Life is a Mystery

3 April 2009 . 1 Comment

Black liquor

I think one brand of evil is extreme selfishness. Such as gaming a tax break just to pull in money even though you know you are doing the precise opposite of that the tax break was designed to accomplish. Why do people feel they can just wash their hands of this sort of behavior?

“The credit is supposed to encourage the use of green fuel.” Sure, I said, but isn’t it a bit weird you’re now adding diesel fuel to the process in order to take advantage of it? “It is what it is,” she said.

Who is this? Ann Wrobleski, vice president for global government relations at International Paper. What did they do? IP and other paper manufacturers added diesel fuel to the “black liquor” they use to cook fibers and make paper. Black liquor is the carbon-rich residue of the paper making process and until now has been sufficient to fuel the process without any diesel additive. Why add diesel? Because that allows the paper moguls to claim a tax credit for the use of a fuel mixture that combines “alternative fuel” with a “taxable fuel”. Get that? They add fossil fuel to a biofuel and claim the mixed fuel credit, even though for decades the biofuel alone has been sufficient for the industry.

The current estimate is that this will net the industry $8 billion in tax credits. So $8 billion of our tax dollars is going to fund this travesty! Your money, my money, paying to burn diesel for no reason other than to line paper pockets!

Read the whole story at The Nation. Get angry. Write your Senator and congressperson.


Update: Slashdot has picked up the story.

2 April 2009 . Comments Off on FFR: Adobe spells color kuler

FFR: Adobe spells color kuler

Next time I need to build a color palette: kuler.


2 April 2009 . Comments Off on Designing a newspaper

Designing a newspaper

There is a lot of handwringing about the death of the newspaper these days. But I found myself arguing, a couple weeks ago, that a newspaper could still be viable. I thought it would take some real embrace of the medium, the opportunities a printed page offers to one-up the experience of the screen in resolution, beauty, and context. Little did I know there was already such a pathfinder out there.

I love how Utko focused on the constraints of the printed page, and then pushed up to those boundaries. He does not let any of us off the hook, anyone, with or without budget, with or without staff, anyone can push to be better than good.

1 April 2009 . Comments Off on Investigative Fund

Investigative Fund

And so it begins. Just a couple weeks ago I was telling my brother that I thought a new model of journalism was emerging. It is a model I’ve been anticipating since Max Headroom. Essentially an independent investigative reporter with some kind of funding mechanism that allows her or his audience to help pay the freight for the investigations.

That’s not quite what emerged this week, but the Huffington Post took a step toward this future by creating a new Investigative Fund as a separate organization.

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This model is not quite the independent reporter. Here we have a staff of editors being funded by an initial $1.75 million.

Picture a large pool of reporters — some on staff, and many freelancers — proposing stories and also receiving assignments from Investigative Fund editors.

But these reporters will not be producing news for any single outlet. Instead, the content they create will be open for anyone to run.

The pieces developed by the Fund will range from long-form investigations to short breaking news stories and will be presented in a variety of media, including text, audio and video. And, in the open source spirit of the Web, all of the content the Fund produces will be free for anyone to publish.

This sounds like an important experiment. I still feel the model is not quite as radical as we will see in the future. But it does represent the further unravelling of journalism as we have funded it to date.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /