A Little Too Close to Home

Not the clown suit. That’s not what I mean. I’m entirely too coulrophobic for that.

No, it’s another thing. Long-time readers of this blog (or long-time knowers of yours truly)  may remember this story.

This Walmart ad that played in last week’s AFC Championship Game gave me flashbacks. Even as I laughed out loud.

Haiti Rescue: Saving the Man Who Saved My Life

When E. Benjamin Skinner first approached TIME magazine with his extraordinary story of the Haiti earthquake, we soon learned that Ben not only had an incredible story he could write. He also had many visual and audio elements that could create a compelling multimedia piece. Using Ben’s elements, editor Jim Fields and I put together this very moving story of kindness, luck, grace and friendship in the wake of tragedy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Pain and Hunger in Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital

My job is great fun most of the time. It has variety, depth and work that makes me laugh out loud. Like any job, being a director and boss in a large organization has its hassles and annoyances. But a great privilege of my job is that I get to inform people about things that really matter. And when I saw what Nick Weissman filed from Haiti today, I had a lump in my throat.

At the General Hospital in Haiti’s capital, dozens of volunteer doctors and EMTs are on hand, flown down from the states. Some are from Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. But they are faced with great hardships. No pain medication for those who’ve just had amputations. And no food to feed patients who’ve just had traumatic surgery. In this story, which is our lead on Time.com this evening, a Haitian-born EMT from Brooklyn shows a newborn, who has not yet eaten since he was born. A day after being born, the baby has not had any milk — from his mother or formula — in its mouth yet.

Heartbreaking. Have a look for yourself.

Is a Time Machine Really Possible? – Techland – TIME.com

It’s 2010, and I want my jet pack.

More than 35 years ago, as I started reading science fiction and watching Star Trek, I figured we’d be much further along by now. Space 1999 and 2001: A Space Odyssey seemed like they were right on track when they first came out. In the 70s, we felt for certain Moon Base Alpha would surely come a couple of decades after humans put footprints on the moon. And it seemed completely feasible that by 2001, people would be living in space and walking in slo-mo to Strauss waltzes.But now that we’ve passed both those dates, it’s clear the human race is running behind in its ability to match the marvels of fiction writers’ imaginations with science fact.

Some time ago, my good pal Brian Malow and I visited various futuristic-looking locations in San Francisco to ponder the notion of Time Travel. Brian — earth’s premier science comedian — has long joked about the issue in his standup act. And he’s not only funny, the boy also knows his science.

He took parts of that act and morphed them into this video essay. Enjoy.

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The Urban Dweller’s Chilly Dilemma

It’s never a good day to be homeless, but today is especially brutal.

There’s a winter advisory in New York. We’re expecting wind gusts of up to 50 mph, making the low temps in the 20s feel like the Arctic.

And this man stands out in it, camped near the blue delivery door of the South Brooklyn Casket Company across the street from my apartment.

When I came home last night, I noticed the shopping cart brimming with garbage bags, filled with who-knows-what. But I didn’t notice until this morning the man who slept behind it, using the cart as a windbreak to curl up on a rolled mattress on the deep-freeze concrete.

I love how quiet my neighborhood is, how tucked away the street is from the zaniness of town. But being off the beaten path, means this man can stay without fear of harassment by the cops.

I’ve watched him all morning from my office window. For several hours he paced next to the cart. He spits a lot. Sometimes he listens to music on headphones. He takes occasional naps on the mattress. Off and on he has a conversation with himself, his face shielded from the cold by a piece of cloth tucked into his hooded sweatshirt. He gestures like an angry traveler in a land that speaks a foreign tongue. He ate lunch from a cup-o-noodles-like white Styrofoam cup. He has cotton work gloves that likely do little to keep Jack Frost at bay.

And, for the watcher in the window, there’s the nagging question, like mental frostbite… nipping at my neurons: What to do?
There’s an urban-dweller’s dilemma for anyone who observes a scene like this from the comfort of an office with its own radiator. We balance our compassion with our own survival instinct and put on the blinders, like how we New Yorkers avoid eye contact in crowds.

“He looks a little nuts. And probably isn’t happy. There’s no telling what he’ll do if I approach him.” We keep our distance.

Continue reading “The Urban Dweller’s Chilly Dilemma”