Print media, advertising, and recycling

If you are looking for a sweet deal on a NY Times subscription (non-subscribers for the last 90 days only), you can get 50% off the regular rate for 6 months. Best discount for the NYT that I have come across yet.

Convenient timing as I am ready to give up on the Houston Chronicle. It's a chore to recycle every day for one thing (think of the trees!). More importantly though, I don't find the content compelling enough, even at $100/year. My reaction to most stories is "meh." Sports coverage is its only advantage over the NYT, but with the end of football season, the most interesting page of the sports section is the Fry's ad on the back.

So why doesn't Fry's have that full page ad available online? A full page print ad has to be quite expensive, and most major retailers put their weekly ads online already. It's funny how much I look forward to the Sunday ads considering that I generally hate direct mail solicitations, non-preview movie ads (with the exception of the Cingular one with Sydney Pollack), and practically all TV advertising. Yeah, I could read most of the store ads online, but that is rarely as satisfying. Strangely, the same does not hold true for news content.

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Missing the NY Times

The Nonconformist. Now that I'm no longer a subscriber, I occasionally miss some good tidbits from the NYT, especially when it's in the magazine.

Mass Appeal. For someone who works with technology as much as I do, I'm quite the laggard when it comes to Web 2.0 stuff. I really admire some of the Threadless designs though.

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Just don’t be pointing one of them guns

Submitted this for the Chronicle Viewpoints section nearly a month ago, but it was never published so it has languished in my mailbox.

The Virginia Tech tragedy has been blamed partly on lax gun control laws, bad decision-making by university officials, and even loose immigration restrictions in the eyes of a few poorly-informed individuals. I am not prepared to conclude decisively that stricter gun control is needed, but to those who suggest that this incident could have been stopped if guns were allowed on campus, my response is: What about the Columbine or Amish school shootings? If you can barely trust your child to drive a car, why would you give him a handgun? How can we arm high school students, much less 7-13 year old girls?

Realistically, not much can be done to stop a well-prepared killer who is unafraid to die. I would like to offer a suggestion for media organizations, however, that may have a deterrent effect on copycats: Stop publishing glamour shots and martyr videos. If you must publish the killer's picture, use an ID photo rather than one containing props or weapons, preferably the most unflattering one available. I have not watched the Cho video yet, nor do I plan to read the one-act play he wrote, which I am told is utter garbage.  Broadcasting videos like his gives the killer some celebrity status and a death-transcending soapbox that is entirely undeserved. The victims of this rampage never had a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones so why would we even consider giving this punk the last word?

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Media outlets battle it out over free-speech rights. Disney's ABC tries to bully blogger.

Mike Stark, another blogger and a Spocko ally, said: "The way to fight free speech that you disagree with is to engage in more free speech. And that's exactly what Spocko did."

Gonzales says the Constitution doesn't guarantee habeas corpus.

One of the Bush administration's most far-reaching assertions of government power was revealed quietly last week when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified that habeas corpus -- the right to go to federal court and challenge one's imprisonment -- is not protected by the Constitution.

Gonzales acknowledged that the Constitution declares "habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless ... in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." But he insisted that "there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution."

Specter was incredulous, asking how the Constitution could bar the suspension of a right that didn't exist -- a right, he noted, that was first recognized in medieval England as a shield against the king's power to dispatch troublesome subjects to royal dungeons.


Why the FCC Needs a New Chief.

Michael Powell's ill-advised efforts to help Big Media united left and right alike. After such a fiasco, resignation is the honorable option.


In Courtroom, Laughter at Fox and a Victory for Al Franken.

Judge Chin said the case was an easy one, and chided Fox for bringing its complaint to court. The judge said, "Of course, it is ironic that a media company that should be fighting for the First Amendment is trying to undermine it."

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Well, I found out today why there have not been any recent movie reviews by Steven Rosen in the Denver Post. According to a staff writer, he has resigned and moved to L.A. I have always found his write-ups to be excellent despite the fact that they were often filled with spoilers. Amusingly, I would gloss over the review for its overall star rating, watch the movie, then read the whole review afterwards... Bummer!

Yesterday I finally upgraded to the latest version of Mozilla and was disturbed to find that the Open Link in New Window selection was moved to the top of the link context menu (above Open Link in New Tab, which I use all the time). Today I figured out how to rearrange the menu order without recompiling the application. Just extract contentAreaContextOverlay.xul from comm.jar (winzip or whatever), edit the XUL, update the file in comm.jar, and restart the browser. Yeah, boy!