When PR Meets the Mob

And now for today’s Cluetrain moment:

Who owns the social media mission in your company? The public relations team most likely. Sorry, make that the press relations team — as the modern PR professional doesn’t talk to the public directly, but to them through the press. Handling the unwashed masses and mobs with their pitchforks and torches was usually the lot in life of the 1-800 telecenter drones and the hapless ticket agents in the terminal. Social changed all that. Now that neat blog you built to talk about your chili contest and good works with the local Walk For Hunger, the one the PR team uses to ghost expressions of empathy and good cheer from the CEO?; well now the comments are stuffed with a lot of people with dirty faces and tattered hems calling bullshit and pointing out your lack of clothes and complicity in the death of the orangutans and polar bears.

You can’t measure ROI from your Facebook pony when its stable is full of poop. Consider Nestle and be warned. When flaks and spinmeisters meet the mob, the result is predictable. There Will Be Blood. From Slate:

“Enter Facebook. Nestle has a Facebook page, and until this week it was a quiet backwater. But on Wednesday, defenders of the rainforest and its orangutans began to visit, illustrating their profile pictures with various clever permutations of the Nestle logo — “Nestle Killer” — and making a series of mean comments about the company. The powers that be weren’t pleased. At 11:26 p.m. Thursday night, the moderator of the page posted on the Nestle Wall:

To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic — they will be deleted.”

(and a disclaimer, my PR colleagues get this stuff, and we don’t hang them out to dry in our various outposts, they get support from people who know the Golden Rule)

via Nestle’s brave Facebook flop – How the World Works – Salon.com.

One Day in North Carolina

One Day in North Carolina

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck

Some of the seriously best BBQ ever and it was right behind the office in Morrisville, NC. Thanks to buddy David Hill for introducing me to the brisket at this place: Smokey’s BBQ Shack. We ate outside on the picnic tables, admired the first daffodils this Yankee has seen in 2010, then went looking for vestiges of things from a former time. Stay tuned. More to follow on the Carpenter Farm Supply and Carolina Baseball.

All in all my best day ever in the Tarheel State.

Zion Union Church – 52 Churches

Sunday’s clock change threw me a surprise, and a calamitous night of howling winds and slamming doors made it a doubly difficult morning, with me fumbling downstairs for the ritual of fetching the newspaper, watching the dogs relieve themselves, feeding them, feeding myself and reading the latest baseball news in the Sunday Times. As I opened the Times, the familiar clock graphic under the fold pf the front page reminded me I was out of time if I wanted to get myself to a church. I hadn’t picked a place and it was nearly nine, so I remember the suggestion from Paul Noonan that I might like to visit the Zion Union Church in Hyannis. A quick online search said services began at 10:45, so I relaxed, finished my oatmeal, then got on my way.

The Zion Union Church is a Baptist congregation of mostly African-American and Brazilian parishioners. The service is delivered in English, but the scriptures are read in Portuguese as well, and a Portuguese translator does a real-time translation of the sermon — to whom I can’t say, perhaps some remote worshippers listening in via the internet or telephone. I saw no UN-style earpieces or translation devices on people’s heads. I’ve hoped at some point to see a very musical, “gospel” type of service, and on Sunday morning I found it at Zion Union. It was, in classic Baptist tradition, a very vibrant service with all the accompanying cliches of “Can I have a Hallelujah,”  swaying in the pews with arms held high, and a great choir with a particularly wonderful lead singer who would have given Arethra Franklin a run.

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Turbine failures stir up concern

Add to the storm damage from the past weekend the new wind turbine at Peck’s Boats. This is a novel design where the blades are on the trailing edge of the nacelle, or generator pod, permitting them to flex back and away from the mast in a strong gust.

Well, two blades are gone now. I hope this doesn’t set back the cause as I remain a fan of wind power. From the Cape Cod Times:

“This weekend, the gusting winds, at times measuring over 60 mph, prompted Conrad Geyser to check in on the turbine he owns at Peck’s Boats Inc. on Route 28 in Marstons Mills.

“I was looking and listening, and I didn’t see anything off the chart,” he said yesterday. “The thing was going like crazy and moving around a lot, but nothing any more extreme than we’d seen already.”

Geyser said he believes sometime in the early morning Sunday a big gust may have hit especially hard and knocked the blade tips off. He’s not sure how far they landed from the tower. Wind turbine blades can be subjected to enormous pressures, especially in the Cape’s notoriously stormy weather.

“They’re light,” he said. “But anytime you have something falling from the sky, there is concern.”

via Turbine failures stir up concern | CapeCodOnline.com.


Monday 3.15: Cotuit
Tuesday-Thursday 3.16-18: North Carolina
Friday-Sunday 3.19-21: Cotuit

offsite in Raleigh on Tuesday, team outing Wednesday night, home again Thursday night.

The Wreck of the Thermopylae

The Wreck of the Thermopolyae

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck

A mighty wind blew last night through Cotuit — my anemometer is fried so I have no idea what the peak gusts were, but i’d estimate well over 50 mph. Lots of tree damage as I drove to church this morning, the sign at the strip mall is toppled. And sadly, my friend’s clam barge took a beating and foundered at its mooring.

SXSW Interactive: Because hell doesn’t have enough promotional stickers

Paul Carr at Techcrunch nails it: why I will never go to Austin in March and pity the fools who do. Brace yourselves for a tidal wave of NMDB tweets. Read this, stay home, and thank your lucky stars.

Tip One: Don’t go to South by Southwest Interactive.

“I’m serious. It sucked last year, and it’s going to suck again this year. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. The idea that SXSWi is a conference – or even a festival – for people doing interesting and useful things in technology is a fallacy. In reality, it’s just a non-stop orgy of bullshit fanboyism – a chance for people with stickers on their laptops to go and add more stickers to their laptops; an opportunity for sweaty dorks in Diggnation t-shirts to line up for two hours in the hope of getting Alex Albrecht to – I dunno – sign their laptop, I suppose, or maybe give them another freaking sticker…

via SXSW Interactive: Because hell doesn’t have enough promotional stickers.

Touro Synagogue – 49 Churches, Two Temples, One Mosque

The oldest synagogue in America is 70 miles from my home, so it was a given that at some point I would make the trip. On Friday night, prodded by the congregation’s website that seemed to indicate that services would end on March 6, I rushed to Newport after work, taking a phone call on the way.

Rhode Island’s reputation for religious tolerance in the face of intense intolerance by the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies is renowned — fostered by the liberal attitudes of Rhode Island’s founding governor Roger Williams, who also established the nation’s first Baptist church.  Touro is the only example of a Colonial synagogue, the oldest Jewish structure in America and, as I said, the oldest synagogue. Visiting was a privilege, because if not for this project I doubt I would have had cause or inclination to set foot inside other than to admire the historical furnishings and architecture. As it was, I witnessed a moving, solemn orthodox shabbas service, met my first shabbas goy, and had a good historical experience.


The Jeshuat Israel congregation can be traced back to 1658 when Sephardic Jews arrived in Newport (then the capital of Rhode Island) from the Caribbean island of Curacao. Sephardic Jews emigrated — fled is more accurate — Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition, when Catholic jurists forced the conversion of  or put to death most Jews. An excellent, if exhaustive history on this topic is B. Netanyahu’s Origins of the Inquisition in the 15th Century. Those Jews who pretended to convert to Christianity, but continued to practice Judaism in secret, are referred to as Marranos.

For the first 100 years of their existence, the Newport Sephardim worshipped in private homes until 1750, when a wealthy merchant, Aaron Lopez, son of Portugese marranos, funded the design and construction of the Touro Synagogue (so named for its first cantor, Issac Touro).  Lopez became the wealthiest resident of Newport through his diverse business interests, but most notably his focus on the spermaceti candle industry — spermaceti being the waxy substance found in the head cavity of a sperm whale.

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New dock for Cotuit

New dock – Cotuit

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck

I saw the marine construction crew out on Saturday putting a new deck on the old town dock. This ought to spare a lot of bare feet from some splinters. The entrance is cordoned off and blocked with a skiff to keep someone from trying to drive out to their doom.

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