Thursday, September 28, 2006

The real author is...

Love this story:

LATEST: Songwriter PAUL VANCE has blasted reports he's dead, insisting it was an imposter who passed away earlier this month (06SEP06). Vance, best known for co-writing the 1960 novelty song ITSY BITSY TEENIE WEENIE YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI, has been inundated with concerned calls after news broke yesterday (27SEP06) that he'd died of lung cancer. However, the irate musician insists the victim, 68-year-old PAUL VAN VALKENBURGH of Ormond Beach, Florida, was an imposter who claimed to have written the hit himself under the name of Paul Vance. The real Vance admits he was astonished to read his obituary in newspapers, and see two of his horses dropped from races yesterday (27SEP06) because people believed he had died. He says, "Do you know what it's like to have grandchildren calling you and say, 'Grandpa, you're still alive?' "This is not a game. I am who I am and I'm proud of who I am. But these phones don't stop with people calling thinking I'm dead." Van Valkenburgh's widow ROSE LEROUX, who claims never to have known her late husband was lying about the song, says, "To have it come out now, I'm kind of devastated. "If this other man says he did it then my husband's a liar, or he's a liar."

This opens a whole world of possibility:

Sean Scully, 78, famous author

Sean Scully died this morning at age 78 at his home. He was most famous for having written the novel "4th of July" under the name "James Patterson."
He was born in 1967. His writing career began than same year when he wrote the novel "The Chosen" under the name "Chaim Potok."
In 1974, using the name "Ed King," he collaborated with Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zandt to compose the country-rock hit "Sweet Home Alabama."
Although the claim was often dispuited by historians, Mr. Scully was also widely credited with composing the bulk of the Beatles catalog, under the name "Lennon McCartney." His family says he also co-wrote "The Great Gatsby," which was published 42 years before his birth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why the UN will fail

This from this morning. What I love about this is that it is a) the director of communication for a worldwide program and b) headquartered in Germany and yet it does not absolutely require any foreign language skill at all and makes no reference to speaking a single syllable of German. Well thought out, guys.

Company: United Nations Development Programme
Position: Communications/Public Affairs
Location: Bonn, Germany, Europe
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires: October 31, 2006
Job ID: 685252
Post Title: Head, Communications Unit
Post Level: P-4
Post Number: 1284
Duty Station: Bonn, Germany
Bureau/Office: External Relations Group/United Nations Volunteers
Focal Point: Irina Anghelescu at


The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilisation of volunteers. It serves the causes of peace and development through enhancing opportunities for participation by all peoples. It is universal, inclusive and embraces volunteer action in all its diversity. It values free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism.

Job Summary: Under the general guidance of the Chief, External Relations Group, the incumbent will develop and recommend communications and marketing strategies for approval by Senior Management to promote and advance understanding of and support for the work of the UNV programme. This will include the forging and strengthening of relations with UN system agencies, governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, including the global volunteer community. The incumbent will lead the implementation of agreed communication and marketing strategies and programmes accordingly.

Specific duties include:

1. Develop a communications and marketing strategy for UNV through an extensive internal consultative process, a wide-ranging review of external stakeholder information needs and an approval process with senior management. Formulate and continually update policies that provide clear guidelines/parameters for public information activities.

2. Manage the development, production and dissemination of diverse publications and news releases – including: the Annual Report, UNV News (2/year), booklets on current issues on volunteerism and development/the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), regular press releases and news bulletins. Includes translation into relevant UN languages.

3. Oversee the content development, expansion and continual assessment of the quality and relevance of web-based information services - for the UNV corporate website and the WorldVolunteerWeb portal.

4. Promote optimum visibility of UNV corporate and programme activities through: innovative outreach initiatives with diverse national, regional and international stakeholders; equipping managers, programme staff and volunteers to advocate/represent UNV effectively; and networking with strategically with private-sector media partners and vis-à-vis public outreach with UNDP/UN system partners.

5. Manage the annual global campaign to promote volunteerism for development on International Volunteer Day (IVD) – engaging UNV programme staff and volunteers globally and managing the public information campaign worldwide.

6. Lead the diverse and dynamic Communications Unit team and facilitate effective collaborative work planning and implementation processes to meet agreed outputs. Provide a positive team environment where staff are able to perform optimally, respond to challenges creatively and collaboratively, and access coaching and mentoring as needed. Team results are achieved within the resources allocated while team morale is high.


• Proven ability to formulate strategic plans in line with corporate objectives.

• Proven ability to effectively lead a diverse team in implementing strategic plans.

• Effective organisational, prioritisation and coordination skills.

• Well-developed interpersonal, oral, presentation and written communications skills including the proven ability to draft and edit.

• Ability to build, maintain and expand relationships and alliances/coalitions with a wide range of organizations.

• Ability to work under pressure.

• Proven analytical and research skills.

Essential knowledge and experience:

• At least eight years of progressively responsible experience in journalism, public and/or private media relations, advertising or related activities, with some international exposure; demonstrated team leadership and management capability; highly effective advocacy, promotional and networking skills; commitment to the values of volunteer action; and knowledge of the UN system an important asset.

• Essential personal qualities. This post requires a dynamic individual with proven excellent interpersonal and management skills in a multicultural setting. Client orientation and the ability to establish positive and productive relationships with colleagues at headquarters and in the field, management, and a very diverse range of external stakeholders, is essential.

• Familiarity with web-based information systems and inter-active electronic tools is an asset.


• Advanced university degree in journalism, social sciences or related fields.

• Excellent written and spoken English is essential – including editing capability; Competence in French and/or Spanish is highly desirable.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Live from the Oval Office

My Fellow Americans,

I am addressing you this evening to discuss reports that my administration threatened to bomb one of our key allies “Back to the Stone Age.” I want to assure you that there is no truth to these reports. Nobody in my administration would ever issue such a blunt and undiplomatic threat to enemy or friend alike.

Oh, I know there was that business with Canada, and offering to “blast them back to France.” That was a slip of the tongue.

And, of course, there was that unfortunate situation where the Secretary of State mentioned that we might bomb the Greeks “back to the Bronze Age,” which turned out not to be very scary for them. Who knew that the Bronze Age was a pretty good time for the Greeks?

But rest assured that we value our allies and intend to treat them with respect. It is not our intention to bomb anyone back to any age whatsoever.

Thank you and have a good evening – or else.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Secret Language indeed

I think my favorite trend in the world of SPAM advertising - and God knows I'm a fan, all right - is the use of random word and phrase generators to create random text that will pass through a SPAM checker. Then you append an innoccuous looking image that contains the SPAM text you want to show to the world (Yes, this adds considerably to your credibility - hiding your message behind nonsense).

Once in a while, however, these seemingly random texts rise to the level of, yes, poety. Or at least really good prose. The lead of this one should be the start of my first novel (and the final line is deliciously cryptic).

the latest research in in between sips of a martini. it struggling with academic In a way that makes you Java's built-in pattern design problems, and better support in your own code.
environment. In other With Design Patterns, between Decorator, Facade reinvent the wheel to know how they

But you don't just You want to learn about want to see how Most importantly, on your team. real OO design principles
to know how they
matter--why to use them, in between sips of a martini. you want to learn the You want to learn about Something more fun.

or on the real relationship at speaking the language else. Something more Best of all, in a way that won't between Decorator, Facade someone struggles
look "in the wild". them to work immediately. else. Something more Something more fun.
and Adapter. With Head First (or worse, a flat tire),
sounds, how the Factory

You'll easily counter with your

Design Patterns, you'll avoid Head First book, you know to know how they in between sips of a martini.
challenging. Something real OO design principles
up a creek without

will load patterns into your

alone. At any given moment, more complex. also want to learn (or worse, a flat tire),
But you don't just that you can hold your
them to work immediately.

You want to learn the

words, in real world to do instead). You want Something more fun. patterns look in
Facade, Proxy, and Factory In their native it struggling with academic
advantage principles will help neurobiology, cognitive

want to see how and Adapter. With Head First design problems, and better In a way that lets you put With Design Patterns, Decorator is something from you have. You know
your time is too important so you look to Design
Facade, Proxy, and Factory
to use them (and when to learn how those
somewhere in the world

(and too short) to spend will load patterns into your and Adapter. With Head First the patterns that of Design Patterns so
format designed for the way when he casually mentions with look "in the wild".
the embarrassment of thinking to know how they (and impress cocktail party guests) Decorator is something from better at solving software
when he casually mentions
look "in the wild".
on your team. the latest research in what to expect--a visually-rich your time on...something Java's built-in pattern

your boss told you Decorator is something from in between sips of a martini.

a design paddle pattern. your boss told you
of patterns with others (and too short) to spend (or worse, a flat tire), the embarrassment of thinking
the embarrassment of thinking Most importantly,
matter--why to use them,

"secret language"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Things that go BOOM

Scene: an underground utility tunnel in Center City Philadelphia. Two PECO electrical workers are hard at their jobs.

Worker 1: Hey - see these two high-power lines?

Worker 2: Yup.

Worker 1: Remember which one plugs into which socket?

Worker 2: Nope.

Worker 1: Think it matters?

Worker 2: Nope.

Worker 1: Cool. Guess it doesn't.

And for this I pay an average of $188.16 per month?

Life at the Washington Times

I may have something to say about this later today. I'm not sure yet. It's an interesting article and it touches on some truths about the Washington Times. But it also misses some important nuances and details and displays a wide misunderstanding of the actual dymanics in the newsroom, both personally and ideologically. Mostly, I think, it is a case of one faction of right-wing wolves throwing another faction of right-wing wolves to the sheep.

But anyway, if you're curious about life at D.C.'s "moonie paper," where I toiled for five very odd (though not unenjoyable) years, have a look at this:

A nasty succession battle heats up at Washington Times

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The joy of manure

Hard on the heels of news that the head of the CBC had to step down in part because of his on-the-record rhapsodizing about bowel movements, I find this hilarious little post about the coverage of Barbaro. I stumbled across it while working on an update about the horse.

This new development finally motivated me to find out exactly what the CBC guy had said about pooping and here it is, according to The National Post in Canada:

The most extraordinary thing is that, in the end, as you grow older, you continue to go poop once a day if you are in good health, while it is not easy to make love every day. So finally, the pleasure is longer lasting and more frequent than the other.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Sounds like he's fun at parties

Sometimes a story comes along that just speaks for itself. This is one, from Reuters this morning, about the reasons why the director of the CBC is resigning.

In comments made in May, and replayed in a CBC weekend interview, he talked at length about the joys of bowel movements.

And sometimes there are stories where the lead says it all. In fact, sometimes there is simply no point in reading beyind the lead. This from the AP this morning:

BEIJING (AP) - A drunken Chinese migrant worker jumped into a panda enclosure at the Beijing Zoo, was bitten by the bear and retaliated by chomping down on the animal's back, state media said Wednesday.

What else is there to say?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If it's already broke, break it some more

I love this bit from the President's remarks today while toddling around the U.N. trying to make friends:

"Some have argued that the democratic changes we're seeing in the Middle East are destabilising the region. This argument rests on a false assumption, that the Middle East was stable to begin with. The reality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region have been trapped in oppression and hopelessness."

In other words, it was alrady a giant flaming mess, so what does it matter if we screw it up some more?

I may try that myself sometime when I'm in trouble: "You can't charge me with vandalism, officer, it was already broken."

I'll let you know if it works.

My net worth

I am somewhat startled to find that there is in fact a stock market trading in the value of Blogs. I don't know how this happened or what it means, but I stumbled on it by accident this evening while Googling "Seanibus." I was curious about the relative diffusion of me-Seanibus versus the other-Seanibus, who as we all recall, happens to live in Philadelphia as well. Six billion people on the planet and the only other person who uses the handle of Seanibus happens to live in the same city. That is so goddamned Philadelphia-like it makes me sick. Turns out that I outnumber the guy maybe two to one in Google hits. That and 50 cents will get me a Philadelphia Inquirer tomorrow, of course, but it's an ego thing, you know.

In any event, it appears that there are people with lots of time on their hands and they decided to set up a trading system, a fantasy trading system, which relies on a complex formula to assign a value to each blog. And you can buy stock in a blog and watch it go up and down. It seems that Fantasy Football, Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Bass Fishing were too exciting for these guys.

So I am pleased to report that I am worth a whopping $1,783.27, whatever that means. I started around $1,000, broke the $2,000 barrier in the spring and suffered a crash of some sort, plummeting back below $1,500. But since then, it has been a slow, steady climb back up. Many a CEO would be enjoying multi-million annual bonuses for that kind of performance in a real company, believe me.

So, if you are flush with fantasy cash, and aren't we all, I urge you to run right out and invest in my little blog before everyone catches on, we're swept up in a wave of irrational exuberance, and the fantasy bubble bursts. Meanwhile, I will be lounging on the fantasy beach, enjoying my fantasy bonuses in the fantasy South Pacific. Call me when I break $5,000, please.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Words of Wisdom

I really do normally hate anniversaries, even of important events, and I have zealously avoided Sept. 11 commemorations, but all the coverage of it brings back the best thing anyone ever said about this. I missed this at the time, though it brought a rare tear to my eye when I heard a tape the next day. From David letterman's Sept. 17 monologue, his first back on the air:

"The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead ... They weren't doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do. Uh, as I understand it -- and my understanding of this is vague, at best -- another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we're told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor, religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamned sense?"

Here's the full thing. It's worth watching.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lions, Tigers and Bears. Lions are enough.

There are some series of words that one does not expect to see strung together in English. I am not talking about nonsense. Any idiot can string together random words in a grammatical way – “The banana ran down the street shouting psalms” and so on.
I am talking about an altogether different type – sentences that make complete sense, convey real, verifiable information, and yet are so unexpected that the mind rebels, something like “Tom Cruise weds Katie Holmes.” That was a hard one to digest.

But a few weeks ago I heard one that was almost more than I could wrap my head around. I heard it on the BBC, which for some reason seems odd as well. I can’t find the exact wording, but it went something like this:

“Illegal immigrants are being eaten by lions.”

This turns out to be true. It goes like this: the collapse of the economy of Zimbabwe has caused many people to try to sneak across the border into South Africa. Unfortunately, this happens to take them through one of the last great swaths of land where lions roam free. And, although much has changed in the course of the last few millennia of civilization, one thing that has not changed is that lions will eat human beings. And there’s not a hell of a lot a human can do to stop it in toe-to-toe fight.

The BBC quoted a wildlife expert as saying it is possible that lions are eating more humans today than at any point in history. This is another unlikely series of words.

I don’t know why this story has haunted me. I certainly hope that nobody in the House of Representatives heard this story and considers adding it to the border security bill.