Entries from July 2009 ↓

The Ghost in the Machine.

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Software, arguably, rules the world. It’s the basis of computing in all forms, from your microwave oven to your cell phone to the internet. Yet, it is invisible, ethereal, hard to understand, and even harder to create well.

But software can be made expertly, with great results, when one puts together and manages a great team. But how does one do that?

In his new book, Growing Software: Proven Strategies for Managing Software Engineers, Louis Testa talks about how making great software is, really, a task of managing and choosing good people, a needed skill in any realm.

Louis Testa the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 17th, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Racially Slurred Speech.

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Is this series of billboards, above, coupled to a complementary set of commercials by the same company, below, racist?

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Home Sweet Home.

863587392_631c2115b1_bHe wasn’t yet forty when he completed this residence in Harbor Springs, MI. Yet, architect Richard Meier’s 1973 Douglas House remains one of his landmark structures, and the building that, with what would become his trademark white exterior palette, declared him a force to be reckoned with.

This somber black & white image may be the best ever made of the site. Framing the home against the deep foliage that surrounds it, the near-charcoals of the natural environment form a womb-like cove for Meier’s gleaming angles. Even with a dark sky threatening, the futuristic house radiates a serenity for the ages.

Barbie is Truly for the Birds.

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Somehow I overlooked this: Last year, 2008, was the 45th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s nightmarish, 1963 classic, The Birds. To commemorate the release, and create new relevance for Barbie—a toy which has seen serious drops in its popularity over the last several years—Mattel created this Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” Barbie® Doll.

Decked out in the classic mint green ensemble Melanie Griffith’s mom, Tippi Hendren, wore in her debut film role, the figurine also sports a stylish handbag and three viciously attacking ravens. Absent, of course, because it’s Barbie: The terrified expression Hendren wore through out the entire film as the fowls tried to take her head off. It’s $40 from Barbie Collector, but, right now, Entertaiment Earth has ‘em for less than $25. Want one? Like Tippi, better move yo’ behind.

Look At This Guy. Do You Trust Him?

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Would you believe anything he told you about the car you were buying from him, about your future with the company, or about you?

Probably not. But why? And, even more, when you speak, do people see you the same way? That is, do you, even unintentionally, convey that you are not to be liked or believed?

In his new book, Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma, Nick Morgan, PhD., a top communication and speech coach, author, and blogger, delivers the critical knowledge on how “to be an effective speaker by presenting an image of authenticity and respect for [an] audience, whether in a group presentation or a one-on-one conversation.”

Undergirding his approach is

the fact that when words and body language are in conflict, body language wins every time. This isn’t easy to overcome, because normally body language is immediate, while the words lag slightly behind, and even a momentary conflict is perceptible to the audience. The key to success is to train your body language to unconsciously align with your message.

Nick Morgan is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 10, at 2 pm ET.

lrgThen, we’ll announce the three winners of O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein’s new volume, The Twitter Book, right. Sarah was our guest last week on NONFICTION, and an amazing, informed—and generous!—guest.

Then, finally, our long-delayed conversation with Ellen Lupton, director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, and author of the new book, Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book, a step-by-step guide to being your own publisher. “Once referred to derisively as ‘vanity publishing,’” she says, “self-published books are finally taking their place alongside more accepted indie categories such as music, film, and theater.”

You can hear Nick Morgan’s and Ellen Lupton’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

UPDATE! No Cheers for @KirstieAlley: Why the Star’s Twittered “Wrath” Against MEDIA ASSASSIN Just Digs Her a Big, New Black Hole.

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I honestly did not expect this.

After I posted Black Like @KirstieAlley: Twittering About Race with the Fat Actress” yesterday, I manually sent out one tweet, at 5:55 pm ET, announcing the posting. (My blog automatically sent out another one 45 minutes later.) I then left the house to take care of some business, getting back a little over two hours later. I went to my computer, and logged on to Twitter.

Big mistake.

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Black Like @KirstieAlley: Twittering About Race with the Fat Actress.

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Two-and-half weeks ago, actor Kirstie Alley, famed of ’80s TV sitcom Cheers, Jenny Craig weight loss ads, and sashaying in her hosiery on Oprah, told me, on Twitter, that African-Americans and Italians are “more free and fun and light hearted” than, I guess, people who aren’t African-American or Italian.

When she said this, I was actually dumbfounded. Twice, it turned out. Figuring out what to say, however, became my own mini-education in talking about race.

First, background….

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“I want his three children to know: Wa’nt nothin’ strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with.”

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Al Sharpton, dropping the bomb, and the morning’s most compelling statement, at Michael Jackson’s memorial service, the Staples Center, Los Angeles CA, July 7, 2009.

Badder Than Bloomberg: The Mayor of Tirana, Albania Drops Science.

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locationmapalbaniaMayor Mike Bloomberg may be the richest man in New York City, with an estimated worth, pre-the financial downturn, of $20 billion. All his loot, though, wouldn’t help him in a battle against his Tiranese counterpart, Edi Rama, above, chairman of Albania’s Socialist Party, and mayor of Tirana, capital of the country, right, and site where 895,000 of the nation’s 3.6 million rest.

In this YouTube clip, above, the former artist joins Albanian crew West Side Family’s cipher, for their track, “Tirona.” (Rama shows up at the 1:46 mark.) I don’t speak a word of Albanian, and like most Americans, couldn’t find the country on a map. But whether you speak the language or not, it’s clear these kids actually have a gift, and more than a little bit of flow.

Hmm: With its sophisticated intellectuals, literate populace, and Mediterranean climate, this little Adriatic jewel may be the exactly the perfect host for our next international hip-hop conference / award show / road trip.

I’m kidding.

No, I’m not.

The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World.

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The day Michael Jackson died, it was a message on the social messaging service, Twitter, above, from TMZ head Harvey Levin that started the massive cascade of fear, grief, reminiscence, and adoration that ultimately swept the globe. Levin’s tweet, as Twitter messages are called, was a mere 77 characters in length, just a bit more than half the service’s maximum, 140 characters-per-message capacity. Rarely does such a small amount of text have such an immense, and rapid, effect.

Yet, whether in the death of a celebrity, or an uprising in a Middle eastern country—Twitter has been central, in terms of getting news out of that land, after their disrupted elections—the technology is making itself felt. In her new volume, The Twitter Book, co-written with O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly, Sarah Milstein talks about what Twitter is, how to get on it, and how to make it work for you. It’s a convenient to carry, easily-read book, just right for the neophyte, but with enough substance for power-users. Indeed, as the 21st person on the network—her boyfriend was an engineer with the young company—and a well-know consultant and author, Milstein definitely knows her stuff…and her Twitter.

Sarah Miltein is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 3rd, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.