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Does Thinking Change The Shape Of Your Brain?

Does Thinking Change The Shape Of Your Brain? | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Here's a puzzler for you. Does thinking change the shape of your brain? For example, does contemplating this question actually physically change your brain?

Via Evdokia Roka
Ken Morrison's insight:

A nice video about the power of visualization in learning

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An Eye on New Media
New Media in Society, Business & Classrooms
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Social Media Over The Past Decade | HubSpot

Social Media Over The Past Decade | HubSpot | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it

...To think of what “might be” a few years from now is barely fathomable but really exciting! I remember listening to the keynote speaker at the 1990 Seybold Conference talk about how books in the future would be enjoyed on electronic readers, and thinking, “not in my lifetime would electronic readers replace printed books.” We all know how that turned out.


Let’s go back and hit the high points from the past ten years. Below is a visual infographic timeline followed by a more detailed look at each year! Pay close attention to the ones that were launched in 2012; some of them have a lot of potential to be game changers!


Via Jeff Domansky
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When did you jump in?
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Meredith Tong's curator insight, August 10, 9:17 PM

look how many apps have been made from 2004 to the present!!!

 

Jeff Domansky's curator insight, August 16, 9:07 PM

Great way to look at the history of social media.

Amanda Swanson's curator insight, August 22, 8:22 AM

# 19 - A quick look at social media development over the last ten years.

 

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10 free tools for creating infographics | Infographic | Creative Bloq

10 free tools for creating infographics | Infographic | Creative Bloq | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
For all the importance we place on text, it's an indisputable fact that images are processed in the brain faster than words. Hence the rise and rise of the infographic which, at its best, transforms complex information into graphics that are both easy to grasp and visually appealing. No wonder magazine readers and web visitors love them.

Via Paula Barroca
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Why is the average pop song only 3 minutes long?

Why is the average pop song only 3 minutes long? | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
There's a famous Billy Joel song called "The Entertainer."

In it, the piano man warbles about the perils of the music industry, and having to limit himself to writing radio-friendly tracks.

"It was a beautiful song/But it ran too long/If you're gonna have a hit/You gotta make it fit/So they cut it down to 3:05."

It's a deft set of lyrics that perfectly sums up the music world's short attention span. In the pop industry, most radio hits typically can't be longer than three to four minutes. Case in point, the top three songs currently on the Billboard Hot 100. For the week of November 22, the reigning trio was Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" (3:39 minutes), Meghan Trainor's "All About that Bass" (3:08 minutes) and Maroon 5's "Animal" (3:49 minutes).

What makes three the magic number? And will that magic number change with the ever-evolving music business?

As it turns out, average hit song length has more to do with historical limitation than an audience's focus level. Let's take a quick trip back in time, to the beginning of the record.

SEE ALSO: 15 visually stunning album covers of 2014

The origin of the single.

IMAGE: GIPHY
In the early 1900s, the most common way to release music was via a 10-inch record. The 10" usually played at a speed of 78 revolutions per minute (rpm), which measures the frequency of a rotation.

Early 10" records could only hold three to five minutes per side. Twelve-inch records were also used, but they only held about four to five minutes, according to the Yale Music Catalogue.

"If it went longer than that, the grooves became too close together...the sound quality went down," explains Thomas Tierney, director of the Sony Music Archives Library, in an interview with Mashable.

Thus, musicians in the first half of the 20th century were artistically bound by technological constraints. The limitation meant pop artists had to create quick tracks that fit the mold if they wanted a song to be released as a single. A short single could be played on the radio and become a hit song A short single could be played on the radio and become a hit song, wholly unlike the DIY aesthetic that allows modern artists to get famous via social media, blogs or music sites like Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

"In those days, if you recorded a song that was longer than three minutes and 15 seconds, they just wouldn’t play it," Tierney says.

Naturally, there were exceptions, but they were reserved for other genres. Duke Ellington could record longer songs, because jazz had different rules.

In the pop world, exceptions were rare — and relied on deception. One example of a song breaking the 3:15-minute rule was the 1964 smash "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers.


The Righteous Brothers - You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' from A on Vimeo.

Produced and co-penned by hitmaker Phil Spector, the song was actually 3:45 minutes, much longer than its contemporaries. Unwilling to cut it down, Spector stamped 3:05 minutes on the single, so DJs would play it without realizing its actual length.

It went on to become the most played song on American radio and television of the 20th century.

A folksy sea change

Bob Dylan on tour in 1966.
IMAGE: FLICKR, PAUL TOWNSEND
Modern pop charts show that artists still stick to the three- to four-minute mold, though radio restrictions are no longer as ironclad. For that, musicians can thank Bob Dylan.

Unlike the pop scene, folk artists of the '60s typically recorded longer songs, Tierney says. They didn't care for singles, which were more for trying to climb the Top 40. Instead, they focused on "selling LPs in college towns," Tierney says.

By 1965, Bob Dylan was already a respected artist. He had released now-classic albums like The Times They Are A-Changin', and "Subterranean Homesick Blues," cracked the top 40 chart at spot 39.

Then he went electric. He released Highway 61 Revisited, which contained the 6:34-minute track "Like A Rolling Stone."



Despite wanting to make it a single, the Columbia Records sales team nixed the absurdly long song — well, except for employee Shaun Considine.

Then the coordinator of new releases, Considine sent the track to a popular Manhattan DJ. According to History, the track spread like wildfire, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard pop charts. It was an unprecedented success and a "watershed moment in pop history," Tierney says.

Rock changes, pop remains the same.

Robert Plant performs.
IMAGE: FLICKR, HEINRICH KLAFFS
Dylan's success didn't completely alter pop's future, but it did shape rock's trajectory, where singles mattered less and less. Bands like Iron Butterfly would record 17-minute songs like "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," then cut them down into radio-friendly snippets, though fans preferred the lengthy tracks.

Led Zeppelin never released "Stairway to Heaven," which is 8:02 minutes, as a single, but the track still became the stuff of legend.



"The only way you could hear 'Stairway to Heaven' was by buying the album," Tierney says. "Bands began to have that type of power and say, 'This is our art. You’re not cutting it down.'"

So why haven't songs gotten longer?

Rapper Drake.
IMAGE: FLICKR, BRENNAN SCHNELL
If a song can still be successful beyond three or four minutes, why aren't pop artists exploring that option?

Well, with the onslaught of good music comes the erosion of the public's attention span. Unlike the heyday of Zeppelin, fans won't just buy the album — they wait for the single, judge, then move on to the next. Today's top chart is a little more cutthroat, because some music fans won't listen beyond what they hear on the radio.

As far as length, some exceptions remain. Hip hop and EDM, arguable today's most influential genres, get away with longer songs because they're suited to club culture, which is "more dance oriented...and lasts a little longer," Tierney says.

For example, the longest songs in the iTunes Top Songs chart as of this week include "Tuesday" by ILOVEMAKONNEN, featuring Drake (5:21 minutes), "Bed of Lies" by Nicki Minaj, featuring Skylar Gray (4:30 minutes) and "I Don't F**ck Wih You" by Big Sean, featuring E-40 (4:44 minutes).

These are the rarities surrounded by a sea of short tracks. For example, take Taylor Swift. Her first "official" pop album, 1989, is largely dominating the charts — but only two tracks are a little over four minutes. Compare that to her previous three albums, where at least half the tracks were well over four minutes.


IMAGE: GIPHY
"Young people will always be pop music’s biggest consumers," Tierney sums up. "[They] are always going to want their songs to be three minutes, and on to the next one."

Audiences have already been conditioned to desire short radio hits. It's a deeply engrained habit of the music and radio industry, despite anomalies and limitless technology. For Tierney, the foreseeable future won't yield longer radio hits. At this point, it's almost like "it’s embedded in our DNA."

Like a wise singer once said: If you want to make a hit, you've got to make it fit.

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The Astonishing Rise of Angela Merkel

The Astonishing Rise of Angela Merkel | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
In 1998, amid a recession, Schröder defeated Kohl and became Chancellor. The next summer, Volker Schlöndorff, at a garden party outside his home, in Potsdam, introduced Merkel to a movie producer, half-jokingly calling her “Germany’s first female Chancellor.” Merkel shot Schlöndorff a look, as if he had called her bluff—How dare you?—which convinced him that she actually wanted the job. The producer, a C.D.U. member, was incredulous. Schlöndorff said, “These guys whose party had been in power forever could not imagine that a woman could be Chancellor—and from East Germany, no less.”

In November, 1999, the C.D.U. was engulfed by a campaign-finance scandal, with charges of undisclosed cash donations and secret bank accounts. Kohl and his successor as Party chairman, Wolfgang Schäuble, were both implicated, but Kohl was so revered that nobody in the Party dared to criticize him. Merkel, who had risen to secretary-general after the C.D.U.’s electoral defeat, saw opportunity. She telephoned Karl Feldmeyer. “I would like to give some comments to you in your newspaper,” she said.

“Do you know what you want to say?” Feldmeyer asked.

“I’ve written it down.”

Feldmeyer suggested that, instead of doing an interview, she publish an opinion piece. Five minutes later, a fax came through, and Feldmeyer read it with astonishment. Merkel, a relatively new figure in the C.D.U., was calling for the Party to break with its longtime leader. “The Party must learn to walk now and dare to engage in future battles with its political opponents without its old warhorse, as Kohl has often enjoyed calling himself,” Merkel wrote. “We who now have responsibility for the Party, and not so much Helmut Kohl, will decide how to approach the new era.” She published the piece without warning the tainted Schäuble, the Party chairman. In a gesture that mixed Protestant righteousness with ruthlessness, Kohl’s Mädchen was cutting herself off from her political father and gambling her career in a naked bid to supplant him. She succeeded. Within a few months, Merkel had been elected Party chairman. Kohl receded into history. “She put the knife in his back—and turned it twice,” Feldmeyer said. That was the moment when many Germans first became aware of Angela Merkel.

Years later, Michael Naumann sat next to Kohl at a dinner, and asked him, “Herr Kohl, what exactly does she want?”

“Power,” Kohl said, tersely. He told another friend that championing young Merkel had been the biggest mistake of his life. “I brought my killer,” Kohl said. “I put the snake on my arm.”

In 2002, Merkel found herself on the verge of losing a Party vote that would determine the C.D.U.’s candidate for Chancellor in elections that fall. She hastily arranged a breakfast with her rival, the Bavarian leader Edmund Stoiber, in his home town. Disciplined enough to control her own ambitions, Merkel told Stoiber that she was withdrawing in his favor. Schlöndorff sent her a note saying, in effect, “Smart move.” By averting a loss that would have damaged her future within the Party, Merkel ended up in a stronger position. Stoiber lost to Schröder, and Merkel went on to outmaneuver a series of male heavyweights from the West, waiting for them to make a mistake or eat one another up, before getting rid of each with a little shove.


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John Kornblum, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, who still lives in Berlin, said, “If you cross her, you end up dead. There’s nothing cushy about her. There’s a whole list of alpha males who thought they would get her out of the way, and they’re all now in other walks of life.” On Merkel’s fiftieth birthday, in 2004, a conservative politician named Michael Glos published a tribute:

Careful: unpretentiousness can be a weapon! . . . One of the secrets of the success of Angela Merkel is that she knows how to deal with vain men. She knows you shoot a mountain cock best when it’s courting a hen. Angela Merkel is a patient hunter of courting mountain cocks. With the patience of an angel, she waits for her moment.

German politics was entering a new era. As the country became more “normal,” it no longer needed domineering father figures as leaders. “Merkel was lucky to live in a period when macho was in decline,” Ulrich said. “The men didn’t notice and she did. She didn’t have to fight them—it was an aikido politics.” Ulrich added, “If she knows anything, she knows her macho. She has them for her cereal.” Merkel’s physical haplessness, combined with her emotional opacity, made it hard for her rivals to recognize the threat she posed. “She’s very difficult to know, and that is a reason for her success,” the longtime political associate said. “It seems she is not from this world. Psychologically, she gives everybody the feeling of ‘I will take care of you.’ ”

When Schröder called early elections in 2005, Merkel became the C.D.U.’s candidate for Chancellor. In the politics of macho, Schröder and Fischer—working-class street fighters who loved political argument and expensive wine, with seven ex-wives between them—were preëminent. The two men despised Merkel, and the sentiment was reciprocated. According to Dirk Kurbjuweit, of Der Spiegel, Schröder and Fischer sometimes laughed “like boys on the playground” when Merkel gave speeches in the Bundestag. In 2001, after photographs were published of Fischer assaulting a policeman as a young militant in the seventies, Merkel denounced him, saying that he would be unfit for public life until he “atoned”—a comment that many Germans found strident. During the 2005 campaign, Fischer said in private talks that Merkel was incapable of doing the job.

At the time, Schröder’s Social Democrats ruled in a coalition with the Greens, and the public had grown weary of prolonged economic stagnation. Through most of the campaign, the C.D.U. held a large lead, but the Social Democrats closed the gap, and on Election Night the two parties were virtually tied in the popular vote. Alan Posener, of Die Welt, saw Merkel that night at Party headquarters—she seemed deflated, flanked by C.D.U. politicians she had once disposed of, who didn’t conceal their glee. Merkel had made two near-fatal mistakes. First, just before the Iraq War—unpopular in Germany, and repudiated by Schröder—she had published an op-ed in the Washington Post titled “Schroeder Doesn’t Speak for All Germans,” in which she stopped just short of supporting war. “One more sentence for Bush and against Schröder, and she would not be Chancellor today,” Ulrich said. Second, many of her advisers were free-market proponents who advocated changes to the tax code and to labor policies which went far beyond what German voters would accept. After fifteen years, she still didn’t have a fingertip feel for public opinion.

On Election Night, Merkel, Schröder, Fischer, and other party leaders gathered in a TV studio to discuss the results. Merkel, looking shell-shocked and haggard, was almost mute. Schröder, his hair colored chestnut and combed neatly back, grinned mischievously and effectively declared himself the winner. “I will continue to be Chancellor,” he said. “Do you really believe that my party would take up an offer from Merkel to talk when she says she would like to become Chancellor? I think we should leave the church in the village”—that is, quit dreaming. Many viewers thought he was drunk. As Schröder continued to boast, Merkel slowly came to life, as if amused by the Chancellor’s performance. She seemed to realize that Schröder’s bluster had just saved her the Chancellorship. With a slight smile, she put Schröder in his place. “Plain and simple—you did not win today,” she said. Indeed, the C.D.U. had a very slim lead. “With a little time to think about it, even the Social Democrats will come to accept this as a reality. And I promise we will not turn the democratic rules upside down.”

Two months later, Merkel was sworn in as Germany’s first female Chancellor.

Those who know Merkel say that she is as lively and funny in private as she is publicly soporific—a split in self-presentation that she learned as a young East German. (Through her spokesman, Merkel, who gives few interviews—almost always to German publications, and all anodyne—declined to speak to me.) In off-the-record conversations with German journalists, she replays entire conversations with other world leaders, performing wicked imitations. Among her favorite targets have been Kohl, Putin, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, former Pope Benedict XVI, and Al Gore. (“Ah have to teach mah people,” she mimics, in a Prussian approximation of central Tennessee.) After one meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, during the euro crisis, she told a group of journalists that Sarkozy’s foot had been nervously jiggling the entire time.


Schlöndorff once asked Merkel what she and other leaders discuss during photo ops. The Chancellor described one such moment with Dmitri Medvedev, who briefly interrupted Putin’s fifteen-year reign as Russia’s President. She and Medvedev were posing for the cameras in Sochi when, gesturing toward the Black Sea, she said, in the Russian she had learned from Frau Benn, “President Putin told me that every morning he swims a thousand metres out there. Do you do things like that?” Medvedev replied, “I swim fifteen hundred metres.” To Schlöndorff, the story showed that, “even when she is involved, she is never so totally involved that she could not observe the way people behave and be somehow amused by it.”

“She is a master of listening,” the longtime political associate said. “In a conversation, she speaks twenty per cent, you speak eighty per cent. She gives everybody the feeling ‘I want to hear what you have to say,’ but the truth is that her judgment is made within three minutes, and sometimes she thinks another eighteen minutes are wasted time. She is like a computer—‘Is this possible, what this man proposes?’ She’s able in a very quick time to realize if it’s fantasy.”

Nor is she above embarrassing her minions. Once, in a hotel room in Vienna, in the company of Chancellery aides and foreign-ministry officials, Merkel was telling comical stories of camping trips she’d taken as a student. Her aides fell over themselves laughing, until Merkel cut them short: “I’ve told you this before.” The aides insisted that they’d never heard the stories before, but it didn’t matter: Madame Chancellor was calling them sycophants. After last year’s elections, she met with the Social Democratic leader, Sigmar Gabriel, who is now her economics minister. Gabriel introduced Merkel to one of his aides, saying, “He’s been keeping an eye on me for the past few years. He makes sure I don’t do anything stupid in public.” Merkel shot back, “And sometimes it’s worked.”

“Schadenfreude is Merkel’s way of having fun,” Kurbjuweit said.


“Wait for it.”
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Throughout her Chancellorship, Merkel has stayed as close as possible to German public opinion. Posener said that, after nearly losing to Schröder, she told herself, “I’m going to be all things to all people.” Critics and supporters alike describe her as a gifted tactician without a larger vision. Kornblum, the former Ambassador, once asked a Merkel adviser about her long-term view. “The Chancellor’s long-term view is about two weeks,” the adviser replied. The pejorative most often used against her is “opportunist.” When I asked Katrin Göring-Eckardt, the Green leader, whether Merkel had any principles, she paused, then said, “She has a strong value of freedom, and everything else is negotiable.” (Other Germans added firm support for Israel to the list.)

“People say there’s no project, there’s no idea,” the senior official told me. “It’s just a zigzag of smart moves for nine years.” But, he added, “She would say that the times are not conducive to great visions.” Americans don’t like to think of our leaders as having no higher principles. We want at least a suggestion of the “vision thing”—George H. W. Bush’s derisive term, for which he was derided. But Germany remains so traumatized by the grand ideologies of its past that a politics of no ideas has a comforting allure.

The most daunting challenge of Merkel’s time in office has been the euro-zone crisis, which threatened to bring down economies across southern Europe and jeopardized the integrity of the euro. To Merkel, the crisis confirmed that grand visions can be dangerous. Kohl, who thought in historical terms, had tied Germany to a European currency without a political union that could make it work. “It’s now a machine from hell,” the senior official said. “She’s still trying to repair it.”

Merkel’s decisions during the crisis reflect the calculations of a politician more mindful of her constituency than of her place in history. When Greek debt was revealed to be at critical levels, she was slow to commit German taxpayers’ money to a bailout fund, and in 2011 she blocked a French and American proposal for coördinated European action. Germany had by far the strongest economy in Europe, with a manufacturing base and robust exports that benefitted from the weakening of the euro. Under Schröder, Germany had instituted reforms in labor and welfare policies that made the country more competitive, and Merkel arrived just in time to reap the benefit. Throughout the crisis, Merkel buried herself in the economic details and refused to get out in front of what German voters—who tended to regard the Greeks as spendthrift and lazy—would accept, even if delaying prolonged the ordeal and, at key moments from late 2011 through the summer of 2012, threatened the euro itself. The novelist and journalist Peter Schneider compared her to a driver in foggy weather: “You only see five metres, not one hundred metres, so it’s better you are very careful, you don’t say too much, you act from step to step. No vision at all.”


Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was Germany’s defense minister between 2009 and 2011, said that Merkel took a “Machiavellian” approach to the crisis. She had the stamina to keep her options open as long as possible, and then veiled her decisions behind “the cloud of complexity.” Guttenberg said, “This made it easier for her to change her mind several times rather dramatically, but at the time no one noticed at all.” In the end, under pressure from other European leaders and President Obama, Merkel endorsed a plan for the European Central Bank to prevent Greek sovereign default by buying bonds—much as the Federal Reserve had done during the U.S. financial crisis. In exchange, the countries of southern Europe submitted to strict budget rules and E.U. oversight of their central banks. Merkel realized that she could not allow the euro-zone crisis to capsize the project of European unity. “If the euro falls, then Europe falls,” she declared. The euro was saved, but at the price of ruinous austerity policies and high unemployment. Across much of Europe, Merkel—that Protestant minister’s daughter—is resented as a rigid, self-righteous puritan, while support for the E.U. has fallen to historic lows.

Merkel’s commitment to a united Europe is not that of an idealist. Rather, it comes from her sense of German interest—a soft form of nationalism that reflects the country’s growing confidence and strength. The historic German problem, which Henry Kissinger described as being “too big for Europe, too small for the world,” can be overcome only by keeping Europe together. Kurbjuweit said, “She needs Europe because—this is hard to say, but it’s true—Europe makes Germany bigger.”

Yet Merkel’s austerity policies have helped make Europe weaker, and Europe’s weakness has begun affecting Germany, whose export-driven economy depends on its neighbors for markets. The German economy has slowed this year, while European growth is anemic. Nevertheless, Germany remains committed to a balanced budget in 2015, its first since 1969, and is standing in the way of a euro-zone monetary policy of stimulating growth by buying up debt. In recent weeks, with global markets falling, a divide has opened between Merkel and other European leaders.

After 2005, Merkel had to mute her free-market thinking at home in order to preserve her political viability. Instead, she exported the ideas to the rest of the Continent, applying them with no apparent regard for macroeconomic conditions, as if the virtues of thrift and discipline constituted the mission of a resurgent Germany in Europe. Merkel is obsessed with demography and economic competitiveness. She loves reading charts. In September, one of her senior aides showed me a stack of them that the Chancellor had just been examining; they showed the relative performance of different European economies across a variety of indicators. In unit-labor costs, he pointed out, Germany lies well below the euro-zone average. But the population of Germany—the largest of any nation in Europe—is stagnant and aging. “A country like that cannot run up more and more debt,” the senior aide said.

Stefan Reinecke, of the left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung, said, “Half an hour into every speech she gives, when everyone has fallen asleep, she says three things. She says Europe has just seven per cent of the world’s people, twenty-five per cent of the economic output, but fifty per cent of the social welfare—and we have to change this.” Merkel frets that Germany has no Silicon Valley. “There’s no German Facebook, no German Amazon,” her senior aide said. “There is this German tendency, which you can see in Berlin: we’re so affluent that we assume we always will be, even though we don’t know where it will come from. Completely complacent.”

It makes Germans acutely uneasy that their country is too strong while Europe is too weak, but Merkel never discusses the problem. Joschka Fischer—who has praised Merkel on other issues—criticizes this silence. “Intellectually, it’s a big, big challenge to transform national strength into European strength,” he said. “And the majority of the political and economic élite in Germany has not a clue about that, including the Chancellor.”


The two world leaders with whom Merkel has her most important and complex relationships are Obama, who has won her reluctant respect, and Putin, who has earned her deep distrust. When the Wall fell, Putin was a K.G.B. major stationed in Dresden. He used his fluent German and a pistol to keep a crowd of East Germans from storming the K.G.B. bureau and looting secret files, which he then destroyed. Twelve years later, a far more conciliatory Putin, by then Russia’s President, addressed the Bundestag “in the language of Goethe, Schiller, and Kant,” declaring that “Russia is a friendly-minded European country” whose “main goal is a stable peace on this continent.” Putin praised democracy and denounced totalitarianism, receiving an ovation from an audience that included Merkel.

After decades of war, destruction, and occupation, German-Russian relations returned to the friendlier dynamic that had prevailed before the twentieth century. German policymakers spoke of a “strategic partnership” and a “rapprochement through economic interlocking.” In 2005, Schröder approved the construction of a gas pipeline that crossed the Baltic Sea into Russia. He and Putin developed a friendship, with Schröder calling Putin a “flawless democrat.” In the past decade, Germany has become one of Russia’s largest trading partners, and Russia now provides Germany with forty per cent of its gas. Two hundred thousand Russian citizens live in Germany, and Russia has extensive connections inside the German business community and in the Social Democratic Party.


“According to the map, the treasure should be right behind that door.”
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As a Russian speaker who hitchhiked through the Soviet republics in her youth, Merkel has a feel for Russia’s aspirations and resentments which Western politicians lack. In her office, there’s a framed portrait of Catherine the Great, the Prussian-born empress who led Russia during a golden age in the eighteenth century. But, as a former East German, Merkel has few illusions about Putin. After Putin’s speech at the Bundestag, Merkel told a colleague, “This is typical K.G.B. talk. Never trust this guy.” Ulrich, of Die Zeit, said, “She’s always been skeptical of Putin, but she doesn’t detest him. Detesting would be too much emotion.”

When Putin and Merkel meet, they sometimes speak in German (he’s better in her language than she is in his), and Putin corrects his own interpreter to let Merkel know that nothing is lost on him. Putin’s brand of macho elicits in Merkel a kind of scientific empathy. In 2007, during discussions about energy supplies at the Russian President’s residence in Sochi, Putin summoned his black Lab, Koni, into the room where he and Merkel were seated. As the dog approached and sniffed her, Merkel froze, visibly frightened. She’d been bitten once, in 1995, and her fear of dogs couldn’t have escaped Putin, who sat back and enjoyed the moment, legs spread wide. “I’m sure it will behave itself,” he said. Merkel had the presence of mind to reply, in Russian, “It doesn’t eat journalists, after all.” The German press corps was furious on her behalf—“ready to hit Putin,” according to a reporter who was present. Later, Merkel interpreted Putin’s behavior. “I understand why he has to do this—to prove he’s a man,” she told a group of reporters. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.”

In early 2008, when President George W. Bush sought to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, Merkel blocked the move out of concern for Russia’s reaction and because it could cause destabilization along Europe’s eastern edge. Later that year, after Russia invaded two regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Merkel changed her position and expressed openness to Georgia’s joining NATO. She remained careful to balance European unity, the alliance with America, German business interests, and continued engagement with Russia. Kaiser Wilhelm I is supposed to have remarked that only Bismarck, who tied Germany to a set of countervailing alliances, could juggle four or five balls. Bismarck’s successor, Leo von Caprivi, complained that he could barely manage two, and in 1890 he ended Germany’s treaty with Russia, helping set the stage for the First World War.

When, this past March, Russia annexed Crimea and incited a separatist war in eastern Ukraine, it fell to Merkel to succeed where earlier German leaders had catastrophically failed.

The Russian aggression in Ukraine stunned the history-haunted, rule-upholding Germans. “Putin surprised everyone,” including Merkel, her senior aide told me. “The swiftness, the brutality, the coldheartedness. It’s just so twentieth century—the tanks, the propaganda, the agents provocateurs.”


Suddenly, everyone in Berlin was reading Christopher Clark’s “The Sleepwalkers,” about the origins of the First World War. The moral that many Germans drew was to tread carefully—small fires could quickly turn into conflagrations. During a discussion about the First World War with students at the German Historical Museum, Merkel said, “I am regarded as a permanent delayer sometimes, but I think it is essential and extremely important to take people along and really listen to them in political talks.”

Merkel ruled out military options, yet declared that Russia’s actions were unacceptable—territorial integrity was an inviolable part of Europe’s postwar order—and required a serious Western response. For the first time in her Chancellorship, she didn’t have the public with her. In early polls, a plurality of Germans wanted Merkel to take a middle position between the West and Russia. A substantial minority—especially in the former East—sympathized with Russia’s claim that NATO expansion had pushed Putin to act defensively, and that Ukrainian leaders in Kiev were Fascist thugs. Helmut Schmidt, the Social Democratic former Chancellor, expressed some of these views, as did Gerhard Schröder—who had become a paid lobbyist for a company controlled by the Russian state oil-and-gas giant Gazprom, and who celebrated his seventieth birthday with Putin, in St. Petersburg, a month after Russia annexed Crimea. The attitude of Schmidt and Schröder deeply embarrassed the Social Democrats.

A gap opened up between élite and popular opinion: newspapers editorializing for a hard line against Russia were inundated with critical letters. Merkel, true to form, did nothing to try to close the divide. For most Germans, the crisis inspired a combination of indifference and anxiety. Ukraine was talked about, if at all, as a far-off place, barely a part of Europe (not as the victim of huge German crimes in the Second World War). Germans resented having their beautiful sleep disturbed. “The majority want peace and to live a comfortable life,” Alexander Rahr, a Russian energy expert who advises the German oil-and-gas company Wintershall, said. “They don’t want conflict or a new Cold War. For this, they wish the U.S. would stay away from Europe. If Russia wants Ukraine, which not so many people have sympathy with, let them have it.” In a way, Germany’s historical guilt—which includes more than twenty million Soviet dead in the Second World War—adds to the country’s passivity. A sense of responsibility for the past demands that Germany do nothing in the present. Ulrich, of Die Zeit, expressed the point brutally: “We once killed so much—therefore, we can’t die today.”

Germans and Russians are bound together by such terrible memories that any suggestion of conflict leads straight to the unthinkable. Michael Naumann put the Ukraine crisis in the context of “this enormous emotional nexus between perpetrator and victim,” one that leaves Germans perpetually in the weaker position. In 1999, Naumann, at that time the culture minister under Schröder, tried to negotiate the return of five million artifacts taken out of East Germany by the Russians after the Second World War. During the negotiations, he and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Gubenko, shared their stories. Naumann, who was born in 1941, lost his father a year later, at the Battle of Stalingrad. Gubenko was also born in 1941, and his father was also killed in action. Five months later, Gubenko’s mother was hanged by the Germans.

“Checkmate,” the Russian told the German. Both men cried.

“There was nothing to negotiate,” Naumann recalled. “He said, ‘We will not give anything back, as long as I live.’ ”

Merkel takes a characteristically unsentimental view of Russia. Alexander Lambsdorff, a German member of the European Parliament, said, “She thinks of Russia as a traditional hegemonic power that was subdued for a while and now has reëmerged.” Ukraine forced Merkel into a juggling act worthy of Bismarck, and she began spending two or three hours daily on the crisis. Publicly, she said little, waiting for Russian misbehavior to bring the German public around. She needed to keep her coalition in the Bundestag on board, including the more pro-Russian Social Democrats. And she had to hold Europe together, which meant staying in close touch with twenty-seven other leaders and understanding each one’s constraints: how sanctions on Russia would affect London’s financial markets; whether the French would agree to suspend delivery of amphibious assault ships already sold to the Russians; whether Poland and the Baltic states felt assured of NATO’s support; the influence of Russian propaganda in Greece; Bulgaria’s dependence on Russian gas. For sanctions to bite, Europe had to remain united.


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Merkel also needed to keep open her channel to Putin. Even after the E.U. passed its first round of sanctions, in March, it was not German policy to isolate Russia—the two countries are too enmeshed. Merkel is Putin’s most important interlocutor in the West; they talk every week, if not more often. “She’s talked to Putin more than Obama, Hollande, and Cameron combined have over these past months,” the senior official said. “She has a way of talking to him that nobody has. Cameron and Hollande call him to be able to say they’re world leaders and had the conversation.” Merkel can be tough to the point of unpleasantness, while offering Putin ways out of his own mess. Above all, she tries to understand how he thinks. “With Russia now, when one feels very angry I force myself to talk regardless of my feelings,” she said at the German Historical Museum. “And every time I do this I am surprised at how many other views you can have on a matter which I find totally clear. Then I have to deal with those views, and this can also trigger something new.” Soon after the annexation of Crimea, Merkel reportedly told Obama that Putin was living “in another world.” She set about bringing him back to reality.


A German official told me, “The Chancellor thinks Putin believes that we’re decadent, we’re gay, we have women with beards”—a reference to Conchita Wurst, an Austrian drag queen who won the 2014 Eurovision song contest. “That it’s a strong Russia of real men versus the decadent West that’s too pampered, too spoiled, to stand up for their beliefs if it costs them one per cent of their standard of living. That’s his wager. We have to prove it’s not true.” It’s true enough that, if Merkel were to make a ringing call to defend Western values against Russian aggression, her domestic support would evaporate. When eight members of a European observer group, including four Germans, were taken hostage by pro-Russian separatists in April—practically a casus belli, had they been Americans—the German government simply asked Putin to work for their release. Merkel was playing the game that had been successful for her in German politics: waiting for her adversary to self-destruct.

On at least one phone call, Putin lied to Merkel, something that he hadn’t done in the past. In May, after Ukrainian separatists organized a widely denounced referendum, the official Russian statement was more positive than the stance that Merkel believed she and Putin had agreed on in advance. She cancelled their call for the following week—she had been misled, and wanted him to sense her anger. “The Russians were stunned,” the senior official said. “How could she cut the link?” Germany was the one country that Russia could not afford to lose. Karl-Georg Wellmann, a member of parliament from Merkel’s party, who sits on the foreign-affairs committee, said that, as the crisis deepened and Germans began pulling capital out of Russia, Kremlin officials privately told their German counterparts that they wanted a way out: “We went too far—what can we do?” In Moscow restaurants, after the third vodka, the Russians would raise the ghosts of 1939: “If we got together, Germany and Russia, we would be the strongest power in the world.”

On June 6th, in Normandy, Merkel and Putin met for the first time since the crisis began, along with Obama, Hollande, Cameron, and Petro Poroshenko, the newly elected President of Ukraine, to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of D Day. News photographs showed Merkel greeting Putin like a disapproving hostess—lips pursed, eyebrows arched—while Putin’s hard features came as close to ingratiation as is physically possible. In the optics of power, she was winning. “This political isolation hurts him,” her senior aide said. “He doesn’t like to be left out.” (Russia had just been suspended from the Group of Eight.) Later, before lunch, Merkel orchestrated a brief conversation between Putin and Poroshenko. On the anniversary of D Day, Germany’s leader was at the center of everything. As Kurbjuweit put it, “That was astonishing, to see all the winners of the Second World War, and to see the loser and the country which was responsible for all this—and she’s the leader, everyone wants to talk to her! That is very, very strange. And this is only possible, I think, because it’s Merkel—because she’s so nice and quiet.”

The final ball Merkel has to keep in the air is the American one. Her opinion of Barack Obama has risen as his popularity has declined. In July, 2008, as a Presidential candidate, Obama wanted to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin—the historic heart of the city, a location reserved for heads of state and government, not U.S. senators. Merkel rebuffed the request, so instead Obama spoke about European-American unity at the Victory Column, in the Tiergarten, before two hundred thousand delirious fans—a crowd Merkel could never have mustered, let alone mesmerized. “What puts her off about Obama is his high-flying rhetoric,” the senior official said. “She distrusts it, and she’s no good at it. She says, ‘I want to see if he can deliver.’ If you want to sum up her philosophy, it’s ‘under-promise and over-deliver.’ ”


In Obama’s first years in office, Merkel was frequently and unfavorably compared with him, and the criticism annoyed her. According to Stern, her favorite joke ends with Obama walking on water. “She does not really think Obama is a helpful partner,” Torsten Krauel, a senior writer for Die Welt, said. “She thinks he is a professor, a loner, unable to build coalitions.” Merkel’s relationship with Bush was much warmer than hers with Obama, the longtime political associate said. A demonstrative man like Bush sparks a response, whereas Obama and Merkel are like “two hit men in the same room. They don’t have to talk—both are quiet, both are killers.” For weeks in 2011 and 2012, amid American criticism of German policy during the euro-zone crisis, there was no contact between Merkel and Obama—she would ask for a conversation, but the phone call from the White House never came.

As she got to know Obama better, though, she came to appreciate more the ways in which they were alike—analytical, cautious, dry-humored, remote. Benjamin Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, told me that “the President thinks there’s not another leader he’s worked closer with than her.” He added, “They’re so different publicly, but they’re actually quite similar.” (Ulrich joked, “Obama is Merkel in a better suit.”) During the Ukraine crisis, the two have consulted frequently on the timing of announcements and been careful to keep the American and the European positions close. Obama is the antithesis of the swaggering leaders whom Merkel specializes in eating for breakfast. On a trip to Washington, she met with a number of senators, including the Republicans John McCain, of Arizona, and Jeff Sessions, of Alabama. She found them more preoccupied with the need to display toughness against America’s former Cold War adversary than with events in Ukraine themselves. (McCain called Merkel’s approach “milquetoast.”) To Merkel, Ukraine was a practical problem to be solved. This mirrored Obama’s view.

On the day I spoke with Rhodes, July 17th, the TV in his office, in the White House basement, showed the debris of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 strewn across a field in eastern Ukraine. The cause of the crash wasn’t yet clear, but Rhodes said, “If it was a Russian shoot-down, and Americans and Europeans were on board, that’s going to change everything.” In Germany, the change happened immediately. The sight of separatist fighters looting the belongings of dead passengers who had been shot out of the sky hit Germans more personally than months of ugly fighting among Ukrainians had. A civilian airliner, Dutch victims: “People realized that the sentimental attitude toward Putin and Russia was based on false assumptions,” a German diplomat said. The idea of maintaining equidistance between Russia and the West on Ukraine vanished. Though the crisis was beginning to hurt the German economy, Merkel now had three-quarters of the public behind her. In late July, the E.U. agreed on a sweeping new round of financial and energy sanctions.

Since then, Russian troops and weapons have crossed the border in large numbers, and the war has grown worse. In a speech in Australia last week, Merkel warned that Russian aggression was in danger of spreading, and she called for patience in a long struggle: “Who would’ve thought that twenty-five years after the fall of the Wall . . . something like that can happen right at the heart of Europe?” But, on the day she spoke, the E.U. failed to pass a new round of sanctions against Russia. Guttenberg, the former defense minister, said, “We are content with keeping the status quo, and kicking the can up the road—not down—and it keeps falling back on our feet.”


DECEMBER 19, 2011
“The post-touchdown celebrations are getting out of hand.”
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The close coöperation behind the scenes between Washington and Berlin coincides with a period of public estrangement. Germans told me that anti-Americanism in Germany is more potent now than at any time since the cruise-missile controversy of the early eighties. The proximate cause is the revelation, last fall, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden to Der Spiegel, that the National Security Agency had been recording Merkel’s cell-phone calls for a decade. Merkel, ever impassive, expressed more annoyance than outrage, but with the German public the sense of betrayal was deep. It hasn’t subsided—N.S.A. transgressions came up in almost every conversation I had in Berlin—particularly because Obama, while promising that the eavesdropping had stopped, never publicly apologized. (He conveyed his regret to Merkel privately.) “Tapping her phone is more than impolite,” Rainer Eppelmann, the former East German dissident, said. “It’s something you just don’t do. Friends don’t spy on friends.” (American officials I spoke with, though troubled by the effects of the breach, rolled their eyes over German naïveté and hypocrisy, since the spying goes both ways.)


German officials approached the Americans for a no-spy agreement, and were refused. The U.S. has no such arrangement with any country, including those in the so-called Five Eyes—the English-speaking allies that share virtually all intelligence. German officials claimed that the U.S. offered membership in the Five Eyes, then withdrew the offer. The Americans denied it. “It was never seriously discussed,” a senior Administration official said. “Five Eyes isn’t just an agreement. It’s an infrastructure developed over sixty years.”

“I tend to believe them,” the German diplomat said. “The Germans didn’t want Five Eyes when we learned about it. We’re not in a position, legally, to join, because our intelligence is so limited in scope.”

In July, officials of the German Federal Intelligence Service, or B.N.D., arrested a bureaucrat in their Munich office on suspicion of spying for the U.S. He had been caught soliciting business from the Russians via Gmail, and, when the Germans asked their American counterparts for information on the man, his account was suddenly shut down. Brought in for questioning, he admitted having passed documents (apparently innocuous) to a C.I.A. agent in Austria for two years, for which he was paid twenty-five thousand euros. The Germans retaliated, in unprecedented fashion, by expelling the C.I.A. station chief in Berlin. Coming soon after the N.S.A. revelations, this second scandal was worse than a crime—it was a blunder. Merkel was beside herself with exasperation. No U.S. official, in Washington or Berlin, seemed to have weighed the intelligence benefits against the potential political costs. The President didn’t know about the spy. “It’s fair to say the President should expect people would take into account political dynamics in making judgments about what we do and don’t do in Germany,” Rhodes said.

The spying scandals have undermined German public support for the NATO alliance just when it’s needed most in the standoff with Russia. Lambsdorff, the E.U. parliamentarian, told me, “When I stand before constituents and say, ‘We need a strong relationship with the U.S.,’ they say, ‘What’s the point? They lie to us.’ ” Germany’s rise to preëminence in Europe has made Merkel a committed transatlanticist, but “that’s useless now,” Lambsdorff said. “It deducts from her capital. Rebuffing Washington is good now in Germany.”

Obama was concerned enough to dispatch his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, to Berlin in late July, to mollify German officials. During a four-hour meeting, they agreed to create a framework for clearer rules about spying and intelligence sharing. But the details remain to be worked out, and barely half the German public now expresses a favorable view of the U.S.—the lowest level in Europe, other than in perpetually hostile Greece.

In a sense, German anti-Americanism is always waiting to be tapped. There’s a left-wing, anti-capitalist strain going back to the sixties, and a right-wing, anti-democratic version that’s even older. In the broad middle, where German politics plays out today, many Germans, especially older ones, once regarded the U.S. as the father of their democracy—a role that sets America up to disappoint. Peter Schneider, the novelist and journalist, expressed the attitude this way: “You have created a model of a savior, and now we find by looking at you that you are not perfect at all—much less, you are actually corrupt, you are terrible businessmen, you have no ideals anymore.” With the Iraq War, Guantánamo, drones, the unmet expectations of the Obama Presidency, and now spying, “you actually have acted against your own promises, and so we feel very deceived.”

Beneath the rise in anti-Americanism and the German sympathy with Russia, something deeper might be at work. During the First World War, Thomas Mann put aside writing “The Magic Mountain” and began composing a strange, passionate series of essays about Germany and the war. They were published in 1918, just before the Armistice, as “Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man.” In it, Mann embraced the German cause in terms of national character and philosophy. He allied himself, as an artist, with Germany—“culture, soul, freedom, art”—against the liberal civilization of France and England that his older brother Heinrich supported, where intellect was always politicized. German tradition was authoritarian, conservative, and “nonpolitical”—closer to the Russian spirit than to the shallow materialism of democratic Europe. The war represented Germany’s age-old rebellion against the West. Imperial Germany refused to accept at gunpoint the universal principles of equality and human rights. Though Mann became a vocal supporter of democratic values in exile during the Nazi years, he never repudiated “Reflections.”


Several people in Berlin suggested that this difficult, forgotten book had something to say about Germany in the age of Merkel. The country’s peaceful reunification and its strength through the euro crisis might be returning Germany to an identity that’s older than the postwar Federal Republic, whose Basic Law was written under heavy American influence. “West Germany was a good country,” Georg Diez, a columnist and author, told me. “It was young, sexy, daring, Western—American. But maybe it was only a skin. Germany is becoming more German, less Western. Germany has discovered its national roots.”

Diez didn’t mean that this was a good thing. He meant that Germany is becoming less democratic, because what Germans fundamentally want is stability, security, economic growth—above all, to be left in peace while someone else watches their money and keeps their country out of wars. They have exactly the Chancellor they want. “Merkel took the politics out of politics,” Diez said.

Merkel, at sixty, is the most successful politician in modern German history. Her popularity floats around seventy-five per cent—unheard of in an era of resentment toward elected leaders. Plainness remains her political signature, with inflections of Protestant virtue and Prussian uprightness. Once, with a group of journalists at a hotel bar in the Middle East, she said, “Can you believe it? Here I am, the Chancellor! What am I doing here? When I was growing up in the G.D.R., we imagined capitalists with long black cloaks and top hats and cigars and big feet, like cartoons. And now here I am, and they have to listen to me!” Of course, there’s something calculated about her public image. “She’s so careful not to show any pretensions—which is a kind of pretension,” the senior official said.

Merkel still lives in central Berlin, in a rent-controlled apartment across a canal from the Pergamon, the great neoclassical antiquities museum. The name on the brass buzzer is her husband’s—“PROF. DR. SAUER”—and a solitary policeman stands outside. Dwarfed by her vast office in the massive concrete-and-glass Chancellery, Merkel works at an ordinary writing table just inside the door, preferring it to the thirteen-foot black slab that Schröder installed at the far end of the room. “This woman is neurotically busy,” the longtime political associate said. “She sleeps never more than five hours. I can call her at one o’clock at night. She’s awake reading bureaucratic papers, not literature.”

Merkel entertains guests at the Chancellery with German comfort food—potato soup and stuffed cabbage. When she eats at her favorite Italian restaurant, it’s with just a few friends, and she doesn’t look up from the conversation to greet her public, who know to leave her alone. When her husband calls the Philharmoniker for tickets (Merkel and Sauer are music lovers, with a passion for Wagner and Webern) and is offered comps, he insists on giving his credit-card number, and the couple take their seats almost unnoticed. A friend of mine once sat next to Merkel at the salon she frequents, off Kurfürstendamm, and they chatted about hair. “Color is the most important thing for a woman,” the Chancellor, whose hair style is no longer the object of ridicule, offered.


OCTOBER 15, 2012
“And that's how babies are made.”
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Earlier this year, President Joachim Gauck made headlines when he called on Germany to take its global responsibilities more seriously, including its role in military affairs. It was the kind of speech that Merkel (who had no comment) would never give, especially after a poll commissioned by the foreign ministry in May showed that sixty per cent of the public was skeptical of greater German involvement in the world. German journalists find Merkel nearly impossible to cover. “We have to look for topics in the pudding,” Ulrich Schulte, who reports on the Chancellor for Die Tageszeitung, said. The private Merkel they admire and enjoy but are forbidden to quote disappears in public. Any aide or friend who betrays the smallest confidence is cast out. The German media, reflecting the times, are increasingly centrist, preoccupied with “wellness” and other life-style issues. Almost every political reporter I spoke with voted for Merkel, despite the sense that she’s making their work irrelevant. There was no reason not to.


Meanwhile, Merkel has neutralized the opposition, in large part by stealing its issues. She has embraced labor unions, lowered the retirement age for certain workers, and increased state payments to mothers and the old. (She told Dirk Kurbjuweit, of Der Spiegel, that, as Germany aged, she depended more on elderly voters.) In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, in Japan, shocked Merkel, and she reversed her position on nuclear power: Germany would phase it out through the next decade, while continuing to lead the world’s large industrial economies in solar and wind energy. (A quarter of the country’s energy now comes from renewable sources.) Meanwhile, she’s tried to rid her party of intolerant ideas—for example, by speaking out for the need to be more welcoming to immigrants. Supporters of the Social Democrats and the Greens have fewer and fewer reasons to vote at all, and turnout has declined. Schneider, a leading member of the generation of ’68, said, “This is the genius of Angela Merkel: she has actually made party lines senseless.”

This fall, in elections held in three states of the former East Germany, a new right-wing party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), showed strength, capturing as much as ten per cent of the vote. AfD wants Germany to withdraw from the euro zone and opposes Merkel’s liberal policies on gay marriage and immigration. In moving her own party to the center, Merkel has created a space in German politics for a populist equivalent to France’s Front National and the United Kingdom Independence Party. If the German economy continues to slow, Merkel will find it hard to float unchallenged above party politics as Mutti, the World Cup-winning soccer team’s biggest fan.

For now, the most pressing political question in Berlin is whether she’ll stand for a fourth term, in 2017. Joschka Fischer described Germany under Merkel as returning to the Biedermeier period, the years between the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815, and the liberal revolutions of 1848, when Central Europe was at peace and the middle class focussed on its growing wealth and decorative style. “She is governing Germany in a period where the sun is shining every day, and that’s the dream of every democratically elected politician,” Fischer said—but “there is no intellectual debate.” I suggested that every Biedermeier has to end. “Yes,” he said. “Mostly in a clash.”

A political consensus founded on economic success, with a complacent citizenry, a compliant press, and a vastly popular leader who rarely deviates from public opinion—Merkel’s Germany is reminiscent of Eisenhower’s America. But what Americans today might envy, with our intimations of national decline, makes thoughtful Germans uneasy. Their democracy is not old enough to be given a rest.

“We got democracy from you, as a gift I would say, in the forties and fifties,” Kurbjuweit told me. “But I’m not sure if these democratic attitudes are very well established in my country. We Germans always have to practice democracy—we’re still on the training program.” Kurbjuweit has just published a book called “There Is No Alternative.” It’s a phrase that Merkel coined for her euro policy, but Kurbjuweit uses it to describe the Chancellor’s success in draining all the blood out of German politics. “I don’t say democracy will disappear if Merkel is Chancellor for twenty years,” he said. “But I think democracy is on the retreat in the world, and there is a problem with democracy in our country. You have to keep the people used to the fact that democracy is a pain in the ass, and that they have to fight, and that everyone is a politician—not only Merkel.” ♦
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Read this article and Double your knowledge about the world's most powerful female. 

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41 uncensored instagrams from North Korea by David Guttenfelder

41 uncensored instagrams from North Korea by David Guttenfelder | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
David Guttenfelder is the Associated Press Chief Photographer for Asia, almost a legend in photojournalism.
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Lost and Found: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Artworks | Computer History Museum

Lost and Found: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Artworks | Computer History Museum | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
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Wow. I love this post. This is exactly what my first digital art station looked like. This image brings back great memories.  

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webinars

webinars | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it

These videos are free and archived

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This looks like an amazing collection of conversations among academics who care about active col-learning

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친절한 혜강씨의 파워포인트 for 인포그래픽 (저자 이혜강) 출간! - YouTube

네이버에서 "파워포인트 for 인포그래픽" 이라고 검색해주세요! 책 보러 가기 http://book.naver.com/bookdb/review.nhn?bid=8277288
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This video and resource is in Korean.  This looks like a comparable resource to Nancy Duarte's "Slide:ology" for a Korean audience.  I hope this concept spreads!

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Beyond Worksheets, A True Expression of Student Learning

Beyond Worksheets, A True Expression of Student Learning | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Possession of facts is not learning. What is an important skill is the ability to sift through abundant information, identify what is valid and meaningful, then use it to create meaning and express it. This is why student creation is so important in the new economy of information.
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Ken's Key Takeaway: 
"Far beyond filling out answers on a worksheet, these assignments allow for individual talents and personality to shine through. While it’s unlikely that you have ever heard a person say, “that worksheet changed my life,” most people have an assignment from their childhood that they remember with pride because it was meaningful to them. More often than not, that memorable assignment was one that allowed them to build and create."

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Vineta Erzen's curator insight, November 21, 5:28 AM

Can a  true expression of student learnig  be discovered through worksheets snad tests?  A quote from the post I find 'expressive': '' While it’s unlikely that you have ever heard a person say, “that worksheet changed my life,” most people have an assignment from their childhood that they remember with pride because it was meaningful to them. More often than not, that memorable assignment was one that allowed them to build and create.''

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Microsoft Is Sick Of PowerPoint, Too

Microsoft Is Sick Of PowerPoint, Too | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
When was the last time you saw someone under 30 fire up a PowerPoint instead of a Prezi when giving a talk? Microsoft hopes to put the kabosh on that with...
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Sign up now to get a sneak peek preview of Microsoft's new presentations software (like Prezi)

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Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design - eLearning Industry

Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design - eLearning Industry | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Understanding the basics of the Cognitive Load Theory and applying them to your instructional design is an absolute must, particularly if you want your learners to get the most out of the eLearning course you are creating. This guide will offer you a detailed look at Cognitive Load Theory, including how it can be applied in learning settings. Check the Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design article and presentation to find more.
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Ken's Key Takeaway: 
The more information that is delivered at once, the more likely that the students will not actually learn what is being taught nor will they be able to call upon that information for later use.

 

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Clay Leben's curator insight, November 18, 11:15 PM

Important concept and theory.

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How to Be an Educated Consumer of Infographics: David Byrne on the Art-Science of Visual Storytelling

How to Be an Educated Consumer of Infographics: David Byrne on the Art-Science of Visual Storytelling | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
As an appreciator of the art of visual storytelling by way of good information graphics — an art especially endangered in this golden age of bad infographics served as linkbait — I was thrilled and honored to be on the advisory “Brain Trust” for a project by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, New Yorker writer, and Scientific American neuroscience blog editor Gareth Cook, who has set out to highlight the very best infographics produced each year, online and off. (Disclaimer for the naturally cynical: No money changed hands.) The Best American Infographics 2013 (public library) is now out, featuring the finest examples from the past year — spanning everything from happiness to sports to space to gender politics, and including a contribution by friend-of-Brain Pickings Wendy MacNaughton — with an introduction by none other than David Byrne. Accompanying each image is an artist statement that explores the data, the choice of visual representation, and why it works.

Byrne, who knows a thing or two about creativity and has himself produced some delightfully existential infographics, writes:

The very best [infographics] engender and facilitate an insight by visual means — allow us to grasp some relationship quickly and easily that otherwise would take many pages and illustrations and tables to convey. Insight seems to happen most often when data sets are crossed in the design of the piece — when we can quickly see the effects on something over time, for example, or view how factors like income, race, geography, or diet might affect other data. When that happens, there’s an instant “Aha!”…



Byrne addresses the healthy skepticism many of us harbor towards the universal potency of infographics, reminding us that the medium is not the message — the message is the message:

A good infographic … is — again — elegant, efficient, and accurate. But do they matter? Are infographics just things to liven up a dull page of type or the front page of USA Today? Well, yes, they do matter. We know that charts and figures can be used to support almost any argument. . . . Bad infographics are deadly!

One would hope that we could educate ourselves to be able to spot the evil infographics that are being used to manipulate us, or that are being used to hide important patterns and information. Ideally, an educated consumer of infographics might develop some sort of infographic bullshit detector that would beep when told how the trickle-down economic effect justifies fracking, for example. It’s not easy, as one can be seduced relatively easily by colors, diagrams and funny writing.

And, indeed, at the heart of the aspiration to cultivate a kind of visual literacy so critical for modern communication. Here are a few favorite pieces from the book that embody that ideal of intelligent elegance and beautiful revelation of truth:


America's Most Popular Birthdays

The days of the year, ranked by the number of babies born on each day in the United States (Matt Stiles, NPR data journalist)

Byrne — who believes the best use of infographics allows us to “experience a kind of geeky rapture as our senses are amplified and expanded through charts and illustrations” — is especially fond of one sub-genre:

Flowcharts [are] a form of poetry. And poetry is its own reward.

Indeed, flowcharts have a singular way of living at the intersection of the pragmatic and the existential:


Email: Help for Addicts

A handy flowchart to help you decide if you should check your email. (Wendy MacNaughton, independent illustrator, for Forbes)


How to Be Happy

Just ask yourself one question. (Gustavo Vieira Dias, creative director of DDB Tribal Vienna)

Some are visually elaborate:


The Breaking Bad Body Count

All of the deaths in the first fifty-four episodes of AMC's ‘Breaking Bad,’ with each deceased character represented by a faux chemical formula indicating when he or she died, how they died, and who killed them. (John D. LaRue)


The Four Kinds of Dog

Analyzing the DNA of 85 dog breeds, scientists found that genetic similarities clustered them into four broad categories. The groupings reveal how breeders have recombined ancestral stock to create new breeds; a few still carry many wolflike genes. Researchers named the groups for a distinguishing trait in the breeds dominating the clusters, though not every dog necessarily shows that trait. The length of the colored bars in a breed’s genetic profile shows how much of the dog’s DNA falls into each category. (John Tomanio, senior graphics editor, National Geographic)

Others appear more visually abstract yet derive from precise and concrete data sets:


Paths through New York City

‘Flow map’ of travel in New York City derived from the locations of tweets tagged with the locations of their senders. The starting and ending points of each trip come from a pair of geotagged tweets by the same person, and the path in between is an estimate, routed along the densest corridor of other people's geotagged tweets. (Eric Fischer, artist in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco)


Planets Everywhere

All of the planets discovered outside the Solar System. (Jan Willem Tulp, freelance information designer, for Scientific American)

Then there’s the mandatory love of pie charts and its derivatives:
Ken Morrison's insight:

"Bad infographics are deadly."  As infographics continue to be more prominent, it is important for us to become intelligent consumers of infographics.

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The QR Code Generator

Free Online QR Code Generator to make your own QR Codes.
Supports Dynamic Codes, Tracking, Analytics, Free text, vCards and more.
Ken Morrison's insight:

I like these QR Codes 2.0s

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Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information

Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information.
Ken Morrison's insight:

Thoughts?

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What to Post & When to Post it on 9 Important Social Networks [Infographic]

What to Post & When to Post it on 9 Important Social Networks [Infographic] | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Posting to one or two social platforms for your business can be tricky. When you’re attempting to have a presence on nine or more, however, it becomes exceedingly difficult and time-consuming. How…

Via steve batchelder, juandoming
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Scalpers Appear as 'Interstellar' Becomes Phenomenon in South Korea - Hollywood Reporter

Scalpers Appear as 'Interstellar' Becomes Phenomenon in South Korea - Hollywood Reporter | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
The Christopher Nolan film has garnered over $40 million as of Thursday, making the tiny Asian country the third biggest market for the film following the U.S. and China.

The space drama has topped the charts for advance online reservations for tickets for the fourth consecutive week. This weekend, over 280,000 moviegoers are set to watch Interstellar according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database. This makes up 68.1 percent of all advance reservations; Fury, for which Brad Pitt recently toured Seoul, accounted for just 7.3 percent.

Read more Brad Pitt Says 'Fury' Part of His "Mandate" to Push Smaller Films

The sci-fi epic has earned a reputation as a film that just has to be seen in theaters, moreover on the IMAX screen. "There has been an unusually high demand to watch this spacesci-fi film that cost $165 million," said Kim Tae-joo of All That Cinema, Interstellar's local PR agency.

Most of the IMAX screenings this weekend at CGV Yongsan, one of Seoul's largest theaters, are sold out. Only a handful seats are available for the early morning showings between 2-7 a.m. (Korea has 24-hour cinemas) as of Friday noon.

Ticket scalpers have emerged at key Seoul theaters for the explosively popular IMAX format, with the $10-dollar tickets selling for as much as $40. CGV, the country's largest cinema chain, recently published a statement urging moviegoers from taking part in such illegal transactions.

"I know it's not really legal, but I paid 20,000 won [about $20] per ticket because my girlfriend really wanted to see the film," said a 31-year-old male film fan in Seoul. "It was mind-blowing. We felt inspired to learn more about some of the physics theories that were featured in the film, and we are thinking of watching it again. But without having to buy scalped tickets of course."

Read more Warner Bros. to Make Local Productions in South Korea (Exclusive)

Positive reviews of the film handled by Warner Brothers Korea have spread through both word-of-mouth, but mostly notably through social media platforms in the world's most wired country.

With the highest Internet and smartphone penetrations in the world, Korea has held a reputation for being tech-savvy and the technology heavy nature of Interstellar has struck a chord. "As reflected by Korea's fast IT culture or the widespread use of [social network services], Korean audiences seem to have a strong intellectual curiosity about high technology," said film critic Kang Yu-jung.

Film critic Jeong Ji-ouk also pointed out that the strong fatherly affection and concern for future generations portrayed by Matthew McConaughey are resonating with the local Confucian values – "unlike many Hollywood films that are centered on hero worship."
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A Visual Guide to Type Terminology – Design School

A Visual Guide to Type Terminology  – Design School | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Fast-track your design education by getting familiar with fundamental typographic terms.
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When is a company's Facebook post not an ad? - CNET

When is a company's Facebook post not an ad? - CNET | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Facebook has decided to exert more control over posts that it deems "overly promotional." Ultimately, though, isn't every Facebook post by a company promotional?
Ken Morrison's insight:

It is important for brand page managers to understand that Facebook is looking closely to determine if your brand posts are 'too" promotional.

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Page posting tips for the holidays

Page posting tips for the holidays | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Facebook for Business gives you the latest news, tips, and best practices for using Facebook to help meet your business goals: www.facebook.com/business
Ken Morrison's insight:

Here are Facebook's seven tips for how to successfully promote your brand's page. Of course they want you to buy advertising.  Others are somewhat helpful for beginners. Either way, it is a good reminder for what they say will be successful.

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A Visual Dictionary of Philosophy: Major Schools of Thought in Minimalist Geometric Graphics

A Visual Dictionary of Philosophy: Major Schools of Thought in Minimalist Geometric Graphics | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
A charming exercise in metaphorical thinking and symbolic representation.

Rodin believed that his art was about removing the stone not pa
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New Teachers: Resource Roundup

New Teachers: Resource Roundup | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
From classroom management to working with parents, lesson planning to learning environments, this compilation of blogs, videos, and other resources provides an array of tips and advice for teachers just starting out.
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iPhone Photography Tips From 9 Great iPhoneographers

iPhone Photography Tips From 9 Great iPhoneographers | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
In this article nine great iPhoneographers share their best tips and techniques for taking stunning photos with the iPhone.
Ken Morrison's insight:

1) Strong Backlight

2) Play with light

3) Focus on the hero
4) Storytelling
5) Multi-Exposure
6) Randomize
7) Patience
8) White Balance Lock
9) Persistence 

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How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom

How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Between societal changes and technological breakthroughs, it’s become abundantly clear that the human brain is transforming the way it processes and learns information. While there are many discussions about whether or not this is good or bad for us as a society, it’s definitely a change.

As educators, it’s our job to make sure that students (and adults) are learning. Part of that process isn’t only about making an engaging activity or lesson, but also realizing how the modern brain learns. Teachers all over America are faced with this challenge of keeping students engaged in the classroom when their world outside of school is one of constant engagement and stimulation. Knowing the world outside of our institutional walls is only one step in addressing modern learning styles. How to act and adjust schools today is the next step in making the classroom of today ready for tomorrow.

To do that, let’s examine which features of society (and media) have changed and then consider what we can do in education to use it as an advantage for learning.

The Increase of Interactivity

One only need to look at the gaming market to see the evolution of how our brains crave interaction. We went from Backgammon to Atari and realized that with some simple interaction, like a yellow circle eating dots, our brains could stay occupied for hours. The recent shift to touch screen and even motion-based interaction means that we now involve our whole body when interacting with games.

Classroom Outcome: We might notice that our students seem more “antsy,” but in reality, sitting still in a seat for several hours has never been ideal for learning. Research is now becoming more abundant to back that statement. Incorporating regular brain breaks or mini-activities that require kids to move every 15-30 minutes re-invigorate the brain and get them refocused in the tasks at hand.

On-Demand Living

Most of us grew up in an era of either three basic television channels or the privilege of many via paid cable. With the digital era, television and movies have seen an exponential change in how they are distributed and accessed.  You no longer have to wait for that favorite re-run of Moonlighting; today, you can just pull it up on your phone. Better yet, you can pause it on one device and then watch it on another when you choose.  If you really get hooked on a show, why wait a week when you can just binge view it?

Classroom Outcome: Flipped-teaching comes to mind when thinking of the “on-demand” model of learning. Not everyone has the time or energy for a full-fledged flipped-teaching model (not to mention at-home access for all students), but recording some lessons or concepts for later viewing, even in class, would be one way to let students have access to information when they want it. Wouldn’t it be nice if kids wanted to binge learn?

Self-Publishing the World As We See It

They ways we viewed and read the news was previously distributed to us through a filter.  Publisher, editor, advertisers, and corporations decided what we should watch and read when it came to content. In some ways, the classroom has followed a similar path. Look at the world now when it comes to news. We are all publishing to the world around us in blogs, tweets, posts and…yes…even Instagram selfies. Our brains are no longer designed to sit back and take what is given to us. We want to create and share what we see and learn too.

Classroom Outcome:  This is one area where I feel that education has excelled, but there is still room for improvement. We’ve always encouraged students to write and report on what they think or believe. As students, we learned to play the game of “know your audience” when it came to writing a paper for a certain professor. Our purpose was writing for writing’s sake. Now we no longer have to limit ourselves to one recipient. Our students have access to a global audience and don’t have to write just to please one teacher. They can write based on what they see and believe to be true.

Everything is Mobile (and Instant)

As fast as the internet took the world by storm, the mobile revolution dropped a bomb of societal change and practice. People can now have all of their media in the palm of their hand. They can connect with anyone, anywhere. While there isn’t always value to why we use our devices, having that instant access means our brains can now outsource menial facts and focus on application and creation rather than retention.

Classroom Outcome: One of the greatest challenges to the classrooms of today is mobile technology. Do we fund a 1:1 program? Allow a Bring Your Own Device policy? Won’t this just add the distraction of the outside world into a classroom? Rather than avoid or ban the use of mobile devices, some are embracing it as a way to not only engage learners, but also dig deeper into learning. This isn’t without its pitfalls, and can be quite messy, but setting expectations of use can be a powerful way to model how our kids use these in the non-school setting.  Maybe instead of whipping out their phones when at a restaurant, kids will actually sit and have a conversation with the grown-ups around them.  Of course, this is assuming the grown-ups have put down their devices too.

Embracing the Digital Brain

As we can see from these few examples, the world around us is changing.  This change affects the way we think, learn, and connect. In education, we have three options when dealing with these changes: avoid it, struggle with it, or embrace it. Technology would seem to be the panacea for solving all of these issues when it comes to engaging the digital brain. However, while it does have an impact in the classroom, the greatest impact still lies within the teacher and the content that they are trying to get their students to learn.  Until the pedagogy and purpose align with this new world, we are all left fighting a battle rather than embracing it.

Carl Hooker is the Director of Instructional Technology for Eanes ISD in Texas, an Apple Distinguished Educator, an EdTechTeacher consultant/trainer, and founder of iPadpalooza.

 
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6 Hustles Warren Buffett Used To Make $53,000 By Age 16

6 Hustles Warren Buffett Used To Make $53,000 By Age 16 | An Eye on New Media | Scoop.it
Warren Buffett — now worth more than $71 billion — has had a hunger for wealth since he was a tube-socked teenager.

Through numerous schemes, the would-be Oracle of Omaha amassed the equivalent of $53,000 by the time he was 16, enough money that he nearly refused his father's request to go to college, because he didn't see the point.

By looking through Alice Schroeder's biography, "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life," we can see that Buffett has always had a gift for manipulating money — and people. 

Here are a half-dozen of his early hustles.

He delivered The Washington Post. 
Buffett's father, Howard, was elected to the US House of Representatives when Buffett was a teen, and the family had to move from Omaha to the nation's capital.

As Schroeder notes, the young Buffett immediately set to work making money with the most traditional of hustles — dutifully delivering newspapers. But by handing out The Post, Buffett was making more money than most grown-ups. 

"Just from pitching newspapers a couple hours a day, he was earning $175 a month, more money than his teachers," she writes. 

He also sold calendars to his newspaper clients, bringing in a little extra.

He sold used golf balls. 
If you wanted to get a golf ball on the cheap back in the 1940s, you could do worse than buying Buffett's at $6 for a dozen. 

Buffett's friends and family thought he scooped the balls out of water traps, but the young entrepreneur got them by ordering from a provider in Chicago. 

"They were classy balls," Buffett told Schroeder. "Titleist and Spalding Dots and Maxlis, which I bought for three and a half bucks a dozen. They looked brand new. He probably got them the way we first tried to get them, out of water traps, only he was better." 

He sold stamps. 
If you needed a fancy stamp, you could turn to Buffett's Approval Service, which sold collectible stamps to collectors around the country. 

He buffed cars. 
The teenage Buffett partnered with his friend Lou Battistone to form Buffett's Showroom Shine. The car-buffing business ran out of Battistone's dad's used car parking lot — though Schroeder reports that the duo abandoned the business when it turned out to be too much manual labor. 

He set up a pinball machine business. 
When Buffett was 17 he had his biggest money-making idea: pinball. 

He made the following pitch to his friend Don Danley: 

I bought this old pinball machine for 25 bucks, and we can have a partnership. Your part of the deal is to fix it up. And lookit, we'll tell Frank Erico, the barber, 'We represent Wilson's Coin-Operated Machine Company, and we have a proposition from Mr. Wilson. It's at no risk to you. Let's put this nickel machine in the back, Mr. Erico, and your customers can play while they wait. And we'll split the money.'

The pinball machine was a hit: Buffett counted $4 in nickels on the first evening. The pair soon set up pinballs in barbershops all over Washington. 

And he turned the horse track into a very lucrative playground. 
When still in Omaha, the young Buffett found a bull market in the Ak-Sar-Ben arena, a horse-racing track that operated from 1919 to 1995. 

He and a friend would go to the race track, and though the duo was too young to make bets, Buffett quickly found a way to make money: by stooping, which was like dumpster diving for race track tickets. 

Here's Buffett's description: 

At the start of racing season you get all these people who'd never seen a race except in the movies. And they'd think that if your horse came in second or third, you didn't get paid, because all the emphasis is on the winner, so they'd throw away [second-] and [third-place] tickets. 

The other time you would hit it big was when there was a disputed race. That little light would go on that said 'contested' or 'protest.' By that time, some people had thrown away their tickets. Meanwhile, we were just gobbling them up. 

It was awful; people would spit on the floor. But we had great fun. 

And if the boys found any winning tickets, Buffett's aunt Alice would cash them in for the boys. 

Buffett went a step further: using his love of math and of collecting information, he and a friend put together a tip sheet for bettors at the race track. Soon they were out hawking "Stable Boy Selections," a tip sheet that the boys typed out on an old Royal typewriter in Buffett's basement.

"We were in the track, yelling, 'Get your Stable-Boy Selections!'" Buffett tells Schroeder. "At 25 cents, we were a cut-rate product. They shut down Stable-Boy selections fast because they were getting a cut on everything sold in the place except for us."

Like other self-made billionaires, Buffett started early. 


NOW WATCH: Homeless-Man-Turned-Billionaire Shares The Secret To The American Dream

SEE ALSO:  9 Books Billionaire Warren Buffett Thinks Everyone Should Read

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