Kick ‘em when their down










Interesting cover story this past Sunday in The L.A. Times about Donald Sterling’s advertising campaigns, touting his foundation and the donations made to worthy causes. This story has been a long time in coming and begs the question as to why Times’ writers have not explored this before. The obvious reason: ad dollars.

One of the reasons why such donations are made is to keep in good graces with those who would normally air dirty laundry about Mr. Sterling and his enterprises. One of the reasons why such ads are placed is to keep the hounds of inquiry at bay who might normally be asking the tough questions about such purported philanthropic donations. “The most beautiful apartments in the world?”  Millions of dollars benefiting minorities, kids and others?

It appears that the Los Angeles Times either swallowed these hook, line and sinker, or was enamored of the significant ad dollars such ads generated to the point whereby such investigation would prove financially disadvantageous. Since being exposed, Mr. Sterling is unlikely to continue with such puffery in print, so now is the time to let the cat out of the bag. Better late than never I guess…

Agnotology – Sewing the seeds of ignorance

In Sunday’s L.A. Times, Michael Hiltzik writes about the ever evolving culture of ignorance, in the media, to win the hearts and minds for insidious reasons.  The piece cites Stanford professor Robert Proctor, a leader in the field of agnotology  (the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data).  Proctor, who has studied famous propagandists from the Nazi party to big tobacco, the attack on Obamacare to the immunization hysteria , shows how the message and the messenger can lead large swaths of people to believe the unbelievable, by design.  “You need to teach (children) that some people lie…And why do they lie?  Because some people are greedy.”

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” ~ Daniel Patrick Moynihan


Shoot when the ducks are flying

Phil Robertson

There’s been quite a flap (pun intended) over the comments of Phil Robertson, senior beard on the A&E hit television show Duck Dynasty. It appears that Mr. Robertson said some bigoted and racist things, was reprimanded and temporarily suspended by the network for that, and was quickly reinstated once he apologized (and the network learned that the rest of the Robertson family would rather walk than go on without their beloved dad on TV with them).

How TV like this generates $80 million in ad sales revenue in nine months and more than $400 million the series has generated overall in merchandise sales is beyond me. Then again, I may give the public too much credit for their intelligence.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes a good piece is the Pasadena Weekly on the topic.

Lessons learned:
Many people still harbor racist/homophobic opinions, some are even willing to say so in public.
Money wins over correctness too often.
Controversy is good for some businesses.
You really don’t need an education to get ahead in life.

America, we can do better.

Don’t believe everything you read…

Don't believe everything you read...

As of Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Times website is still reporting that the gunman was killed in the LAX shooting Friday. yet on the front page of the website, it clearly says the gunman was injured.

From Pink to Read?


Today the daily paper made good on a promise to deliver its pages in pink. The problem must have been how to make those pages pink and hit your delivery deadlines. In this case, the latter didn’t happen as planned. In observation of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Star marketed to its readers and clients that it would print today;s edition on pink pages, similar to the green sheet that the SF Chronicle does/did in the past. A novel idea. Alas, the paper was delivered to many readers well after 10am, making the regular morning read not possible. And if you’re like me, reading the moring paper in the pm just feels wrong,, so I suspect that the advertisers who bought into today’s book, didn’t get all that was promised. Chalk another one up for that  old saying – “No good deed goes unpunished…”

Like the wind over the steppes

An unusual man died this two weeks ago and I’d like to take a moment to remember him. Kongar-ol Ondar, a master throat singer, hailed from a small Russian republic but toured the world once his gift was discovered. A happy man later in life, Ondar had a tough start of things but like many with a certain determination, overacame adversity and became respected in his craft. Here’s a sample of him singing on David Letterman’s show about fourteen years ago. Like so many gifted people, he makes multi-harmonies look easy.  Give it a view…

Testosterone Lite

Stallone poster

Mary McNamara writes a good piece on the Calendar Cover today in the LA TImes.  Hasta la vista, He-Men tells of how macho is out and smart is the new sexy, at least when it comes to media.  That’s a good thing, because we’ve had more than our share of role models who, while filling our cup with entertaining adventure, use anger and physical violence to make their point.  What with all those things in the real world, do we really need to escape reality by watching the very same thing only with a script?  Hopefully, not.

Now, if they could only put those MMA commercials only on late night TV…

A more modern Christ

Jesus Christ

A nice family came to my home yesterday with a message and flyer.  Well actually, it was the soon to be teenagers of a family that knocked on the door, the parents were busy knocking elsewhere.  We took the flyer and thanked them for their time.  The piece they left behind was an invitation to a special talk a local religious group is having next month. 

What caught my eye was the way that Jesus was portrayed visually.  All of my life, I’d only seen one version: the rock star look with long hair.  Unlike Santa Claus, for which I had seen several renditions (jolly gentile, mall latino and the rare African version), this was different.  Christ had gotten a haircut and was looking manscaped like never before.  Why, I wondered?

This is all part of marketing, and let it never be said that religious organizations don’t know how to market.  They have to – to the uninitiated, the main product is elusive, sometimes never showing up.   Talk about intangible; aside from a good book and people who are third-party references, the main product (God and his son) are elusive, shall we say.

Christ lived about 2,000 years ago (although a modern calendar is not tied to his birth/death, estimates of his period on earth range from 7–2 BC to 30–36 AD), and photography wasn’t around so it’s anyone’s guess what he actually looked like.  But most illustrations of him show a man with longer hair and a beard that is less tended than the version I received.  I’m guessing that they feel that if Christ was more handsome, it might help to bring more followers to the flock.

Earlier versions of Christ make him look like he lived in a time where running water and showers were hard to come by.  The man in the new likeness looks to be well coiffed and manicured.  Even his nails look perfect.

‘Who is this man” indeed?

GoDaddy crashes, affecting millions of users


GoDaddy, among the largest website and email hosting companies in the United States, apparently was hacked today.  I learned of it because some of our websites/email servers are through GoDaddy.  Even after a couple of hours, news of this was thin on the web. Apparently, the hacking group Anonymous has affected GoDaddy operations, stating that they were unhappy with GoDaddy’s support of possible legislation which affects freedom of information.  As of 1:45 pm PST, it appears that most services are again working.

GoDaddy has worked hard at creating a cool image for themselves with a certain group of consumers -men.  They are the company that runs risqué television ads during the Super Bowl and other sporting events.  Since most computer website programmers/developers are men, GoDaddy has done its best to make their company, and it’s branding memorable to this target group.  Regarding the Superbowl ads, it appears that GoDaddy produces a number of versions of a particular spot, submits the raunchiest, which they know will be rejected.  Followed by version two, they then settle when the FCC allows version 3 to be aired (which GoDaddy had wanted approval on in the first place). Versions 1 & 2 are posted on the GoDaddy website for those interesteted enough to see.

It’s been a tough year for GoDaddy:  Founder Bob Parsons stepped down in December as CEO, and his replacement Warren Adelman then resigned in July of this year.  Still, the company has over $1 billion in sales and is looking to expand worldwide.

Until now, the internet has been remarkably free of major crashes, hacked or otherwise.  My concern is that one day, someone or group of people will find a way to bring down the web en mass, which will create havoc regionally or nationally as business has come to depend on the web for doing commerce.  I am not looking forward to that day….

Clash of the Titans

I’ve been a subscriber of Direct TV for more than a decade.  Just had an aversion to being connected to cable, as if it were any more like having a ball and chain than any other subscription service.  By and large, satellite TV is fine, giving you access to hundreds of channels of crap you just don’t care about while delivering the dozen of so channels you do watch.

Last week, something funny began happening on Comedy Central (and other Viacom owned entities).  One Thursday night, we saw two different streaming messages at the bottom of the screen:  One from Direct TV alerting us that they were being held ransom by Viacom for $1 billion (additional) dollars for Viacom programming.  The other, from Viacom, lamenting Direct TV’s demand to not have to pay the 3 cents more per viewer for their programming.

As with all such squabbles, I assumed that this was a type of posturing from each side as they positioned themselves for a certain resolution status at their negotiating deadline.  But my assumption proved wrong.  Direct TV cut all such programming at the stroke of 9pm and, as of this writing over a week later, has not broadcast said Viacom programming.  Instead, they have posted several notices, messages from Direct TV’s president (lame) and now a screen full of alternatives (none of which I find appealing).  To have this happen is good in one way – it forces me to change my viewing habits.  Which means that I’m watching less TV (always a good thing) but then makes me wonder why the hell I’m paying over $60 per month for the connection.

I understand that Dish Network is in the clash with Viacom and it appears that the stakes are high.  If Viacom gets its way, I’m pretty sure subscribers will be paying more in the future.  Dear Steven Colbert – I love your show but I’m not going to be paying more for the privilege of watching you the same day.  There’s always Hulu….


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