Tag Archives: Jon Stewart

When Was the Last Time You Took the Long View?

I really like psychology. I like it so much that even though I’ve already got a couple of degrees in it, I continue to learn/read about psychology. I also really like magic and illusions. There’s something about the mystique of believing that what you’re seeing is actually happening — even though you’re sure that it’s probably some sleight of hand. While some may think that magic and psychology aren’t related, they most certainly are. Just for fun, here’s an article from Psychology Today of 5 Amazing Psychology Magic Tricks.

Naturally, my interest in these subjects led to my desire to go see Now You See Me. As Jon Stewart said a couple of weeks ago, “Morgan Freeman’s in it, so it’s gotta be good.” I thought it was pretty good, but that’s probably more a result of the “life lesson” that I culled. Now, what I’m about to talk about may be perceived as a spoiler, but I’m not talking directly about the plot. I won’t mention any characters or anything specific about the movie (even though it would help with analogizing), but as I said, some may consider even what I’m going to talk about as a spoiler.

Can you think of one moment in your life where something changed? A moment to which, had you chose differently, your life would be completely altered? Maybe you think that if you’d gone to a different university your life would be very different. Or maybe you think that if you’d chose to take the job offer from company X instead of company Y. What about those smaller moments, the ones that don’t “seem” as powerful, can you think of any of those that might have had that same impact?

Watching this movie reminded me to take the “long view” on life. Not only when thinking about the ‘bigger’ life decisions, but also the smaller, day-to-day decisions. It’s truly impossible to know how what you’re deciding today will impact your life in 10 years. Impossible! One can speculate, yes, but that’s all — speculation. Even the best forecasters are terrible.

Of course, it’s probably not a good idea to always be taking the long view, but every once and awhile (monthly? weekly? daily?) it’s probably a good idea to check-in with that long view and see if you might be taking something too seriously. It’s really hard to know whether what’s happening to you in your life — right now — is a good thing. Maybe this time of hardship will make you appreciate  something that’s going to happen later. Maybe this time of hardship is teaching you about what it’s like to have hardship, so that when you no longer have this hardship, you’ll have more empathy for those that do. As I’ve said before in regards to thinking about whether something is good or bad — we’ll see…

Morgan Freeman Explains Physics to The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart

A few nights ago, Morgan Freeman was on The Daily Show promoting his new movie that comes out next week, “Now You See Me.” There’s a science-fiction part to the movie, but that’s not how we ended up with Morgan Freeman explaining physics to Jon Stewart. Morgan Freeman is also a narrator for “Through the Wormhole” on the Discovery Channel. As a result, Freeman knows (at least a little!) about science. I remember getting pretty psyched when I was watching the show live a few nights ago and Freeman says, “It’s easy, I’ll explain it to you,” when referring to concepts from physics. Anyhow, I tried to embed the clip below, but it seems you can’t embed Comedy Central clips on WordPress, so I found a version of the interview on YouTube. It’ll be here until it, invariably, gets taken down from YouTube.

I wanted to talk briefly about one of the examples that Freeman used: the balloon. Several years ago, I saw some videos of a physicist — Nassim Haramein — and they were captivating, to say the least. The way that he presents the material makes it seem very logical, but my scientific literacy isn’t such that I’d be able to say he was right or he was wrong. I know that Haramein’s partnered with one of the big names in science, but like I said, I don’t have the scientific literacy to debunk anything.

From looking on the internet, it seems that a number of people don’t think that Haramein has stumbled onto anything and a number of people do think that he’s stumbled onto something. Like I said, I really don’t know, but I do remember Haramein using the same balloon example that Freeman used in talking to Jon Stewart. You’ve seen the Freeman clip above, so I’ll embed a clip of Haramein talking about the balloon. This video has more in it than just the balloon, so I’ve set the video to start at the time when Haramein begins to talk about the balloon (short intro into it). You can probably stop watching around 37:30 to get the gist of the point I’m making.

Pretty cool, eh?

When I lived on Kauai, I did have the chance to meet with Haramein a few times and he certainly seems like a nice guy. We never chewed on science concepts, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up for too long. If you’re interested in Haramein’s work, I’d urge you to look into his new website: The Resonance Project. It looks like he’s got a new movie coming out called: The Connected Universe. He also has a couple of other movies: Crossing the Event Horizon and Black Whole. If you watched the clip above, you saw a short snippet of Crossing the Event Horizon. There are 4 DVDs in the set. If you don’t have that kind of time, you might want to start with Black Whole — it’s only about an hour and a half.

 

If I were the CEO of CNN… (Part 1)

A few weeks ago, I was stuck in traffic so I flipped on NPR. As it was the 6 o’clock hour, Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal was on. To my delight, they were talking about the impending shift at CNN. That is, earlier this summer, the current CEO of CNN announced that he’d be stepping down at the end of the year. Recently, CNN announced that Jeff Zucker would be replacing Walton as the President of the company.

Anyway, on the Marketplace broadcast, Ryssdal was speaking with someone who argued that CNN was going to redefine itself:

But that may be tougher than it sounds. With Fox News cornering the political right, and MSNBC owning the political left, the question is, says Sherman, “How do you define yourself, if not by politics?”

Indeed. Fox News is most certainly known as the network that favors the opinion of political conservatives and MSNBC certainly seems to favor the opinion of political liberals. In today’s cable TV marketplace, that certainly leaves little room for CNN. It would be silly of CNN to try to compete with MSNBC in its market (liberals) and it would be foolish of CNN to try to compete with Fox News in its market (conservatives).

Since I just finished up a course on strategy, I thought I’d use some of the tools I learned about to analyze CNN’s current situation. Keeping in mind that this is meant to be a cursory or 30,000-foot view, as I didn’t do a great deal of research, (which is what would need to be done to have a thorough analysis).

The first thing that comes to mind is one of CNN’s resources: international journalists. I remember hearing at one point that this was one of CNN’s distinct advantages (over MSNBC and Fox News): they have a number of journalists worldwide, whereas the other two networks don’t. This allows them to compete in other markets than the US and probably helps lead to CNN’s extensive name recognition worldwide (over MSNBC and Fox News). This is certainly a resource that CNN should try to incorporate into their strategy moving forward.

Though, I have also read that while this is a key resource for CNN, it doesn’t necessarily help them with the US market. Why? While Americans know that it’s good for them to know what’s going on in the world, a great deal of the population doesn’t care. Since the US is the most coveted market, CNN’s going to have to do something to try to pull away viewers from Fox News and MSNBC — or attract new viewers.

After reading about some of the things that Zucker has said, it certainly seems like he doesn’t want to continue to compete just with MSNBC and CNN. It seems like Zucker might also consider other cable networks like Bravo and TLC competitors of CNN.

I tend to agree with some of the critics who think that CNN should return to the kind of programming that made it successful: “hard-hitting investigate reporting.”

But more than that, I think there’s a real opportunity for CNN to create a new market or at least add-value to a different market: fact-checking. As can be seen from Google trends, searches for fact-checking really seem to peak around the time of a presidential election. My thought: CNN could try to capitalize on this by creating programming (not just around election season, but all the time) where they fact-check other news organizations. That is, they could almost do what Jon Stewart and The Daily Show do, but without the satirical/comedic element. That is, CNN could inform viewers how the other two networks are distorting the facts. I remember seeing some programming like this on CNN recently, but my idea would be for more of this programming. Maybe the majority of its programming would be fact-checking.

It’s possible that the networks have already market-tested this idea and found that it won’t work, so that might be why we haven’t yet seen a plethora of this kind of programming, yet, but it’s also possible that no one had considered it or that it was considered and top management didn’t like it.

Maybe my naïvety and wish for this kind of a public service is clouding my strategic thinking, but something tells me that this could work.

[Author’s Note: When I read through this post just now after having written it a couple of days ago, I realized that I didn’t really talk too much about some of the fundamentals of strategy. Look for Part 2 on Sunday.]