Greg T. Spielberg

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Lee Carpenter’s Tim Tebow story needs a warning label

In Uncategorized, writing on August 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

This picture is from a fun post  by Tom Scott. He affixes warning labels to different journalism stories that reflect the reason for their short-comings. For instance, “Warning: To ensure future interviews with subject, important questions were not asked.” This mask my favorite because the practice or writing “some would say” or “some claim” should never get into print anywhere, any time. It’s like being at the bar with a group of friends and calling out one of them: “Hey, why are you being so awkward?” Even if they’re not being awkward at all, it gets a false ball rolling.

Leaning on “some would say” or “some would claim” or “according to some” automatically means we’re dealing with a pale-faced sandwich of a story that should be tossed out. It’s not necessarily a journalist hiding his/her own views as it is creating a false reason for the story.  Earlier today, before I saw the Scott page, I tweeted this:

Yahoo is forever king of misleading, false, gossipy headlines. “Injury reinforces concerns about Broncos’ Tebow.”

The story by Lee Carpenter is exactly the type of story that should come with a warning, except it should just say, “This story contains the phrase ‘some people claim.'” Carpenter suggests that Tim Tebow, the rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos, is considered unfit for the NFL. He says that Tebow’s pre-season plunge into the endzone, where he injured a Bengals defender and himself, reinforces an existing concern about Tebow’s style of play. There certainly has been criticism of Tebow’s game in the past — that he runs too much, that he doesn’t have a good a good-enough arm. Those are fair. But Carpenter doesn’t actually reference a critique at any point in his story. Instead, he writes, “those who say his style of throwing the ball is too cumbersome to translate to the professional game and find his headfirst plunges into the chests of tacklers as a great way to get hurt rather than a heroic display of manhood.”

“Those who say” needs a link. Otherwise Carpenter isn’t building an argument off anything. Barreling into the end zone is common. NFL quarterbacks do that. John Elway barreled into the end zone during Super Bowl XXXII. Donovan McNabb did the same thing last year and broke his ribs. Both are legit, long-career QBs. McNabb-frequent All-Pro. Elway-Hall of Famer and former Bronco. Steve Young scrambled, too, and won a Super Bowl. He had a weird delivery, played second-string, went to BYU.

“And so,” Carpenter writes, “a month into his NFL career, before a real game has been played, the worst fears about Tebow have been realized.” Whose fears? What fear. Mike Kils, sportswriter for the Denver Post, does a great job laying out the injuries that have resulted from Tebow’s running back style and includes quotes from past Florida teammates and specific examples. No warning needed.


Notes from prison .1.

In life on August 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm
My good friend is in prison down South. He recently started a 26-40-month sentence. Through CorrLinks and ATG we can communicate through email. There’s a 30,000 character limit, which is surreal since Tweets are measured by .0046 that. I’m going to start posting his emails.


What up I thought I would fill you in a little more then last time.  How are things with you? You still have a job? Doing something new?  How is streetwater?  Well, fill me in on you let me know who the real world is treating you.  Of course as you know now I am in my final location after 14+ weeks.  During my 14 weeks I have seen the worst of the worse, the middle, and now camp.  I must say seeing all of that other shit makes you really appriate the camp.

The camp is like a small colege campus with everything you can think of; education department, Rec room (ping pong, billards, card, etc), library, weight pile and fitness center, wood and leather shop, sports fields, etc.  Having not bar and fences is nice to I can walk around with no hand cuff or shakles, I must say it save the skin around the  I live in a dorm setting so some times you feel like you are at summer camp when you were a little kid, minus the egos of course.  Everthing has time limits, like computers I can read for 30 min at a time but then have to wait 30 min to get back on, its to give everyone a chance.  Trust me if they did not have these rules there would be alot of problems, I mean on my journey I say more fights start over the TV room, meaning my seat or what channel the tv is on.

Things are good I just got a job off base at another Air Force base called Eglin.  I am told its the largest base in the world 750,00+ achers.  I work at the recycel center and make the buck a whole 20 cents an hour, ballin.  I guess something is better then nothing, however it pass the time.  Finally settling into a routine a little bit of spanish class and public speacking along with church.  I have been getting my workout on again as well as playing soccer in a league twice a week.  Sorry but the timer is saying I have 1 min left but I just wanted to say hello and thinking of you and hope all is well.  Look forward hearing back from you.



The Economist’s wacky offer

In Distribution on August 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Cartoon from DavidsonMath & Amanda Davidson. Originally by Big Bill Watterson.

The Economist’s ad on Facebook is the strangest magazine-subscription pushes I’ve seen in a long time:

Best Introductory Offer
Best Available Offer. Pay just $12 for the first 12 weekly issues (85% savings) and then $29 for every 3 months thereafter.

1) No one uses “thereafter.”
2) Is it the best introductory offer or the best available offer? Or is it the best available introductory offer?
3) Why is there a “weekly” qualifier in there? Is the Economist trying to suggest that double issues or special issues aren’t included. Or are they assuming people don’t know it’s a weekly.
4) The math. The math is just so strange. $12 for the first 12 issues is a good deal, and they’re stressing that the offer is $1 an issue. Then, they move to three-month intervals, which is what 12 weeks is,  but they don’t want us to see $12=12 issues and then $29=12 issues.

So what’s the deal, then, actually? 12 +29(3) = 99. After all that clever number play, the deal is an expensive $100 or the deal-sounding $99. Clever

Copying Ben McGrath

In Uncategorized, writing on August 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Hunter Thompson famously copied The Great Gatsby to learn the architecture of Fitzgerald’s sentences. His cadence. The length of each sentence. His punctuation and commas, and the speed with which Fitzgerald unfolded information. It was probably like osmosis. Picking up patterns that repeated themselves as they have to throughout an entire book.

This is such a good idea, and I don’t hear about much. I used to play piano and violin in elementary and middle school, and sheet music was essential to picking up the tune. Even for Suzuki, the memorization method, we started off with sheet music.

I’m copying a Ben McGrath Talk of the Town piece from the New Yorker right now. I have trouble synthesizing information and breaking it down from disjointed pieces of information into a clean flow. Talk of the Towns move quickly (as stories in the best publications typically do), but they still have the textured images and details that make visualizing the scene very easy. I want to be able to do that.

I just got through the first paragraph of his short piece about leadership training at the Columbia School of Arts. I’m only through one paragraph, and it’s scary. It feels like plagiarism and seems like a waste of time. The plagiarism tenseness is like breathing underwater with scuba gear for the first time. My entire body — from my chest to my fingers — wants to pull away from the action, and my breathing got shallow. I think this will be good, though.