Category Archives: Amusing Stuff

Celebrity excitement in the newsroom

A few of the staffers here in the newsroom are crazy about John Mayer, so when I typed “Bozeman” into the search box on social media tracking site Topsy today and these tweets turned up near the top, it elicited plenty of excitement.

Yes, that’s John Mayer and Katy Perry at the Wal-Mart in Bozeman.

Celebrity sightings aren’t rare in Bozeman. A friend of mine who worked at Barnes & Noble often saw celebs in the store, and there are plenty of tales of the sightings in Paradise Valley, including the recent recap by the Montana Pioneer of Steve McQueen’s time there.

There’s no grand point to this post, other than to show how a couple of nine-day-old tweets can get the John Mayer fans in the newsroom bouncing off the walls.

Perhaps you have a celebrity counter story? Share in the comments.

umlockdown large

Missoula robberies spark #UMlockdown hashtag

If you were following the state news at all yesterday on Twitter, then you probably already know about the hashtag #UMlockdown which manifested around the tense situation in Missoula on Thursday morning.

A couple of businesses were robbed by an armed man who was then on the loose in the campus area. UM went into lockdown, as did other area schools and businesses. With the temperature in the double digits below zero and the robber apparently not wearing much in the way of winter gear, residents were also asked to lock their doors and stay put.

It was also thought that the robber could have been Kevin A. Briggs, the man who, while shackled, walked right out of the Bozeman Police Department on Feb. 1 and hasn’t been caught yet. Police say he has been sighted in Missoula.

Bored college students took to Twitter when their professors ran out of material. Most of those tweeting on the hashtag found plenty of humor in the situation, and the student newspaper at UM, the Kaimin, collected the best-of tweets in a Storify.

I’m embedding it here not to minimize the seriousness of the robberies in Missoula but to show how vital social media is to communicating during emergencies and how key it is to blowing off steam.

Also, I wanted to make such a Storify myself today, but I didn’t have time.

Oregon city commissioner slams newspaper on official blog

A city commissioner in Portland, Ore., sparked something of an Internet firestorm this week with a pair of posts to his official city of Portland blog slamming the local newspaper, the Oregonian.

In his original post, titled “Going Richard Sherman on the Oregonian,” Steve Novick says commissioners feel attacked by the newspaper’s “criticism and contempt.”

Taking an example from Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman, whose post-game on-air interview sparked a thousand memes that will be forgotten by the closing whistle of the Super Bowl, Novick rants on the Oregonian, calling it “mediocre” because it only delivered four days a week and because it has had to lay off journalists. Novick also makes mention of “sorry Orange County right-wing publisher” N. Christian Anderson III.

After being linked on Romenesko and talked about by journalists around the country all day on Twitter, Novick wrote a follow up piece saying, that, no, he didn’t mean to include the reporters when he insulted the newspaper. “I guess I could have caveated my post with the same things I’m saying here… but that wouldn’t have made it a very good trash-talk,” he wrote.

U MAD?

I guess I don’t know how things work in Portland, but we don’t have city commissioners blogging here, let alone blogging with the sort of confidence it takes to openly and immaturely attack a newspaper (without the decency to allow comments on the post).

Personally, I’d like to see a commissioner start a blog and keep it updated regularly in Bozeman, even if it means an occasional flame war.

Montana cities ranked in second-annual Lumosity “smartest cities” study

Equations on a maths department blackboard by hugovk, on Flickr
Equations on a maths department blackboard by hugovk, on Flickr
A study released this week by Lumosity, a San Francisco-based maker of brain-training exercises, lists the “smartest” cities in America.

The study tracks results from Lumosity exercises taken by roughly 3.4 million people ages 15 to 85. Exercises fall into categories testing the brain’s speed, attention, flexibility, memory and problem solving.

The results were compiled into a number of different lists based on geography and age. Montana cities ranked on most of the lists.

Overall

  • Helena, 22nd

Core-based Statistical Areas (aka Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas)

  • Bozeman, 66th
  • Helena, 99th
  • Great Falls, 149th
  • Missoula, 169th
  • Billings, 191st
  • Kalispell, 312th

Ages 35-55

  • Helena, 34th
  • Great Falls, 40th
  • Missoula, 43rd

Ages 55 and older

  • Bozeman, 18th

Topping the overall list was Layfayette, Ind., and Ithaca-Cortland, N.Y., was first on the Combined Statistical Areas list. Ithaca, N.Y., also topped the list of Core-based Statistical Areas list, where most of the Montana cities ranked. Stanford, Calif., was best on the “City and State” list.

The number of lists has some news outlets reporting different top cities, depending on which list you’re looking at in the data. The Huffington Post reports Stanford, Calif., as the smartest, for example. Meanwhile, Venture Beat reports Itaca on top.

It’s worth noting that these rankings are based on the people who played and scored on Lumosity brain-training exercises and not necessarily on more open, statistical polling methods.

Still, Lumosity claims to be the world’s largest and fastest growing database on human cognition, with data on more than 40 million people. It’s a massive amount of data that no one else has, and some say it’s helping change the way research into cognition is performed.

The good, old days

It is worthwhile to be reminded from time to time that the idea that there was once such a thing as the “good old days” is a myth. The same complains gets repeated generation after generation. Case in point: Many moderns argue that the old means of communication are dying.

Well, I guess that last complaint is a bit older. Remember Plato? Of writing, he once said:
The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
“Said” is here meant ironically, considering that the only proof we have Plato ever said anything was because somebody wrote it down — years after the fact, likely wrongly and probably with a heavy interjection of personal interpretation. I’m looking at you, Socrates.

But I digress.

The point is, every communications technology is disruptive to the technologies that existed before. There will always be adherents to the old ways, and the old ways will always be useful. It’s good to remember that there is no “right” way to communicate. There are merely different ways to communicate, and change to the standards by which we communicate should not be judged as better or worse because in the long-run, they are simply different that what came before.

(And yes, I fully realize the irony of me saying this when I work for a company that primarily makes its money from selling ink on paper carrying yesterday’s news.)

And now for some greatness from Web-comic XKCD, whose strip below inspired this post.

XKCD from June 19, 2013

The quotable Brian Schweitzer

Brian Schweitzer

The website Roll Call published an entertaining interview with former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today that’s making the rounds online.

Judging by my past experience with Schweitzer on the handful of times I spoke with him, reporter Kyle Trygstad quoted the governor accurately.

The whole interview is worth a read, but I thought I’d exerpt the portion of it that I got the biggest kick out of. Trygstad is trying to get the cagey Schweitzer to say whether he’s going to run for Senate.

Trygstad: So it wouldn’t be accurate to report you’re close to jumping in the race?

Schweitzer: No, that wouldn’t be accurate. But that shouldn’t stop you. You know, it’s yellow journalism. Say whatever you want.

Trygstad: Well, I won’t do that. I want to write what’s actually happening.

Schweitzer: You’re not going to make it in this business, my friend. You gotta get with the program.

Battlestar Galactica

Fracking ban

A fun one from the Romenesko blog today: The Stamford Advocate in Connecticut has banned the word “fracking” in its comment section, citing how it’s often used as a replacement for certain versatile curse word that starts with an F.

Upset is Sharon Wilson, a Texas advocate for people negatively affected by hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. Wilson received a comment on her blog from someone named “kim feil” which contained the text of an email from Hearst Connecticut Media Group representative Brett Mickelson.

Mickelson’s email apparently is in response to Kim, who noticed that the Stamford Advocate banned “fracking” in its comments. He writes that “many of our users attempt to exploit a perfectly legitimate word as a replacement for it’s (sic) more vulgar cousin.”

Wilson goes through a convoluted theater of trying to figure out what offense the word “fracking” could possibly offer. Clearly, she is not a fan of “Battlestar Galactica.”

(For the record, the Chronicle’s comment boards allow you to frack as much as you want.)

Vancouver Sun: Android users apparently more slutty than iPhone users

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

It’s not what I would call the most efficient use of a newspaper’s website, but the Vancouver Sun published the story anyhow.

It seems that, according to a survey conducted by Zoomerang for the dating website Match.com, users of Android phones “more likely to have sex on a first date and partake in one-night stands.”

According to the survey, which interviewed 1,068 Canadian singles between Oct. 13 and Oct. 15, 62 percent of single Android users reported having had sex on a first date. A further 55 percent had one-night stands.

That compares to 57 percent of iPhone users and 48 percent of Blackberry users who reported having had sex on a first date.

After actually looking at the story, the headline “Android users more likely to have sex on first date: Survey” is grossly misleading. The survey doesn’t predict future behavior. It only reports past actions.

Frankly, I identify with the user Jeremia the Bullfrog who posted this comment on the story:

It is stupid that this is even in the “newspaper”. 1068 people does not provide a descent sample group. And a internet poll? come on you dont need to print every piece of cra p that comes down the wire!
But maybe that’s just me.

What’s been your experience with Android users? Are they sluttier than most?