Sunday, January 30, 2005

Tips for Women Over 40

Many single women over 40 who seek contacts with men online are accomplished, educated and independent. However, from a guy perspective, too many write awful ads. Here, from a man over 40, are some suggestions on how to make the online mate search more effective – and less brutal for male readers.

Unless you’re a lesbian seeking a lesbian don’t listen to your female friends’ comments about your ad. They are not your audience. For example, men seldom use the word “cute” without the word “kid” immediately following. And you are definitely not a kid.

Give up the “spiritual but not religious” thing. Just say you’re a Unitarian and move on.

Never post a photo of you embracing your beautiful and sexy teen-age daughters. It will increase the number of responses, but not necessarily from men you want to meet.

Dump the phrase “passionate about life.” It’s a baseline requirement given the alternatives.

If you say, “I would like to meet a man who is part of my world, someone educated, traveled, and with broad cultural interests” then don’t say that his income isn’t important to you.

Be descriptive, as in: “I own two little black dresses, a ball gown and six pairs of jeans.” This avoids the “. . . as comfortable in jeans as I am in a ball gown” cliché men are assaulted by all the time. They will be grateful.

Fitness and health are important. However, declaring you work out at the gym six days a week, take yoga classes at lunch, and run marathons on the weekend is going to make a man wonder if you’ll have any time for him. And if you find someone equally fascinated by fitness you should consider the downside of two obsessive-compulsives living under one roof.

Please be clear. “I enjoy a wide range of activities but what I like best is . . .” works fine. But saying you equally love dining out/cooking at home, the symphony/the blues, gardening/mountain climbing and so on, gives a man no help. He might get the idea a half-pound burger with steak fries and a game on TV will make you just as happy as a tennis weekend in Napa and dinner at the French Laundry.

Above all, don’t treat men as if they are stupid. If you are divorced, and live in a community where the median home price is $3 million-plus you are not self employed. Any man will know that you are likely an attractive, intelligent woman who did very well when your CEO husband left you for his secretary.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Lies, Lies and More Lies

The Palo Alto, California Police Department would like to think that the city’s $75, 000 payment to Jorge Hernandez ended the sad incident in which its investigators’ lies caused him to confess to a terrible crime and allowed the real perpetrator to escape.

Not really. They never admitted to hurting Hernandez, never apologized, and the investigator that bullied him into the confession says the settlement means nothing to her and how she conducts her interrogations.

In a city with more Phds. per square inch than almost anywhere, we’re guarded by people who won’t learn.

Hernandez, 18, was suspected of raping and beating a 94-year-old woman at an assisted care facility near his brother’s home. Police had discovered his brother’s ring at the crime scene, but the brother had lost the ring a year before and had an alibi. The cops figured younger brother Jorge once had access to the ring and believed he failed to show the proper outrage about the allegations when first interviewed. Under the glare of a national news spotlight and confronted with community outrage, they decided that was enough to get serious about Jorge Hernandez.

During an hours-long videotaped interrogation detectives told Hernandez fingerprints, bloody shoes and a videotape directly linked him to the rape. Hernandez, who had no criminal record, repeatedly insisted he would never hurt a woman. However, he conceded his memory of the night of he incident could be faulty because he had been drinking heavily. Spurred on by his admission, the cops kept at him. Finally, Hernandez broke down, apologized to the victim and was booked.

But there was no videotape. There were no fingerprints. There were no bloody shoes. The victim had failed to pick Hernandez’ voice from an audio lineup. Everything the cops said were legal lies aimed at dragging out a confession that would confirm their instincts and enable them hold him until they gathered real physical evidence.

Two months later, DNA testing proved Hernandez was innocent. But even the most precise science available to the legal system wasn’t enough for investigators to admit they were wrong. “He has not yet been exonerated,” said Palo Alto Police Chief Pat Dwyer after Hernandez’ release. “Our investigation is continuing.”

Eddie Joe Lloyd can relate. While being treated in a Michigan mental hospital in 1985 he became interested in the widely reported rape and murder of a young Detroit honor student. Even though he knew nothing about the case, he offered to help investigators. They were more than happy to talk to him. Their plan was simple: The cops would feed Lloyd details about the crime and he would make a taped confession. Somehow the release of Lloyd’s statement would help flush out the real killer. Lloyd went along with the plan and right on to prison. He spent 17 years behind bars before DNA testing proved his innocence.

“I was thoroughly tricked. Inveigled, enticed, tricked,” Lloyd told the New York Times shortly before his release. “Sometimes the pressure on you to sign a statement is not them twisting your arm. It can be psychological and mental.” Why did Jorge Hernandez confess? “I was so confused, so tired,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “And I trusted them.”

Jorge Hernandez will now go through life having to explain away newspaper headlines linking him to the rape of a 94-year-old woman. Eddie Joe Lloyd wasted almost a third of his life surrounded by real killers rather than getting the treatment he needed. That they were both released is justice of a sort.

But the crime victims could receive no justice at all. How likely is it that, 17 years later, the family of the Detroit murder victim will ever know the truth? And a 94-year-old rape victim and her loved ones must cope with the fact the man who scarred their lives is still on the loose and has a year's head start on the police.

And all because the cops used legal lies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Why Newspapers are Dying

An editor recently said to me he didn't believe his newspaper's website was "supporting" his publication. I told him the website should be viewed as an entity unto itself rather than as a promotional device or a tease to print. I also argued that in the near future printed newspapers were likely to become the promotional vehicles for websites -- sort of TV Guides referring readers to audio- and video-rich stories on the website.

"Everyone knows print has advantages that the Web and broadcast can't deliver so we'll always be around," he declared.

He is so wrong.

Portability. Yes, you can stick a magazine or newspaper in your briefcase and read it at your convenience. But soon you'll be able to take three minutes to download a customized newsfeed into your iPod in less time than it taks you to go outside and pick up your copy of the Daily Blat. Unfortunately, for newspapers to be successful they must become less portable; more ads mean more bulk. The Sunday New York Times or Los Angeles Times can weigh 7 to 9 pounds.

Greater Depth. Newspapers take pride in offering longer, more thoughtful analysis than can be provided by media ruled by instant everything. But even when newspapers try to get serious about this, their articles are 24-48 hours old to readers already drowning in comments by pundits and experts on round-the-clock cable news channels.

Many Readers Simply Prefer Print. True, but fewer and fewer all the time. Most publishers forecast that newspapers will hang on for the forseeable future because Baby Boomers long ago developed the newspaper reading habit. They should remember, though, that Boomers (including Tim Berners Lee, co-creator of the Internet) were the first generation to exploit the potential of personal computers and the online world. Most of them are just beginning to retire but they will carry forward and refine their online habits.

The 18-35 age group is lost forever. Boomer children grew up with hundreds of cable channels and the Web. Boomer grandchildren started playing with computers before they went to school and probably feel left out if, by Grade 6, they don't own a WiFi-capable phone.

Publishers are catching on, but far too slowly. They are ignoring their own experience. Sports editors and writers figured out the need to evolve more than 30 years ago when live broadcasts of sports events became ubiquitous. Except for grumbles from a few retirees, newspapers felt little pain when they began dropping comprehensive daily stock tables. Measured progress doesn't work in today's world where growth in the pace of change is expoential.

Despite reality slapping them in the face, publishers continue to focus too much on resuscitating and developing their ink-on-paper products and far too little on exploiting the possibilities of the future. And that is bad for business.