So what’s new?

It took a while, but I got through the Jon Krakauer piece about the “Three Cups of Tea” guy, Greg Mortenson. I guess I feel the way I did after I read about Jack Kelley, the fabulist USA Today reporter of some years back, i.e., I wish I had been reading this stuff when everyone else was. Because I like to think I’d have spotted this.

Or maybe that’s just preening. My sole feat of unmasking writerly fraud came by accident. But some of the excerpts Krakauer quotes at length are simply beyond belief. Like the time Mortenson was “kidnapped by the Taliban” in Pakistan and held for eight days, forced to poop before an audience and given nothing more to amuse himself with than a 25-year-old copy of Time magazine. And just when he thinks this is it, here comes the bullet, oh goodbye cruel world…

Fortunately, as Mortenson was taking what he feared were his final breaths, the truck skidded to a stop, whereupon the commander removed Mortenson’s blindfold and gave him a hug. “We’re throwing a party,” the Talib announced. “A party before we take you back to Peshawar.” Instead of being executed by a Taliban firing squad, Mortenson was feted as the guest of honor at a rowdy Pashtun hoedown featuring barbecued goat, lots of hashish, and boisterous dancing. Throughout the bacchanal, dozens of Taliban embraced Mortenson like a long-lost brother and stuffed wads of hundred-rupee notes into his pockets. “For your schools!” the commander explained, shouting in Mortenson’s ear to be heard over bursts of celebratory gunfire. “So, Inshallah, you’ll build many more!”

Oh, yeah, the old hold-him-in-solitary-for-eight-days-then-throw-him-a-surprise-party trick. Those Pakistanis and their mind games.

I have to admit, I skimmed much of the last half of the journo-novella, although I paused to see how he’d weasel out of the inevitable confrontation. (Plead a sudden cardiac procedure.) In this case, I think LAMary had the right idea: Some people are just bad judges of literature, and that includes Oprah.

Kelley, you probably don’t recall, was also known for his incredibly vivid writing from the Middle East, which is full of people who melt away into the crowded cities after news happens, and can’t be called to verify just how many rupees were pressed into a man’s hand. (Besides, everyone smoked a LOT of hash.) One of Kelley’s many whoppers was about a suicide bombing in which heads rolled down the street, eyes still open and blinking, presumably a detail Kelley saw with his own. And it got past the copy desk? Wow.

Of course, the lies were one thing, and to many readers, unimportant. A good story is its own reward. The financial irregularities were quite another. But as I read on, already convinced of the shenanigans, I became more interested in the Byliner interface, which seems very much made for tablet-style reading. Guess I better order that iPad.

Just a brief bit of bloggage today, an OID like few others, from a Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office press release:

Today Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy has charged Cornell Lowman, 49 of Detroit with Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree and Habitual 4th Offender (upon conviction the sentence can be enhanced up to 15 year in prison because CSC 4 is a 2 year misdemeanor) It is alleged that on April 17, 2011 Lowman went to a nursing home in the 690 block of East Grand Boulevard to visit another person when he went into the room of a 65-year-old female coma patient and had sexual contact with her. He was observed by a witness who immediately contacted the police. The defendant was arrested at the scene.

Finally, it’s pretty obvious what else is new today. J.C. describes the new design as “a retrenchment…with a lot less garbage being loaded behind the scenes. We can add some more splash and dash, but I thought this was a nice grownup way to make a transition.

“It has some nice features…the window resizes nicely to hold the content and when you’re reading in single story mode, there’s an agglomeration…almost but not really a cloud…a PARADE of your commenters in the sidebar that are in fact links, so you can punch through the comment stream by poking the names…and as you’ll see, the sidebar on those pages kinda slides around to keep up with you.”

I know how fervently any sort of change around here is despised, so hey — let the hatred begin!

Posted at 1:01 am in Media |

98 responses to “So what’s new?”

  1. Mark P. said on April 21, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Journalists meet so many frauds, fakes and liars all the time. How can they not immediately recognize another one when they see him? It seems like the default position going in would be that this guy is not telling the truth.

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  2. Jakash said on April 21, 2011 at 1:44 am

    So that’s it. I was poking around the New Yorker after reading that Gwyneth piece and when I clicked back, I was in a whole other universe. I thought it had something to do with coming back from the link, being an ignoramus. Then a new post at 1:01 a.m.? I was certain I’d entered the Twilight Zone. Very interesting.

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  3. DEdelstein said on April 21, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Screw Krakauer. The Mortenson account sounds very plausible to me. After all, Michael Douglas shot his brother, Sean Penn, and then threw himself off a roof to his death, only to plunge through the glass roof and land on a mattress and discover that it was all staged at great expense to help him value the life that he had previously taken for granted. The proof that this worked for Mortenson is in his many charitable works.

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  4. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I like the sliding sidebar–especially the links to commenters–but miss the “what’s on my nightstand” feature. More important, I find the wide text hard to scan. It’s a long glance from the end of one glance to the beginning of the next. Will be interested to see whether others have the same reaction.

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  5. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Will you be restoring the “30 minutes to edit your post” feature? A small point: Am glad the post numbers are a bit darker–much easier to read.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Other than the initial looking around to figure out what I’d clicked off the bookmark bar instead of NN.C, I like it. And bitterly resent any alteration to the comfortable reality I’m accustomed to, of course.

    Yes, bring back the nightstand. (Somehow that sounds wrong.)

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  7. jcburns said on April 21, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Uh, ‘on the nightstand’ is there on the home page, where it’s always been. And yes, the comment edit feature will return. And want the reading column to be smaller? Just resize your window.

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  8. coozledad said on April 21, 2011 at 6:58 am

    (Original draft)
    Throughout the bacchanal, dozens of Taliban embraced Mortenson like a long-lost brother and stuffed wads of hundred-rupee notes into his pockets. Liza Minelli took the stage and lip-synched “Baby Got Back” while an avuncular giant handed out door prizes of daisy hams and airline bottles of Seagrams. The AK slung across his meaty shoulders looked like a toy.
    “Go ‘head. Build your school.” Said the commander, during a long, pointless bass solo,
    “We’ll keep cranking out yard apes to fill it.”
    Then he taught me the complicated handshake that would keep this ordeal from recurring.

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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Ah, so it is — I think it just loaded a bit more slowly than the rest, so I wasn’t seeing it before I clicked into the comment screen.

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  10. ROgirl said on April 21, 2011 at 7:30 am

    I’m liking everything EXCEPT the sliding sidebar.

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  11. Deborah said on April 21, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Waiting at the airport just wanted to see my name in the cloud.

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  12. beb said on April 21, 2011 at 7:58 am

    The sliding sidebar is ultra annoying. As is the ultra wide column, which exceeds the recommended 65 character5 width of good layout design.

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  13. beb said on April 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

    The other thing is where are the links to previous blog entries? It looks like they’re being hidden by oversized white boxes.

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  14. Kim said on April 21, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Cooz, you are hilarious in a way that makes me want to use exponential notation to describe it. So far, that would be the only use I have ever found for that mathematical operation.
    Nance, the sliding sidebar is giving me vertigo.

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  15. nancy said on April 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

    All complaints are being heard, and will be ruled upon by the Design Committee. There’s a lot to be said for getting used to things. From my end — the administrator’s — this has a lot of advantages, including being able to access my back room, so to speak, with one fewer click. So let’s see if we can all learn to embrace the new. The more I look at it, the more I like it.

    And yes, Cooz, that was hysterical. I don’t know how you do it.

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  16. Dorothy said on April 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Whew I am SO glad I’m not the only one getting a headache from the sliding sidebar. I didn’t want to be a bitch and be the first one to complain. Other than that I am not a hater when it comes to new designs. I like them most of the time – keeps things from getting stale.

    Cooz is a gem found so rarely that I pinch myself sometimes, wondering how we got so lucky to have him visit here regularly. His brilliance almost scares me!

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  17. nancy said on April 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Nicholas Kristof has an alternate take on Mortenson that should be considered, I think.

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  18. Connie said on April 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

    My only complaint is that the previous and next post are no longer shown at top and bottom of page. I liked the one at the bottom because I could refresh the comments and could tell if there had been a new post.

    Up early this morning for a 7 a.m. meeting with a service club for which I was the speaker. I am feeling like a person who got up in the middle of the night. I was in the office last night till after 9 p.m. due to another meeting, so it seems like I just got out of here a few minutes ago.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on April 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

    It’s fine, and I think we’ll all get used to the sliding around part. It makes it easier to find the Kickback Lounge, which I always had to hunt around for. There are larger problems in the world than blog redesigns.

    But, one question: I thought most blogs went to narrower windows to make them easier to read on smartphones. Or was that what JC meant about resizing? I just pulled it up on my phone, which is only semi-smart, and vowed to cancel my data package.

    For Moe and others with Kindles, you will be able to download e-books from your library sometime “later this year”.

    Somebody, please, find Cooz a book contract.

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  20. Kim said on April 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Kristof’s take is interesting, but for me the most difficult issue to get over is how Mortenson profited from his deceit. Sure, he built some schools and yes, some kids were educated. But even that is a m-f mess, if you believe the boots on the ground. And according to Krakauer’s sources, for years and years the financial folks demanded accountability and Mortenson refused. Doesn’t matter to me if he was a spacey do-gooder and just blew off the requests. I think when you become the face of a cause – as Mortenson has, and it was something he sought – you have an obligation to do what is best for the cause. Like following the requests of the financial folks.

    I’m pretty sure there are many of us here at the NN.C watering hole who volunteer our time and talents to terrific causes. Maybe our peers even consider us visionaries. But just because we have great ideas and support equally great causes and fret about the time it’s taking us away from our families doesn’t mean we get to skim cash off the top (and middle, in Mortenson’s case, it seems) and feel entitled to it. Come. On.

    Kristof worries this will make the American public disillusioned and cynical. Well, duh, crooks usually do – esp. the well-intentioned ones who make bazillions off a collectively dumb, follow-the-herd American public who find it so much easier to write a check than to get off their fat asses and do something.

    Like you, Nance, I’d like to think my BS detector would have been screaming if I’d read this book. Thank god I have had editors who said, “How do you know that?”

    And that concludes my rant. Prospero, your turn.

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  21. nancy said on April 21, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Yes, everything Kim said. And as I said, the tale-spinning isn’t the problem. The money is. Kristof is too la-di-da about that. If you’re not good with money, HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS. When you start accepting others’ money for a good cause, you must be above reproach.

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  22. Sherrie said on April 21, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I’m usually fine with change. That said, however, the background color is not good. It’s pretty and all, but there is not enough contrast for those of us with “mature” eyes. Makes it extremely difficult to read. And I do find the sliding sidebar a bit distracting.

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  23. garmoore2 said on April 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I read both Krakauer’s and Kristof’s pieces. Seems to me that there’s a bit one can take out of both pieces. Looks like Greg Mortensen started with a good idea, then found he had a talent for embellishing, and voila! He’s the Thomas Kinkeade of fundraising. On the other hand, there’s an element of hatchet jobbery in Krakauer’s piece that I think goes too far. Seems to me that the real problem is that Mortensen got caught up in what he was doing and failed to recognize that he needed real discipline imposed by people with backgrounds in fiscal administration. Add to that the fact that many of the people associated with Mortensen’s foundation described in Krakauer’s piece seemed like people with good hearts but not much sense about how to put their collective foot down (did these people ever actually talk to one another?), and you have a serious mess looking for a place to happen.

    By the way, add me to the list of people that don’t like the sliding sidebar on the comments page. Otherwise, the new format is solid

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  24. harrison said on April 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

    if you’re going to keep the same color background, please make the type darker. there’s not enough contrast between them for me.

    other than that, it seems all right by me. it’s your thing. and the change isn’t that bad.

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  25. Bob (not Greene) said on April 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Maybe it’s because I’m using IE as my browser, but the page doesn’t seem to be loading everything. I’m guessing there are photos in the boxes on the left side of the page, but they are just empty white spaces for me.

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  26. MichaelG said on April 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I’m generally fine with the new format assuming the edit feature will be restored. The bouncing sidebar is very distracting, especially when one wants to read through a large number of comments. The column is kind of wide as some have noted but if one hits that half size thing up there in the corner next to the red “X” it comes to a nice readable width. Mostly that bouncing side bar is bad.

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  27. del said on April 21, 2011 at 10:28 am

    When cable TV news and sports stations first started using their news crawlers across the bottom of the screen ound it was sooo annoying. Almost gave me motion sickness. Now, years later, I’m amazed it doesn’t bother me as I’ve become accustomed to the visual. I can deal with the sliding sidebar.

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  28. Bill said on April 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Love the new design. Taking JC’s advice, I re-sized the page and wow! The type gets bigger and darker, line length increases to an easy eye-scan for my old peepers and the bouncing sidebar doesn’t disturb. I think the page loads faster as well. Thanks.

    Re: Mortensen: I’ve carried “Three Cups” (in paperback) around for about 6 months and can’t get beyond the first couple of chapters. I guess my inner BS meter has been trying to tell me something.

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  29. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Resizing the window is only a partially satisfactory solution, JC. I use Firefox and have NN.Com “pinned” so that I can easily look back at it from time to time throughout the day. Hence, to resize this tab means resizing everything, which kind of defeats the purpose of having the pinned tab.

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  30. Hank Stuever said on April 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I don’t think the new look is showing up right in my particular Firefox browser. The title (Nancynall) has some strange shapes and unfinished lines around it; the date is partially blocked by a gray shape on the left side. That’s not the new look, is it?

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  31. LAMary said on April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am

    My ex is high on the list of people to ignore when it comes to reading recommendations. He thought the Da Vinci Code was amazing. His girlfriend is a big Three Cups of Tea fan.
    In the nearly twenty years we were together I witnessed him reading three books: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, The Hermit of Peking, and the first book of Robert Caro’s LBJ trilogy, which was actually a really good book. I think he read it because someone he thought was cool gave it to him.

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  32. Hank Stuever said on April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

    AH, now I see it how you mean it (the redesign) when I went to look at it in Safari, where it looks perfect.
    I’m running the next-to-latest Firefox on Mac and it’s just not loading up right there. No pic of Nance and no curvy shadow boxes around the hed and date.

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  33. Julie Robinson said on April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

    FWIW, I use Chrome and don’t have any problems with the graphics.

    Re Kristof: many creative people need to have others manage the mundane details of life such as schedules and money. There are three such people in my family so I understand this well. I don’t believe Mortenson had criminal intent, but he was in over his head and it should have all been cleaned up a long time ago.

    This is precisely why we only give donations to groups that we have the time to analyze. Anyone who comes to our door or calls us needs to show complete financial transparency and had better be spending 95% (or more) of funds raised on their mission. Very few groups meet these criteria but they are out there.

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  34. Jeff Borden said on April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I’m sure I’ll get used to the new design, but I don’t see any great advantage to the readers. If it makes it simpler for the proprietor, that’s good enough for me.

    The Mortenson story must’ve led Yahoo (or some other content aggregator) to do a story yesterday on whatever happened to three lying authors: James Frey, Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair. The most interesting tale was Blair, the ex-NYTer who is now working as some kind of “life coach” somewhere. I certainly would seek the advice of a pathological liar with a martyr complex to help me pick through the detritus of my life. Wouldn’t you?

    I’m more saddened than angered by Mortenson. His stupidity will only hurt the people he wanted to help and God knows they need it.

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  35. LAMary said on April 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I spent five years recruiting for nursing homes and sadly, sexual abuse of nursing home residents is not as rare as you’d think.

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  36. Kirk said on April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

    OK, I’ll quibble about the width (mostly because I want to see my name over there in the commenters box). Too much wide-set type is hard to read in newspapers, too. But it’s not as though I’m going to abandon this place over such an issue. It’s going to take a lot more than that.

    And the Caro books about LBJ that LAMary mentioned are, indeed, brilliant.

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  37. Dorothy said on April 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

    My view is similar to Hank’s @ 30. I’m at work and we’re only using Firefox. At home tonight I’ll check out the page on Safari.

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  38. Rana said on April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m indifferent to most of the changes – so long as I can read the text, I’m good – though I must agree with those who do not like the sliding sidebar. Because of how crappy my vision is, I’m sensitive to the movement of objects in my peripheral vision, and I’m finding it really hard to ignore that motion of the sidebar as I scroll down.

    How does the new format handle pictures?

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  39. alex said on April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m looking at it right now with Internet Explorer (MS Office 2010 version) and the graphics at the top are all either helter-skelter or missing; the comment numbers are invisible; the date and time when the column was posted are unreadable; the old sidebar stuff including the nightstand, blogroll, etc. are entirely absent. Other than that, resizing does help.

    Haven’t looked at this at home yet on Safari.

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  40. prospero said on April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    The rolling heads story reminds me of Commander Lloyd Bucher of the USS Pueblo. The commander claimed that his Korean captors had kept him confined and bound with the back of his head touching the backs of his heels. Anatomically, highly unlikely, without immediate, agoniziing death. I supposed at the time, the intention was to put some sort of mitigating light on losing the spy boat command. But this sort of literary mendaciousnessisn’t entirely uncommon. Pick up any of Woodward’s fly on the White House wall books. He’s obviously making up conversations he could never have heard, like it’s going out of style. Back when he was a Boston Herald columnst, Mike Barnacle obviously made up about a column a week about disaffected, homeless Viet Vets. Nobody challenged him for years, despite the fact that an idiot could see he was working off a template tailored to stereotypes. To make his transgressions more odious, the bastard was like a one-man mob of crazed villagers going after Janet Cooke with torches and pitchforks. Personally I never thought Ms. Cooke’s transgression was all that heinous, and I think the “composite” story subject is fairly common, and no less informative and informed for not being literally “true”. Do her critics want to claim that kids exactly like she described don’t exist? Obviously, she should have pointed this out, but the pillorying and hand-wringing were excessive.

    The charging Kyrghyz horseman was the best piece of fiction by Mortenson. Reminded me of a favorite piece of abstruse mythology in Gravity’s Rainbow. Think he’s read Pynchon?

    Sadly, simply avoiding hiring sexual sadists is a huge concern throughout the health care industry, particularly in nursing homes. Of course, now, a lot of these dangerous creeps are concentrated in one place, writing the Republican budget, and legislating the definition of “non-forcible rape”. Something seriously wrong with this guy? Typical Republican? Product of incest? One more fool a vote for whom should be valid legal grounds for instant and permanent disenfranchisement.

    I like the new design, on Firefox. The long line lengths aren’t optimal for reading, but that is offset by the attractive addition of lots of (off-)white space. Oh and High-heel sneakers.

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  41. alex said on April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    On edit: Wow, magic. I come back 20 minutes later and the background’s brighter, the masthead’s there, the other things are all as they’re supposed to be. I likee.

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  42. alex said on April 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    On edit: No see blogroll.

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  43. alex said on April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    And the edit feature’s just creating new comments.

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  44. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    In what is, I think, his only public statement since the scandal broke, Mortenson confirms his lack of managerial expertise and (weakly) defends himself. There’s also an interesting defense by a writer named Daniel Glick, but it’s more a defense of his intent than a counter to Krakauer’s specific charges. It does, though, confirm the idea that what’s happened here is more a tragedy than a crime.

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  45. paddyo' said on April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I feel as though I’m being . . . watched . . . and followed . . . by ALL OF YOU.

    Oh, I see now. Yeah, Nance, that stalker sidebar IS distracting, but I can probably get over it. One other minor annoyance is that I can’t reach for “Kickback Lounge” or the “search” box from the comments page because that slider keeps bobbing back up. But I see it’s no problem on the homepage, so to there I’ll go for those needs.

    If you’re recording votes, I agree that the background color and typeface aren’t contrasting enough. Oh well, I’ve got 58-1/2-year-old eyes.

    Ditto the 30-minutes-to-edit function. I admit to a bad habit from my newspaper days, ALWAYS wanting to go back and tinker . . .

    Speaking of newspaper days, we’ve discuss Jack Kelley’s “creative writing” sins at length in the past, so I won’t retrace much. But his fabricating WAS detected earlier — by suspicious reporters who, when they reported their concerns, were browbeaten back by editors who didn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t consider the possibility.

    I was at the paper at the height of his fabricating. But working from a distant bureau, I was disconnected from the worrisome chatter among reporters who sat together in the newsroom about stuff that just didn’t look right.

    This being Pulitzer week, it’s also a fact that there was much upper-level editorial dreaming that Jack’s work would become our-first-PULITZER-winner! (He did make finalist a year or so before his fabrication was unmasked.) Jack’s fictionalizing was very good, and his squeaky-clean born-again Christian persona (from the time he was a copy kid/assistant in the McPaper newsroom in the early ’80s) only added to the he-can’t-be-making-this-shit-up blindness.

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  46. baldheadeddork said on April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Pretty good job on the redesign. The sliding sidebar is a little annoying, but I suspect that’s mostly a matter of getting used to it. If you do want to tinker with it, might want to make it fixed and have the comments a scrolling window within.

    Your web designer should send his or her resume to Gawker. God knows they could use some help.

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  47. prospero said on April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Maybe Mortenson is a case of undiagnosed Munchausen’s Syndrome. Maybe it was the influence of his childhood BFF, JT Leroy.

    And Bill Cosby offered to by Donald Trump a suit.

    From Gawker What’s the one thing nearly every fake memoir scandal seems to have in common? From James Frey to Angel at the Fence, if a story is bullshit, chances are Oprah was there first..

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  48. Kim said on April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Jolene, I have to be harsh on this. It’s tragic, yes, but it’s criminal. Mortenson lied. He benefited in a huge way from his fabulism. The people hired to make sure finances were straight say they couldn’t do a thing because he refused to cooperate with simple stuff like plane ticket costs. Yes, some schools were built and are being used, but many more (according to Krakauer and his sources) were either never built or put in the wrong place or never staffed or some combination. Did Mortenson think his flaws were adorable quirks? The people who tried to work for him clearly didn’t. I am sure the DSM-IV has a name for his particular condition.

    I’m also sure no drunk ever gets behind the wheel and says, “Now I’m gonna go kill somebody!” When the accident everyone is expecting happens, though, we hold the driver accountable and feel for the family. Don’t we?

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  49. Hattie said on April 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    this is very wide on my new wide-screen monitor. I think a little color might be a good thing.

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  50. nancy said on April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Paddy reminds me of a character I tend to forget about as I drift further from the world of workaday-newsroom journalism — the do-no-wrong golden child, resented by colleagues and petted by management. (I have been this person, and I have been the antithesis of this person. So I know both sides.) Any criticism of this person by a colleague is seen as jealousy and resentment of the golden child’s talent and success. Sometimes it is. Frequently it’s not. You’d think management would know this by now, and yet, they don’t. David Simon’s Scott Templeton was based on a real person.

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  51. Judybusy said on April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I did the compatibility view and now all I have is the post and comments. The right side is completely blank. (This is OK because I didn’t use much of that content. I’m here for the post and comments!) I found the bouncing rollcall really annoying.

    I hope the edit feature comes back; several times when I have created a link, it hasn’t worked (either through a typo or some weird re-direct) and it’s come in handy to correct that.

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  52. jcburns said on April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    The edit comment feature should be working again now.

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  53. Bob (not Greene) said on April 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    JC, Nance, all seems to be working now on my screen. So whatever you did, if anything appears to have worked. Agree with paddy’o on the search function, it keeps dipping out of range of the screen below the Kickback Lounge

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  54. Dorothy said on April 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    And here I thought it looked better because I rebooted my computer. Now I see the opening comment by Nancy the way it should. Thanks JC for the tweaks. And giving us back the edit function.

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  55. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    A new twist on birtherism. Check it out.

    Kim, I’m reading Krakauer now. More later.

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  56. 8th grade mom said on April 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    What I thought was interesting about that story (and as you point out there are many interesting aspects) is that as a federal employee, they provide us with a list of the amount of administrative overhead for all the agencies that participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (aka – our version of the United Way). Apparently the Obamas donated a substantial amount of their money to this guy without checking into whether his organization was legit or not.

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  57. alex said on April 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm


    Not sure I get the joke. Maybe you put in the wrong URL?

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  58. Hank Stuever said on April 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    At work all afternoon — where I use Firefox (new version 4.0 I think?) on a PC, where it’s all systems go on the NN.c redesign. My Mac, where it was showing up wrong, has the latest Mac version of Firefox, so … Maybe it’s already righted itself. I’ll check tonight. I like the redesign.

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  59. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Here it is, alex. Thanks for catching the error.

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  60. nancy said on April 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    That picture is so cute it makes my teeth ache. That is Cute Overload cute.

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  61. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    What struck me was how incredibly young his mother looks. Assuming that Barack is, say, three years old in this picture, his mother is 21 or 22, but she looks like she’s 13.

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  62. MarkH said on April 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I’m more than OK with the new format. Thanks, Nancy. And JC for the technical work and the continuous tweaking.

    Jolene, that is priceless; thanks for sharing.

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  63. Jakash said on April 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    FWIW, I can’t see any numbers by the comments using IE. Everything about it is better in Firefox: comment numbers, better print to background contrast and it’s not as wide. Well, except the background color isn’t uniform. I guess I never really took note of the masthead before, so I don’t know if it’s different. Regardless, it’s swell.

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  64. Dexter said on April 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I like Comic Sans MS font but that’s just me. For me, the “Commenting today…” box has much easier-to-read font-on-background than the comments have.
    That’s all, but I do like the commenting today box.

    I will read the Krakauer later this evening.

    Editing function totally enabled here.

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  65. Deborah said on April 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    At the airport in Boston, waiting to go home. It’s been interesting reading the comments about the new format. I can make the sliding sidebar go away on my iPad by enlarging the text area so it’s not a problem. That photo of Obama was darling.

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  66. jcburns said on April 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I designed this look with my iPad in hand, checking that very capability out.

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  67. Dave said on April 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I like the “Commenting Today”, I think the sliding bar will be less distracting as we get used to it. I don’t like the long lines of text much and I, with my 61 year old eyes, would also be happier with a darker text, but that’s just me, not everyone here is that ancient.

    I also liked the 30 minutes to edit, there’s been more than once I’ve corrected some silly thing I’ve said.

    Viewed through Explorer 9, haven’t looked at it with Chrome, the other browser I have.

    Yes, and once I’ve entered it, I see that we do have 30 minutes to edit so now I can edit it to reflect that.

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  68. Paul Woodford said on April 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Well, I didn’t sense anything amiss when I read Three Cups of Tea. The only thing I didn’t buy was Mortensen’s reported success in building school after school in Taliban-controlled areas, because based on everything else I’d read about the Taliban and the region in general, it seemed to me the schools would be torn down as quickly as they were built.

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  69. prospero said on April 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Jakash, Everything is pretty much better with Firefox, I think. Safari is a mystery to me; I’m sort of tempted but never tried chrome, because I didn’t want to download anything large I wouldn’t end up liking and having to try to get rid of it. I bought this utility called MacKeeper, recently for less thn $60. seems to clean and . How does it work better than any other browser. The big display of lots of little screens leaves me cold, like I couldn’t remember what was on my Firefox tabs. I’m sure I’m being obtuse, but I just don’t get it at all. I do have a complaint about the red panda browser. There used to be a button labelled open link in new tab, I think in the view menu ppulldown. It allowed keeping a window open while opening a lik in a new tab. This was quite valuable. Opening a link from NNall on my machine, means having to leave Nancy’s site and then use the back browser button to get back. of course, I may bebeing stupid about this and missing something obvious. Some sites open new tabs as a matter of course. I wish this one did. I do think this site now looks fantastic. And quit whining about the line length, y’all I’m both older and have done more damage physically to myself, than any of y’all have. Or what? It’s fun when y’all don’t act like I’m a How in the world do people think How do y’all think there’s a question about asholes. Seriously, No question? Cheqting like shit. On your side?
    baseball fans. some of you Reds fans that thik this is funny. Jqckie’w funnie you rqciwwt piecew of shit? Give it q whot you diwgrqceful rqciss. No, you deespise wh

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  70. jcburns said on April 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Experienced web developers (far hipper than me) say you shoudn’t open links for users in new windows….that’s too much “taking away control” from the user. As you’ll see here, which opens up, by the way, in a new window.

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  71. holly said on April 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    The sidebar must go.

    LAMary– I work in the activity department of a nursing home. It is a Catholic home and they take wonderful care of the residents. This home continues to get a 5 stars rating.

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  72. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    JC, I think prospero is talking about new tabs–not new windows.

    Pros, I’m using Firefox for the PC; in this version, you go to Options under the main menu and click on Tabs to get to the place where you can specify that you want links to open in new tabs. Not sure if it’s the same on the Mac, but it’s likely something similar.

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  73. Mark P. said on April 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    The sliding sidebar should be stationary, I think. Why should it bounce? Bouncing certainly draws attention to it, but why?

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  74. Little Bird said on April 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    So, there have been 47 comments all day, no new ones since I first checked here. Is there a cap on the number of comments? Do you need a secret password to see the others (assuming there are others)?

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  75. Little Bird said on April 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Okay, that was weird.

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  76. prospero said on April 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm


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  77. Julie Robinson said on April 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Some things never change.

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  78. Little Bird said on April 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    How does he DO that?

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  79. LAMary said on April 21, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Something old, something new, something blue…

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  80. Jolene said on April 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Joel Achenbach, one of my favorite Posties, has a new book out called A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea re the BP oil spill and its aftermath. Among the hats he wears is that of science writer, and Gene Weingarten calls him “the best explainer alive.” Supposed to be good on both the engineering issues and the political issues. He was interviewed about it on tonight’s PBS NewsHour. Got a good review on the Green blog at the NYT.

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  81. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Firefox on a Mac (like Hank, not quite newest) and everything looks peachy. Well, no peach. More of a mauve on the sidebar shadows. Not sure what’s annoying about the sliding sidebar — is it the peripheral sense of something moving out of synch? Anyhow, it isn’t throwing me off.

    John Kasich, now he’s leaving me entirely disconcerted. I’ll trade him for a bobbing sidebar any day.

    Am I doing a cruel thing getting my son into enjoying the 1973 “Jesus Christ Superstar” for an annual Holy Week tradition? 12 years old, and he’s finding it pretty compelling.

    Yep, editing works fine, too. Have a life-giving weekend, everyone!

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  82. Kirk said on April 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Once the commenters box gets so many names in it, you can’t see all the way to the bottom of it.

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  83. Bill said on April 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Jeff (tmmo): You are the pillar of Christianity.
    A blessed Easter to all.

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  84. Deborah said on April 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I’m home, had some wine. Now I’ll weigh in on the new design. I like it. It’s cleaner and simpler than before. I’m typically more attracted to the minimal approach. I think it’s perfectly legible, but with an iPad I can manipulate the size of the type quite easily. As I said before I can make the sidebar be out of my live area so I have no beef with that. It also looks more professional, less mass market, so if I have it on my desktop at work I won’t feel self conscious about it. Today was a travel day for me so it will be interesting to see it on my work monitor with Firefox tomorrow.

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  85. Kaye said on April 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Looking for the “like” button for this: John Kasich, now he’s leaving me entirely disconcerted. I’ll trade him for a bobbing sidebar any day.

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  86. brian stouder said on April 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Well, this is just like Spring Fashion Week, here at good ol’ nn.c.

    To me, the thing with the most ‘runway-appeal’ in JC’s new-for-spring outfit for our Proprietress’s daily muses and ruminations – which are well developed and head turning on their own, indeed – is the image up in the masthead. I find it compelling; Nance’s almost gleeful grin, while her hands appear to be dancing across her Apple, bespeak some wonderful bon mot or exquisite observation about to take shape there, thence into the ether, enroute to our ever-expectant screens….even up here in the cheap seats!

    Three cheers for our Proprietress and all her efforts, and for the tireless Mr Burns and all he does for nn.c –

    Hip hip!

    Hooray! (etc)

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  87. beb said on April 22, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I can’t scroll to the bottom of the page where Nancy’s copyright notice is because the bouncing sidebar is too long (from listing all the contributors). The top of the bar is always the top of the displayed area. So if I scroll down to the bottom of the top, the sidebar pushed the display area up. This is on firefox 3 something on a PC.

    The sidebar is the most annoying thing since Windows 7. Kill it! It is truly a bad and, dare I say an unforgivable thing?

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  88. moe99 said on April 22, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Gotta say I don’t like the creeping sidebar because I have to go back to the main page if I want to go to amazon and look at a book, based upon someone else’s comment. I guess I’m just lazy.

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  89. Jakash said on April 22, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Jeff (tmmo), what could be cruel about that? I’ve always considered JC Superstar an excellent Holy Week tradition and, despite 15 years of Catholic education, can quote more chapter and verse from that than from any actually religious source. Compelling, indeed. Of course, I wasn’t much past 12 when it came out.

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  90. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Jakash, I just worry about contributing to the retro-70s fashion craze. Or to a taste for off-key flutes, a signature note for 1972 recordings.

    A lame Christian I am to be whining about walking a couple miles in the rain. At least afterwards I get lunch instead of a borrowed tomb, but still . . . every year it rains for this. And people wonder why I prefer to speak without notes.

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  91. Connie said on April 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I’ve seen Jesus Christ Superstar on stage twice, once as a high school kid when it was new, and more recently a fully staged version that included my big voiced brother as the High Priest Caiphus. That was done in a sort of hippy punk style, the Roman soldiers were dressed in black and wearing gas masks, and the various crowds around Jesus included skate boarders and BMX bikes. And the death scene went on forever and was way overdone. Judas’ suicide was by overdose.

    As kids we all took organ lessons and bought the sheet music for JCS. I could probably still sit down and play Herod’s Song.

    EDIT: Like the change in the no longer scrolling scroll on the side.

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  92. Dorothy said on April 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Oooh – loving the fade-in Commenting today box. Nice twist on the sliding trick. Much easier on the psyche for some reason.

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  93. Mark P. said on April 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

    The fade-out-fade-in sidebar is much less annoying. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even notice it at first; to me, that means it’s essentially subliminal. This is a good solution if you don’t want to fix it in place.

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  94. prospero said on April 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Do y’all realize that you can download a Kindle reader app from Amazon made specially for the Mac? Reading in a desk chair isn’t my preferred mode (the beach is preferable), but I got this incredibly cool R. A. Lafferty story for free on this device. Coozledad, sounds like your style. If you ain’t Michael Moorcock, are you R. A. Lafferty? Kindle for Mac. I imagine you could download this to an I-pad. Maybe Samuel R. Delaney? Or Walter Moseley?

    Connie, the Norman Jewison (oh, perfectly ironic name) movie version had Israeli tanks if I’m not hallucinating. Extremely bizarre. But Andrew LLoyd Weber dealt with truth, inasmuch as anybody with two Ls beginning his given second name, that makes a big deal of it, could, possibly What a hopelessly pompous ass. . I mean, visionary. He’d never heard of half governor Sarah when he wrote Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. Bimbo wife to snow-machine macho-man with predictably idiot kids? Not too shabby.

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  95. MichaelG said on April 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Hello? Hello? Anybody there? I don’t see any Friday post from Nancy and I don’t see any comments after number 89 Jakash at 12:28 AM. It’s like I’ve been disconnected.

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  96. MichaelG said on April 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Wow! After I posted, suddenly all the comments up to Prospero at 94 popped up. The side bar is still bouncing for me but now the words are all muddy like the thing had too much ink on it when it hit the paper. Did you get this stuff second hand from some haunted web site?

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  97. Rana said on April 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    The fade-in is SO much better. Thank you! However, both the Kickback Lounge and the search bar get shoved below the edge of the screen by all of the commenters. Maybe the commenter list should come afterward, or be a separate thing?

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  98. MichaelG said on April 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm


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