Category Archives: Media

Books, TV, and all things to fill up your brain.

Please Remove Your Shoes

I watched this movie last week, now available on Netflix streaming.

Two hightlights among the many mis-adventures of the TSA over the years: One, a lengthy interview with Steve Bierfeldt, the Ron Paul aide detained by the TSA and local police because he was carrying on hand $4,000 in campaign funds. (Premise being he was never a threat to security and highlighted the intrusiveness and “mission creep” of the TSA. Second, we see in depth and first hand the morphing of the air marshal program, and sadly not for the better.

Marchas y Protestas en Buenos Aires

When I visited Argentina a few years back it was during the weeks leading up to the Buenos Aires provincial elections. I was struck by how many demonstrations and political gatherings were being held in the streets every day.

Here at home we have the occasional rally at the capitol building. For the most part they’re few and far between, and the amount of people that participate pales in comparison. On the streets of Buenos Aires you’re likely to see a demonstration often, especially during election season.

Occasionally I’ll mention to friends how active Porteños are in politics, and the frequency of the street demonstrations and protests. They assume I’m exaggerating, but if put on the stand I think this verifies it in an interesting and humorous manner.

I watch but mainly listen to C5N for an hour or two every morning. It helps me practice my Spanish, and gives a feel for daily life there. (Even if like here the news carries a heavy focus on the irrational.) C5N is a 24 hour news channel serving Buenos Aires, and is always up to speed on what’s happening in the streets. I grabbed some few screen shots over the past few months to highlight some of the daily occurrences.

The daily interruptions of traffic flow on the streets are so common they are included in the traffic reports, and even plan for upcoming events that are scheduled. These are never violent, but occur to facilitate the awareness of issues important to the workers and residents. And apparently standing in the streets with large signs accomplishes that.

Now that the mid term elections are finished the daily demonstrations have subsided some. It’s chaotic, unorganized, and crazy – and I love and appreciate it. Here are some shots from April and May:

March 23:

April 30:

April 27:

April 9:

April 16:

April 10: Blocking a bridge

May 14: Taxi drivers demonstrating:

May 1: Downtown

May 29: Scheduled protest at 6pm

I really didn’t catch what was going on here, but there is a crowd of people dancing in the street:

Other random shots:

Here’s Christina Kirshner delivering one of her uplifting speeches:

Dealing with the H1N1 virus:

Traffic backup. Makes the 405 look like a country drive:

And of course coverage of South Carolina governer Mark Sanford:

Newspapers are Dying

The plummet of newspaper sales and readers isn’t news, but I’m not sure if the front page of today’s Denver Post is the REASON for their demise, or a finally hail mary hand reaching out of the quicksand hoping somebody will latch on as their head slips lower and lower under the muck.

Read for yourself Douglas Brown’s compelling local piece on sexy 40somethings and the younger generation they chase:  “Cougers on the Prowl

A comment by “Mike 8″ pretty much sums up my thoughts…

Front page news? Are you kidding me? No wonder the Post’s circulation is dropping like a stone. As to the “human interest story” that somehow pushed a Supreme Court nomination and the demise of the US auto industry off the front page, well, just another blow for feminism, eh? Rah, rah, raw. Sheesh. Mike

I also noticed that the “news ticker” is something about lottery doings in Aurora.

Dispatch from Mexico: A Local’s View on Swine Flu and the Media

In March I visited Puerto Vallarta for a few days.  My friends stayed at the Hotel Mercurio, a small hotel in the heart Puerto Vallarta’s old town.   I stayed at a nearby condo because I wanted a kitchen, but since I exchanged a few emails with the Mercurio I wound up on their email list.  Although I didn’t stay there I enjoyed their pool/bar with friends.

I received this email today from manager Paul Christ.  I’m posting his correspondence below because I think it’s important to hear an alternative to the mainstream barrage of pig flu “news.”    The non-stop coverage may have fallen since last week, but unfortunately the economic damage has been crushing.   There are thousands of people like Paul who own businesses or rely on tourism dollars, a great percentage of it from Americans.

Whether or not you agree with the technical aspects of his note I think it’s very well worded and worth reading.  He also references this biting editorial from Alternet, which provides some less heard opinions too.

In light of the current international fixation on the spread of the Type A virus, H1N1, I have decided that it is time to communicate a few facts to friends of Hotel Mercurio. We have, like all hotels and businesses in Puerto Vallarta, been hit with a rash of cancellations in the past week. New reservations are almost non-existent. The situation is dire. We are struggling to avoid layoffs. If you’ve stayed with us, you know that our employees are a family, and we are responsible for their well being. And while we understand the abundance of caution, it is also important to us that you know the real situation regarding the flu in Puerto Vallarta.

Just as the U.S. media has done with regard to border area violence, they have painted Mexico with one broad brush. It seems incredible to those of us in Mexico that the U.S. seems so oblivious to the immense size and diversity of Mexico. All the major TV media outlets depict Mexico as a uniformly dangerous, violent place, source of illegal and undesirable immigrants, and which is now “plagued by contagious disease.”   The fact is, most of Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, is peaceful, safe, and healthy. The violence is over 1,000 mile away. Puerto Vallarta has a lower crime rate than MANY U.S. cities…perhaps even yours! The nearest case of H1N1 virus is some 600 miles away.

To CNN and other 24/7 news outlets, we say this: Please check your map. Mexico is somewhat larger than Rhode Island, and Mexicans resent being depicted generally as gangsters, victims, or dying of illness.  U.S. media treatment of Mexico is neither accurate nor fair.
So, here are some facts.

There have been no confirmed or even suspected cases of H1N1 flu in Puerto Vallarta. In fact, there have been no cases in the state of Jalisco (which includes Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico), where Vallarta is located. If you live in a U.S. state or city where H1N1 has been confirmed, you are more at risk of contracting the virus at your local grocery store than you are in Puerto Vallarta. But even going to your grocery store, your major risk would be an auto accident on the way… not catching a case of the Swine Flu.

The Secretary of Health for Mexico has announced that the number of cases in Mexico generally, is beginning to decline. This is in keeping with epidemiological models that predict the rise and decline of contagions based on a number of factors such as the season, general health of a population, population density, etc. Thus, it’s no surprise that this is turning out to be much less of an “event” than the U.S. media has made it out to be during the past week.

There is, to date, no scientific evidence that the behavior of this particular strain of flu is any different from normal, seasonal flu virus. It seems no more contagious, and does not seem to have a higher mortality rate than normal, seasonal flu (which may kill over 30,000 people per year, but this doesn’t make the news!).

All the aforementioned being said, the response of the Mexican government has been both rapid, and admirable. Not because there was any certainty that this could become a vast and deadly pandemic, but out of an abundance of caution. The most recent indications are that, in Mexico, the worst is over, and it wasn’t nearly the big deal that the media made it out to be. Bars and clubs that were ordered closed in Puerto Vallarta are re-opening today. Schools will be opening this week. It is time to get back to normal (because, in fact, nothing abnormal has occurred).

Most of the public does not understand the scientific community’s use of the term “pandemic.” It does not refer to the deadliness of an outbreak of illness. It means merely that the outbreak is spread across multiple countries, and is spread from human to human, thus has the potential for many cases to develop. The fact is, we have a number of pandemics of flu every flu season, but it doesn’t become the #1 item on CNN round the clock for weeks on end.

The airlines are not refunding, but are allowing re-scheduling. We feel no obligation to offer more than the airlines are offering. This is particularly the case given the utterly unfounded fears that have become rampant this past week. This situation is not YOUR fault, but it isn’t OUR fault, either. If anyone might be blamed, it seems the MEDIA is responsible here.

So, if you have vacation plans for Puerto Vallarta, we simply ask you to look beyond the hype, and come to enjoy our beaches, our friendly people, our vibrant nightlife, our endless variety of gastronomic delights, and the natural beauty of our area.

We’re here to serve you, and look forward to your visit!
Paul Crist and the entire team at Hotel Mercurio

Colorado’s Wine Country

I saw this billboard over the weekend for the Grand Junction Visitors Bureau.  My review in brief:

1. I like the typeface, style and overall clean design. It’s simple and intriguing. And kudos for not throwing “www” in front of the website. It’s an unnecessary and overused prefix.

2. The “GJ” stamp looks great but is ambiguous.  A visitor to Denver isn’t going to know what “GJ” is.   Maybe the lack of detail is intentional.   The website “” forwards to the Grand Junction Visitors Bureau.  Although “Grand Junction” conjures up an industrial image I’m not convinced “GJ” sounds or looks hipper than Grand Junction. Clarity is key for reaching visitors.

3. A wine glass full of golf tees does not look easy on the stomach. But the juxtaposition if unique. Other photos include a wine glass with a bike chain, and either an altimeter or a compass.  Even though everyone uses GPS now it’s not a bad reminder that a compass can save your life when hiking.

Overall I like this campaign.

Related:  Western Colorado

Denver Woman Magazine

Did you know there was a magazine titled “Denver Woman?”  I certainly did not.

Last month’s “Role Model” section features Hassina Omar, a co-worker and friend for whom I manage her charity’s website “Handicapped Children of Afghanistan.” (Manage in that I simply post photos and nice media articles like this one.)

In this visit with Carol McKinley she recounts her Afghan history and upbringing. She shares experiences from her October trip delivering wheelchairs and medical supplies to kids who live the day to day consequences and effects of a war torn country.

I recently shared a number of photos of the October trip, including the children and families benefited by her work.

Read the full article and interview here in Denver Woman. I personally would call it “Denver Women” because there are more than one.

Related posts: Armchair Afghanistan.

So Long Rocky Mountain News

Sadly, on Friday, the Rocky Mountain News closed up shop after almost 150 years.  Up until Friday Denver has had two newspapers, the other being the Denver Post. This provided Denver and Colorado an abundance of news and commentary – a blessing considering that prior to the past 20 years the city and state were not considered a major population center or political power outside of the western mountain region.

Although I read the two newspapers almost daily online, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a newspaper. With the exception of flipping through a discarded newspaper on the bus, my news content is welled from online resources and news aggregators. Since the transfer from print to online has not been friendly to advertiser revenues I suppose I’m to blame as anyone else for the demise.

The last issue contained nostalgic articles from the Rocky’s columnists and newsfolk, and a compilation of notable headlines from the past 150 years.

On September 12th, 2001, I grabbed about eight copies of the Rocky Mountain News, of course struck and stunned by the events of the previous morning. These have been gathering dust under my bed since then, so I figured I’d share the front and first few pages of the Rocky Mountain News from 9/12/01.

I guess if I wanted to sell a few copies on eBay now would be as good a time as any.

Meanwhile if you yearn to still read the Rocky, you can find copies lining the walls of The Brown in Breckenridge.

Coupon Printer . exe

The “Your Money” section of KUSA / 9News has a section listing grocery coupons.   Today they featured it on the front page of their site, so searching for some crazy deals I clicked and found $1 off Frosted Flakes.   (Yeah I know it’s not great, but I’ve never clipped a coupon online so was curious what it looked like.)

In order to print coupons from this site, (linked through they require you download and install “couponprinter.exe” to your computer.  I abstained, being savvy enough to know it’s a bad idea to download random executables.  I really don’t think one of the top consumer/news sites in the city should be affiliated with this, or prompting folks to download shoddy third rate apps.   Even if it’s not malicious, programs like these are not designed well, hog space, and rarely leave your PC in better shape than before.

Here’s what a contributor to had to say when asked “Should I Install this?”

Maybe and maybe not. That’s not much to go on, really. If they are telling you that you HAVE to install the program to print some kind of coupon, then I would be suspicious, since you really don’t need to.

I’ve seen one out there that claims it is the only way to make a machine-readable bar code, but that is a lie. I print out machine-readable barcodes all day long from Word, of all things, LOL!

Someone sent me a coupon printer exe file one time and I decided to run it on one of my Virtual Machines, and when I went to install it, it told me that it does not allow itself to be installed on a virtual machine. HUGE red flag!!! About the ONLY things that do checks for VM before installing are malware apps…

Personally, the last time I ran into this, I sent an email to the company and told them that I refuse to install any untrusted 3rd party program on my machine just to print a coupon. The coupon was for $1.00 off their product. A week letter I got a letter of apology from the company, indicating they have received many complaints about that and apologize for any inconvenience, are looking into it, blah blah blah, AND they included a nice shiny FREE coupon for their product! :)

So instead of saving a dollar and doing who knows what to my machine, I wound up saving almost 9 dollars by getting the item for free :) That’s my advice!

This site rates it even more infaborably. Needless to say I agree, and think this is a terrible idea. 

Armchair Afghanistan

Now an armchair journey to the streets of Kabul and beyond…

My coworker Hassina is originally from Afghanistan.  Her family relocated to Colorado during the Russian invasion.  She’s lived the Colorado for many years and is well traveled with family abroad.  All that and she’s one of Denver’s finest media consultants too.  (For those companies who still have dollars left to advertise anyway.)

For the past few years her mother, Khadija Omar, has raised money to purchase wheelchairs and medical supplies for hospitals and aid organizations around Afghanistan.  The recent years have taken a major toll on the children due to war, land mines, and the general chaos that comes with a disorganized society.  Many children live with injuries and the constant reminders of war. They are the generation that must carry the brunt of the damage these difficult years of war have brought.  

With the passing of her mother in 2007 Hassina has taken over the charity, which not only involves fundraising but the complex task of coordinating delivery and travel logistics.  She recently returned from this year’s trip to Afghanistan, delivering these supplies and necessities to schools and hospitals.

Hassina has allowed me to share some of these photos, and as she reminds us we’re well served to remember that despite our squalid economy and domestic squabbles we are fortunate to have shelter, assistance for our children, and don’t live in fear of random attacks from sparring factions.

You can see photos and trip summaries at Children Of –   and also watch a recent 9News interview.  If you’re thinking the site design looks quite similar to this one that’s because I designed it.

Should you consider including this wonderful local cause in your group of charities there’s information on how to donate (now by credit card,)  Did you know Google checkout provides free processing for non-profits?

When she was planning her trip last fall I said I wanted to accompany her, but she forgot to pick me up that morning,citing concerns about my safety or something.  We’ll see how this year progresses, and hopefully conditions will allow yet another delivery this fall.  With or without me.

The below photos are of deliveries to hospitals and schools, some friends and family, and some general photos of city life.   Some photos, especially of the children, are tough to see.  However it is reality – which should never be ignored.   Others pictures simply describe the differences from Western life, such as this explosive going off while people in the foreground go about their business. 

Sorry I don’t have them all labeled, but there are more descriptions and history at Handicapped Children of Afghanistan.

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New York Library . Historic Cigarette Ads

The New York Public Library is featuring an art and advertising exhibition detailing the tactics of cigarette advertising throughout the past decades.

The creation was thought up by Dr. Robert Jackler, a dean at Stanford University, after his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He explores the rational and reasoning behind stifling real smoking studies of that time, (money,) and how the cigarette manufactures reach extended cart blanche into every aspect of media, including the Sunday funnies.

Having grown up in the 80s, (with non-smoking parents thankfully,) our opinions were certainly more forward thinking.  As a result I tend to see these ads as kitschy and hilarious, however the N.Y. Times describes the work of copywriters and the accompanying photos as disturbing and flabbergasting.

“They used images of doctors to reassure the public, but these characters came right out of central casting and only looked like doctors,” said Dr. Jackler.  “The medical profession didn’t complain, because the ads made doctors appear noble. And the public were taken in by the ads, because if a doctor smokes, it must be ok.”

“Not A Cough In A Carload: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking” is on show at the N.Y. Public Library from October 7 to December 26, 2008

NYPL Site with details, and even if you don’t see this personally on the road – the NY Times article has a slideshow of select ads worth checking out.