Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Dec 19th 2007 10:08AM Dear Abha,
As you can see from the comments your article did not create the impression you probably were going for, which is pretty much always the case when you write about certain issues. It's easier to see problems in the neighbor’s yard than in your own, so here's an outsider's take on how you can improve your articles. Hopefully, that helps. Good luck with your writing!
1. Clearly identify the issue – very few readers today will carefully read an article and analyze what is it you’re trying to say. What is your problem - the sign? Lack of English speakers in Madrid? China winning bid for the Olympics? Are you against racists? People who want you to study English while in the US and French while in France? I’m a bit surprised no one replied “You’re so right, they should let the dogs in the restaurants - my Mimi is my daughter” so far.
2. Research the issue – you’re talking about a very interesting problem here, tens of thousands pages were written about that from at least two angles – preserving the US as a single cultural entity and the huge language problems of the EU government that forced to function on many languages. Don’t you think providing principal conclusions and arguments of these debates that would help you to back up your point of view and help your readers to build up with their own informed position?
3. Do not use fallacies to back up your position. No need to explain this, right? Or if that wasn’t on purpose – always check your writings for fallacies! Double and triple check – they’re much, much worse than spelling or grammar problems.
4. Never present an issue as a one dimensional picture because even if your story is really clear cut and one dimensional (and very few are!) you, as a journalist, should be objective and explain positions of the both sides.
5. Please understand that United States of America is not, by any stretch of imagination, a simple country. I know that from the outside it looks like easy to understand McDonald’s inhabited by Tom, Jerry and Paris Hilton but in reality it’s a social experiment unsurpassed in magnitude or complexity before or after. Take all ethnic complexity of India and multiply it by 50, add integration issues of the EU, add historical tensions of Olster, add get-it-done-fast attitude of new Asian Tigers, etc., etc. – that’s America. The issue you tried to deal with in this article is one of the most complex and emotionally charged ones in this very complex and dynamic country (just as a couple of ones you touched on before – gun control, etc). You can see it from the number of replies, right? Quite frankly, these issues are so complex that one has to be a first-rate journalist with very deep knowledge and many years of relevant experience to deal with them in a short article. I’m not discouraging you from complex issues but if you want to rise above the summer camp newsletter level of journalism you need to respect these issues, i.e. understand their size and be ready for some heavy duty research they require.
Dec 16th 2007 11:07AM When I was in Moscow in 1980, I saw billboards advertising Aeroflot (the only air company they had at the time) and Sberbank (the only bank they had). I have since asked probably a million people, including many Russians, what was the point of that advertising but no one was able to explain that to me.
If the SU is any indication, regular people in North Korea probably can't just walk into a store and buy a car as new cars are few and allocated according to a government plan. And that makes the ads your saw just as mysterious as those that I've seen :) Part of the whole smoke-and-mirrors thing, perhaps?
Generally, when I'm reading the Infiltrating, I often find myself nodding in agreement - so many things you describe seem to be literally copied from the Soviet Union of 1960 - 1970. Radios without dials, Children's Palaces, huge faces of the leaders on every building, mass sporting events, even the uniforms of the traffic girls (yep, they had them in the SU in the 60s) - amazing. I'm used to reading about these things or seeing them in B&W movies and you've walked among them just recently! Sir, you're a time traveler! :) And thanks again.
Dec 14th 2007 11:14AM > For an atheist nation, I never would have expected such religious devotion.
Nature hates a vacuum. When you take away the traditional gods, people use the next best thing available. And if this love is mandatory - even more so.
Although I'd guess there is a number of people in this procession who don't really feel a thing - they just do it because 1) not to do it is dangerous or 2) everyone else is doing it. It looks like there were mostly organized groups there? Students on a field trip, soldiers on a field trip, etc. - they have no choice really ...
Ah, just thinking out loud :)
Dec 11th 2007 12:33PM Neat thingy for sure. Although I'm not clear on how that will help with the bed bugs? (I presume they were the reason you woke up scratchy. It either them or breadcrumbs but I'm sure you know better than eat in the bed). The thingy will also not get cat's urine out of the carpet or clean the layer of grime from the table for you but it will certainly help people with germophobia, so kudos to Hammacher Schlemmer for helping our sick populace with what's really wrong with it.
P.S. SkyMall catalog is full of wonderful and uber-useful gadgets like this, ain't it?
Dec 9th 2007 9:26PM >Beyond the city center, for example, we could clearly make out the concrete hell of socialism where rows of prefabricated housing blocks were pushed up against each other like tombstones in a graveyard.
Wait, are we still talking Pyongyang or you're describing parts of the Bronx now? :))
Thanks for the Infiltrating - really enjoying it! Particularly, since I (and I suspect many others) am too lazy to try to get the visa, etc. myself :)
Nov 16th 2007 11:34AM > Oh, and in case you are wondering, Gadling is indeed accessible in China.
Hmmm, probably not for long now - just until their bot comes across this post with Tiananmen Square and other sweet keywords in it... :)
Thanks for this series Neil - that was very interesting. Well, actually the huge majority of your posts is :) Look forward to reading more,
Nov 12th 2007 10:46AM Well, we've been doing it for ages in the good ole' US of A. Are you saying that it in any way interferes with us being the leaders of the free world and stronghold of the democracy?
May 31st 2007 4:36PM South Africa - actually, a gentleman never extends his hand to a lady first. Anywhere in the world.
Russia - are you sure about that? I must have drunk a 1000 gal tank of vodka in 10+ years I spent in Russia and I don't recall anything like that.
May 10th 2007 11:34AM Dude... Asia? :))
P.S. English Russia is awesome although many people have told me that explanations under photos sometimes pretty skewed to make for a "better" story.
May 6th 2007 5:17PM There is a number of models that can be had for as little as $200 - search google for "folding bikes". Among those cheap fold-ups manufacturers Dahon is probably the most established brand but some others make pretty decent (for the price) bikes.
P.S. Neil, great posts, man - keep up the good job.