What was Barack Obama reading during the campaign? “Be Quiet, Be Heard”

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According to New Yorker photographer Platon, President Obama had the book Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion by Susan and Peter Glaser on his desk during the campaign last year when Platon shot Obama for the magazine.


Platon delivered this nugget during his talk at the New Yorker Festival this afternoon. Of course, there were several others, as well. When he shot Bill Clinton for Esquire towards the end of Clinton’s Presidency, Platon told Clinton, “Show me the love!” Clinton’s advisers frantically attempted to tell him to not show Platon anything. The President responded, “Shut up. Shut up. I know what he’s talking about,” before delivering the pose that landed on the cover of Esquire. When P.Diddy arrived at Platon’s studio, he told him to cut the Miles Davis record that Platon had on the stereo and put in one of Diddy’s own records. Vladimir Putin is a huge Beatles fan. The three things that Michael Bloomberg said he could not do without on a desert island are “Salma Hayek. Salma Hayek. And Salma Hayek.” One of Platon’s photos helped compel Colin Powell to endorse Obama for President.

MP3 of Platon on snooping through Obama’s desk

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Run This Town (New York Yankees Version)

Before the Yankees game on Friday night, the stadium’s PA played a special Yankees version of the Jay-Z song “Run This Town.” Is it just bad or is it so bad it’s good?

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Listen to Bon Iver at the New Yorker Festival, or how bad is the iPhone’s microphone?

I saw Sasha Frere-Jones interview Justin Vernon of Bon Iver as part of the New Yorker Festival last night. After the interview, Vernon played a brief solo set of the following songs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my MiniDisc recorder with me, and I have yet to acquire a Tascam DR-1. So, I recorded the set with my iPhone, which sounds just about as awful as you would expect. Listen via the player below or download his set here. I’m not sure I got the title of the second song correct, and I couldn’t fine the lyrics online anywhere.


  1. Hazelton
  2. Miss You Can’t (Real title? YouTube)
  3. Flume
  4. Hayward

I have to admit that I wasn’t as taken by Bon Iver’s album as most people I know were. However, I’ll certainly give it another chance after hearing him live. What I found fascinating was how Vernon talked about moving back to Wisconsin and doesn’t really have any interest in living anywhere else. Even after making several declarations of allegiance to the place that I’m from, I’ve left it three times this decade. And even though I intended to return each time, I still always left hoping that I would come back and never leave again. Vernon’s comments about place aren’t anything new, but given my personal history and my recent reading of Wendell Berry’s essay “A Native Hill,” hearing someone consciously commit himself to the place where he’s from, even as his work is expanding the possibility to be elsewhere, was valuable. Berry returned to Kentucky after studying at Stanford and moving to Manhattan, and he writes about his home, “Before, it had been mine by coincidence or accident; now it was mine by choice.”

It’s often bothered me than I don’t know many people who lived away from their hometowns after college and then returned to them. And I think Berry and Vernon are getting at something that I haven’t heard much among the young professional set—the value in having your geography be a set place that you serve rather than a place that simply serves your ambition. For Vernon, returning home to write the Bon Iver record For Emma, Forever Ago made geography almost invisible; place became a given, not a distraction. The artistic freedom that allowed Vernon to write a record unlike any other could only come from geographic restriction. And you can really only limit yourself to a place and know you’re not leaving if you love it, if you commit to and are responsible for it. Back to Berry: “…I never doubted that the world was more important to me than [New York]; and the world would always be most fully and clearly present to me in the place I was fated by birth to know better than any other.”

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Can you still watch football?

Much has been made recently about the link between NFL careers and brain damage. The New York Times has run an excellent series on the subject and Malcolm Gladwell just penned an essay equating football with dog fighting in the New Yorker. I expect that he’ll rehash much of its content for his New Yorker Festival talk today. The main point is that now that we know something about the risks to the brain of playing football, watching the game should not be a morally neutral act, just as watching dog fighting should not be one either.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-09

  • Paraphrasing M. Stewart:If political parties funded poly sci depts the way corps fund b-schools, we would consider their research propaganda #
  • This is what Condé Nast got for hiring snake oil salesman–uh, I mean, consul….?! http://bit.ly/40KPfh #
  • Are you joking?! The consultants pulled the oldest trick in the book on Condé–profit analysis. Where's that skew graph? http://bit.ly/ZXLkV #
  • Big sandwich for @joshto at the Parisi Bakery! #
  • "As bright, insecure, and self-loving youngsters determined to win…their careers had peaked when they gained admission into The Firm." #
  • "…corporations turn to strategy when they can't justify their existence in any other way…." #
  • The Economist: "Business schools need to make more room for people who are willing to bite the hands that feed them." http://bit.ly/2sEXv7 #
  • "The so-called soft skills are…the proper focus of an education…. But these skills inevitably accumulate by indirection…." #
  • How come no one suggests that the endowment had grown too large? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/education/09harvard.html #

The Management Myth reviewed in the Journal

Philip Delves Broughton, whose book on HBS I wrote about last fall, reviewed Matthew Stewart’s The Management Myth in the Wall Street Journal a couple months back. I’m currently enjoying Stewart’s skewering of business theory after having read his Atlantic article that spawned the book a few months ago. His thesis—that management theory is a false science—should be studied by anyone who has ever thought of employing SWOT, Five Forces, the BCG matrix, or any other fallacious framework.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-02

  • What's the point of watching TV if a hilarious show like Parks and Recreation is up for cancellation after only eight episodes? #
  • How did he expect to get the Olympics without healthcare…or healthcare without the Olympics…ugh. #

Using all five forces

I’ve frequently doubted the effectiveness of business frameworks as they’re used in companies and schools. However, I have realized that frameworks are very good at doing one thing: they allow people to pretend that decisions that should be subjective, political, and emotional are actually objective, technical, and quantitative.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-25

  • MA should put Atul Gawande in Kennedy's vacant Senate seat. Brilliant! http://bit.ly/1dmohE #
  • Just read Evan Ratliff's 2005 NYer piece, "The Zombie Hunters"–good stuff: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/zh #
  • RT @lmcintire IKEA bookshelf, how does it feel do [sic] get totally owned? That's what I thought. [How does it feel to get sic'd?] #
  • …et al, I'm warning you, @ChrisButterick is going to be in town next weekend. Beware. #
  • "…a critic is nothing without an authoritative posture…against which an opposing outlook or proposition can be tested." -C. Ozick #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-18

  • That's just Roger being Roger: http://bit.ly/16Qvi1 #
  • US doctors overwhelmingly want a public option or single payer: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/NEJMp0907876.pdf #
  • When will pubs realize that subscription fees for apps suck? Make us pay a larger one-time fee rather than a small, incremental fee forever. #
  • Condé Nast hired McKinsey to help them cut costs. This can't be good for my beloved @NewYorkerDotCom http://bit.ly/37Rb2F #McKinseyFAIL #
  • I'm surprised that Doug Glanville didn't mention the athlete most recently cited for having kept it real: LeBron James. http://bit.ly/PHWxJ #
  • Just saw the film Botany of Desire based on Michael Pollan's excellent book. Wondering when the long tail concept will come to food. #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-11

  • The issues with using Adobe CS3 with Snow Leopard: http://bit.ly/NfiE6 #
  • Ugh. I started reading the @NYTimes in high school because I didn't want to read about California! http://cnt.to/hDo (via @paidcontent) #
  • Screening of the Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers film version of Where the Wild Things Are in SF on 9/30 http://bit.ly/qfFXD #
  • Police checkpoint on 19th heading south. Stay away–big traffic headache. #
  • Picked up a signed copy of the new Lorrie Moore novel from @greenappleguy tonight. You should do the same! #
  • People in Cole overheard my trying to remember yesterday's dinner, "I didn't have dinner. Nothing @CafeGratitude could count as dinner." #
  • RT @mistahmoogle: @ricky_o, I told the Jiggaman to use the patented Ricky O. "Sup!" on his new song. http://blip.fm/~cxmda #
  • RT @Emdashes: The NYer Festival schedule is up! http://bit.ly/mxK5T #
  • Four tickets for $3 each, Lincecum scratched from his scheduled start, Giants loss. I guess you get what you pay for. #
  • Forget the new iPods, this is the product announced today that I'll pine for: http://bit.ly/mEeNt #
  • RT @vincelin: judy gave birth at 9:55 am to 7 lb 6 ounce vince jr. #

R.E.M. and MoveOn collaborate

As much as I support the public option, I’m not sure about its political possibility right now. However, I am sure that my favorite band, R.E.M., and MoveOn collaborated to produce a video urging its inclusion in any upcoming health care bill. The video is simply a slideshow of MoveOn members holding signs with the names of people who need health care now, set to R.E.M.’s “You Are the Everything” from Green.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-04

  • Took BP at MA yesterday with @tylershores in 102-degree weather. #
  • Listening to a great Fresh Air interview with Ted Kennedy from a few years ago: http://bit.ly/15BRtD #
  • How is it that the New Yorker and NYTM both run profiles of the Bryan brothers in the same week? #
  • PlayRadioPlay is a total Postal Service ripoff but still fun listening. #
  • Had a Zuni Cafe burger for lunch. But where was @albertkchen? #
  • Horray! A new book from Lorrie Moore and a profile of her in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/books/02moore.html #
  • Can someone explain why the Gmail outage is a big deal? Are you really that dependent? Enable POP and use your own client + mail server. #
  • Jonny Greenwood: MP3s encourage people "to own far more music than they can ever give their full attention to." http://bit.ly/32GrAX #
  • Better yet, send a postcard or pick up the phone. #
  • How to reverse "the victory of whatever can be quantified over everything that can't"? #
  • More mags should be using their iPhone apps to drive sales of physical product like the Economist. #
  • BlackBerry Desktop for the Mac is like three iPhones too late for me. #
  • Okay, so who else got the I Am T-Pain iPhone app? @albertkchen #
  • Found myself wishing my MacBook Pro had a fax modem today. #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-21

  • Just gave my board presentation using Air Mouse on iPhone as a PowerPoint remote. Wish it didn't drain my battery so fast! #
  • Saw a whale on my way to the meeting yesterday. #
  • Sandwich showdown: Mike & Patty's vs. Darwin's. #
  • RT @norton_fiction: RT @elliottholt "Don't trust anyone who doesn't own books." #
  • Was at Darwin's and sold a woman on "Camus, a Romance" from @groveatlantic after she asked what I was reading. Didn't even have the jacket. #
  • Boo to @museumofscience for not admitting AAM members but stealing the AAM's code of ethics–this merits a letter. #
  • Lots of drivers at the airport with signs that say "Connect." Wonder what that means. 😉 @joshto #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-14

  • Multi-page online articles inflate pageview numbers at the expense of user experience. @NYTimes, etc., allow us to default to single-page! #
  • "People who say that all this content wants to be free aren’t paying talented people to create it." http://bit.ly/2GAKdP #
  • Are there any good tech blogs that aren't rabidly pro-technology, if that makes sense? #
  • I don't have a problem with this: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/fashion/09blogfree.html #
  • Obama's reading list: Joseph O'Neill, Dave Eggers and Jeff Sachs http://bit.ly/kui68 (via @melvillehouse) #
  • Ginevra King's–the inspiration for Daisy–Chicago home was for sale. Who bought it? http://bit.ly/lTuMk #
  • "…the loss of identification so profound as to be constitutive of one's self…." http://bit.ly/2wjiOi #
  • Edmund Wilson responds to requests: http://www.henryfarrell.net/scialabba/wilson.jpg #
  • ePub? Yuck! http://bit.ly/2Bj49U Can someone explain to me why we can't get books in PDF with embedded fonts? #
  • Lots of new sections just appeared in my NYTimes iPhone app, including "Pro Basketball" and "Start-Ups." What is up with that? #
  • The cover for Commencement looks so much like the one for Demonology. #

The price of a logo

I had a few logos made for projects over the past four years. Fortunately, I’ve been able to work with friends on many of them. However, I continue to encounter the misconceptions that logos should be cheap, say a couple hundred bucks, or involve a lot of constant feedback from the client to the designer on all possible designs. Here’s why neither is true.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-07