My Thoughts on Lexington Avenue

Photo by Derek Olson.
Lex­ing­ton Ave. and Col­lege St. Pho­to by Derek Olson, via

This is a Let­ter to the Edi­tor style post in response to two arti­cles in the Moun­tain Xpress. The first was pub­lished in the print edi­tion Decem­ber 5: No easy answers: Lex­ing­ton Avenue’s uncer­tain future by David Forbes. The sec­ond was pub­lished online Decem­ber 12: Mer­chants protest Dec. 5 Lex­ing­ton Avenue sto­ry by Caitlin Byrd.

I used to work in the pro­duc­tion depart­ment for a dai­ly, inde­pen­dent­ly owned and pub­lished news­pa­per. We fre­quent­ly heard the kinds of con­cerns expressed in Ms. Byard’s arti­cle and we had to tread care­ful­ly. I lis­tened care­ful­ly to the in-house edi­to­r­i­al dis­cus­sions about what to do when adver­tis­ers expressed con­cerns about pub­lic­i­ty they per­ceived as neg­a­tive.

First and fore­most, a news­pa­per has to be hon­est to its read­ers, oth­er­wise read­ers will feel cheat­ed and look else­where, which ulti­mate­ly hurts the news­pa­per’s bot­tom line and dimin­ish­es the sense of com­mu­ni­ty that a qual­i­ty news­pa­per pro­vides. A read­er who is less like­ly to trust the edi­to­r­i­al con­tent is also less like­ly to trust the adver­tise­ments in such a news­pa­per. For an extreme exam­ple: Ask your­self how much you trust the adver­tise­ments in the tabloids in the check­out line. About as much as their exposé sto­ry of ‘Bat Boy’? A news­pa­per with integri­ty is a bet­ter place for con­sumers to make choic­es about where to spend their dol­lars. Pulling adver­tis­ing because of a ‘neg­a­tive’ sto­ry hurts the adver­tis­er and the con­sumer more than than the news­pa­per.

Can an arti­cle on increased crime lead to less crime in the future? Because of the respect that the XPress has in our com­mu­ni­ty and it’s con­tin­ued abil­i­ty to start con­struc­tive dia­log (such as this one), I think so. A neg­a­tive sto­ry can increase and main­tain the integri­ty of a news­pa­per, lead­ing to pos­i­tive change for the entire com­mu­ni­ty. The Xpress has that legit­i­ma­cy because it does­n’t look the oth­er way when con­front­ed with an ugli­er face of real­i­ty than we would all like to see. I put a high val­ue on that.

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The Roaring Lions EP

A lit­tle over a year ago, my friend Hen­ry and I were invit­ed by Je Widen­house to sit in on his week­ly gig at 5 Wal­nut Wine Bar here in down­town Asheville. Je and Hen­ry are cur­rent mem­bers of the Squir­rel Nut Zip­pers and Je and I are cur­rent mem­bers of Fire­crack­er Jazz Band and Hen­ry is the for­mer tuba play­er, so we had a large song­book in com­mon. We had a lot of fun that night, made some good music and got a great response. So we slapped a name on our trio, start­ed up a Face­book account, print­ed up some busi­ness cards and called it a band. As far as I can tell from my research, we are the world’s first and only tuba-trum­pet-piano trio in exis­tence. If you know of anoth­er, tell me.

We are The Roaring Lions.

We have just released our first recordings.

You can buy our record on Band­camp, or from us in per­son when you see us per­form for $5. Also, you can Book­face love us. Our CD release will take place this Sun­day Octo­ber 14, at 5 Wal­nut Wine Bar at 7pm.

From my Files: Eight Articles

I was going through my Down­loads fold­er the oth­er day and doing some sort­ing and throw­ing out of old tor­rents and what not, and noticed a sev­er­al arti­cles that I had read in the past year. Just PDFs that I had down­loaded and read. Some of them were sources I used for class­es at UNCA, some were just points along my per­son­al learn­ing jour­ney. I think they were pret­ty inter­est­ing and eclec­tic, and had good mem­o­ries of read­ing them. So I’m shar­ing them, with a brief descrip­tion. I’ve put them in alpha­bet­i­cal order. PDFs will open in a new win­dow.

  • Ambi­ent Tem­per­a­ture and Vio­lent Crime: Tests of the Lin­ear and Curvi­lin­ear Hypothe­ses
    • Do changes in tem­per­a­ture cor­re­late to crime rates? If so, what is that rela­tion­ship? Jour­nal of Per­son­al­i­ty and Social Psy­chol­o­gy. Pub­lished 1984, Vol. 46, No. 1, 91–97. 6 pages. 775 kb.
  • Apol­lo 11 Tech­ni­cal Crew Debrief­ing
    • Aldrin, Collins and Arm­strong dis­cuss the entire Apol­lo 11 mis­sion, from suit­ing up to moon land­ing, return­ing to Earth and com­ments on the nuts and bolts of how every­thing worked from the view­point of the men who had to make it work. Nation­al Aero­nau­tics and Space Agency, July 31st 1969. 156 pages. 1.2 mb.
  • Hand­gun Wound­ing and Effec­tive­ness
    • There is a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion about what makes a gun dead­ly, and what exact­ly the effects of a bul­letin on the human body are. Here is a fright­en­ing­ly well-researched study by the FBI on just that. Bonus: “FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT DISSEMINATION ONLY.” US Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion. Pub­lished July 14, 1989. 16 pages. 203 kb.
  • Hydrofrack­ing: The Need for Respon­si­ble Gas Drilling Reg­u­la­tion and the Role of Nat­ur­al Gas
    • Looks at the prob­lems of hydrofrack­ing, and assess­es what could be done to make it safe way to access ener­gy. More arti­cles from the pub­lish­er, an inde­pen­dent ener­gy think­tank, are avail­able here. I don’t smell petro-dol­lars here, but as always, read­er dis­cre­tion is advised. Ener­gy Vision. 2011. 14 pages. 720 kb.
  •  McMa­hon-Hus­sein Cor­re­spon­dence: Com­ments and a Reply
    • Why does the state of Israel exist? What estab­lished the bor­ders? Who was involved in those deci­sions and how did that make them? McMa­hon-Hus­sein is a big piece of that sto­ry. Arnold Toyn­bee address­es these ques­tions from an aca­d­e­m­ic, not a polit­i­cal view­point.  Jour­nal of Con­tem­po­rary His­to­ry, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1970), pp. 185–201. 18 pages. 518 kb.
  • Road to Rich­es
    • Where does wealth come from? Over thou­sands of years, the stan­dard of liv­ing of humans has crawled slow­ly for­ward, until about 250 years ago in West­ern Europe. Why? Giv­en Mitt Rom­ney’s recent com­ments about the eco­nom­ic advan­tages of Israeli cul­ture. The Econ­o­mist, Dec 23rd 1999. 8 pages. 228 kb.
  • Pow­er Notes: Slide Pre­sen­ta­tions Recon­sid­ered
    • Most Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion are awful. But it can be used with pur­pose and serve to enlight­en rather than bore and dis­tract your audi­ence. IIID Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Infor­ma­tion Design Swin­burne Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy. 2011. 67 pages. 7.2 mb.
  • A Steam­punk’s Guide to the Apoc­a­lypse
    • A fun and styl­ish look at how the tech­nol­o­gy of the past could help you sur­vive the dis­as­ter of the future. Steam­punk Mag­a­zine. Octo­ber 2007. 31 pages. 7.9 mb.

Do banks lose more money to robbery or to stolen pens?

100 Dollar Bill with Pen

100 Dollar Bill with Pen

While mak­ing a deposit at the bank the oth­er day and real­iz­ing I did­n’t have a pen in my pock­et, I thought about steal­ing the pen on the deposit counter. This kind of lit­tle theft hap­pens all the time, and we all do it. It’s like doing 51 in a 45 mph zone — we don’t real­ly con­sid­er it wrong. So I thought, how much do banks spend in a year in replac­ing all the pens that all of us mis­cre­ants blithe­ly walk away with? Is it more than banks lose to rob­beries?

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