Posts from August 18, 2004

Iran and Israel: Not what you think

Iran and Israel: Not what you think

: Iranian blogger Hoder connects some dots and finds that young Iranians do not have the view of Israel you’d assume: Many are appalled at Iran’s horrid, hateful policy that led to its judo competitor refusing to compete against Israel’s at the Olympics.

: Meanwhile, the mullahs warn that they’d make preemptive strikes against Israel.

Blogger on caffeine

Blogger on caffeine

: Jim Romenesko, the media world’s premier blogger, has a new blog about Starbucks:

A former Starbucks employee tells your STARBUCKS GOSSIP webmaster in an e-mail: “Did you know that a store manager gets a bonus for running a store with only a handful of people on benefits? As that one writer told you [in a comments posting], they give you benefits for 20 hours, and they may do that for one period….”

[via Steve Rubel]

A gold medal in blogging

A gold medal in blogging

: blogger Scott Goldblatt and Olympic swimmer is part of the team that won the gold medal in Athens.



: When I started working in online 10 years ago this month (I’d been online for another 10 or more years before that) the one argument I had to keep beating down from old print editors, designers, publishers, and advertisers was about design control.

They all wanted to control the design of content — which sounded reasonable — and HTML thwarted them, especially back then, when browser pagess were all battleship-gray and pixels were the size of baseballs and colors were few and fonts were fewer. They all took to turning everything into an image so they could control the look. The fact that images delayed the download over slow dial-up lines didn’t bother them. Their ego — their control over content — was more important than the audience they were trying to serve. What broke them of that bad habit was the audience clicking away from any slow page; substance — and time — mattered a helluva lot more than style.

Things are better all around today — HTML, screens, fonts, colors, speed have all improved — but still, the most beautiful web page isn’t half as pretty as the prettiest print page. But we’ve learned that’s OK.

The battle is almost — but not completely — over. Some folks still want control, so they produce PDFs. And the public still rejects them. See Vin Crosbie’s roundup of the sales of electronic versions of print newspapers here. See also the considerable kvetching about the use of PDF’s at ChangeThis.

I was going to lay off the site for a bit, because I already took my potshot and because I like ChangeThis creator Seth Godin and don’t want to seem to be harping.

But then I saw this on Godin’s blog and I couldn’t help but react. Seth, to his credit, quotes some of the messages complaining about his PDFetish but then digs in his heels and says:

I refuse to enter the “is PDF bad” debate, but the one thing we all have to agree on is this: OF COURSE it matters what it looks like.

We judge books and blogs and tv shows and even people “by their covers” every single day.

Acknowledging that makes it easier to spread your ideas, and it alerts you to the fact that you might be embracing some ideas (like who to vote for) based on cues that have nothing to do with logical, rational reality. Abe Lincoln would come in fourth in a three way election if it were held today.

A few responses:

First, these are supposed to be manifestos, aren’t they? Not tablecloths. Not lingerie. Manifestos. And in a manifesto, isn’t it the ideas, the arguments, the facts, the words that matter?

They could have printed the Declaration of Independence with elderberry juice on cowhide and it wouldn’t have looked as elegant but it would have been every bit as powerful.

Second, I think the design of some of these PDFs actually distracts from and hurts the message: They picked a serendipitous, happy-go-lucky font for the pullquotes and it doesn’t fit so well with the topic of executing children; it’s downright tasteless.

Third, if you really believe that about Abe Lincoln, then you don’t think much of The People and I don’t understand why you’re even bothering to change their minds with manifestos. That’s both insulting to the citizenry and cynical about society. Whether it is a president or a position paper or a product, I do believe that The People have both the good sense and the good taste to know the difference between the two and to know what matters.

Besides, other than John Kennedy, name one handsome president. I can name lots of handsome losers.

: Now I can’t rant on about design in this space without acknowledging its own butt-ugliness. I would like to pretend that’s purposeful, but it’s not. I grabbed an old Blogger template, made a few adjustments, and left it alone because I am too lazy and too frightened of code and change to bother with it. I do plan to get a clean new design. But whenever I say that, inevitably, someone tells me not to; those folks say they’re tired of slickness and don’t want it to get in the way of what is being said. More design is not always a good thing. I learned that the very, very hard way at the launch of Entertainment Weekly. We had a great design … six weeks before launch. But the head designer kept futzing every day until launch and I didn’t have the experience to know how to stop him and when we came out, we had — I will now confess — a confused mess. We got deserved raspberries and underwent the fastest redesign in magazine history. Too much design is always a bad thing.

: UPDATE: Ken Layne adds in the comments:

PDFs are sort of like the microfiche of the Web. Yes, if you absolutely have to get the information, you’ll use it. But who would crouch over a microfiche machine for reading pleasure?

With cheese, please

With cheese, please

: Fatburger is coming to New Jersey today! Jersey City, in fact. I’ll be dining there soon.

Now to hell with this blogging thing. How about an In-N-Out franchise?

A beautiful view

A beautiful view

: Every time I come through the World Trade Center and look at 7 World Trade rising again, I smile.

Today, Lockhart Steele at Curbed puts up a beautiful photo of the sight.

Big news: Iraqi bloggers run for office!

Big news: Iraqi bloggers run for office!

: This is wonderful news: Two Iraqi bloggers — brothers Ali Fadhil and Mohammed Fadhil of — announced today that they are running for the Iraqi National Assembly.

How’s that for democratizing? Two citizens who had no voice in their nation a little over a year ago came to blogging and now have a voice that matters — they are quoted often in many major papers — and are using that platform to gain a voice in their government.

Tom Villars has helped them set up a web site in English and Arabic — where you can go and contribute to their campaign. Here is their announcement:

Baghdad, IRAQ August 18th, 2004 — Two popular Iraqi webloggers, Ali Fadhil and Mohammed Fadhil, today announced their candidacies for the Iraqi National Assembly.

The bloggers, who are brothers, have been writing their popular weblog since November of 2003. Their weblog has been quoted in major world media, including the BBC, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Review, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Bulletin, Dallas Morning, and New York Post.

We believe that we represent an important segment of the Iraqi people that was never organized before under any category as a result of the oppression of the past regime. Now this segment has come to see the necessity to contribute to the building of a new Iraq in a way that is entirely different from the old ways that are still dominant in the Middle East and that are governed by religious fanaticism and pan-Arab nationalism.

We see that remaining silent is not an option in our battle towards democracy and freedom and that everyone who seeks a better future should take part in this battle.

علي فاضل (Ali Fadhil)

Through our writings in our weblog and communication with different opinions and view points we find ourselves committed to reconsider the way in which we can serve our nation.

We also saw that our somewhat daring opinions were accepted by many people whether westerners or Iraqis and we see that we have the capability to clarify our vision about Iraq’s future through talking to Iraqis directly.

Our work on the weblog opened our minds more, made us bolder and encouraged us to communicate with our fellow citizens as they’re the ones who can make the change and they’re the ones we started to write for their sake.

محمد فاضل (Mohammed Fadhil)

The bloggers are running under the banner of the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party. Elections will be held after December 2004. For the complete list of party candidates and more information on the party’s history and its platform, please visit our website

The brothers add on their blog:

For sometime we thought that we can help by doing our jobs and by posting our opinions here on the blog, and while we still think it does help, the battle against tyranny and fanaticism in our country demands more than that. It demands that each one of us put all the effort he/she can make and take an active stand regardless of how difficult or dangerous it may seem. We simply cannot just stand and watch and we hope that we will encourage others also to do their best in order to achieve our freedom and establish democracy in a country that suffered more than enough from wars, dictators, terrorists and fanatics.

We believe that democracy is the only cure to all those diseases and the only answers to all threats. As hard the battle seems now and as far victory may look, we believe in our people and we believe in our friends and we know we will win.

: One of the fuzziest cliches of American politics is that one person can make a difference. But look over to Iraq — and Iran — and you begin to believe that one person can make a difference. In Iran, Hoder was the Johnny Appleseed who brought blogging to his nation and it is changing the culture and the country. In Iraq, Zeyad got his friends Ali and Mohammed to blog and they got more friends to blog and now they are running for posts in a new government in a new nation. Scrape the scales of political and media cynicism from your eyes and see what these brave people are doing now that they have the chance to do it: They love freedom of speech and democracy so much they are risking even their lives to work for it.

Perp humor

Perp humor

: Many mornings when I drive into Jersey City, I end up behind paddywagons perpmobiles as the county sheriff and various local police departments drive their apprehended alleged aholes to the county courts. This morning, I was behind a delivery from Union City and saw incongruous florid blue script painted on the back. Got closer to see what it said: “Bad Boys: We told you we’d come for you.”

Gotta love a guy with a gun and a sense of humor.