What’s the Fastest Way to Move Data from Point A to Point B?

If I had been asked that question just a few moments ago, I would have responded by saying that high speed, dedicated telecommunications technologies would have been the fastest way to move data from one location to another.

As it turns out, if you are talking about moving massive amounts of data, then that would not have been the correct response.

The fastest way to move data from one location to another is by …

truck.

That’s right, the most widely used form of transporting goods from one place to another is also the most effective method for moving data.

That’s why Amazon has introduced Snowmobile, a 45-foot shipping container that is hauled around by tractor trailer. Snowmobile holds 100 petabytes of data. A petabyte is about 1 million gigabytes. Transporting data from companies to cloud providers has become immensely time-consuming as corporate data storage has ballooned from terabytes to petabytes to exabytes, each step a factor of roughly 1,000 larger than the last. (To put an exabyte into perspective, it is the equivalent of 250 million DVDs or one trillion books of 400 pages each.)

Snowmobile is all part of Amazon’s cloud services, known as AWS or Amazon Web Services.

photo_aws_snowmobile_1024

Amazon plans to drive Snowmobiles to its customers’ offices, extract their data, then cruise to an Amazon facility where the information can be transferred to the cloud-computing network in far less time than it would for so much data to travel over the web.

The company, however, isn’t promising lightning speed. Ten Snowmobiles would reduce the time it takes to move an exabyte from on-premises storage to Amazon’s cloud to a little less than six months, from about 26 years using a high-speed internet connection, by the company’s calculations. That’s a serious improvement!

Last year Amazon introduced a suitcase-sized data-transfer service appliance known as Snowball. Amazon on Wednesday upgraded that gadget, doubling its capacity to 100 terabytes.

Snowmobile and Snowball are part of the retail giant’s bid to woo large corporate customers, who have invested heavily in their own data centers, to move to Amazon’s cloud.

These cloud technologies are just another example of why Amazon is one of my favorite companies. What started as a simple online bookseller is now on the leading edge of many technology advancements, such as cloud services and artificial intelligence. And unlike many other high-tech firms working on emerging technologies, Amazon has found a way to make money from such services. Its cloud service division brings in $12 billion per year of revenue, and I am sure that the Amazon Echo, a great example of applied artificial intelligence, will be a popular item under the Christmas tree this year.

Given how bright the future seems to be for Amazon, I’d love to buy some of its shares. But at a PE of 172, I have trouble justifying such an investment.

So while I won’t be sharing in the profits Amazon will be earning from such technologies, I’ll still benefit as a user of all the great products and services the company offers.

If you’d like to learn more about Snowmobile, here is a link to Amazon’s description of the service.

Boxes of Bullshit and Digging a Hole – Cards Against Humanity and Black Friday

Cards Against Humanity, whose slogan is “a party game for horrible people”, has taken a unique approach to Black Friday.

Two years ago, the company removed all of its regular products from its online store, and only sold boxes of bullshit for $6 a box. Some of the people who ordered the box were actually surprised when a box of poop arrived at their door.

Here’s a video of someone unboxing his package of bullshit:

The company sold out of all 30,000 boxes on the first day. The company claims that the box cost them $5.80 to produce and ship, and donated the $6,000 profit to charity.

Last year, the company once again removed all of its products from its online store on Black Friday, and this time, for $5, they sold nothing.

According to the company, 11,248 people gave them $5, and 1,199 people gave them more than $5 by filling out the form more than once. One enthusiastic fan gave them $100. In the end, they made a windfall profit of $71,145.

And what did they do with that profit? Well, they kept it all, and its employees were free to spend the proceeds on whatever they wanted. Here is the list of what the employees bought, from 760 pounds of cat litter to Dinner for Two at Schwa (for $450).

So what did the company do this year?

They dug a hole.

If you want to read about why they are digging a hole, you can learn more here.

Actually, you won’t learn anything, they are just digging a hole. For every dollar donated, the company added several seconds to the “dig clock.” When all was said and done, the company had raised over $100,000.

According to CNBC, the majority of folks appeared to have donated $5 to the campaign, but there were several people who spent more than $1,000 for the “cause.” It is unclear if all of the $100,573 raised went into the equipment rental and labor costs or if the company has any leftover funds for use as it sees fit. The company is slated to release an update about the event soon.

I love it when companies show a sense of humor.

I always look forward to Google’s April Fools’ Day prank, and Geico’s commercials usually bring at least a smile to my face, if not a chuckle.

So cheers to Cards Against Humanity for not taking everything so seriously. Of course, not everyone finds what they are doing funny, telling the company it should donate the money it receives from such stunts to charity. But the company was prepared for such questions.

In response to the question,

“Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?“,

Cards Against Humanity had the perfect comeback:

Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Well said.

Hopefully this becomes an annual tradition at CAH; I’m already looking forward to Black Friday, 2017.

This Course Is a Mouthful

Here’s an excerpt from the course description for “Predictive Analytics for Planning and Forecasting: Case Studies with Weatherization”:

students will use Excel to apply statistical analysis and weatherization techniques from Planalytics. From this, students will develop more advanced time series skills applied to industry specific case studies

Sounds like an intense course; something you might expect to take if you were majoring in analytics, meteorology, math, or some other technical field.

But here are some other courses offered at this same college:

  • Draping II: Constructed Silhouettes
  • Sewing Techniques I
  • Model Drawing I for Fashion Designers
  • Lifestyle Collection Design

As you may have guessed, this is not your typical liberal arts college; in fact, it is Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), located in New York City.

If someone told me they were going to FIT, I would expect him or her to be taking courses such as the four courses listed above. But I would have never thought that there was a course titled “Predictive Analytics for Planning and Forecasting: Case Studies with Weatherization”.

But here’s the full course description:

This course is intended for bachelor students interested in investigating the confluence of the art and science in retail planning. With a prior knowledge of merchandising, students will use Excel to apply statistical analysis and weatherization techniques from Planalytics. From this, students will develop more advanced time series skills applied to industry specific case studies with a goal to articulate how these techniques result in stronger sales, fewer markdowns and improved gross margins. Critical thinking will be required to compare and evaluate and report results with and without weatherization. The impact of weatherization on marketing strategies will also be addressed.

So the course seems to fit in quite well with the overall mission of FIT – to prepare students for the world of fashion.

It’s just another example of the reach of data analytics; there doesn’t seem to be an industry that hasn’t embraced the use of statistical techniques to better manage their operations.

What I find most unique about the course, and perhaps it’s because I don’t know much about the fashion industry, is studying the impact of weather on sales of clothing.

I can see courses that analyze the impact of discounts, displays, social media, advertising on sales, but weather seems a little out of the box.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, weather fluctuations have increasingly been putting fashion designers and clothing retailers on the defensive. Merchandise is often ordered months in advance based on what the weather typically is at that time of year. But when temperatures are different from what was predicted—milder-than-usual winters, cold springs or otherwise inconsistent weather—clothes that are all wrong for the climate stay on racks and get discounted, hurting sales.

So it seems like the course is quite timely, combining hot topics like data analytics and climate change, and applying that knowledge to the world of fashion.

Given my fascination with the weather, it seems like it would be a great course to take.

The only downside – I’m sure I would be the worst dressed person in the class…

 

This Simple Fix Can Reduce Fatal Traffic Accidents by 90%

What if there was a way to reduce fatal traffic accidents by 90% and reduce all traffic accidents by 40%?

What if the same fix also reduced the annual costs associated with managing traffic flow?

And what if the same fix also led to improved traffic flow, in terms of both increased capacity and reduced delays?

And finally, what if this fix also improved the aesthetics of a highway and reduced the negative impact on the environment of auto pollution?

That’s quite an impressive set of benefits.

So what is this simple fix?

A roundabout.

The definition of a roundabout, according to Wikipedia, is a type of circular intersection or junction in which road traffic flows almost continuously in one direction around a central island. So-called “modern” roundabouts require entering traffic to give way to traffic already in the circle and optimally observe various design rules to increase safety. Compared to stop signs, traffic signals, and earlier forms of roundabouts, modern roundabouts reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions by reducing traffic speeds and minimizing T-bone and head-on collisions.

I remember driving through a couple traffic circles (which are not the same as a roundabout) in New Jersey a long time ago, and they seemed to be more of a hassle than anything.

Then we went to Ireland for a family vacation in 2001, and while it took a little getting used to driving on the left side of the road, I became a fan of the many roundabouts we came across.

Since then, I’ve felt that roundabouts should replace all intersections. I wasn’t aware of all of the benefits noted above; they just seemed like a more natural way to move traffic.

What triggered this post was a brief news piece on roundabouts on the local news station today. The story mentioned some of the benefits I listed above, so I thought I would look a bit more into the topic.

As it turns out, there is at least one web site completely devoted to roundabouts – RoundaboutsUSA. It was on this site that I found some of the info about roundabouts I included in this post. I also found the article “Why Americans Don’t Understand the Roundabout“, to have some useful info on the subject matter. (Here is one interesting quote from the article: “the roundabout is said to have flourished in Britain because it requires the British virtues of compromise and cooperation. The U.S.’s more aggressive, confrontational culture may explain why the roundabout has not been more widely adopted by Americans.” ouch…

There are also several YouTube videos about roundabouts; I found the one below from the Florida Department of Transportation particularly insightful, since it includes info on roundabouts that involve not only cars but bikes and pedestrians as well.

The modern roundabout, which dates from 1963 in England, finally arrived in the United States in 1990 in Summerlin, a major Las Vegas residential subdivision.

There are an estimated 26,000 roundabouts in the UK and up to 32,000 roundabouts in France, while the number of modern roundabouts in the USA is only 4,800. To me, that means there is plenty of room for more roundabouts.

Here are some more facts about roundabouts from a report by the Federal Highway Administration:

  • The average construction cost of roundabouts is estimated at approximately $250,000
  • Construction time for roundabouts discussed in the report ranged from six to nine months.
  • Benefit/cost analysis that indicated that for every dollar spent, considering the 20-year service life of the roundabouts, there was a return of approximately $13 to be realized through crash reduction.
  • The conversion of conventional rural, stop-controlled intersections to modern roundabouts cumulatively reduced total crashes by 69.1 percent, eliminated fatal crashes, and reduced injury crashes by 88.0 percent.

So if there is a bug uptick in infrastructure spending in the coming years, I hope a significant amount is earmarked towards the construction of roundabouts.

While driving and walking through a roundabout may take some time to get used to, it’s hard to argue with the many benefits that roundabouts offer.

And I can’t end a story about roundabouts without including the classic Yes song, Roundabout:

I Feel the Need, the Need to Read

Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small.

So writes Will Schwalbe in a great essay in today’s Wall Street Journal titled, “The Need to Read,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Schwalbe is the author of the soon to be released “Books for Living,” on which this essay was based, as well as “The End of Your Life Book Club.”

Schwalbe believes that reading is the best way to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. Perhaps that is why reading is one of the few things you do alone that can make you feel less alone. It is a solitary activity that connects you to others.

The author mentions several books that have left their imprint on him at various stages of his life, from when his parents read to him at the age of five, through middle school, high school, college, and his adult years.

Here’s a listing of the books mentioned:

  • Stuart Little
  • The Gallic War
  • The Odyssey
  • Song of Solomon
  • Gift From the Sea
  • Girl on a Train
  • David Copperfield
  • A Little Life
  • Wonder
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran

It’s embarrassing to admit, but the only book on the list I know with certainty that I have read is Wonder; it was a great book, with a great message. I think I may have read The Odyssey, but it would have been so long ago I can’t remember.

So it looks like I’ve got some new books to add to my ever-growing list of books I’d like to read.

But as Schwalbe notes at the end, reading is “one of the world’s great joys.”

I feel the same way, and look forward to the pleasure I am sure these books will bring.

By the way, if you are curious, I had put together my version of a high school summer reading list that contained many of my favorite books and ones that made a difference in my life. Here is a link to that previous post, and here is the set of books I included:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
  • Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  • Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  • A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  • The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
  • Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
  • The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy
  • The Food Revolution, John Robbins
  • The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
  • Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

One change I would make to my list is to replace the Money book by Tony Robbins with his book, Awaken the Giant Within. I would also add the book Grit by Angela Duckworth to the list.

Happy Reading!

Goodbye, Huffington Post

I’ve been a regular reader of the Huffington Post ever since it made its debut in 2005. It’s always had a liberal bent to it, which was fine with me. Along with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, it was one of my primary news sources.

The Huffington Post took a very strong, and very public, anti-Trump stance during the election, which was also fine with me. Originally, the Post decided to carry stories about Trump in its Entertainment section, calling his campaign a “sideshow”. But as him campaign began to gain traction, the editors decided to include Trump and his campaign as part of its political coverage.

It also took the bold move of adding the following statement to the end of any story that dealt with Trump:

Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

I had no problem with the Post taking such a strong position; the editors were very upfront about it, so you knew what you were getting when you read its stories. When ever I felt the need to get my confirmation bias fix, I knew I could count on the Post to have an article or two highlighting the latest Trump fiasco.

I also believed that the Post was not involved in creating fake news stories during the election cycle, it was simply putting its liberal view on the campaign. To me, there’s a significant difference between outright lying versus offering your opinion when trying to influence your readers. Making up stories but promoting them as if they are factual is crossing a line, and I have no respect for web sites that do so.

But as much I’ve enjoyed reading the Huffington Post, I’ve decided it’s time to take a break.

The editors did remove the disclaimer at the end of any story dealing with Trump the day after the election. According to Huffpost’s Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim, “the thinking is that he’s now president and we’re going to start with a clean slate. If he governs in a racist, misogynistic way, we reserve the right to add it back on. This would be giving respect to the office of the presidency which Trump and his backers never did.”

While my opinion of Trump has not changed, I have to admit I was getting tired of the still numerous anti-Trump stories that are posted on its site, which seems inconsistent with their desire to “respect the office of the presidency”.

I’ve deleted the app from my phone, and in its place I’ve added the philly.com app. Along with the WSJ and NYT, this app will enable me to keep up not only with national and global news, but with the local news as well. I am sure there will still be a bias in the stories that I will be reading, but I hope such a bias will not be the overriding approach to how the news is reported.

To me, it was time to move on, and I think the Huffington Post should do the same.

Equal Time for This Year’s U.S.-based Christmas Commercials

I recently wrote about the great collection of Christmas commercials coming out of England this year, and I wanted to make sure I gave equal time to some of the American commercials I have enjoyed so far this year.

First, is Apple’s holiday offering:

Next is a commercial from Comcast, featuring one of my favorite songs, Home, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:

Here is Amazon’s commercial for 2016:

And here’s one from the United States Postal Service, featuring the song “I Want a Hippopotamus”:

Happy Thanksgiving, and best wishes for a Happy and Healthy holiday season!

I Would Have Paid a Week’s Wages to be in the Same Room…

Wow.

The recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom included some of the people I most admire (Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates, Micheal Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, and the late Grace Hopper), and not to mention the emcee, Barack Obama. To think of them all being in the same place, along with many other highly accomplished individuals, is mind boggling.

I would have gladly paid up to a week’s wages for the opportunity to have been in the same room as all of these outstanding citizens, and to briefly thank them for their significant contributions to our great country (yes, America is already great). Such an opportunity would have been inspirational and likely life-changing.

Since I wasn’t there, the next best thing was to watch the ceremony, which appears below. After that video, I have included a classic version of the mannequin challenge that took place during the event.

If you would like to go directly to hear about a particular individual, here are links to when each tribute begins. The first time stamp represents the words offered by President Obama on behalf of each recipient, and the second time stamp is the time of the actual awarding of the medal, along with a brief overview of that person’s accomplishments. Thank you to YouTube user Nathan Savage for these time links (clicking on the link brings you directly to that part of the YouTube video).

1:27: Bill and Melinda Gates (Medal Award 38:40)
2:52 Frank Gehry (Medal Award 40:06)
4:05 Maya Lin (Medal Award 46:27)
5:11 Margaret Hamilton (Medal Award 41:22)
6:20 Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (Medal Award 43:50)
7:40 Richard Garwin (Medal Award 37:30)
9:05 Cicely Tyson (Medal Award 56:20)
10:08 Robert De Niro (Medal Award 36:18)
11:26 Lorne Michaels (Medal Award 47:36)
13:17 Ellen Degeneres (Medal Award 34:58)
15:25 Robert Redford (Medal Award 51:05)
16:53 Tom Hanks (Medal Award 42:37)
18:20 Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón (Medal Award 50:00)
19:27 Elouise Cobell (Medal Award 33:39)
20:38 Newton N. Minow (Medal Award 48:40)
22:00 Vin Scully (Medal Award 53:40)
23:40 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Medal Award 32:15)
25:30 Michael Jordan 1(Medal Award 45:00)
27:30 Diana Ross (Medal Award 52:10)
28:38 Bruce Springsteen (Medal Award 55:00)

Here is the classic Mannequin video, filmed byDiana Ross’ daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, that I mentioned earlier:

If you would like to read a little bit more about these recipients, here is the list and brief bios of the 21 Medal winners, courtesy of whitehouse.gov I must admit I was not familiar with a few of the recipients, but reading their bio makes it apparent why they were selected for such an honor.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another. During his career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 19-time NBA All-Star. Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive championships. In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.

Elouise Cobell (posthumous)

Elouise Cobell was a Blackfeet Tribal community leader and an advocate for Native American self-determination and financial independence.  She used her expertise in accounting to champion a lawsuit that resulted in a historic settlement, restoring tribal homelands to her beloved Blackfeet Nation and many other tribes, and in so doing, inspired a new generation of Native Americans to fight for the rights of others.  Cobell helped found the Native American Bank, served as director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, and inspired Native American women to seek leadership roles in their communities.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is an award-winning comedian who has hosted her popular daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003 with her trademarked humor, humility, and optimism. In 2003 Ellen lent her voice to a forgetful but unforgettable little fish named Dory in Finding Nemo. She reprised her role again in 2016 with the hugely successful Finding Dory. Ellen also hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014. In 1997, after coming out herself, DeGeneres made TV history when her character on Ellen revealed she was a lesbian. In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro has brought to life some of the most memorable roles in American film during a career that spans five decades. His first major film roles were in the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowlyand Martin Scorsese’s crime film Mean Streets.  He is a seven-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Oscar winner, and is also a Kennedy Center honoree.

Richard Garwin

Richard Garwin is a polymath physicist who earned a Ph.D. under Enrico Fermi at age 21 and subsequently made pioneering contributions to U.S. defense and intelligence technologies, low-temperature and nuclear physics, detection of gravitational radiation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer systems, laser printing, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. He directed Applied Research at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Harvard University. The author of 500 technical papers and a winner of the National Medal of Science, Garwin holds 47 U.S. patents, and has advised numerous administrations.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the mission is to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. The Gates Foundation has provided more than $36 billion in grants since its inception.

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of the world’s leading architects, whose works have helped define contemporary architecture. His best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.

Margaret H. Hamilton

Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules. A mathematician and computer scientist who started her own software company, Hamilton contributed to concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling and priority displays, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one of the Nation’s finest actors and filmmakers. He has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role five times, and received the award for his work in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.  Those roles and countless others, including in Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away, have left an indelible mark on American film. Off screen, as an advocate, Hanks has advocated for social and environmental justice, and for our veterans and their families.

Grace Hopper (posthumous)

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another.  She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards; he is currently a principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets.  During his career, he won six championships, five Most Valuable Player awards, and appeared in 14 All-Star games.

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an artist and designer who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and since then has pursued a celebrated career in both art and architecture.  A committed environmentalist, Lin is currently working on a multi-sited artwork/memorial, What is Missing? bringing awareness to the planet’s loss of habitat and biodiversity.

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels is a producer and screenwriter, best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live, which has run continuously for more than 40 years. In addition, Michaels has also produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and 30 Rock, among other popular, award-winning shows. He has won 13 Emmy Awards over the course of his lengthy career.

Newt Minow

Newt Minow is an attorney with a long and distinguished career in public life. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Minow served as a Supreme Court clerk and counsel to the Governor of Illinois. In 1961, President Kennedy selected Minow, then 34, to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Committee (FCC), where he helped shape the future of American television and was a vigorous advocate for broadcasting that promoted the public interest. In the five decades since leaving the FCC, Minow has maintained a prominent private law practice while devoting himself to numerous public and charitable causes.

Eduardo Padrón

Eduardo Padrón is the President of Miami Dade College (MDC), one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United States. During his more than four decade career, President Padrón has been a national voice for access and inclusion. He has worked to ensure all students have access to high quality, affordable education. He has championed innovative teaching and learning strategies making MDC a national model of excellence.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford is an actor, director, producer, businessman, and environmentalist. In 1981, he founded the Sundance Institute to advance the work of independent filmmakers and storytellers throughout the world, including through its annual Sundance Film Festival. He has received an Academy Award for Best Director and for Lifetime Achievement.  Redford has directed or starred in numerous motion pictures, including The Candidate, All the President’s Men, Quiz Show, and A River Runs Through It.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross has had an iconic career spanning more than 50 years within the entertainment industry in music, film, television, theater, and fashion. Diana Ross is an Academy Award nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Grammy Awards highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross was a recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors.  Diana Ross’s greatest legacy is her five wonderful children.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully is a broadcaster who, for 67 seasons, was the voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.  In Southern California, where generations of fans have grown up listening to Dodger baseball, Scully’s voice is known as the “soundtrack to summer.”  In 1988, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Scully’s signature voice brought to life key moments in baseball history, including perfect games by Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen, Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series, and Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a singer, songwriter, and bandleader.  More than five decades ago, he bought a guitar and learned how to make it talk.  Since then, the stories he has told, in lyrics and epic live concert performances, have helped shape American music and have challenged us to realize the American dream.  Springsteen is a Kennedy Center honoree and he and the E Street Band he leads have each been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson has performed on the stage, on television, and on the silver screen.  She has won two Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and is known for her performances in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Help.  In 2013, she returned to the stage with The Trip to the Bountiful, and was awarded the Tony Award for best leading actress.  Tyson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

Congratulations to all the recipients, and thank you once again for the contributions you have made; I wish all of you continued success.

 

Two-Word Tuesday

It’s been a while since I’ve written about an interesting word  I’ve come across, so to make up for it, I’m introducing  two words this week. And believe it or not, the screen shot above, taken from a video of Bruce Springsteen receiving the Medal of Freedom today, links the two words together

The first word is “chyron“, which I came across while reading a news story about a segment on CNN News during which the following line appeared at the bottom of the viewers’ screen:

cnnchyron

Chyron refers to television graphics that occupy the lower area of the screen or any predominantly text-based video graphic as used mainly by television news broadcasts.

While not the most appropriate chyron to show, it was this particular one that brought the word into the media. Jake Tapper, a CNN news host, was quite upset that such a phrase was allowed to appear on CNN’s screen.

“The chyron was abhorrent and I am trying to deal with it,” Tapper said.

Perhaps if you are a TV or news insider you may have known what the word meant, but I had no idea. Thanks to Google though, I  knew what it meant about 10 seconds after seeing the word for the first time.

I came across my second word of the week while reading Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, and that is why the photo at the top links these two words of the week together.

Bruce writes, “…at the first sound of thunder, I caterwauled until my parents would take me in the car until the storm subsided.”

According to dictionary.com, caterwauling refers to the uttering of long wailing cries, similar to the sound cats make when they are in heat.

What makes it more interesting is that while I was looking up the word on Google, I saw one reference to “the impassioned caterwauling of Bruce Springsteen“.

Perhaps Bruce had read such reviews of his performances and liked the word so much that he decided to use it in his bio.

And now I’m using it in my blog. I knew Bruce and I were connected in some way…

How About Putting the Responsibility for Fake News on the People Who Post and Share It?

There has been a great deal written in the past couple of weeks about the many fake news posts that were on Facebook, and what influence those posts may have had on the election.

Many people are trying to hold Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, responsible for controlling such posts. While I agree that Facebook could do a better job at removing some obviously fake news stories, much like it does for posts that include hate speech or criminal activity, I think the primary responsibility for controlling fake news stories rests with the original poster, as well as with people who then share such a post.

I remember during the recent Presidential campaign people would post anti-Clinton and anti-Obama stories on Facebook that just didn’t seem plausible, and within five minutes I was able to determine that those stories were indeed fake.

Why shouldn’t the person who originally posted that story, and anyone who decided to share such a post, be required to perform the same due diligence?

If the poster/sharers cannot find any factual support for the post (and referencing another fake news site does not count as factual support), then that person should be subject to a substantial fine and banned from Facebook for a time period.

I would think that a user would think twice about posting anything that may seem a little bit far-fetched, and they can’t find any evidence to back their claim, if they knew that there were significant consequences associated with posting fake news stories.

The New York Times has published a few articles recently that looks at the issues surrounding fake news stories on social media, and what responsibility, if any, Facebook’s and Twitter’s responsibility have when dealing with fake news stories.

Here are the links; I highly recommend reading them so that you can get a sense of what the issues are:

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Must Defend the Truth

Facebook Considering Ways to Combat Fake News, Mark Zuckerberg Says

How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study

I found the last link above particularly interesting in how it steps through how a fake tweet went viral, from a Twitter user who only had 40 followers at the time of his posting. This user tweeted, the day after the election, about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory — one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting. The user posted pictures of the buses along with his tweet.

This user later noted, “I did think in the back of my mind there could be other explanations, but it just didn’t seem plausible.” He added, “I’m also a very busy businessman and I don’t have time to fact-check everything that I put out there, especially when I don’t think it’s going out there for wide consumption.”

Well if you have time to take a picture and post something like that, then you need to make time to do some basic fact-checking.

The tweet post was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook, and continued to spread even after the original poster realized his mistake, and posted the words FALSE on top of the post.

Like I said, it makes for informative reading, and I highly recommend doing so.

I don’t see this problem getting any better in the years ahead unless proactive steps are made to address the problem, including enforcement of new policies and penalties for those found in violation of those policies.

*image from snopes.com