Posts Tagged ‘New York’

 

The Roger Ailes Bio Is Brutal!

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

loudest ovice in the room-w1400-h1400I’m reading an excerpt from Gabriel Sherman’s new book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” It’s an unauthorized biography of Roger Ailes. What I’ve read so far is brutal.

He said he would never send Zachary to the public school because it was overrun with liberalism. At his window, he pointed at an outdoor sculpture exhibit at Boscobel House and Gardens, a half-mile in the distance. “Do you think they have the right to block my view?” Roger asked. “Isn’t it their property?” Foley asked. “It’s not their property! It’s a nonprofit! They get tax breaks!” Roger replied. He spoke of his security more than once. “He worried about his kid and his wife and said he wouldn’t want anything to happen to them because of what he was,”

If Sherman’s account is to be believed, Ailes is a paranoid, controlling, dickish son-of-a-bitch who gets his way by taking no prisoners! The excerpt doesn’t say Ailes is unhappy, but how can he not be? He is described as one troubled man.

What Ailes built at Fox News is astounding. He’s left both CNN and MSNBC in his dust. It’s not an accident. This is Ailes doing. Fox News consistently provides a broadcast easily digestible by its target audience. It is remarkably effective.

Recent reports say Ailes made disparaging remarks about his ‘stars,’ like Bill O’Reilly, but he mostly appears to be strongly supportive of his talent. Fox News pioneered talent-centric broadcasts in cable news. Outwardly, he seems the boss I always wanted.

If Ailes’ reported temper and vindictiveness can be believed, maybe Sherman should be looking over his shoulder as he reports Ailes already does on a regular basis.

How To Get Connecticut Snowfall Totals

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Doppler Versus Snow

This time of year there’s a steady barrage of incoming messages looking for Connecticut snowfall totals. Some folks are curious. Others want to make sure their plow contractor isn’t overcharging, or they’re plow contractors who’d like to charge more!

The info isn’t easily obtained, especially for smaller towns. If you’re looking for Connecticut snowfall totals, here’s where I go.

The most complete source is the Connecticut Department of Transportation Weather Roundup. These are collected every two hours at DOT yards across Connecticut. Because of the methodology used the cumulative snowfall total is always more than what’s actually settled on the ground.

The National Weather Service splits Connecticut between three Weather Service Forecast Offices. That makes things more difficult. You’ll have to look at all three Public Information Statements to put the info together.

Shoreline counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Upton, NY.

Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Taunton, MA.

Litchfield County: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Albany, NY.

Snowfall and other weather data is often critical in accidents and contract disputes. For those more exacting cases when just numbers on paper (or a screen) aren’t enough I provide forensic meteorological services for attorneys and insurance companies.

Explosion In Middletown

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

kleen energy plant.gifAround 11:30 this morning my house shuddered. We’ve been hit by flying branches in storms. This was different. There was no sound, just a compression shock. I got out of bed and headed downstairs.

Helaine was on the sofa. She perceived it differently from me. She said we should check the house. I opened the door and saw nothing. We went to the basement and garage. Nothing again.

The house shook from an explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown. That’s around 20 miles from here. Their website says it’s “in construction”:

620 MW – Siemens-Combined Cycle, ISO & FERC 345kV Interconnect Approved –Pipeline Delivered – Dual Fuel – Gas & Oil Fired – Water Cooled

Helaine said the shake reminded her of an explosion while we were in Buffalo.

An untrained worker was moving a propane tank with a forklift. The tank fell and the valve sheared off. The propane, being heavier than air, spread out along the ground.

From Wikipedia:

The North Division Street explosion was a powerful explosion on December 27, 1983 in a warehouse at the intersection of North Division and Grosvenor Streets in Buffalo, New York. The building contained an illegal 500-gallon propane tank whose valve was broken off while it was being moved and the building was evacuated. The propane started to leak and eventually reached an open flame. The tank exploded, killing all five firefighters assigned to Ladder 5 and two civilians; and damaging a dozen city blocks and causing millions of dollars of damage in fire equipment.

When it happened Helaine thought a car had run into our house! Within thirty seconds of her calling me at the TV station every phone in the place was ringing.

Right now I’m listening to emergency responders on an Internet delivered scanner channel. There’s lots of activity which seems well coordinated. There’s talk of victims and casuaties. It’s horrific.

I wanted to make sure Ann Nyberg knew about this. By the time I called her she was already at the station helping with our coverage. Stories unfold much more quickly now than in ’83. I’ve posted on Twitter and Facebook and the replies have been coming at a steady pace.

This is a tragedy.

Oh What A Bad Feeling – Toyota

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

toyota-logo.jpgOh Toyota. You are this close to becoming a business school teaching lesson. You are this close to becoming Bon Vivant Vichyssoise! Never heard of Bon Vivant? Read on.

Back in the early seventies there was a food company named Bon Vivant. They made high end canned soups under their own name and for others. I’ll let the NY Times pick up the story:

On an early July day in 1971 when it was too hot to cook, a couple in Westchester County, N.Y., sat down to a meal of Bon Vivant vichyssoise, a soup often served chilled (and in this case, straight from the can). The soup tasted funny, so they didn’t finish it; within hours he was dead and she was paralyzed from botulism poisoning. F.D.A. investigators found five other cans of vichyssoise from the same batch of 6,444 that were also tainted with botulism, and spot checks of other products raised questions about the company’s processing practices, so the agency shut down the plant and told the company to recall all its soups.

Bon Vivant tried to fight the recall, calling it an overreaction to a highly isolated problem, but it soon became obvious that few consumers would touch anything with Bon Vivant on the label. And because it was known that the company manufactured store brands as well as its own, people started to be suspicious of every kind of canned soup on the shelf. Bon Vivant filed for bankruptcy within a month.

Instead of getting ahead of the story Bon Vivant pushed back. They put their profits and priorities before their customer’s. We tend not to like that from those who feed us and from whom we expect scrupulous attention to safety.

Nearly seventy years of soup making and Bon Vivant was gone within a month! They became the poster child for what not to do in a crisis.

Fast forward to 1982. Someone injected cyanide into Tylenol capsules after they were already on the store shelf. What did Johnson and Johnson do? They took responsibility and bore the immediate cost though the sabotage happened out of their reach.

Although Johnson & Johnson knew they were not responsible for the tampering of the product, they assumed responsibility by ensuring public safety first and recalled all of their capsules from the market. In fact, in February of 1986, when a woman was reported dead from cyanide poisoning in Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson permanently removed all of the capsules from the market.

You don’t think twice about taking Tylenol today, do you?

I am a Toyota guy. My first new car was a 1970 Toyota Corona. I or my family have had one for most of the time since then. Helaine and Stef both drive Toyotas today.

I have no animus toward Toyota. But seriously, it seems they are following the lead of Bon Vivant and not Johnson and Johnson.

The public trust is not easily obtained nor should it be taken lightly. Toyota has been behind on this story at every step. It’s not going away.

I just watched CNN’s Jessica Yellin play a phone conversation with Toyota about her own Prius. Damning.

I know GM and Ford are licking their chops hoping for Toyota’s downfall. I’m not sure that would be as good for all of us as it is for them. I am not rooting for Toyota’s failure. Their prior attention to quality has forced the US auto industry to step-it-up over the last few decades.

Right now more than Toyota’s cars are speeding down the road out-of-control.

They’ve Ruined Times Square

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

times-square-daytime-empty.jpgNew York City has ruined Times Square! Is that blunt enough? They have changed the entire complexion of the “Crossroads of America” by removing vehicular traffic–and it sucks!

I’m a Times Square guy. I’ve been going there since I was a little kid. I remember when it was a scuzzy strip of sleaze. No regrets from me those days are over. The family friendly, advertising overgrown, garishly bright Times Square that replaced the sleaze was magical.

No more.

The secret of Times Square was you were walking through a city in perpetual motion. The traffic on Broadway and 7th Avenue just reinforced that ‘heart of the city’ feel. The lights from the cars and trucks and the sound of their horns performed as an underscore does in a movie.

times-square-empty-at-night.jpgGone! It’s gone. New York City has closed off Times Square and turned it into a pedestrian mall. The excitement is gone.

When we were in New York last week I originally thought we’d picked a dead night. Nope.

With broad spaces of the square open the feeling of the crowd is gone! Every night feels like a dead night. There is too much space in a city which prides itself on the optimum use of too little.

I’m sure there are good reasons for this move, but they’re lost on me. Times Square has now been fully “Disneyized!’ It’s disappointing.

ruby-red-staircase-times-square.jpgThis blog entry could easily end right here, but there is one thing that was done right–the rebuilding of the TKTS facility in the northern end of Times Square. A ruby red staircase has been placed over TKTS stretching toward the statue of Father Duffy.

This wide open access staircase was constantly full of tourists with cameras during my trips through the area. It’s a great vantage point from which to view the surroundings.

It would be better with traffic flowing around it.

looking-south-into-times-square-from-stairs.jpg

Living The Fantasy: Conan’s Last Tonight Show

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

In broadcasting you usually don’t know you’re doing your last show! That’s part of the reason it’s every broadcaster’s fantasy to have one chance to go off as a class act (or flaming a-hole) and say all those things you always wanted to say, but couldn’t. Tonight was Conan’s night.

This is a very complex story with heroes and villains.

Briefly, NBC made some serious mistakes and tried to get Conan to share the blame.

Correctly, Conan refused to hold hands with the guy getting electrocuted! That one move of defiance has jumped started whatever Conan will do next.

At the same time Conan’s 11:35 PM show was an unquestioned ratings disaster. His recent actions may have bought him a pass from the public, but the industry knows he underperformed in nearly every possible way.

Was he too hip for Middle America? Maybe. Personally I think the show should have stayed in New York.

In the end NBC looks foolish and vindictive and pays through the nose. If anyone outside the business cared about NBC’s Jeff Zucker they’d wonder how he’s staying employed through all of this? I’m wondering.

Would you still be employed after a decision you personally made proved so costly?

Jay Leno, who also shouldn’t be the villain right now, turns into the poster child for Dear Abby’s¹ famous, “Time wounds all heels.” He is the Hannibal Lechter of late night television!

Jay’s crime was beating out David Letterrman for the Tonight Show and then winning in the ratings even though he is less smart, less talented and certainly less funny than Dave.

He is literally a victim of his own success. I guess that’s sad, though I feel no sympathy.

I’ve had friends who should know tell me Jay isn’t a nice guy. Is that true or just sour grapes? No way to know.

That characterization has gotten a lot a play recently. Jay is injured by it.

So, Conan gets a last show and an “A” list line-up for it. Tom Hanks said, “In our house, you will always be the host of The Tonight Show.” Will Ferrell sang off-key. Neil young sang on-key. Steve Carell gave him his NBC exit interview.

In his valedictorian address Conan said: “I hate cynicism, It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

Finally, he walks away with a boatload of money.

Money can make life easier, but it is not the key to happiness. Satisfaction comes with accomplishment.

Conan will be back.

¹ – I find no evidence on the Internet she is the originator of that line though I always thought she was. Whatever.

The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

snow-shovel-on-the-steps.jpgThe snow has come and gone. There’s never a bullseye, but the forecast was reasonably close. If success is judged by number of complaints, or lack thereof, I’m doing fine. Here are the final DOT numbers. I have also added the Boston and New York NWS snow totals, which include Connecticut, for the Dec 20-21, 2009 storm at the end of this entry.

Not everyone was as lucky. A friend who forecasts in Springfield sent a text message saying he’d received nothing! “Bust of the decade,” he said. Ouch. Been there. I know exactly what he’s going through.

I was right about Southeastern Connecticut getting the most snow followed by the shoreline in general. The snow was fluffy and windblown as predicted. Accumulations were generally in line with my numbers. My call for the Northwest Hills and most of the area directly adjacent to the Massachusetts line was a few inches higher than the actual totals.

I wrote about this last night, but it bears repeating the most unusual and interesting part of this storm was the exceptionally dry air. During the summer we sometimes see 30 grams of water content per square meter. Last night it was around 1 gram per cubic meter!

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground. Once the atmospheric column over any location became saturated light snow turned to heavy snow. I’d never seen a situation quite like this before. It cut inches off all the accumulations.

It’s a shame this storm will impact Christmas shopping. Otherwise we’re lucky it came on a Saturday night when travel is usually light.

And now the dig out begins.

(NWS totals after the jump)

(more…)

These Snow Forecasts Never Get Easier

Friday, December 18th, 2009

nws watches map.jpgThe weekend snow seems to be coming into sharper focus. I say “seems” because I won’t know for sure until the whole thing is gone. It’s been a wild, incredibly inconsistent ride which isn’t over yet.

Last night before going on-the-air I looked closely at the 00Z¹ GFS and NAM models. The NAM called for a blizzard. The GFS had a windy day with light snow.

Before bed I took another look.

The 06Z runs were in. The NAM had gone from Armageddon to nothing! It was now showing the storm missing us! I sent a text message to Gil Simmons who was already preparing his forecast at work:

Geoff: Nam to 60h. Sorry snowman.

Gil: WTF. Gfs still had some measurable.

Gil: Nothing like flushing hrs of work

Gil: What a joke

He was right–What a joke. With all this heavyweight computing power and myriad observations this was the best we could do-vague and inconsistent guidance!

I went to bed.

I woke up this morning and checked my phone. Craig Allen, New York’s best known broadcast meteorologist, was on Facebook. He was complaining about the Weather Service’s freshly issued “Blizzard Watch” for Long Island. It was much too early considering the inconsistency of the forecast and the immense impact on the weekend before Christmas.

By experience on-air forecasters understand it’s easier to cancel an event than un-cancel it! There’s no harm in waiting a little while longer. On the other hand there’s plenty of downside committing to a watch too early.

Before starting this entry I took a look at the 12Z GFS and NAM. Major snow is back in the NAM. The GFS has become less of an outlier and is now closer to (but still less than) the NAM solution. These models and a few more will form the basis for my forecast today.

I will spend the next few hours mulling over each detail. How much wind? When will the snow start? Will there be a burst period? What about the critical cloud temperatures which will define the snow’s fluff factor.

In the end I’ll hope to be close. There’s no bullseye in snow forecasts. You’re never exactly right. You can only hope people are well prepared and critics cut you a little slack.

¹ – To achieve global consistency all weather data is produced in “Z” time aka UTC or GMT. This time of year it’s five hours ahead of EST. So 00Z means 7:00 PM EST. That’s the initialization time. It takes a few hours for the results to trickle out.

Something Fox News Is Doing Right!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

fnc-logo.jpgWelcome to journalism in the 21st Century. The ‘right down-the-middle’ mantra of the last half century is gone. We’re back to journalism practiced by partisans.

Yeah–back to. This is how it used to be.

Here’s a little Wikipedia refresher on William Randolph Hearst. I suspect you’ll be surprised!

As Martin Lee and Norman Solomon noted in their 1990 book Unreliable Sources, Hearst “routinely invented sensational stories, faked interviews, ran phony pictures and distorted real events.” This approach came to be known as yellow journalism, named after the Yellow Kid, a character in the New York Journal’s color comic strip Hogan’s Alley.

Hearst’s use of yellow journalism techniques in his New York Journal to whip up popular support for U.S. military adventurism in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898 was also criticized in Upton Sinclair’s 1919 book, The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism. According to Sinclair, Hearst’s newspaper employees were “willing by deliberate and shameful lies, made out of whole cloth, to stir nations to enmity and drive them to murderous war.” Sinclair also asserted that in the early 20th century Hearst’s newspapers lied “remorselessly about radicals,” excluded “the word Socialist from their columns” and obeyed “a standing order in all Hearst offices that American Socialism shall never be mentioned favorably.” In addition, Sinclair charged that Hearst’s “Universal News Bureau” re-wrote the news of the London morning papers in the Hearst office in New York and then fraudulently sent it out to American afternoon newspapers under the by-lines of imaginary names of non-existent “Hearst correspondents” in London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Berlin, etc.

Hearst is just the easiest example of what’s certainly a long list. Rupert Murdoch is a lot less of an outlier than he’s portrayed.

Today Fox News Channel, MSNBC, The Washington Times, New York Post and others have positioned themselves and their coverage away from the middle. That puts them increasingly under the microscope as political opponents scour for weakness which can be used to embarrass them.

Jon Stewart has mastered the art. He often shows FNC on both sides of the same argument, depending on the political winds at any given moment. Recently he showed Fox using video from one event as coverage of another more sparsely attended event.

Last week Fox did it again. Sarah Palin video from the presidential campaign was used as B-roll for a book signing appearance. An anchor talked about the “huge crowds.” Oops.

Maybe, even for Fox, enough is enough. Here’s an internal memo passed along by MediaBistro’s FishbowlDC.

Subject: Quality Control We had a mistake on Newsroom today when a wrong book cover went on screen during a guest segment, the kind of thing that can fall through the cracks on any day with any story given the large amount of elements and editorial we run through our broadcasts. Unfortunately, it is the latest in a series of mistakes on FNC in recent months. We have to all improve our performance in terms of ensuring error-free broadcasts. To that end, there was a meeting this afternoon between senior managers and the folks who run the daytime shows in which expectations were reviewed, and the following results were announced: Effective immediately, there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors. Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the “mistake chain,” and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination, and this will all obviously play a role in performance reviews. So we now face a great opportunity to review and improve on our workflow and quality control efforts. To make the most of that opportunity, effective immediately, Newsroom is going to “zero base” our newscast production. That means we will start by going to air with only the most essential, basic, and manageable elements. To share a key quote from today’s meeting: “It is more important to get it right, than it is to get it on.” We may then build up again slowly as deadlines and workloads allow so that we can be sure we can quality check everything before it makes air, and we never having to explain, retract, qualify or apologize again. Please know that jobs are on the line here. I can not stress that enough. I will review again during our Monday editorial meeting, and in the days and weeks ahead. This experience should make us stronger editorially, and I encourage everyone to invest themselves one hundred and ten percent in this effort.

The memo has a message for all newsrooms of all political persuassions: Content trumps presentation.

If the reason for these most recent screw-ups is a rush to make the broadcast look pretty or flashy the emphasis is wrong. Facts need to be correct before worrying about production values.

This isn’t going to change FNC’s slant. They’ll continue to cover news from a right-of-center perspective. I actually have little problem with that. It just looks like the effort will be made to sell their points from a more factual base.

Of course it’s also possible the memo was leaked to provide easy political cover while nothing changes! We’ll have to wait and see.

My Nephew Matt Heads To New York City

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

matt-opad.jpgWe are a small family. I have but one nephew–Matt. He flew into New York for a quick weekend visit and today I drove in to join him for breakfast.

I find NYC very appealing. As I’ve grown older my desire to live there has grown greater. Of course I would need to re-wife and re-job.

Guess no NYC.

queensboro_bridge.jpgI picked up Matt on 48th Street on the West Side, then headed crosstown finding a parking space adjacent to the building where Judge Judy lives.

Which is more surprising, that I know where Judge Judy lives or I got a free, legal, on-street parking space in Manhattan?

I suppose there are good ways to find a place to eat, but we just tried pot luck and ended up in a diner on First Avenue. Not bad. Very crowded. I had the bagels and lox special. Matt had waffles.

nyc-vertical-skyline.jpgAlong with taking Matt to breakfast I volunteered to take him to the airport. First, he asked if I’d take him to Ground Zero?

Simply put, that’s a request which cannot be turned down regardless of time constraints or circumstances.

We cut across on 34th Street past the Empire State Building, Macy’s and Madison Square Garden. As we approached the West Side I turned south, finally ending up at Vesey and West Broadway, a dead end at the edge of the pit.

ground-zero.jpgThere’s really not a lot to see. The work reconstructing the area has been very slow and plagued with disagreements and power plays.

There is a lot to feel. You just can’t go to that spot without remembering what happened.

By the time Matt got back to the car I’d made a U-turn putting me in the perfect position to almost go the wrong way on Broadway. I discovered my error just before driving into the police car pointed directly at me!

We took the Brooklyn Bridge to the BQE, passed over Newtown Creek, and then north through Queens to LaGuardia.

Hopefully Matt’s back in Milwaukee by now. It was great seeing him and worth every mile.