Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

My friend Matt needs a kidney

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Great, short piece about him and his family in the NY Daily News.

Matt and his wife Mamie are terrific people. Matt chaired the most recent PKD Gala in New York, where he spoke movingly of his hope that his sons haven’t inherited the disease that took his mom’s life and now threatens his. He’s worked hard to raise awareness of PKD. It’s too late for him to benefit from experimental drugs like Tolvaptan; his kidneys are too far gone.
If you know anyone who might want to donate a kidney, please let me know. We want Matt to stick around. He’s only 41, for heaven’s sake …

An Unreasonable Man

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Last night I saw an early screening of the new documentary about Ralph Nader, “An Unreasonable Man.”

At 38 I’m too young to remember the years when Nader rose to fame. It was fascinating to learn that General Motors had spied on him and sent a babe to seduce him in the supermarket (she failed), and to watch footage of Sen. Bobby Kennedy castigating GM’s CEO, who ended up apologizing and ensuring not only that Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed” would sell, but that Congress would act on its recommendations.

One of the doc’s ‘talking heads’ said something to the effect of, “Imagine if every seatbelt, every airbag said ‘Nader’ on it, the way Trump’s buildings have his name on them. Imagine if every time you went to the supermarket, a sign told you ‘This produce is safer because of Ralph Nader.’ Imagine if airplanes wrote his name in the sky, saying, ‘This air is cleaner because of Ralph Nader.’ Then maybe people would understand some of what he’s done.”

It was quite moving to see the statistic on how many lives have been saved by seatbelts and airbags. Ralph made that happen far sooner, and far better, than it would have without him.

The second half of the movie focuses on his run for President in 2000, and then again in 2004. The movie shows Nader’s growing frustration with the Democratic Party, and makes it easy to see why he would make such a decision. I can even understand how, once you’ve started down that path, you would want to keep going. Nader’s zeal, and that of his supporters, makes a lot of sense. (And Pat Buchanan, much to my surprise, came off quite well in this movie. Kept his sense of humor, and seemed genuinely to like Ralph. I wouldn’t have guessed.)

But you see the results in Florida, where Bush “beat” Gore by fewer than 600 votes. And you see that Nader got more than 97,000 votes in Florida that year. And the film glosses over that, by noting that other ‘third-party’ candidates also got more than 600 votes. True. But none of the rest got anything close to 97,000, Buchanan very much included.

And then Bush’s proud neocons invaded Iraq, and the numbers of dead Iraqi civilians began to pile up. And you wonder if Ralph and his followers might decide that there really had been more than “a dime’s worth of difference” between Bush and Gore, as Ralph had once insisted there had not been.

And some of his followers did decide that. But Ralph did not, and some of his key supporters stayed. And helped him run again in 2004.

And Ralph spoke to the audience at the IFC Theater before the 9:55 pm screening last night, urging young people to keep their idealism. And I withheld judgment. And then we watched the movie. And the guy who had run Ralph’s “field campaign” in 2004, a 28-year-old man who was still clearly very proud of himself, spoke after the movie about the importance of activism, and said that Ralph’s campaign in ’04 had planted “seeds” of activism that would grow and become incredibly valuable over the next 70 years.

And maybe that’s true. But all I could think of were the seeds of death that George W. Bush and his advisers had sown in Iraq and elsewhere. Seeds they would not have had the chance to sow, had Nader thrown even some of his votes to Gore in 2000.

How many innocent Iraqi civilians are dead today because of the United States? Is it 40,000? 80,000? Whatever the actual figure — a number we will never know for certain, unless God tells us in the hereafter — and whatever the number of maimed and homeless and widowed and orphaned — none of those violent deaths would have happened, had Gore become President. Nor is Bush finished yet.
The movie did a good job in many ways. But even at more than 2 1/2 hours, it couldn’t find time to talk about Iraq. And that is what made it in that respect, it was a failure.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

So says Michael Pollan in this terrific piece, the cover story in the Sunday NY Times Magazine.

Great lede. It’s been playing in my mind like a mantra ever since. And great story, all about the way farmers, nutritionists and journalists have made the question of what we should eat waaaaay more complicated than it should be.

Job Opening: Author Services Account Executive, FM

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

FM is growing, and adding two more positions to support our 100+ authors.

The Author Services Account Executive (ASAE) at Federated Media works with the whole Author Services team, and the rest of the company, to take care of authors. This person will institute and follow a plan to make regular contact with FM authors, checking in with them on how we are proceeding, together, toward meeting their goals. An ASAE must have excellent communications skills, as a primary responsiblity will be to communicate instructions and requests to authors, and also serve as the author’s advocate within FM. Besides proactively contacting authors, the ASAE will also respond to requests from authors — for information, technical help, advice, etc.

This person will also help search for new authors for this growing company, and respond to queries from prospective authors.

The ideal candidate needs to be organized and have an eye for talent. He or she should be able to cope with a rapidly changing amount of data from various sources. A passion for the world of blogs — in particular for the world of search, media, and technology — is required. The ability to work comfortably with a wide variety of personalities is a must. Editorial experience is critical. An understanding of the publishing and advertising worlds and a knowledge of general business operations are both important. Meticulous accuracy and attention to detail is essential, as is the ability to work on numerous projects simultaneously and under tight deadlines.

If interested, email Pamela Parker: . (And let her know where you found out about it!)

The Power of Class Notes

Friday, January 5th, 2007

So, not knowing what, if anything, might happen, I submitted the following entry to Harvard Magazine a couple of months ago:

Bill Brazell writes, “I would love to connect with anyone who either

has polycystic kidney disease or knows someone who has. In October,

I became an ad hoc committee member of the board of trustees of

the PKD Foundation (, and I blog about a PKD drug

experiment at You may reach me at”

And boom — before I’d even gotten my copy of the magazine in the mail, I got an email yesterday morning from a guy named Dave Greene. Dave graduated a year after me, and spotted the note as he looked for news of friends. Although he and I had never met, he sent me a terrific email, explaining that his company, ClinicaHealth, “provides safe, rich, engaging online health communities for patients and their caregivers. Our platform is provided to our partners free of charge, and is supported by advertising. 10% of all advertising revenues are donated to the partner organizations who work with us.”

What a great company. I immediately emailed a board member and the PKD Foundation president, Dan Larson, and both are enthused. We’re now looking closely at what ClinicaHealth is doing, and how it might help us increase the feeling of community among families with PKD.

Thanks, Dave Greene — and thanks, Class Notes!

Robert Moses — and Iraq

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

I just finished reading Robert Caro’s extraordinary book, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.” As the book ends, Moses’ lieutenants are wondering why ‘the people’ aren’t showering their leader with more praise. He had destroyed thousands of their homes. His majestic highways had made traffic much worse than it had ever been. He had consciously and deliberately made life much harder than it already was for African-Americans and Puerto-Rican Americans. And he had done much more harm besides. Yet, as he stood on the stage carping about ‘man’s ingratitude,’ his aides could only agree, asking themselves, about ‘the people’, “Why weren’t they grateful?”

Slate’s Timothy Noah, an ever-perceptive observer of the delusions of powerful people, noted on Thursday that Americans of both political parties have begun to blame the Iraqis for failing to make the most of the situation we ‘gave’ them. That is, we invaded a country which at that time had no armed opposition, decapitated its (admittedly horrific) leadership, and fired its army. We knew the country was divided into three factions – kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Our own State Department prepared a lengthy report about how to work with those divisions, butDonald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department blew off that report. And now our political leaders wonder why the Iraqis have failed to create a stable democracy.

As Noah writes, in words that could apply to Moses, “Ingratitude is a common lament of embittered visionaries, because it’s usually too painful to blame oneself.”

He continues, “But it’s rarely true that the people whose lives we try to transform are at fault when we can’t transform them, and it certainly isn’t true in the case of Iraqis.”

Americans used to understand that. The freedom to be left untransformed was a big part of what our founding fathers fought for. But with an overwhelmingly powerful military (see Andrew Bacevich’s outstanding “The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War”), the temptation to coerce is never far away.

Defending Jill Carroll

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Do the Boston Herald’s Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa eat mean pills for breakfast? Their “Inside Track” piece deserves every one-star rating it gets. Too bad the options don’t include “zero.” While hanging out with friends at a bar, Carroll tells a Fox TV reporter that she doesn’t want to do an interview. Fee and Raposa take that as license to deride Carroll’s undergraduate degree, her personality, and the 82 days she spent as a hostage in Iraq.

It’s always the wrong people who are taken hostage. The best candidates never put themselves at risk.