Monday, July 30, 2007

Did You Know? Or Insipid News "Events"

Does anybody know what happened to Lindsay Lohan last week?

How about the ongoing saga of the hotel heiress? (Bet you know her name.)

Did you see the story about the news helicopters that crashed and killed their crews while broadcasting a pickup truck towing a trailer through city streets?

I think it's extremely likely that you know about at least one of the above stories because they've received extensive coverage. The real question is why. There is nothing inherently newsworthy in those stories other than satisfying people's morbid curiosity. I guess you could argue that if people are willing to watch it then the networks have a commercial obligation to give people what they want.

But I'd argue that this is just laziness. Inventive companies are often successful because they create a product that people never knew they wanted until they saw it. Take the iPod, for example. People weren't out clamoring for it. But once they saw it, they had to have it.

I think that the news networks have fallen into the trap of spooning out the same old shlock and aren't trying to figure out how to create interest around genuinely noteworthy events.

My own self-serving example?

How many of you know who Alan Webb is?

Chances are you have no idea or why he is in the news. He just broke a 25 year old American record for the mile. The old record was an incredible 3:47.69 set in 1982 by Steve Scott; Alan ran a 3:46.91 a couple of weekends ago at a small track meet in Belgium. Even today it is a major hurdle for runner to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Alan did it as a senior in high school. It is just inconceivable what it takes to run it in 3:46, but the second 400m was actually slower than Steve Scott's pace so it is pretty easy to imagine Alan running under 3:46 with his current conditioning. His goal, however, is to break the world record. Hold your breath for this one. The world record was set in 1999 by Hicham El Guerrouj with a 3:43.13. If none of this boggles your mind, I invite you to head down to your local school track to run a mile.

Thanks to modern technology you can see Alan break the record. He's so fast it won't take long so head over to and watch him.

Folks, that is a newsworthy event.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I started a book back in March and submitted a book proposal in June. I just got back feedback from a reviewer and the publisher and it was very positive and they want me to press forward. Unfortunately, not as interesting as Sideon's stories, but it'd be cool to be published even if it is a technical, geeky book. Then I'd literally become "the man that wrote the book" in my area of specialty.

The scary thing is that I actually need to get on a solid writing schedule because it's going to be a fairly long book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Go West!

I don't take very many vacations, but I just got back from a good one. I used a couple of frequent flier tickets to jet the wife and me to Ft. Lauderdale and then rented a car for a weekend in Key West. I finally got to scuba dive on coral reefs and see lots of fish and sharks up close and personal. We also did lots of turisty things. Unfortunately, I'm now back home looking at a long short work week with a pile of work I left behind.

Here are a few of the hundreds of pictures I snapped while diving. Not all that great, but they give you an idea.

This nurse shark was just chilling out under the reef.

This is pretty typical; lots of fish sheltering under the reef trying not to become a meal for a bigger fish.

I was just minding my own business when I looked up to see a 6 foot long shark swimming straight at me. It took one whiff and swam on by.