Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yes We "Can"

The Best New Blog In America!! Pt. 2

Jen Simon, who has up till now been one of my biggest suppliers of blog-worthy material, has now started her own blog. I take full credit for it, as I have been constantly bugging her to start one. Enjoy, world.

Star Wars According to a 3 Year Old

Friday, September 12, 2008

Awesome Campaign for Dexter

Check out the new ad campaign for Showtime's Dexter. See if you can tell which magazine they are ripping off.

I don't watch this show and won't start because of these ads. But it does make me see Showtime as a more of an HBO, a pay-cable channel that is worth the cost for the original programming. And if they make the next season of Weeds as good as this one has be, then we'll all be happy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I is Smart

I always wondered what people meant when then called other people intelligent. Whether about a kid, a person, me, I never really got what makes one person smarter than another.

Some people are easy to label as intelligent. The Spelling Bee kids, who can figure out how a word is spelled by understanding its language of origin, are incredibly smart. They have strong powers of logic and deduction, as well as memorizing skills and understanding the complexities of language.

Other people are tougher to label. Ken Jennings from Jeopardy is called intelligent because he knew all the answers. I don't believe that trivia makes some one smart. But isn't that more of a function of memory?

Some people say their toddlers are smart. I know I do. Lilah is a genius! She's learning new words all the time, without us even trying! All of the sudden she's telling us that she's "stuck" or asking for "help." But does every child go through that? Is that "smartness" innate and universal (to a degree)? NOTE: Lilah is a god damn genius!

I try to be smart in my job. I make choices that I think will best suit my clients and co-workers. But could anybody with the right amount of training and time be just as smart as me? Where does common sense come in to play?

I finally found a definition that works, based on Steven Pinker's definition of reason. Here goes:

Intelligence is the ability to deduce new pieces of information from old ones.
There you have it. Intelligence, being smart, means you can take existing information and create new information. It's a clean, simple definition that is universal and egalitarian. Anyone can be smart, no matter the age, gender, race, education, etc. There will be levels of complexity that vary from person to person. A rocket scientist will have more complex mathematical problems to solve than an artist. But intelligence surpasses profession and is relevant in all situations.

My favorite part of this definition is that it focuses on creation. Creativity = intelligence. This flips the example I just gave. By definition, an artist who creates a work of art (a pattern of complex shapes, colors, symbols, etc) is more intelligent than a rocket scientist who is dealing with complex situations but simply using pre-existing formulas to solve problems.

Ken Jennings has a stunning capacity for memory, to recall facts he learned before. But is this true intelligence? I would say no, although his talents are no less remarkable. The Spelling Bee kids do intelligence backwards; they breakdown a piece of information into it's smaller components (figuring out the root, the language of origin, etc.) to understand the whole. This somehow fits my definition.

There you have it. Resolution on an issue that's been bugging me for years. I love these moments!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Past Few Days

- The Eagles looked amazing on Sunday. Football, I missed you!
- hearing Lilah call an apple a "bappy"
- having some Daddy-time during Saturday's nap
- the sampler 6-pack of Saranac beer. the clear winner is the Pale Ale, followed by the Brown Ale. Definitely a good call at the supermarket. The pineapple salsa was just as exciting to purchase but didn't hold up once I got home.
- watching football on my new LCD TV in the bedroom. Daddy's TV rules!!!
- my Monday evening walk with Lilah. That kid can run! All she wanted was for me to hold her.
- seeing Lilah smile everytime IO kiss her cheeck.
- Getting 50 pages of reading done on the plan to Boston. The book is by Steven Pinker and claims that there is a innate human trait, an innate gene that drives us to create language no matter what culture or location.
- Lilah waking up late at night just to say hi to me after getting home late from a client dinner

- accidentally using salt instead of sugar and ruining what would have been an amazing batch of chocolate chip banana bread
- getting caught in the rain on the way to the supermarket
- the extra hours needed to work on Sunday
- getting stuck in a holding patten for 40 minutes 30 miles away from LGA coming back from Boston
- the awful red wine that made the plane ride nauseating
- doing laundry
- being forced to watch 90210 while writing this blog
- not having enough time at work to do my expense report
- hearing that McCain is up in the polls. America is easily fooled.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Some inaccuracies in McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican Convention:

1. McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would "force small businesses to cut jobs" and would put "a bureaucrat ... between you and your doctor." In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.

2. McCain attacked Obama for voting for "corporate welfare" for oil companies. In fact, the bill Obama voted for raised taxes on oil companies by $300 million over 11 years while providing $5.8 billion in subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

3. McCain said oil imports send "$700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much." But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

4. He promised to increase use of "wind, tide [and] solar" energy, though his actual energy plan contains no new money for renewable energy. He has said elsewhere that renewable sources won’t produce as much as people think.

5. He called for "reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs," but as in the past failed to cite a single program that he would eliminate or reduce.

6. He said Obama would "close" markets to trade. In fact, Obama, though he once said he wanted to "renegotiate" the North American Free Trade Agreement, now says he simply wants to try to strengthen environmental and labor provisions in it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Pepsi Raw

Pepsi in the raw? Good grief. That’s how the world dominating force known as Pepsi Cola (which by the way in Mandarin translates as “100 ways to good luck”) is promoting its new “natural” concoction. It’s only available in the UK at the moment and it seems to have found some success.

It has hints of caramel and apple (it contains pure cane sugar and apple extract). The natural claims are pretty accurate as well; no strange ingredients. Will Whole Foods carry it once it hits American shelves? That’s the burning question. This is soda Harley might actually like!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Live Blogging McCain's Speech

- McCain's intro video was actually very moving. That guy is a true American hero, and I don't say that with any irony. He's a tough mofo and will always have my respect. As soon as he leaves the military and gets into politics is when I lose interest.
- Why did I pick the only hotel in Philly without a mini-bar?
- People, stop yelling "USA!!!" It's annoying and doesn't seem genuine.
- This guy cannot work a crowd like Obama. He lets them interrupt him and isn't controlling the pace. He wasn't coached enough on how to deal with the crowd.
- Don't stop talking when there's a protester in the crowd. Keep the focus on you.
- McCain took the high-road and told Obama he has his respect. Again, very honorable. He's a likeable guy. Watch the first 20 seconds of this.
- McCain's mother is still alive. Wow!
- You're going to introduce Palin to Washington. Way to highlight that she has zero experience.
- What the hell does "pork barrel" spending mean?
- Didn't the Iraq war end? Wasn't it Mission Accomplished in 2003?
- Yeah, I'm stealing this format from Brian. WORD!
- I do not understand the Repblican ideology. I don't understand it at all. I have no idea how a whole part of the country can live with such a different set of values than me, because I know I am right. Maybe the values are the same (basically), but a different perspective. Ideology.
- I know tomorrow is going to suck.
- Audrina Patridge is my new girlfriend.
- Careful when you bad mouth Russia. That bully might be ready to own their side of the playground again. We need to converse with them, not make demands. Your open hostility and Cold War-thinking is not helping.
- I can't help it. I love hearing John McCain talk about his time in Vietnam.
- He said "My friends" - we're almost done!
- Finished! Woohoo! Good night!

When One Binky Just Isn't Enough

Check out the flirty look Lilah gives me. An awesome way to start a Saturday.

Please forgive the extreme close-up of Harley's nose.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of Class

Classes began today at NYU. Another graduate semester. I'm taking Languages of Communication: From Cave Painting to the Printing Press. My professor is Terrence Moran, a contemporary of Neil Postman (who started my department at NYU) and Marshall McLuhan (whose work I love). Here's my thoughts on the first day:

- We started off by talking about the very beginning of communication, the time when "humanity" began. The theory is that we need to go back to the history of our species to understand the evolution of language itself. I love the big picture view.
- He asked if anyone knew how old the universe is. Being the geek that I am, I raised my hand, "About 14 billion years old." "Yes, about 13.6 billion." I am going to like this class.
- History is measured from the beginning of written language, which only goes back 5,000 years. Anything before written language is considered pre-historic.
- Experiments were done in the 1920's to see if apes could talk. They did experiments to move apes' larynxes into the right position. The apes first words were "mama" and "cup." Today, it would be "Dora." It's cruel and didn't work.
- One theory is that humans are immature apes. We're small, weak, and are very fragile when born.
- All of the bones that tell us about the evolution of humanity can fit within a 12' x 15' room. There's a lot of guesswork in how we came to be.
- The oldest continuing language today is Chinese, which is about 5,000 years old.
- In the Caucuses, there are over 120 languages spoken.
- Israel chose Hebrew as its national language. They had to revive an old and dying language used only in ceremonies for an entire country. They even had to make up words for new items (they don't have 'wristwatches' in the bible). It would be like having the Egyptians suddenly decide to write in hieroglyphics. But it happened and the language thrived. One of the little-known but amazing feats of the 20th century.
- All of the students I started the program with 2 years ago are gone, all graduated. This new group seems much more savvy, smarter, less timid. I like it.
- College girls dress sluttier every year. It made me wish I was 20 again, until I saw how awkward the 20 year old guys are. I was no better. I'm happy with 30-ish.
- The liquor stores are way cheaper by NYU. The volume must be higher. I left with a new bottle of vodka. I promise to give it a good home.
- Neil Postman wrote about "the surrender of culture to technology." We focus our lives on what works better, not what is better. Culture is people-based and cannot be changed by anything other than people. But this explains how companies like Apple can be called "cultural leaders."
- Samuel Morse invented the electronic telegraph and Morse code in the very spot my class is in. He was working for the University of the City of NY (the institution which became NYU) and was on the 4th floor (my class is on the 8th floor, though the building has changed). He wanted to create instantaneous communication, to "transfer lightning." Cool.
- One quote I heard today was that the greatest invention of the 19th century was the idea of the invention. That you could start creating things (sewing machines, internal combustion engine, telegraph) and have them do something useful was revolutionary.
- Helen Keller wrote about the moment she understood what language was. It's the famous scene in the movie, where she suddenly realizes that the shapes her hands were making represent the stuff that comes out of the faucet. That chapter in her autobiography is called "Everything Has a Name." I now need to read that book.
- It is so good to be back in class. Something about being that environment, doing the readings and discussing these deep, grand issues makes me so excited. One phrase came to mind: "worth every penny."
- Aren't you happy that this post isn't about some package design change?!?!?!?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bad Branding

Heard about a new book by Lucas Conley, OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder — The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion. Conley, a contributing writer at Fast Company, believes branding is an insidious pathology contaminating American life. The more money and effort companies pour into branding, the fewer resources are left for research, development and substantive innovation. Our products and services don’t improve, or even give us what we actually need; they just get slicker. And we are diminished.

This makes me thing of one thing -- Hooray for job security!!!!

A Very Good Redesign

(new on left, old on right)

Keeps the local feel and quirkiness of the original but adds a sense of quality sorely lacking in the original. Also has a contemporary feel that can easily extend into other categories. I should get the number of this brand manager...