I have seen yet. All of the Fox News tweets are headlines with a link to the story, it bacially looks and operates like a Fox News RSS news feed.

I think that Twitter can definitely be used as a News site but only if the posts are done carefully. Most of the posts have to do with people's lives and what they are doing day-to-day which is not news worthy to me, but there are special exceptions. The examples I gave were Twitter accounts that try to share the news, these Twitter users are reposting and commenting on stories that are already on the Web but not breaking any news specifically on Twitter. Still though, I think sharing the news is slightly news-worthy in the same way reading ones blog would be. I think Twitter has potential to break news, as seen during the Mumbai attacks this past week, but unfortunately I think most users just want to post about themselves and their own lives, mostly boring drab.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trusting the News

With journalists and bloggers running rampant on the Internet these days it has become overwhelmingly difficult to find decent journalism. This is why has set up an Internet phenomenon that allows it's users to rate the journalistic quality of every news story that they read.

It is quite easy for a news-guru to become a Newstrust member and then to rate and review any stories on the site at their discretion. 

In this story from the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the reporter detailed Obama's economic plans for when he takes office in January. Despite good sources and an interesting read I thought that the reporter made a mistake by using an anonymous source for the best quotes in the story, in my opinion the reporter should have identified the source or kept it out of the story, it just smells fishy to me.  

The next story I reviewed was an AP synopsis of a report released by the International Monetary Fund on the soaring inflation in the world. The article looked like a press release and in my review I talked about the lack of reporting that went into this piece. Really, the journalist only used one report to write her entire story. 

The last story I reviewed was my favorite of the three. It was a Yahoo! News story about how South Korean agriculture companies had purchased a massive amount of land in Madagascar, their purpose to produce a greater surplus of grains for a country that has little land left to farm on (South Korea). The article was refreshing,  it was about something I had never heard of before and the reporter did a great job of getting enough sources to give the full spectrum of the story. My overall rating for this was the highest of the three, a sturdy 4.4

Thank you Newstrust, now you've allowed me to become a potentially legitimate news critic with just the click of a button, my ego is inflating like a balloon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The KooKoo Cafe leaves the "KooKoo" to be desired.

Our class with Dan Kennedy had us visit, review, and then map out coffee shops around the Northeastern area in Boston all onto one interactive coffee map. The map allows its users to to view a photo of the coffee shops storefront, their hours of operation, along with their price for a regular cup of coffee. 

I visited the KooKoo Cafe in Brookline and had what one could call an over-the-top experience that did not end so well. 

The shop immediately reminded me of the "I'm so hip and trendy/even if the coffee is terrible you love me because I'm cool, and organic" ambiance that one typically encounters in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. The owners, who also own the Yoga studio next door (duh!) attempt at a holistic and feng-shui type appeal that at first seems comfortable but soon becomes irking as the pretentious cappuccino drinkers emerge. It doesn't help that their chicken salad is really tofu and the rest of the menu is vegetarian, another LA type idea that don't fly too high where it gets cold and people [like me] NEED meat [to stay warm].

As I took my jacket off and sat down with a syrupy and bitter latte that left a terrible after-taste my hand brushed against their rustic looking stucco wall, it should should have had a "caution" sign. The way the wall was designed had so much friction that when the back of my hand lightly made contact it tore into my knuckles and cut me open, there was blood and it was not pleasant. Luckily one of the baristas after waiting for several minutes emerged with a few band-aids to quell the cuts and was relatively nice and apologetic about the experience. 

The manager or owner on the other hand who had been standing behind the counter the entire time made no attempt to help make my experience in the cafe any better and instead would direct sneers and annoyed looks in my direction, thanks asshole.

So here's my ratings, 5 stars being the best, 1 being the worst:

Coffee: 2 Stars
Ambiance: 4 Stars, but fades quickly to 2 after the wall tore me up!
Price: 3 Stars, seems an average price for a cup of coffee
Hospitality: 2 Stars, organically inclined hippies they should have been nicer!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video Blogging enters the realm of the Boston Globe

Recently video blogger and Boston Globe reporter, Emily Sweeny, came to Dan Kennedy's class to talk about how the Globe's website is expanding from the basic news website into a video and multimedia source as well.

Sweeny, aka, Spikey Em (due to her spikey blonde hair) has been a reporter with the Globe since 2001 and runs her own blog/video blog called Spikey Em which links to her videos and articles.

In class she explained the importance of future journalists getting acquainted with video shooting and editing because that is what the news rooms are looking for nowadays. She said that newsrooms these days want reporters who can do it all from writing a great feature story, to figuring out how to get a good shot with decent audio, and then being able to edit the video cleanly and in an organized fashion. The time of the journalist equipped only with their notebook seems to be a thing of the past.

Sweeny demonstrated her own videos to our class. She began by showing one called My Word, which documented the different slang words and accents that Bostonians are so accustomed to using. The project was more slide show based but had awesome old royalty free footage that she said she got from the Prelinger Archives on the Web, definitely something to keep in mind for future editing.

My favorite video that she showed us was called Bingo! and it was a short video about the (dwindling) popularity of the game of Bingo in Massachusetts. She got some great interviews for this video and it was really entertaining to learn about the traditions and superstitions of those who take the game of Bingo very seriously.

Sweeny's presentation was very informative and I thought it was a great learning tool by seeing what news rooms are going to expect from future journalists.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

Two weekends ago I around the Fens in Boston and asked voters what they thought about Question 3, an initiative to outlaw dog racing in Massachusetts. Check out this video to see what they had to say, you might be surprised.

Right now it is 11:40p on November 4th, 2008. Question 3 has since passed by Massachusetts voters 56% to 44% and Barack Obama is now the 44th President of the United States of America.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Hi I'm Steve Garfield from"!

One of the most important parts of video citizen news is in making sure one always names ones Web site, usually the place where the video was originally provided, that's what Steve Garfield said guessed it

Steve goes around the New England area with his video camera, no his cell phone collecting stories and posting them to the Internet, LIVE. He showed our class all about video blogging and the best ways to accomplish it.

I thought one of the most interesting sites he showed us was Qik, which is a site that allows its users to submit live video broadcast from their cellphones. Yes, you read that correctly. This gives every single person with a compatible cellphone the capability to be a video journalist. Steve demonstrated this in our class by filming us showing off our own websites....I took the opportunity to pitch mine of course, As he was filming on his phone we saw that LIVE video on the Internet a second later it was really fascinating, and you can see that here.

From his Web site, Steve has links to all of his different blogs, and even though he has four or five different blogs, all with different names and domains he makes it very easy to access them all by just accessing the site with his name attached (another plug for One of his pilot sites is called Cup-O-Politics and offers videos and commentary by Steve on politics. Take a look, he does a parody audio slide show about Hilary Clinton losing the democratic primary to the tune of great Eagles jam, Desperado, very funny stuff.

Another Steve Garfield video blog website is what he calls Steve Garfield's Video Blog, it's similar to the Cup-O-Politics by being a video blog, although it seems to be updated more frequently and has videos on just about every type of subject, not restricting itself to politics alone. This is a video he posted where he calls out Staples for a false advertising scheme. In it he got a coupon where Staples promised 50 business cards for free. Steve shows the information and then relays what happened when he went to Staples and tried and failed to get the said 50 free business cards.

I really like what Steve is doing by supplying obscure news like this to his audience. He is leading the way in video journalism and doing it with no professional sound equipment, camera, or even a studio. His only tools are his cellphone and laptop, very modern, very cool.

Web sites run by its users....the way of the future. Class Presentation.

As the Internet grows so do the domains, one of the more popular characteristics of late is for the content of Web sites to be totally user driven and user submitted.

What does that mean?

It means that most of the information on the Web site has been submitted by somebody just like you, only with a lot more time on their hands.

I want to look at two news-ish sites that totally rely on user content.

The first site is Fark. The site was started by Drew Curtis, and basically allows its members to submit "not news" stories and the link where the story was initially provided. Curtis says this about his site:

The first thing you should know is that isn't a Weblog., the Web site, is a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site. Every day Fark receives 2,000 or so news submissions from its readership.

Curtis then chooses which articles he wants to give the public access to, which is usually about 20 stories a day. If the user wants total access he must pay Curtis $5 a month for access to every story link that Curtis gets a day. This is a really cool site because it allows users to share interesting "not news" with other internet-aholics. Although the users submitting the stories are not necessarily jounralists, they are news-enthusiasts who want to share some fun reading with others like them. Thus Fark is a news site, when one goes there they will be reading (mostly) legitate news which has been supplied along with the link where it was published.

Although it is possible to get articles posted to Fark that are not cited by any publication, except for maybe another user-content driven database. When one types in smoking cigarettes in an airplane lavatory into Fark, the first article they will get is not from a reliable news site but from a very special place on the Web called Totse.

Totse was started in 1989 as a BBS (bulletin board system), which is essentially an interent forum, and was originally called the Temple Of The Screaming Electron (TOTSE). For it's first decade of existance the site was not open to the Internet public, but when it did in 1997, it already had dedicated users and writers who submitted thousands of their personal stories and experiences to the site for Web publication.

Totse's goal as stated on its homepage is to promote the first ammendment and freedom of speech, therefore one can find almost anything on the site, from articles about Jewish Dietary Law to How to Make an Atom Bomb, really nothing is off limits to this site.

An argument could be made that a site like this is not news nor is it of news value, the site doesn't have normal editors nor does it give any legitamate sources to the information it provides. Most of the people who submit the articles are Totse users and go by an alias username, so it makes it impossible to check the validity of the articles. Therefore it is important to take most of the articles one finds on Totse with a grain of salt, although with the plethora of information it makes available it also serves as a good starting point and check point for real story ideas. It could be that the articles are based on opinions, prejudices and false facts but guess what, so are thousands of the blogs that people read everyday, it's just another source of information, hopefully one can find some news value in that.

The next time you want to read something really bizarre, something you might never have thought you'd want to read before, visit Fark and Totse, but be cautious because you never know what you will find or how much truth there is to it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Ins and Outs of a Local Coffee Shop

American's love coffee, in fact the NCA estimates that 80% of American adults drink the beverage regularly.

Most people get their "giddy-up" from coffee shops (not like the kind in Amsterdam), and it is my firm belief that most people take their local coffee shop for granted. These cafes service hundreds if not possibly thousands of people every day and therefore it is essential to have a smooth operation and healthy atmosphere to ensure coffee satisfaction. This past Sunday morning, in order to investigate the workings of the cafe to get a better understanding of how they operate, I was given VIP access into the morning operations of Espresso Royale Caffe (ERC), a local coffee shop near Northeastern University.

The baristas arrive at the cafe at 6:30a on weekdays, 7:30a on weekends, they open the shop to their patrons a half hour later respectively. I showed up at 7:18a this Sunday to observe the opening. It was still dark when we walked in, the cafe has neon signs that light up the room in a very cool and colorful way (picture above), setting a nice mood, even in the dark. The lights were turned on and work began. In the process of setting up shop the first thing to do is "clock-in, turn on the music, and then start brewing the coffee," said barista Lea Spencer, 21.

With the baristas hard at work getting ready for business I took a look around the normally busy but now empty cafe, and thought about what I saw. It seems to me that coffee shops are mostly set-up to look very trendy and Utopian, they try to attract coffee drinkers not just with their coffee but also with the style of the cafe. They strive to create a unique and artsy feeling place where young intellectuals want to hang out. This is easily apparent in any Starbucks, usually upon entry into those establishments there is immediately a snooty looking fellow on his lap top in the corner looking all snotty. I hate Starbucks.

ERC is no exception. Not so much in terms of its snoots but with what seems an innert desire to to create a unique and trendy place to have coffee and hang out. Albeit, I believe ERC does this in a more unique way than the other chain shops and locals. ERC has local art and photographs on the walls, really crazy colors, and great tables. The tables are all individually hand painted by different artists who might have been employees, former employees, or even customers according to Laura Webster, 22, barista at the cafe. The cafe uses recycled cups for their coffee to help preserve the environment, a policy which I'm sure appeals to all the Greenpeace solicitors on Huntington Ave. These local ideals are some of the what make ERC special. "I love the fact that we're green and we're funky," said general manager, Chris Davey, 34.

At about 8:17a the first customer of the day came in, totally unaware to all the prep that had been done to make him the perfect cup of coffee at that moment. He was the first of what would be hundreds of people to get their daily dose of coffee at ERC today. Why did Lucas Maclaurin, 27, alumn of the New England Convervatory decide to get his coffee at Espresso Royale Cafe today?

"I've been coming here for seven, years, I just think the coffee is better and the place is nice," he said.

So the early morning work has paid off.

(click photo at top of post or click here for photo slide show)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Interactive Radio Sites or Intergalactic

It is very difficult for me personally to think about radio, because to be blunt, I never listen.

I do have a car in Boston but it has a CD player, and for no reason I can pin-point, the radio really irritates me. It's much more relaxing and easier for me to listen to music that I choose, rather than listening to music radio which never has anything decent on it or to talk radio which really puts me to sleep.

With that being said, it does make sense to me that radio is thriving while newspapers are suffering. Radio is a free way to get the news for Americans while they drive to their offices in the morning and home in the evening. My father listens to conservative radio whenever he can, he drinks it in as if it's the elixer of Americanism, the talk show hosts ranting with their lib-hating and lib-terrorism remarks that sound like non-factual bullshit to me but somehow seem very contrite to my father. These talk shows and the deliverance of the news on the radio seems to me to be quite an "American" past-time and I believe is something that reminds the children of the baby-boomers (like my father) of their childhoods, the time of a purer America.

I really don't know anybody aged 18-25 who listens to news radio, we get our news on the Internet. Period. Even though radio may be thriving now, I do believe that it too will experience a large drop off in audience as the older generations go deaf and as more and more of our world of information gathering and producing is geared towards the Web.

NPR gets this. Their website has a lot of interactive portions with video, photos, and blogging.
WBUR has some really great ideas also looks to be a (McCain/Palin unrealted) maverick in joining the hands of radio and the Internet. The Listener Photo Project is a WBUR link to flickr where WBUR listeners can post their photos and comment on others as well. As good an initiative this is from WBUR, I don't like how this is set up at all. I think it's annoying that one can only access these photos from a seperate Web site ( instead of the photos being directly uploaded to the WBUR site is not user friendly and explains why the last post was from February.

The future of radio Web siteslies in totally linking the two. WFAN, a New York based sports radio station does this well. While listening to WFAN, the listener will notice that a plethatude of listeners call up just to trash talk; rival teams, weekly opponents, and most of the time their own team! New Yorkers just love to complain, even when things are going alright. This brings such strong personalities to the airwaves that it makes the trash talking a lot of fun, WFAN has found a way to bring the same trash talk to their website. They have a special section called Rants and Raves, which makes it very easy for listeners to comment on every single part of the station or their teams, the conversations are limitless and hilarious. WFAN makes it very easy for these comments to be posted as well, it supplies three fields for "Name," "Web site," and "comment," once the user fills out the three (of which they can choose just to fill out just one, the comment form) and press post and it's on the Web site. It's very simple and very easy, I also like that it doesn't make anyone register for anything, it makes for a very smooth post.

The two other news radio stations I'm familier with WCBS and 1010 Wins, both New York based did not have anything innovative in the form of combining the radio and Internet experience. Both have the basic podcasts and videos that are now expected on news sites. Neither of these sites are paving the path in conjoining radio and Internet into a combined experience of awesomeness. They both look a lot like your basic news website.


Why not record every single time a listener calls up to comment on their programs. Take those recordings and upload them on the internet with a comment field so others can discuss what these regular listeners had said. Therefore anytime a listener wants his friends and family to hear what he said on the radio he can pull up the exact broadcast on his computer. Another benefit from this, it will censor all the idiots who call up and talk out of their @$$, because they too will be subjected to the endless critisism of their Internet peers. Take that all you lib-smearing idiots.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Mystery Lounge on Wired Journalists

This is the Mystery Lounge, a LIVE magic show, performing every Tuesday night at the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square. The show brings together some of Boston's best magicians and comedians for an evening extravaganza of entertainment, a truly unique Boston experience that is not to be missed.

More photo's of the Mystery Lounge show from last night can be found on my wired-journalist homepage, a site geared towards journalism hobbyists who want to share their expieriences in photos, stories, videos, and blogs with the rest of the wired community. The site is really neat and gives the user a lot more freedom and customization than other more popular social-networking sites like facebook and myspace.

It was very easy for me to both take photos and upload them to my laptop and then wired journalist, as I've been doing this same thing on facebook and myspace for years. Although I had no problem with the technical aspect, it was difficult to find photos that were newsworthy. After walking around campus for a day and half looking for something to peak my interest I decided that I was going to the Mystery Lounge on Tuesday night anyway and that would be the perfect place to take some photos and try to help spread the word. The show last night drew a smaller than normal crowd as it seemed most people in the city wanted to watch the Obama-McCain debate, so hopefully this blog and the photos I posted can help draw a bigger crowd for next week! Hong Kong restaurant, 1236 Massachusetts Ave, Tuesday nights, 8:00 PM in the Comedy Studio (3rd floor).

The group I joined on wired-journalist is called History and Mystery and I understand the group to be about the fact that history contextualizes the news today, something that I feel very strongly about being a History minor. There are only 10 people in this group and unfortunately it doesn't look like the group is very active, since the last activity in it was in July, but I think that if I ever have any questions about relating a historical scenario to the news today that those in this group would be helpful in developing that thesis.

Overall, wired journalist is a very useful site in sharing media and ideas and I think I'll definitely be hanging out there when I'm wasting time on the Internet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Oliver Stone's new biopic about the life of President George W. Bush is set to be released on October 23rd, several weeks from now.
From what I understand based on bloggers from the Boston area, the film is set to highlight the ineptitude of the current president.
The film is being released just two weeks before election day, a move that makes it apparent that Oliver Stone thinks this might effect the election outcome. Film makers are so pretentious, obviously it's all about making a statement for him, so I don't know if I'm expecting it to be very accurate. Stone, after all, is not an journalist, oh wait....maybe that means he's less biased, the way the media has been swinging lately and all...

So what are Boston bloggers saying about this movie?

The Cynical-C Blog (395 authority) is actually not interesting at all, the blogger seems suprised that Bush was a drinker and gambler. something that really shouldn't be a surprise for anyone who's been alive in the USA for the past eight years.

Hub Blog (30 authority) is also a short post about the movie, but the blogger brings up an interesting thought in its brief simplicity. He says:

I want a fair, true portrait of the man

I think we all want that, but let's be serious. Now I'm no Bush supporter, but with horrible way this president has led the USA for the past eight years in, every respect, I have a hard time imagining that this movie will be anything close to a fair portrayal.

The most informative of the blogs about "W" came from the Boston Globe's website. They have a movie blog called Movie Nation (No Authority for this Blog?) which reviews the movies and has the critic's comments and thoughts on the movies even if the film isn't out yet, in this case the critic talks a bit about "W". The blogger describes the movie as a comedy..... SO YOUR LIBERALS THINK THAT AMERICA IS A COMEDY?!?!?! Woah, that was just me thinking of what Mark Levin's reaction to that comment would be. The republicans are always thinking of ways to make everything un-American. This blog also has a trailer of the movie which is interactive and cool.

Edge Boston (no authority yet) calls the film:

A Halloween Horror film
And gives a preliminary review of how the movie will be received by Americans. It seems that Edge Boston has recently hired a fortune teller to find out how unreleased movies will effect society.

The last blog that I visited regarding the movie "W" was a very short post on the Daley News (30 authority) blog. The actual post gets right to the point:

Oliver Stone and George Bush are in cahoots?

It seems that this blogger has it all figured out. Oh, his source for this cahoot-esque information is Hugo Chavez but he gives a bad link.

So with "W" coming up in the next two weeks it seems that the Boston bloggers just really don't care that much about this biopic/epic and that maybe it's time for Oliver Stone to try something creative and not stay safe by making movies with existing stories like....

W, World Trade Center, Alexander, The People v. Larry Flynt, Nixon, the Doors, and JFK.

Move on from these biographical epics Mr. Stone. Nobody cares about these statements your trying to make, just move on.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Understanding the Database

During our last class meeting we had a special guest speaker, Boston Globe database genius, Matt Carroll. Carroll was very enthusiastic about his work with databases and their importance to the newspaper community.
He described the database as, "columns and rows, and a list of different things." Basically a chart with numbers and information that is specifically sorted to make a statement. Of course if a newsman is putting a database together themselves they do have to be careful not to misplace a decimal, "that mistake is a career ender," Carroll said.
I want to take a look at a few databases that we can have fun looking at and interpreting.

The first database is a complete list of the Dunkin' Donuts stores in the Boston metropolitan area.
In the city of Boston itself, a small city of amount 560,000 people has 67 Dunkin' Donuts stores. That's exactly 1 store per every 8, 358.209 people. Not too shabby Dunkin'. Starbucks on the other hand, otherwise known as the store of Demon Spawn, only has around 38 stores in the city of Boston.

The next database we can look at I found on, it contains all of the Open House listings in Jamaica Plain for Sunday, October 5th. I think this website does a very good job of listing the open houses. It gives you the viewer the option to limit the search to what one is specifically looking for, it also supplies a the Google Map locations of exactly where the open houses are. On October 5th there will be 23 open houses in Jamaica Plain, so if anyone is looking for a new home that's the place to check out. I'm probably gonna go to all of the open houses because usually the realtors bring free cookies, I love cookies.

The last database we can look at lists all of the churches in the greater Boston area. Again one can limit this search to their specific neighborhood. Being that Brookline is usually considered a very Jewish neighborhood (and I know this because I'm one of the chosen) let's take a look at the number of churches in Brookline. In the city of Brookline, population around 60,000, there are only 20 churches, while in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, population of 30,000 people, a neighborhood with half the number of people than Brookline has more than twice the amount of churches with 50 of them.

I think that this database would make for a particularly interesting story in measuring the religiousness of Boston neighborhoods. Obviously the database is only the start of the story, it would be very interesting to find out how many of these churches fill out every Sunday and if membership seems to be growing or dwindling. With the plethora of churches in the area it is apparent that the Boston area, historically a Puritan and early Protestant home base in the United States of America, is still very much infatuated with Christ.
Doesn't history always find a way of repeating itself?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Uncovering the Political Truths

The biggest news stories of the past few weeks have circulated around the upcoming November 4th presidential election. When elections come around every four years they are accompanied by the usual smearing and under-the-belt politics that the campaigns, for whatever reason, feel obliged to use.

I really hate negative-campaigning, like when the candidates focus their energy on their opponents bad decisions rather than focusing on what they can bring to the county. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are guilty of attacking each other with whatever political ammunition they can find, be it truth or subterfuge. As one can imagine this makes it quite difficult for the public to decifer the candidate's policies accurately, and I believe that at this point the candidate's have thrown so much muck themselves that they are probably just as confused as to what they are standing for anymore as any of us are.

Now I call to you lone political scholar, do not cry, don't be sad. Our constantly thinking friends of Internet lore have an answer for all these confusing accusations. Two Web sites, Fact Check and PolitiFact have been launched to supply the truthful answers to all of the superfluous non-sensible bullshit that comes out of our politicians mouths. Fact Check is written in more of a blog type form, which just highlights the most recent accusations and judges their truthfulness.
A more recent Fact Check post reads:

A wildlife group's ad attacks Palin for supporting the shooting of wolves from airplanes. She does, but there's more to it than that.

Then the article goes on and explains in full detail what's up with Palin's views on this, my synopsis is that Sarah Palin hates puppies. PolitiFact is a bit more interactive than Fact Check and has really cool features like the Truth-O-Meter which is an electronic meter which rates the truthfulness of a statement, and then backs it up with things the candidate might have said or voted on. The truth-o-meter is interactive and fun! Let's again rate the truthfulness of a recent Sarah Palin comment.

If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed.

The PolitiFact truth-o-meter judged this statement to be totally false, again demonstrating Palin's inepetitude regarding anything foreign policy related. My own synopsis on this, Sarah Palin hates women? I just don't understand any other legitamate reason she would say that if it was never true in the first place.

How do Web sites like Politifact and Fact Check find the correct information to judge the truthfulness of these candidates statements? Once again the Internet Gods are mighty, there are two other sites I want to talk about that highlight the candidate's voting records and general backround. These are Project Vote Smart, which has a plethora of background information on not only the major and minor presidential candidates, but basically all the elected officials working in the Federal government. This site provides biographies, policy positions, campaign financing, as well as transcipts of speeches of everyone involved, it is quite dense, but full of information.

The final site which is more a database than a site, run by the Washington Post, it is the U.S. Congress Votes Database, which supplies details of every vote from every congressperson since 1991. This is a great resource in checking what either Obama or McCain have voted for or against during their time in the Senate or could be used to check whether your local congressperson is voting in favor of you, the constituent, or if they're voting more for their own political benefits. Now, because this is MY blog we will take a short look at MY congressman....can I get a drum role please?

Hailing a staunch 5'7 frame, graduate of Fordham University, hailing from Montclair, New Jersey, please join me in welcoming the Congressman from the 8th district of NJ, BILL PASCRELL!!!!!!!!!!!!
His votes:

DateVotePositionGOP opinionDEM opinion
9/24/08 Vote 628: H RES 1488: Providing for Consideration of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2638, Making Appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security Fy 2008 Yes No Yes
9/23/08 Vote 627: H R 642: Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act Yes Yes Yes
9/23/08 Vote 626: H R 5352: Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2008 Yes Yes Yes
9/23/08 Vote 625: H R 6983: Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 Yes Yes Yes
9/23/08 Vote 624: H R 6897: Filipino Veterans Equity Act 2008 Yes Yes Yes
9/23/08 Vote 623: H R 5244: Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 Yes No Yes
9/23/08 Vote 622: H R 5244: Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 No Yes No
9/23/08 Vote 621: S J RES 45: Expressing the Consent and Approval of Congress to An Interstate Compact Regarding Water Resources in the Great Lakes--St. Lawrence River Basin Yes Yes Yes
9/23/08 Vote 620: H RES 1476: Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5244, Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 Yes No Yes
9/23/08 Vote 619: H RES 1476: Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5244, Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 Yes No Yes
9/22/08 Vote 618: H R 6853: Nationwide Mortgage Fraud Coordinator Act of 2008 Not Voting Yes Yes
9/22/08 Vote 617: H R 1907: Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program Act Not Voting Yes Yes
9/22/08 Vote 616: H R 6685: To Authorize the Secretary of the Interior to Provide An Annual Grant to Facilitate An Iron Working Training Program for Native Americans Not Voting Yes Yes
9/18/08 Vote 615: H R 6460: Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act of 2008 Yes Yes Yes
9/18/08 Vote 614: H R 3036: No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 Yes No Yes
9/18/08 Vote 613: H R 3036: No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 No Yes No
9/18/08 Vote 612: H R 3036 Yes Yes Yes
9/18/08 Vote 611: H RES 1441: Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3036, to Amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 Regarding Environmental Education, and for Other Purposes Yes No Yes
9/18/08 Vote 610: H RES 1441: Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3036, to Amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 Regarding Environmental Education, and for Other Purposes Yes No Yes
9/18/08 Vote 609: H RES 1460 Yes No Yes

Ahhh what a mench! The man votes with his party every time, at least he's not a flip-flopper I suppose.
All Senators and Congresspeople can be found on this site, and it really does provide an excellent resource in making the votes readily available to the Internet population. Thus bringing us in full circle in uncovering if what the politician said is really what they mean.

As you'll find out, politicians are usually full of it, except Bill Pascrell of course.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Great Depression Part II

"It's funny how money changes situations."
- Lauryn Hill

The United States of America, a land of once unfathomable wealth and resources, is now entering a darker stage of its history.
The bank crisis has hit with big Wall Street firms like Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch giving selling itself to Bank of America, and the government giving an $85 billion loan to AIG to keep itself afloat. It should come to no surprise of course that our wonderful government wants all of us little people to pay more taxes to keep the big firms alive.

If this doesn't make sense to you either please raise your hand.
Wall Street is taking a hard hit, the US is in a tedious recession and has been for quite some time. But what is a recession?

12 dictionary results for: recession Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This re·ces·sion1 [ri-sesh-uhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –noun
1.the act of receding or withdrawing.
2.a receding part of a wall, building, etc.
3.a withdrawing procession, as at the end of a religious service.
4.Economics. a period of an economic contraction, sometimes limited in scope or duration. Compare depression (def. 7).

It's the last one that applies to us here : )

You see, I think that the government using the peoples tax dollars to basically bail out big companies to end this recession is just the most unAmerican and ludacris idea. I don't invest in these companies so why the **** (explative) should I pay to keep them alive? The government is trying to cover the economic disaster the Bush administration has brought unto us by paying with tax payers dollars to keep PRIVATE companies afloat.

If you're still confused please join my mind.

I don't get how its remotely acceptable for my hard earned money to go to this silly AIG company. I'd much rather my money go to a place like Cappy's Pizza and Subs..... on a late Saturday morning.... when I'm hungry.....for pizza, not to some elitist insurance company that I'm probably not even qualified to be insured with.

Ron Paul, wrote a very interesting article exclusivly for cnn about this, he believes and I agree that government intervention in the market only leads to inflation and false numbers and will end poorly. Ron Paul Article. He said this:

Until the big-government apologists realize the error of their ways, and until vocal free-market advocates act in a manner which buttresses their rhetoric, I am afraid we are headed for a rough ride.

It's a good read and definitely fills in some of the blanks regarding this financial crunch we're in.

Get the government out of my wallet, get the government out of my life, together let us cry.....FREEDOM!!!!

p.s. sign ups for the revolution will be held after class.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

comprehensive thoughts on three blogs

My first blog ever.

Pertaining to the assignment in my class I'd like to talk about three individual blogs that I visit and occasionally take the time to digest.

I am a tech junkie, I've used computers my entire life and have grown up in this "Me" generation that is absolutely obsessed with technology. A lay person might ask, what might it mean to be a tech junkie? It means that I needed the iPhone 3G when it came out, that I will not watch television that is not at least 720 psi HD quality, and the Xbox 360 is one of my best friends (not really, but kinda?).

The blog that I visit to keep myself up to date on all things technologically concerned is Each blog post focuses on a new product or software and basically highlights the features and rumors about it. I like this post titled "Lenovo rolls out bundle of new enviro-minded ThinkVision monitors"

Lenovo's already kicked out a pair of low-end
ThinkVision monitors
that promise to do their small part for the
environment, and it's now finally expanded that enviro-mindedness to some of its
higher-end offerings. At the very top of the heap is the 24-inch L2440x
(pictured above), which boasts the usual 1920x1200 and some less-than-common
white LED backlighting, which is apparently a first for a Lenovo monitor. Those
looking to keep things fluorescent-backed can also opt for the otherwise
identical L2440p, or you can drop down to the 22-inch L2240p monitor, which also
scales the resolution back to 1680 x 1050. Rounding out the latest offerings are
the 17-inch L1700p and 19-inch L1940p, which unsurprisingly offer the biggest
energy savings and, like the other models, also pack less mercury content than
your usual LCD monitor. Look for the whole lot of them to be available by the
end of this month, with prices ranging from $230 to $750.

Although may be totally superfluous to you, an environment friendly LCD monitor sounds like bliss to one like me, who is always looking to use as little mercury in my monitor as possible. Kudos Lenovo and thank you for the awesome information edgadget!

Every time I open up Mozilla Firefox on my computer there is one site I visit before any other, not my e-mail, not Facebook, but a little ol' news blog called The Drudge Report. The Drudge Report, run by news junkie Matt Drudge, brings news headlines from publications and pictures from all over the world to the homepage of his site for viewers to link to. His site is so visited that it is held in high regard in Washington D.C. as a place that can make or sometimes break a politician's (cough...Hillary Clinton..cough) career, obviously depending on a story and/or accompanying photograph he finds and links to. Although most of his content is from other news sources he does post rumors that he has received from confidential sources as developing stories.

Right now at 4:26 PM on September 17th, 2008 he has a developing story as follows:


Hopefully in a few hours we will see the full story, with Matt Drudge reporting I have no doubt that we will.

The last blog I have in my mind is one that means a lot to me personally. Yes, I Jared Molton am a Prestidigitator, otherwise called magician. Over the past few years I've had the great opportunity to work at the oldest magic shop in the United States in New York City, Tannens Magic Shop.
Over the past few months Tannen's has started their own blog, Tannen's Magic Blog, that is linked to from their store website. The blog represents news within the magic community and therefore is something that magicians like me would hold a lot of interest in. The blog has updates on TV's favorite magician, David Blaine, and his newest
One of my favorite magicians Guy Hollingsworth, who had left the field of magic to pursue a career in law for several years has returned again to art of mystery, so the Tannen's Blog reports.

Guy Hollingworth is an English conjuror known for his skillful card magic and elegant performing style. He created a sensation in the magic community with his trick The Reformation, in which a signed playing card is torn into four pieces and then visibly restored one piece at a time. He is well known for his acclaimed book, Drawing Room Deceptions. Some of his card magic is also featured in his videos The London Collection and Routines. He was also featured on NBC's "World's Greatest Magic III" TV special.

Hollingworth is currently performing "Expert at the Card Table" at the Assembly's 2008 season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August. The show contains deception, betrayal and cheating at cards. Renowned conjurer Guy Hollingworth performs dazzling exhibitions of card chicanery and incomparable legerdemain whilst unraveling the mystery of its enigmatic author.

I was a huge fan of Hollingworth's only book, "Drawing Room Deceptions" and so his return to the magic circle is great for all magicians who are interested in very simple but yet oh so complicated card tricks.

Until next time, adieu.