Thursday, August 30, 2012

Canadian Media Merger Creates High Market Power and Runs Against Concentration Trends Elsewhere

The proposed merger between Bell Canada Enterprises and Astral Media will shortly be considered by the Canadian Radio and Television Council (CTRC). The merged company will own 70 television and cable channels, more than 100 radio stations, and some of the country’s most popular websites.

The combined company will serve nearly one-third of the national TV audience, more than 40 percent of the national cable TV audience, and about 30 percent of the nationwide radio audience. In addition the merger will increase Bell’s vertical integration and its power over distribution systems used by competitors. This later factor is particularly important because Canada lacks much of the regulatory control seen in Europe and the US over business practices of distribution systems that are also used by competing firms.

The merger will benefit the two companies by giving them more market power and permitting efficiencies at the corporate and divisional levels. It is also likely to produce efficiencies at the operational level by using more common content, something that is especially likely in its radio operations.

Investors will see benefit in the future. Share prices often go up before mergers as speculators jump into the market and then sell before the merger is completed, but prices typically decline after mergers when the realities of the costs of integration reduce short- to mid-term performance.  It will take some time before the benefits of the consolidation reach investors as dividends and heightened share value.

The downside of the merger will be borne by consumers and advertisers because the combination will create more market power to push up prices and reduce incentives for better service and quality. Competitors will also face a stronger company that controls the distribution infrastructures for their products and this should lead to higher prices. Additionally, one can expect social harm because the merger reduces plurality of those selecting content and the original content made available—particularly in radio—will probably be diminished.

How the CTRC will respond is unknown.  However, Canada has traditionally permitted far greater media concentration than other countries arguing that it helps strengthen Canadian ownership. It has permitted media concentration levels 2-3 times higher than those found in US and Europe and has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world.

Most other countries have been using broadcasting law and competition law in recent decades to reduce concentration in content provision and those policies have been quite successful. Why not Canada?

Canadian policy has been hampered by its nationalistic rhetoric, a significant degree of regulatory capture, and also because there are inconsistencies among broadcasting and competition policies  that allow regulators to downplay public and consumer interests.  The CRTC deals with station ownership, for example, but has set a market cap of 45% on total national television audience—about twice that in most countries. The Competition Bureau can review media mergers, but has tended to be concerned only about effects on advertising prices. Existing policies do not effectively address cross media ownership effects.

Ironically, the public service broadcaster (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) was heavily criticized when it served about 40 percent of the television audience. Commercial firms were particularly vocal arguing that having such a large firm distorted the market and their complaints led Parliament to reduce support for the CBC and over time its audience has been cut in half.

It will be interesting to see whether CRTC is willing to take a broader view and is willing to stand up to the interests of Bell and Astral when it considers this massive merger.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What’s an Academic Fraud?

I recently discovered I am an academic fraud. Now, I am sure there must be people out there whose immediate response is “of course you are”, “knew it” or “I am not surprised”, but I was.

Admittedly, what amounts to fraud when publishing as an academic isn’t always entirely clear to me – which, to some, is enough to be suspect (if not guilty-till-proven-innocent) already. I do get the extremes; I’m not that daft: If one writes up a truly new academic study giving the full account of the research underlying it, it ain’t fraud. If you make up the data – emulating the now infamous Diederik Stapel – it is. But sometimes in between, I am not always sure… Let me give you a few potential examples.

• Last month, at the Editorial Board Meeting of the Academy of Management Journal, the editor reported that the journal would now start screening every submitted article for plagiarism. The software turns up whether parts of the text have been copied from earlier publications, including articles by the same author (in a case of self-plagiarism). After this, a fellow board member asked “can we access the same software to pre-screen our own articles before submitting them?” There wasn’t a murmur or hint of discontent in the room following this question, but I found it strange and uneasy. If you copy a piece of text, then pre-screen it and the software tells you you would be found out, you rewrite it a bit plugging in a few synonyms here and there and then it is ok and no longer considered fraud and plagiarism?!

Geert Hofstede, one of the most highly cited social scientists ever (citations are considered a signal of “impact” in our academic world, and I seem to remember him once telling me that he had more citations than Karl Marx…), became famous for developing dimensions of national cultural differences. He published these dimensions left-right-and-centre – in academic journals, magazines and books – which greatly contributed to their and his exposure. He nowadays would be covered in tar and feathers and chased out of the ivory tower for self-plagiarism?

• Situation A: PhD student A copies a paragraph leading up to one of his hypotheses from a working paper by someone else he found on the web, without citation. Situation B: PhD student B copies a summary of a previously published academic article from a third, published paper who summarised the same article. Situation C: likewise, but with a citation to that third article, but no quotation marks. Situation D: likewise, but with citation and quotation marks. Who should get kicked out of the programme? At London Business School we have already dealt with situations A and B (the students were chased out), and D of course, but I am left wondering what we’d do in situation C.

• An academic – and an obvious fan of the Matthew Effect – buys 20,000 followers on Twitter. Yes, if you didn’t know, buying (fake) twitter followers is possible and easy. In fact, yesterday, I learned it is as cheap as chips. Yesterday, the Sunday Times covered the tale of an aspiring English celebrity who bought about 20,000 followers on Twitter to boost her profile. It just cost her a few hundred pounds/dollars. And, in fact, it sort of worked; she did raise her profile. But when she was found out – which isn’t actually that easy – she was ridiculed and quickly chased back to the dubious and crowded ranks of the British B-celebrities. But what would we do? How would we react to an academic buying 20,000 “followers”? Tar and feathers or applause for bringing the Matthew Effect to practice?

I am – apparently – a shameless self-plagiarising fraud because I sometimes get approached by business magazines who say “we read your blog post X and would like to republish it in our magazine”. And if they’re half decent (even by business magazine standards), I tend to say “yes”… In fact, I sometimes make the suggestion myself; when some magazine asks me “would you like to write an article on X for our wonderful magazine?” I usually say “no (way), but chapter X from my book would suit you well. Feel free to republish that”. Some acknowledge it was previously published; some don’t.

And, frankly, I don’t really care, and I will probably do it again. If it is my work, my copy-right, the magazine is fully aware of it, and it doesn’t harm the reader (they will know if they’ve seen it before, and otherwise they probably didn’t, or they might suffer from an enviable dose of business magazine amnesia), I won’t fear or dodge the tar and feathers. In fact, who knows, you may have read this very same post before!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Business on The Playa 2012

Taking The Business to the Spirit World for a special desert session on Thursday August 30th:

Chris Garcia
Caitlin Gill
Alex Koll
and very special guest
Moshe Kasher
Cory Loykasek
Donny Divanian
and Cornell Reid
Thursday August 30th
7:00 & Edelweiss (SE Corner)
Black Rock City

The Business August 29th 2012, The "No Burning, Just Men" Edition

The Business is proud to announce a new employee for San Francisco's finest alternative comedy showcase. It's Mike Drucker, regular Business guest and comedian extraordinaire. He's performed at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, written for The Onion, IGN, McSweeney's, and Saturday Night Live, and his cuddly exterior masks a virile man's man.

That's what this week's show is about: manliness. Chris Garcia, Alex Koll, and Caitlin Gill are busy taking The Business to the Spirit World with a Thursday sh

ow at Burning Man (two admissions for one dream catcher; bring-your-own-peyote), so regulars Bucky Sinister, Sean Keane (and now Mike Drucker!) are leaving out the Burning, and delivering nothing but Men.

One such man is Anthony Bedard, of the legendary bands Hank IV and the Icky Boyfriends. Mr. Bedard books Club Chuckles, a monthly comedy series at the Hemlock Tavern, and runs Talent Moat Records, producer of comedy albums by such artists as Brent Weinbach, Nick Flanagan, and Bucky Sinister. Mr. Bedard is extremely manly, having once built his own log cabin out of old-growth redwoods and remaindered Styx albums. You can follow his collection of ridiculous band PR on Twitter at @FolderRock.

Another manly man is Ben Kolina, fresh off a killer performance at the Savage Henry comedy festival in Humboldt. Kolina's pretty savage himself, having once fist-fought a grizzly bear to a standstill in the forests outside of Livermore, and made a rug out of its carcass. He's performed at the SF Punch Line and Tommy Ts, and he's got more testosterone in his bloodstream than Melky Cabrera.

Finally, man's man Joey Devine joins us. The former most inspirational player from Tim Hardaway's basketball camp, Joey also destroyed at the Savage Henry festival. He also once destroyed a small fishing village just by shouting at it. He can grow a beard faster than a lumberjack, and he can charm an audience faster than a three-legged stripper. Joey is a member of acclaimed sketch group Frown Land, the creator and host of Joey Devine: After Dark, and a three-time MMA champion.

Even with all this manliness, The Business is still just five bucks, and fist bumps are totally free, bro. Bring your own burrito policy is still in place, although if you bring a veggie burrito, we just might slap it out of your hands at the door and douse you with Axe body spray. Men!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I hereby patent everything in this world that has not yet been patented

Conventional thinking is that without patents,we would not have innovation. Mankind would stagnate in the Dark Ages. Really ?? 

This port is triggered by the drama between Apple and Samsung . In the tech industry, everybody is suing everybody else over patent infringement. Hundreds of patents are granted over what goes inside one mobile phone. Is this all necessary ? These days, that business seems to be driven by lawyers rather than technology - M&A activity in this industry seem to be driven mostly by patents.The patent industry has exploded so much that this blogger even blogged about the ridiculous patents that have been granted.

The central premise that innovation will be stopped if there are no patents is nonsense. Right through human history, innovation has flourished with no help from the patent office, thank you.  Patents are a recent human invention - perhaps in the 15th century. Innovation has not exactly been stifled throughout human history.  You may say, ancient history is not relevant. But take even the 20th century - the discovery of the cure for malaria, the satellites that make today's communication possible, the green revolution , the internet, and even the cellphone itself arrived with no help from patents. NASA, which has helped an incredible amount of innovation in the last 50 years, does not patent stuff.

Human nature is to innovate - thank God. No amount of pressure can stifle that. The central problem with patents is that they create monopolies. Monopolies, by definition, stifle competition and are against the consumer.  Huge ethical issues arise when drugs are patented and the poor are excluded from the benefits of life saving drugs.

I am not saying that we should afford no protection to the inventor and simply allow free boarders to copy and ride on somebody else's work.  But the current situation has gone too far. My prescription is a drastic reduction in what can be patented, significantly lower patent periods and public funding of research to compete with private industry.

This would be absolutely heresy to the business world, and if I were important enough, I would simply be branded a communist. I know of at least one reader of this blog who is going to call me and express shock that I have morphed into Kim Jong Il. But I know business They will simply adapt to a different regime. Innovation will not slow down one bit. It might actually become  more cost effective.

There is zero chance that any of this will happen. But just on the off chance , I hereby patent this idea and in case anybody wants to adopt it, they can only do so after paying me $4,567,984.32 .

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Robot baby and Spotlight Saturday!

Happy weekend!  This weekend I found myself with a temporary additional member of the family.  My daughter got to bring home her health project...a BABY! She's an adorable robot baby that acts like a real baby.  She coos, coughs, cries, and yes, SCREAMS when she needs to be fed, burped, or have her diaper changed.  HOWEVER, It turned into quite an ordeal for my daughter when nothing she did to help the baby seemed to be working!  She was doing all the right things...feeding, burping, rocking, cuddling, holding her head, etc. with NO POSITIVE responses from the baby...which I informed her was "REAL LIFE" sometimes.  After agonizing over this baby for hours and it continuing to bawl, I thought "Hmmm...something doesn't seem quite right."  The investigation began.  I viewed the demo videos online and discovered that every time the baby cried and she picked it up, there was supposed to be some kind of beep.  (Her bracelet monitor making physical contact with the baby was supposed to set off a sensor) Sure enough hers was NEVER beeping.  We looked more closely at this tiny tag on the bracelet only to discover the number on it and the baby didn't match!!   Sure enough, her sweet teacher emailed me back @ 10:00 on Friday night to inform me another student was having the same issues.  SO...the ole' robot baby accidental switcheroo took place at some point before she ever got home.  The story ends with an 'emergency shut-off' switch she led us to, and an A for effort from my precious daughter who took it like a real trooper.  It's amazing how a "robot baby" can bring a flood of memories back.  Mine just didn't have an emergency shut-off switch back then.  ;-)

Ready for some freebies?  I've got them for you!  

Sally from Elementary Matters has some great tools for your students' desks that she customized to fit her classroom needs.  She's sharing several of those with you.  She has a  number line counting with 1's, number line counting with 10's, a colorful 100 grid, some reading AND science tools too!  These items would "fancy up" any student's desk and are a nice alternative to the name tags I've always purchased in the past.  

Need some visuals for teaching the different types of sentences?  Addie has some adorable "monster theme" posters for you to do just that.  Make those big words...declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory a little less "scary" with her cute posters!  Click image to grab!  

This last one is especially for you Kindergarten and even Pre-K mommies or teachers.  Amanda has a K assessment ready to go...FREE.  Check your students (or own children) on letters and sounds using this handy tool available in her TpT store.  It comes with instructions, upper and lower case letter cards, a random letter check sheet, and a spreadsheet for recording your data.  

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  I hope it's as beautiful of a day where you are as it is here!
Bananas for automatic shut-off buttons and gorgeous sunny days!  :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Push for Evidence-Based

As my district dives into Common Core a little more each year, my teachers are doing what good teachers do...looking for ways to teach kids how to be excellent thinkers.  Gone are the days of answering questions with one word, or answering with sentences so simple that they hardly require any thought.  Gone are the days of "Just because."  (Although as a parent, I'm claiming my parental right to use that one when I feel like it! tee hee)
Searching for evidence based anything for elementary students turned out to be more challenging than I thought.  Everything I did find was related to high school and in no way shape or form appropriate for teaching our young students how to write and cite evidence from the text.  So I did what I usually do when I can't find something... just create it myself. :-)  

I created 8 mini "kid friendly" posters to be used as a springboard for discussion and teaching students how to cite evidence and justify their answers.  These are EASY to throw on some construction paper and laminate!  I'm curious what your district or school is doing to help support teachers in this process of pushing kids to explain their thinking.  You know me, I LOVE to hear from you, SO....
I'll email a set of these mini-posters to the first 10 people that would be willing to share.  We all learn from each other!  Don't forget to leave your email address!  :-)  
Bananas for learning from each other,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Business August 22nd 2012, The "LoyKLASSIC!" Edition

If you were lucky enough to get into the sold-out Business last week, you saw what we have all come to call “The Perfect Business”: Two-and-a-half hours of amazing comedy, surprises, fluid energy and rolling laughter. Now you ask: Will lightning strike twice? Can we repeat perfection? Hell yeah, and you best bear witness lest you miss out on the transcendent and supreme, true believers. This week The Business welcomes Cory Loykasek and Mike Drucker to help us reach the top of the mountain again. Testify!

Cory Loykasek’s flawless golden mane of hair warms a mind boiling with astute and challenging comedy. Cory uses his stand-up, as well as sketch and video work, to approach a variety of topics with grounded profundity, mixed with left-field thought through a layman's lens. Some call his approach casual, but just because you’re laid back in the drivers seat doesn’t mean your not still steering the ship right. He’s a lion of a man: Commanding, hairy and sometime he sleeps in the dirt.

After dropping in as a surprise guest on last week’s “Perfect” Business, Mike Drucker returns again this week to continue what is shaping-up to be a nice little residency here at the The Dark Room. After all: practice makes perfect. You know the stats: Writes for IGN, The Onion, McSweeny’s, SNL, Your Mom and Your Grandma. Terribly talented and horribly funny, he’s the nerd who can turn a word. He’s a gummy bear of a man: sweet, semi-opaque and you’d love to pull his head off and attach it to something else.

Joining these perfect beings are regular Business Employees Bucky, Caitlin, Sean and Alex. We are once again Chris-free this week, both Garcia and Thayer holding it down Hollywood style. But they are easily replaced by a burrito from the neighborhood.

The Business is at 8pm, the perfect time for comedy. We are still just the perfect price of $5,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Contemporary Trends Change Magazine and Newspaper Printing Markets

The markets of magazine and newspaper printing firms are undergoing significant changes, reflecting on-going transformations in the customers they serve.

Some of the changes have been under way for 2 decades with traditional printing companies morphing into printing service companies offering more profitable value-added services and products.  These included high-end specialized printing capabilities and services, database printing, and wide-ranging distribution services. At the same time, the increasing number of magazine titles, accompanied by lower average press runs, pushed the companies toward higher efficiency and acquisition of presses and systems designed for lower press runs.

In this environment, many printers could not effectively compete and consolidation began creating large regional players in the industry.

Shorter-term trends have also played havoc with the printing industry by killing off some magazine and newspaper titles, lowering the average number of pages printed because of advertising reductions, and by decreasing demand for catalog printing by mail order companies.

These changes created excess capacity and financial problems for many printers, opening the way for private equity firms to purchase trouble companies, restructure their operations, and consolidate the industry even further. Walstead Investments, for example, bought the St. Ives Group, Southern Print and Wyndeham in the UK to do just that.

About the only bright spot for the printing industry has been that many newspapers have now decided to outsource printing—increasing the number of customers in that segment for the short term, at least. Even some large newspapers that had given up commercial printing decades ago have changed the size capacity and flexibility of their presses to gain more production options and they are now offering printing services to other publishers and advertising service firms.

The consolidation has allowed big players to grow bigger. Donnelley has expanded by acquiring firms across North America.  Quad/Graphics has moved into Europe and Latin America. The German publisher Guner & Jahr acquired Brown Printing in the US and Prisma Presse in France.

The current economy is limiting the ability of these firms to push up prices, but one can expect that to occur when better times return and capacity utilization increases.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A car journey to remember

I hadn't met her for 35 years. After school, we went our own ways. Our leaving school was chaotic- we were not even supposed to leave that year, but the powers that be, changed the rules and packed us off to college. Literally overnight we had to run; for the town we were from had no college and we had to go to the big bad city. There was no time for goodbyes. No time for farewells. We simply ran.

Thirty five years later I got a call from another ex schoolmate giving me a number. She's at this number ; call her there, the friend said . I did  and discovered that she was in the same city as I am in. Fancy that - no contact for such a long time and then all of a sudden, here she was not more than 5 miles from where I lived. I called her and was delighted to find the same old voice of the days when we were school kids. We were planning for a reunion back in school in a month's time and would she come ?? She took literally 30 seconds to say yes. 

We drove down  together to our old town , a fair drive of some 7-8 hours and B joined us for the trip. The two ladies brought  all the old memories back and we marveled at both how time had flown by and yet how we were going to set the clock back for the next two days. We had a reunion that would stay in our minds forever and when it was time to come back, she and I were the last to leave. The heart was heavy and I don't think I would have survived that drive alone. But she was there and we fondly recalled every moment of the time we all had together. As we reached Bangalore, we promised to be in regular touch. I dropped her off at  her house, had a cup of coffee with her mother and reveled in the knowledge that we had been through something very special. That was the last I saw of her.

We kept in touch on the phone.  We knew that when any of our other mates happened to visit, we would probably get together again. But imagine my shock, when I got the dreaded call three days ago. It was from another mate who had somehow heard of the news. 

How does one reconcile with the passing away of a schoolmate with whom you had shared many a moment in school, lost touch for decades, rediscovered recently and had spent a magical time together. All you can do is reel in complete shock. This is not supposed to happen, is it ? School mates are eternal, aren't they ?

All I have is that magical car journey to remember you by.

Rest in peace my friend.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's Spotlight Saturday!

Here's hoping my blog scheduler WORKS because chances are I'm SLEEPING IN this morning!   Happy Saturday!  I've got some more outstanding freebies for you to investigate on this Spotlight Saturday feature today!  Let's DIVE right in! 

Who's all in favor of making life a little easier?  If you raised your hand, go ahead and head on over to my friend, Heidi's blog to snatch her Parent Communication Freebie.  It comes with a neatly organized parent contact list, student information sheet, and a call log information sheet.  Hmmm...wishing I had this last year instead of my plain yellow legal pad.  It's much cuter!  :-)   

Want another back to school "must have" freebie?  As much as you LOVE to be at school, April at Grade School Giggles knows you will need a sub at some point in the year.  She's created an EDITABLE powerpoint printable for your Substitute basket or binder!  It comes with 19 pages you can edit to suit your specific instructions for the day you're out.  Schedules, lesson plans, transportation, behavior plan, medical and learning needs, and much more are included in this adorable apple themed goodie.

Data binders...We all have them these days, as our instruction needs to be data driven, right?  Laura over at Corkboard Connections has a terrific freebie for you on Graphing Oral Fluency.  Students are monitored for fluency while reading a leveled text for one minute and charting the words they read per minute correctly.  After completing their chart, students plot their fluency data on a line graph.  This becomes a visual tool (and motivator) for students as they watch their own progress on the line graph.  *What a great way to teach across the curriculum...fluency in reading AND data with graphing!  

Here's hoping that these three FABULOUS freebies help get your year started off on the right foot! 

Bananas for sleeping in this morning and for teachers who generously share their goodies!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Blogging

Hi friends,

I feel like I've been M.I.A. from my blog, my family, my friends, and my life to be perfectly honest.  It's definitely the first couple of weeks of school!   I AM enjoying my new job as Literacy Coach, though.  There's just SO MUCH to learn and SO MANY things to find for SO MANY people right now!  :-)

BWS tips buttonI actually have a post for today, BUT it's on someone else's blog.  HA HA!  So if you want a place value game to play complete with a freebie, jump  on over to Leanne's blog where I have everything posted!  

Drop me a line and let me know how school is going for you if you're back.  Good class?  Great class? You'd rather not talk about your class?!

 Bananas for friends who let me guest blog.  Thanks Leanne!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Business August 15th 2012, The "Karmel Coated Kinane" Edition

Our guests this week are so great we could just EAT THEM UP. Since we can’t literally devour them, here are some quotes about things they have eaten in the past:

Mr. Ian Karmel on delicious things enjoyed on recent travels:

“I had cheese steaks in Philly, BBQ in Austin, breakfast burritos in Austin and Panda Express in the Mall of America... but the best thing I had on the whole trip has to be the Juicy Lucy in Minneapolis, a hamburger with cheese INSIDE of it. WHAT!? HOW? Dark magics, only explanation.”

Mr. Kyle Kinane on accidentally eating a chocolate chip cookie with bacon in it:

“Yeah, it was disgusting at first, but it got better the more that I ate it.”

These two are making the Business their dessert after some seriously sexy Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (http://
event/263704) where they will be battling a few of your Business regulars for erotic supremacy.

We are happy to welcome Ian Karmel. Ian came from an improv background, which included time with The Groundlings and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Ian was honored as the 2011 Funniest Person in Portland, won the 2010 Portland Amateur Comedy Competition and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, Portland’s Helium Comedy Club, Philadelphia’s Helium Comedy Club, Austin’s Cap City Comedy Club, Seattle’s Comedy Underground and Los Angeles’ Comedy Store. In addition to stand-up, Karmel has appeared on television, playing a character in IFC’s sketch show Portlandia and as a post-game analyst and commentator for the Portland Trailblazers.

Friend of the show and Iron Comic CHAMPION Kyle Kinane will join us as well. Kyle Kinane has been up and at it for almost half his life, mostly searching for what "it" might be. He has performed in the Leicester, Vancouver, Washington D.C., Portland, Just For Laughs/Chicago and the USCAF/Aspen comedy festivals, and has been on the TV via "Last Call with Carson Daly," "The Very Funny Show" on TBS, "Live at Gotham," "Comedy Central Presents" and "The World Stands Up" on the BBC. He was called "bleak and misanthropic" by the London Evening Standard, which he still feels may be a compliment.

We are also very pleased that Chris Garcia and Alex Koll have returned from their adventures to join us this week. There is still a Chris Thayer sized hole in our hearts, but he would want us all to enjoy the show even though he can’t be here.

Don’t miss this one! Get your $5 and print out a coupon so you can bring a friend.

The Business sells out. With this line up, the Business will SELL OUT. Get there on time and BYOBurrito.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hey you commenters; you better behave yourselves !

I am now in some serious trouble. It appears, I am responsible for all the stuff you lot comment on my blog. If anything you write is untrue or misleading, it looks like I will go to jail. Good Lord!

As usual, this blogger is guilty of hyperbole. But, as has been repeatedly stated, any prose, sans some journalistic license, is a sure cure for insomnia. So with some hyperbole, I am musing about Diageo's Facebook page, that has got into trouble with the Australian authorities.

If you don't know Diageo, it is the company that makes Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys etc. Because their Board has been told that they must be "in" to social media, they have a Facebook page for their brands such as Smirnoff. The site encourages reader comments, opinions, etc, which you would expect to be a fairly harmless thing to do. Now anybody, who knows anything about social media, know that the vast majority of comments on anything (notable exception, this blog) will be vulgar, absurd, defamatory, etc etc. But any self respecting site would have some mechanism to keep spam and filth out, but would let most other comments stay, even if they were outrageous.

The Australian Standards Board has however ruled that Diageo must police  all reader comments on their site and that any comment by a reader would be treated as an advertising claim by Diageo and it would be liable if that were untrue, or misleading. Now anybody who has worked in a consumer products company knows that before any ad is released, lawyers pore over every statement made to ensure that they would not be sued later for wrong advertising. If the same standard were to be applied to reader comments, then essentially social media becomes off limits for advertisers. Forget having to delete obscene comments. If a reader posted a comment saying Smirnoff has 7.5% alcohol, instead of the actual 7%, Diageo will become responsible for misleading advertising !!

Right now, this is a problem confined to Australia. If other countries followed suit with a similar view, companies will have no option but to pull their sites out of interactive media. That would be a real shame, but the impact on social media sites would be disastrous. Imagine what will happen to Facebook revenues. If ad revenues did not come, social media itself cannot survive.

Before you say that the Australian decision is crazy and possibly issued by gray men who "don't get it",  think just a little more. Any reader can reasonably say that matters stated in a company's site can be interpreted to mean that it is comping from the company or that the company has approved it. After all it is possible for a clever company to structure a site such that its advertising is largely in the form of reader appreciation and response. Such appreciation and glowing reviews is what the company is aiming to get in the first place; isn't it. So there is some merit in what the Austraian Standards Board is saying, although their stance appears a bit excessive.

Laws on adveritising were framed way before even the internet came, let alone social media. They need some serious reconsideration and  global consensus.

Until then, I better be careful. After all, I do go once in a while to Australia and don't want to get arrested. Readers are therefore requested to only post completely truthful comments attesting to the fact that I am indisputably tall, dark and handsome !

Friday, August 10, 2012

BACK TO SCHOOL BASH (a sale & a prize)

WHEW...who's back at school?  ME!  But as you know, I took a new position as Literacy Coach.  As with any new job there are many hurdles and challenges, but I keep telling people I'm on a learning curve.  I love my new job so far, although I haven't slept much, skipped lunch a day or two, and haven't really needed to go to the gym since I've been running around like a road runner, as well as loading and unloading boxes for days.  (Wait...that sounds just like teaching!!!)
HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL for a lot of us and for those that are getting there!  The BIG Back to School Sale is happening tomorrow and Monday Aug. 12-13th on TpT!  Most teachers are throwing a 20% off sale, and TpT is throwing an additional 8% off of that!  There's NO BETTER TIME to shop on TpT than during these 2 days!  The deals will be amazing!  DON'T FORGET TO USE THE PROMO CODE AT THE TOP TO GET THE FULL 28%!  
I'm putting EVERY SINGLE item in my store on sale for that 28% off!  (Even my Back to School Packs that have been such a big hit!) *I'm up to 12 different themes now! (Sports, Monkeys, Mice, Pirates, Puzzles, Superheroes, Ocean, Owls, Frogs, Bees, Giraffes, and even Rock Stars!) The highlight of my very long day yesterday was when I received a TWEET from a teacher who has the Back to School PIRATE theme pack.  She said her kids had so much fun with the "Cannonball Battle" activity, but unfortunately they had lost a Cannonball in the room somewhere. HA! I've lost a few BANANAS in the Banana Battle too!  :-)

SO...speaking of Back to School FUN...let's have some!  If you leave me a comment GUESSING CORRECTLY what my classroom theme was YEARS AGO before I ever took on the monkeys, I will EMAIL YOU one of the Back to School Packs (YOUR CHOICE) FREE!  :-)
The first person who guesses, gets it!  GOOD LUCK!  

Bananas for some Back to School FUN,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

US law should stop at its borders

I recommend that Benjamin Lawski, head of New York state's Department of Financial Services takes my good friend Sriram's  Geography 101 course . He might want to learn where the borders of the United States lie and where his jurisdiction is. The laws of the United States are enforceable in the United States. They are not enforceable on the world.

I am referring to the spat between the DFS and Standard Chartered Bank. The problem is this. US law does not allow US entities to have any business dealings with Iran - neither the country nor its nationals. The US is perfectly entitled to have such a law - its merits or otherwise is for US citizens to decide. The problem is that the US would like everybody in the world to follow that law. That deserves the response - mind your own business.

Standard Chartered Bank is a UK headquartered bank that largely deals with Asia and Africa. It has very little business in the US. However it does have a branch in New York where transactions are routed through if they are in US dollars - since most Asian and African countries deal in US dollars for their international trade, much of it gets routed through the US.

There is no doubt that Standard Chartered Bank deals with Iran. But the laws of the UK where it is registered and the other countries where it operates, does not prohibit it from doing so. There are certainly laws  prohibiting dealings with crooks and terrorists, but it is a reasonable fact (that may however be surprising to Mr Lawski) that all Iranians are not crooks or terrorists. US law  permitted in the past  the sort of transactions that Standard Chartered did, called U turn, but there are grey areas and , no doubt, this case will be enmeshed in legalese.

But the impact of the DFS report has been devastating on Standard Chartered Bank. The damage has been done, irrespective of whether the bank is found guilty or not. It's share price tanked some 16% yesterday. 

Standard Chartered is livid and has said it would vigorously contest the case (code for saying screw you). It is asking the British government to intervene and put the DFS in its place. One Standard Chartered executive described the colourful DFS report – packed with allegations of “deception”, “fraud” and a “staggering cover-up” – as “like a John Grisham novel”. A director is reported to have allegedly remarked to a colleague "You f---ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians? "

My language is somewhat more restrained, but I must admit I have to agree with the worthy !

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Giveaway Winner & a New Job!

Yep, that says NEW JOB in the title.  After 22 years of teaching kids, I decided to step out of the classroom and embark on a brand new adventure.  I'm a new Literacy Coach in my district.  I'm SOOO excited that I will be spreading my wings a little bit and have the privilege of working with teachers, as well as some students.  I will give you the play by play, though, as I stepped into my classroom for the first time after being hired.  I looked at all my MONKEY STUFF everywhere and just started bawling like a baby!  At first I thought it was because I didn't even know where to begin trying to pack up 22 years of teaching, but it quickly became evident that it was the thought of NOT being in my classroom with my other little monkeys that really hit hard.  I picked myself up off the floor and began stuffing boxes full of memories.  It took awhile, but after packing my last monkey, I finally found myself excited about my new job, especially when I learned that I'd get to STAY in the same school.  I work with some amazing people and count my blessings each day that I get to work with such professionals.  Besides, I'm thinking my new office space will look cute with a few monkeys!  

THE WINNER, THE WINNER!  We have a winner in my 500+ follower giveaway!  CONGRATULATIONS to: Jennifer Knopf       
She's got some serious shopping to do!  :-)  Have fun, Jennifer!  

THANK YOU ALL for entering, sharing about your summer, and HANGING with me this long!  

Bananas for change that is sometimes a good thing,

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Business August 8th 2012, The "Yukon Ho to Sacramento!" Edition

There’s gold in these here guests! This week at the Business we welcome comics from lands of great riches. Two Canadians and two Sacramentans (Sacramentese? Sacramenti? Sacatomatoes?) will be joining us and presumably teaching us how to use a sluice box to get our own nuggets.

We happen to know Ray Molina is from Sacramento, but when asked he usually responds by saying a "Random City." When asked for a bio, he will tell you "A bio won't make me funnier" but added "my favorite food is mermaid." W
e have fresh mermaid on the grill just for him.

Also coming to us from Sacramento but starting from a humble beginning in Parts Unknown, Johnny Taylor has fought against the struggle and has emerged as an amazing stand-up comedian, humanitarian, and incredibly nice guy. If you asked most people, they would agree with the part about him being a nice guy. He is also attractive and loves cats.

And now the Canucks!

“Julia Hladkowicz is not only pretty, but super funny!” This blonde dynamo is a rising star at YukYuks and just landed a US National commercial for Lindt Chocolate with tennis icon Roger Federer. This year she showcased at LAFF (Ladies are Funny Festival) in Austin, Texas, was a semi-finalist in The Great Canadian Laugh Off, and performed with Comedy Records at NXNE.

Matt O’Brien is one to watch in the Canadian comedy circuit. In 2010 he was named Canada’s Next Top Comic by XM Radio and was featured at the Global Comedy Festival in Vancouver. In 2011, he filmed his first Comedy Now! special for the Comedy Network at the legendary Masonic Temple in Toronto. He has headlined and performed across North America, selling out shows at Yuk Yuk’s, The Improv, The Punchline, The Comedy Store, The Comedy Mix, Absolute Comedy, and Second City with his brand of high energy story telling.

Your Business regulars are still all glowy after an EXCELLENT Business LA with Guy Branum and Bobcat Goldthwait. Chris Garcia, Chris Thayer and Alex Koll are still off in the wild. Sean Keane, Bucky Sinister and Caitlin Gill will be there holding down the funny fort.

Come join us! $5 gets you in.  BYOBurrito cause we probably won’t share ours.

NBC's Olympic Coverage Shows Audience Expectations Aren't in Its Cross Media Strategy

NBC’s Olympic coverage in the U.S. reveals the conflict media companies face as they try to simultaneously manage traditional media delivery and digital distribution.

The company is getting it right with the traditional broadcasts, garnering excellent audiences and more than $1 billion in advertising—a figure that surprised even its most optimistic executives and may allow the broadcaster to break even on the games which have traditionally been a loss leader for the company.

The company is also giving audiences more coverage than every before by streaming additional content on cable channels and digital live streams. These are provided on platforms that consumers have come to expect will give them the power to choose when, where, and on what device they will be viewed.  

In order to support its traditional, advertising supported services, however, NBC has used tape delays on the broadcast services and has excluded many sports or blacked them outs on live streams—angering millions of consumers and setting off one of the greatest storms of criticism in the history of social media.

In trying to put its feet in both distribution markets, NBC is forcing the digital community to live by broadcast rules and in doing so has disrespected the audience and norms of cable and online platforms. The result has been widespread audience frustration and anger.
The only thing keeping audiences from going elsewhere are the exclusive national rights and the fact that most users don't have enough technical skills or inclination to bypass the ISP-based protections against streaming material from other countries. 

Hopefully, NBC will learn from the experience and get the formula better for the 2016 Olympics.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The spirit of sport

Here's a quiz. Who won the gold in the following events in Beijing 2008.

1. Men's decathlon -  for the title of the greatest all round athlete
2. Women's 1500m - the metric mile
3. Men's football -the most popular sport on earth
4. Women's individual all round in gymnastics - the most "wow" event
5. Men's 50m freestyle swimming - the fastest swimmer in the world

If you scored zero out of five, congratulations. If I modify the questions to simply say which country did the winner come from in each of the above events, and if you still scored zero out of five, then even more congratulations. We are all in the group of 99% of the human race.

If you are wondering where I am going with this post, let me just say that I was inspired to write this by a brilliant column in today's Hindu by Nirmal Shekar.  It is an outstanding piece of writing, even by Nirmal Shekar's high standards and is a perfect exposition of the spirit of sport.

Yes, sport is about winning. But of course, its not just about winning. If you can't remember who won some of the blue riband events of the last Olympics, only four years ago, does winning really matter ? Yes and no, is the answer. Sure, the world loves a winner. Whoever is going to forget Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt from Beijing. But winning, for most, is momentary. Its also about achieving a personal excellence,  a personal ambition, doing your best, and soaking in the spirit of sport.

The spirit of sport is something undefinable. Its why after you batter each other to exhaustion, you shake each other's hand at the end. Its also why after the medal ceremony, all three medalists stand on top of the podium, arms around each other.  Its why Kobe Bryant, on the day he's not playing, is sitting at the velodrome cheering the cyclists , whom he has probably never seen before. Its why, when the national anthem is played, you can't escape tearing up.  Its why it is an indescribable honour for Saina to get her bronze medal from Li Lingwei, one of the immortals of women's badminton, who congratulated her warmly and gave her an affectionate pat. Its also why the antics in the women's doubles event in badminton is such a sad violation of what sport stands for.

So you can perhaps understand, why for me, one of the finest Indian performances in the Olympics thus far, came in the 20km walk , perhaps the most unglamorous event in athletics. It was a gripping event , if you saw it. There was attack after attack and the tactics were enthralling. The Chinese finally dominated and Chen Ding won. The defending Beijing gold medalist, Valeriy Borchin of Russia,  collapsed close to the finish after giving his all and had to be taken in an ambulance. Amidst all the drama, young Irfan, an armyman from Kerala, had the race of a lifetime. He smashed the national record as well as his personal best in coming a close 10th. He barely made the qualification mark for the event in May, and yet here he was at the finish with the world's best, performing way above his level. That is a stupendous achievement , a world class performance if there was one. He didn't win a medal. But his was a fabulous achievement.

I searched today's papers for a mention - couldn't find much. No Chief Minister is going to announce a reward. No shrill TV anchor is going to interview his mother. No crowds are going to receive him at the airport. In the usual tyranny of the first name, surname naming convention, that bedevils most South Indians, they didn't even get his name right - his bib said "Kolathum Thodi" ! Even the TV coverage during the race barely caught him, except his wonderfully happy grin when he finished. But for me, it was one of the highlights of Olympics thus far, by an Indian.

For , you see, he embodied the spirit of sport.

Spotlight Saturday & Giveaway Ending Soon

Happy LAST "official" Saturday before I go back full time next week.  The back to school feel is in the air, huh?  The shelves are lined up with school supplies, the stores are lined up with clothing on sale, and teachers are scrambling in their classrooms to get their rooms ready!  My own kids start getting "bored"...a sure sign it's time!
Hopefully you can grab a few new freebies to add to your collection!  Check these out!
Mary @ Guided Math has some Math Word Wall Posters for you!   She has some for 2-D shapes, Flips, Slides, and Turns, Angles, Lines, Length,Edge, Face, Vertex, etc.  ALL free!  So if you're looking for some helpful math posters with great visuals, click on the images to grab.  They're even conveniently located in ONE spot.  Either image will get you there.

Need some quick and easy assessment strategies for your classroom? Visit Jennifer's blog called Runde's Room to get the scoop on the "Glow and Grow" strategy.  You'll need some yellow and green highlighters for students to show areas where they have "grown" or succeeded, and areas where they need some additional work.  This is a really cool self assessment tool for students to evaluate their own learning.  
I really love the Traffic LIght Comprehension Strategy she has available too!  It allows students to SAFELY let you know how they're doing on a project, assignment, worksheet, or whatever.  They simply mark their work with a green, yellow, or red dot as a private indicator for the teacher to view.  What a safe way for students to say "I NEED HELP with this or this was HARD for me."  You can easily sort papers into groups for some quick reteaching!  You can click either image to take you to her blog for a quick explanation and link to the freebies!  ENJOY!

Finally, don't forget to enter my 500+ giveaway celebration if you haven't. Click celebration image!  There's only a couple of days left!  THANK YOU so much for your support and encouragement!  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments.  You all have been BUSY this summer!  Enjoy what's left of it!

Bananas for back to school routines for my family, but NOT SO BANANAS for summer coming to a close.  How about you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Daily’s rocky performance shows legacy brands create digital advantages

The News Corp’s launch of the tablet newspaper The Daily in February 2011 was heralded as the future of news and revealing opportunities for major new entrants in the news market. After a year and a half of operation, the digital newspaper has lost more than $30 million, managed to gain only 100,000 subscribers—not a trivial amount but low for a global player, and has just announced that it is cutting 1/3 of its editorial staff and ending original production of sports news and commentary.

Journalistically The Daily is not a bad news product and its app is facile and effective. So why hasn’t it been more successful? The fundamental problem is that the digital-only paper has been overshadowed by the success of legacy print newspaper brands in the market for digitally delivered news.

The Daily has never been so brilliantly written and edited that it could gain the significant attention and acclaim needed to overcome the brand advantages of legacy news providers. Major newspaper—such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Financial Times—have used the strengths of their reputations and brands to make the largest inroads in digital subscriptions. Concurrently, larger
local and regional players have also been grabbing paid digital customers in their markets and providing additional competition to the digital startup.

The Daily has also had to compete with widespread availability of free digital news from news providers such as, and aggregators such as Yahoo! and Google. These have all been successful in attracting consumers who are less attached to print news providers and paid services.

Those who predict the demise of legacy newspaper companies often forget the critical importance of the credibility and trust those companies have with news consumers and many assume that print organizations cannot transform themselves into digital players that may become so successful they may one day drop their print editions. 

Brands are important for habitual news consumers and they tend to be highly loyal consumers of specific news brands. The Daily has been unsuccessful in breaking that loyalty, but more successful in creating relationships with persons who have not been strongly bonded to legacy brands. It remains to be seen whether News Corp. will be willing to maintain a relatively small news digital brand among its holdings, even if it manages to move The Daily into operating profitability.