Feb 7, 2014

Christie Got The Idea From Hawai`i

Yesterday on the way to town from Kailua, it took me a half an hour to get from Hamakua to the bottom of the Pali.  Anyone who knows the area knows that this is less than a five minute trip.  Traffic was really backed up, which usually means there has been an accident or there is roadwork.  Turns out it was neither, it was a lane closure for more than four miles for no apparent reason whatsoever.

At the end of the lane closure were two police cars, two guys on road bikes, and two trucks used in roadwork.  But it was impossible to tell what kind of roadwork they jad been doing and the cone placement (for at least a couple of miles; okay, maybe not four) seemed arbitrary.  This happens a lot in Hawai`i, at least I think it does.  The sign that was posted roughly in the middle of the traffic jam — that is after we inched along for about eight minutes — said “left lane closed ahead”.  It didn’t say “Roadwork Ahead.”  So maybe that’s all it was.  ”Left Lane Closed Ahead.”  Then it was quite a long way before the cones started to close the left lane, and then a long empty left lane blocked by cones.

It seemed like creating traffic for traffic’s sake to me, and I am pretty sure that the New Jersey Governor got the idea for the George Washington Bridge lane closures from us … or maybe it was the other way around.  Either way, same result.

Feb 7, 2014

I Oughta Be in Pictures

Whenever I was particularly pleased with myself as a child (overly pleased, as far as my mother was concerned), my mother would sing to me: ” I ought to be in pictures/ I’m beautiful to see/I ought to be in pictures/ everyone could look at me.”

At some point in our lives, I would imagine that all of us would like to be in the movies.  And, now, thanks to Facebook and the ever-intrusive media world, we can.  Just this week people’s “Facebook movies” started to appear in posts, along with a link where you could see your own Facebook movie.  The formula is the same and the theme is fairly arrogant:  ”You joined…” , “your first moments…,” “most liked posts” etc.  The 1:02 filmettes are the Facebook story of your life on Facebook created in honor of Facebook’s 10th Anniversary.

Revisionist history abounds during this 10th anniversary wherein Mark Zuckerberg acts like he created Facebook all by himself with only and always good intentions.  Never mind that his trek into social media began with a site that invited men to judge women on various qualities determined by … Mark Zuckerberg.  Now we know that Facebook was created to bring the world together, and nice guy Zuckerberg is constantly thinking of ways that he can connect and serving his burgeoning audience.

While we are dumping our lives into cyberspace, we are outraged at the NSA for recording our conversations.  I understand that is probably because we give up information to Facebook willingly, even deliberately, and the NSA snuck up on us without our permission to access data similar to that we have willingly put out there ourselves.  That being said, these little Facebook-life-filmettes are just another example of how our willingness to distribute information about ourselves is not in our control.  I didn’t ask Facebook to make a movie about me, and I don’t think any one else did either … but I gather some people are more pleased with the idea than I am.

Apparently, a father posted a video on youtube asking Facebook to create a “Look Back” video for his dead son.  The video went viral, Facebook agreed to do it.  In an article describing this turn of events, it says that you can create your own Look Back video.  I believe this is not true.

All of this being said, and as kind of a sidebar, the little Look Back videos built on the accumulation of digital information (my most popular posts indeed!) are a great source of content analysis.  Looking at these little windows into our friends lives, we can tell what is important to them by what they have posted.  But you already know that because you have been reading their posts.


Jan 29, 2014

Omaha and The Super Bowl

Thanks to NESN (New England Sports Network) for the image

For those of you who aren’t football fans, you may be curious about what Omaha has to do with the Super Bowl.  The Super Bowl isn’t in Omaha and neither of the teams are from Omaha.  I don’t think either of the quarterback’s are from Omaha either.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning shouts Omaha to his teammates so much that everyone wants to know what it means.   For this, there are 20,000,000 + answers on Google, my favorite one being “What does Omaha mean?  The Seahawks don’t care.”

When someone (I think it was CBS Sports) finally did pin him down, Manning said: “But it could be a pass play or a play-action pass, depending on a couple things: the wind, which way we’re going, the quarter, and the jerseys that we’re wearing. It varies, really, from play to play. So, there’s your answer to that one.”

Counting Omahas has become a football past time.  In the season’s final game with the Chargers, he  yelled Omaha!  44 times, and in the AFC playoffs with the Patriots he shouted it 31 times.  Five corporations in the city of Omaha decided to chip in a combined $500 to Manning’s Peyback Foundation — his favorite charity — during the AFC game.  That’s more than $15,000 (according to the NFL website).

By way of celebrating the Broncos appearance in this Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Denver airport added an exclamation mark to its flights to Omaha!   And Las Vegas has betting odds on it:  over / under 27:5.

Jan 28, 2014

Why Are Guns So Cool?

I don’t think guns are cool at all, but I asked that question of Google-Oz  to see what would happen,  There were 89,700,000 responses in eight tenths of a second.   Horrifying. ( On Yahoo, the favorite post was that people love weaponry and guns are currently the most advanced form of handheld weaponry).

“Luckily”, the second page was full of Guns n’ Roses links to their song “It’s so Easy,” so maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem.

And yet they are.  Parents Against Violence posted the following information on Facebook, and I want to repeat it here.  The National Shooting Sport Association estimates that the manufacture and sale of guns, ammo and shooting equipment provides 99,820 jobs nationwide and accounts for $33 billion dollars.  Economic contribution is also one of the arguments of the NRA.  But, again according to Parents Against Gun Violence, the economic cost of gun violence to our economy is $174 billion, or five times the alleged contribution of gun-related jobs.

For a while, after Newtown, I was writing a daily blog about someone who was murdered by gun violence in the U.S.  My source was Slate/gun deaths, a site which was set up to record the numbers of gun deaths since Newtown.  Slate/gun deaths stopped gathering information at the end of last year, having matched to people murdered more than 12,000 guns deaths since Newtown.  One site I looked at said that the last really reliable figures (from 2004) showed that 81 people died from gunfire every day.  On the last two days of last year, Brianna Jones, 15; David Kohler-Carpenter, 14, and his sister,and Ramon Miranda jr., 12 and his sister Rayna Miranda, 10 were killed by gunfire.  Two were killed by an unknown person robbing their house, and three were murdered by relatives.  Although I think each of these people deserve recognition, I can’t write those blog posts because it makes me too sad.

After last week’s “record?” of a school or mall shooting a day I saw a gun spokesperson argue that it was time to arm everybody so that these things didn’t happen.  That’s their argument.  Tantamount to telling an obese person to eat more food.



Jan 28, 2014

Why is Hawai`i so expensive?

This isn’t about why Hawai`i is so expensive, but as it happens it is the first word that comes up on google search when you put in the question “Why is Hawaii so…”

Thanks to the Huffington post which says “thanks to the Twitter account @Amazing_Maps, we now have an idea of how the Internet stereotypes all 50 U.S. states. When a search phrase like “Why is Illinois so…” is typed into Google, the search engine autocompletes the sentence with the word that people most commonly write in the search bar next. In this way, Google autocomplete may reveal the deeply held assumptions the public holds about a state.”

So Hawaii is grouped with Alaska, California and New York as “expensive”.  The subsequent words that come up for Hawai`i are “hot” (I googled that and 160,000,000 results came up in six-tenths of a second.  All of them were about weather, not whether Hawaii was hot as in cool). After hot, there is popular, beautiful and warm.  According to google searches, Louisiana is racist, Iowa is important, Oregon is good and Massachusetts is smart.  Oddly enough, at least to me, Connecticut is haunted.  I completely do not get that.

Just for fun I googled “why is Google so…” and I got, in order, slow,  stupid, and awesome.  Twitter and Facebook share many of the same descriptors, including valuable, addictive and successful.

I think this Internet search thing is an indicator of the dumbing down of our society.  After all the news about the reddening of North Carolina, the state comes up first as “cheap”.  That being said, further down the line (and not very far) is the question “Why is North Carolina so backward?”  Now that is something I would like to know, especially because it happened so fast and before our very eyes.  I googled it.  The first thing that came up in a search with over 5 million results was www.NCbackward.com which “chronicles North Carolina’s inexorable march backward.”

I googled “Why is Washington D.C. so” and the word democratic was the first to pop up, followed by dangerous and liberal.  Given the current climate, I thought it might join Illinois as “corrupt.”

When I was working in the advertising business, our parent company DDBNeedham had a brilliant research guy who essentially invented psychological research testing for the ad industry.  His name was Bill Wells.  He once told me that you could tell what the dominant characteristic of a city was by sitting in restaurants and listening to what people were talking about.  This was thirty years ago, before Google, and pretty much before internet searches had a chance to catch up with national prejudice.   Have I mentioned this before?  Oh well.  It is always interesting to me.  Chicago, where he worked, is about “work.”  New York is about “money.”  Los Angeles is about “the deal” and Washington is about “power”.

Recently, I asked my friend Dennis Gillespie what one word, in the Bill Wells tradition, described Hawai’i.  He didn’t say “expensive.”  He said “generous.”


Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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