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In many ways, I respect Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk for his ingenuity. But his handling of the John Broder’s The New York Times review has been just awful. And that’s coming from a guy who likes Musk (the man, not the scent).

For those of you who don’t know, John Broder of The New York Times wrote a review on February 10, 2013. If you didn’t see it, then you can read it here:


Basically, Broder took the new Tesla Model S sedan (a 100% electric car) on a test drive from Washington, D.C. to Boston. But in the end, he ended up having to call a tow truck because the car never made it to Boston. The response was swift, and Elon Musk excoriated Broder in a rebuttal article which you can read here:


Sometimes people can be their own worst nightmares and Musk is proving that these days. Just because your successful in things like PayPal doesn’t mean that you do everything correctly. There is a reason that people hire solid public relations firms. This is one of those times where Musk could have used one of those good PR firms.

Musk thinks that Broder set up the test drive to fail. Why? Because in March 2012, Broder wrote an article in The New York Times talking about the difficulties of the electric vehicle (EV) scene. Musk then did something which any respectable journalist would say is hack writing: he took a single sentence from that article and made it sound like the article was anti-EV. In his vitriolic response, Musk quoted:

“Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate.”

In case you want to read that Broder article, here it is:

Look, we all know that a soundbite can make the nicest guy look like a total jerk by isolating one line or sentence. If you actually read the article, it’s not anti-EV. It’s pointing out clear reasons why the industry is struggling. Also, Musk conveniently forgets to let readers know that Broder wrote that article in March 2012, which was a few months before the Tesla Model S sedan was even retailing in the U.S. Maybe if Broder had driven the Model S before he wrote that article, then he would have been more optimistic about the future of EV.

But here’s the big problem: Musk should shut up and let his car do the talking.

The Model S picked up several big industry awards including Automobile Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year Award and Motor Trends’ 2013 Car of the Year Award. These are fantastic achievements not just for Tesla but for the future of EV.

Why should Musk shut up? Because he has invested so much of himself into Tesla Motors that he has gotten too emotional. He has become the “helicopter parent” who refuses to stand by and watch a single negative word said about his little Tesla Model S baby.

He can show us all sorts of charts, and I have actually taken the time to go through them. I agree with Margaret Sullivan of The New York Times who in a February 18, 2013 op-ed piece called those charts “sometimes misleading”. One of the ways that they are misleading is that the x-axis (the horizontal one) is done according to distance traveled. I understand why they did it this way. Because if they had instead made the x-axis for time, the curve would not have been as convincing. The point is that Broder probably didn’t take detailed notes, and so some of the times he quoted might not have been completely accurate.

But there are three things to consider. First, I think that Broder kind of expected to have an uneventful journey, and he knew that the car was being tracked by Tesla like the space shuttle (and it was). So, I don’t think that he was preparing to chronicle in minute-by-minute intervals everything that was happening. Second, it’s kind of hard to write down detailed notes while you’re also talking on the phone (and driving) and trying to figure out how not to get stranded on the highway. Third, Broder should be given some leeway here because I don’t think any of us wanted him scribbling detailed notes while he was driving his car on the highway.

The problem that Musk just somehow can’t see is that his rebuttal article hurt the Model S and the EV industry more than it helped it. Musk wrote the rebuttal thinking that if he made it sound scientific enough, people would believe it. But a funny thing happened: it backfired.

It backfired because instead of touting the fantastic features of the Model S, Musk went out to drive a stake through the Broder’s reputation. It became personal. And the things we didn’t see in Musk’s rebuttal are pretty much enough to convince any logical person that Broder wasn’t lying.

Here’s a newsflash for Elon Musk, when you want to write a convincing rebuttal, don’t give us 9 bullet points. Most people’s eyes start glazing over after the third or fourth point.

Second, misdirection doesn’t always work. Musk wrote:

“When Tesla first approached The New York Times about doing this story, it was supposed to be focused on future advancements in our Supercharger technology. There was no need to write a story about existing Superchargers on the East Coast, as that had already been done by Consumer Reports with no problems!”

If you really wanted such an article, then why loan a Model S to The New York Times that you knew was going to be driven from Washington, D.C. to Boston? Why not just provide some info to the writer? The truth is that Tesla loaned the car out because it thought that it could get two articles out of the deal. The first article would talk about how great the Model S and the current Supercharger network of proprietary Tesla charging stations are. The second article would talk about the future advancements in the technology.

Everyone knows that journalism and science have one similarity: you chase down one theory until something interesting pops us that takes you down a different road. In science this happens repeatedly as researchers looking at one hypothesis notice a completely unexpected result and then focus on that result. In journalism, you can start out planning to write about the future advances of a technology, but if there is a sudden major problem, then all bets are off and the journalist has the right to go where the story is.

Another point that no one has seemed to point out are the taped phone conversations between Broder and the Tesla service representatives who tried to assist him when he had trouble on his drive. Since we know from Tesla’s own displays that everything about Broder’s drive was being tracked, why has Tesla not released copies of the phone calls between Broder and the Tesla people who were supposedly helping him? Broder claims that he made several calls trying to figure out how to solve the problem with mysteriously vanishing miles according to his mileage gauge. We know that Tesla has these taped phone conversations because Tesla is like Facebook: they never throw any info away. There is a simple reason why Tesla has not released these taped calls: because those phone calls would support Broder’s account of what happened.

I said before that Musk’s rebuttal and statements about Broder have been a public relations nightmare. Musk has committed a major sin of public relations: you don’t fight the facts, you fight the perception. Musk’s rebuttal just made anyone on the fence about getting an EV car jump off it quickly and land on the side of a hybrid or a 100% fossil-fuel-burning combustion engine.

Why? Because the average person dreams about an EV car that is like a regular gas-combustion car. This means that you can operate it easily, fill it up quickly with energy, and drive it. The car that Broder drove failed on all three of those requirements.

In his rebuttal, Musk writes, “The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles.” Seriously, why the heck would anyone want to buy a car where you can detach any cables? Musk goes on to write, “He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense.” So, during that part of the drive, Broder magically thought, “Hey, I think that I’ll disconnect the charge cable to help me!” I don’t care what circumstance a driver is in, the need to disconnect anything as scary-sounding as a “charge cable” is a major turn-off for the average consumer.

Second, in another of his 9 bullet points, Musk writes, “Had Broder not deliberately turned off the Supercharger at 47 minutes and actually spent 58 minutes Supercharging…” I didn’t write the rest of that quoted sentence because almost every single person on the fence is going to read that and say, “Huh?” How long does it take to fill up a tank of gas for a sedan? Maybe 5 minutes? And with America as full of people with massive attention deficit problems, you think that any normal person is going to love spending 47 or even 58 minutes at an energy station? That is a tremendous turn-off, even if the electricity is free.

Third, Musk can keep saying, “As the State of Charge log shows, the MOdel S battery never ran out of energy at any time, including when Broder called the flatbed truck.” Here’s a question. If he had energy in the car, why did he even call the flatbed truck? And when the flatbed truck operator arrived, why would the operator have towed the car if it still had enough juice to continue under its own power? The general public will believe that the car just died because that is the fear of everyone who is on the fence about getting an electric car. And let’s not forget that the Supercharger technology is proprietary, so unless you plan on carrying special adapters with you, you are at the mercy of the next Supercharger station for your energy. This is exactly what we don’t want to hear.

In the end, the more I read, the less interested I am in getting an EV. I live in the cold Northeast, and I have seen numerous car batteries not start on very cold winter days. And although that might not happen with Tesla’s Model S, there is something in Broder’s article about waking up the next morning (on Day 2 of his journey) and seeing his State of Charge gauge showing significant drainage while sitting in the cold at night that resonates with the average person. We think, “Damn, if it can happen to the battery of our gas-combustion cars, what the heck will severe cold weather due to the battery of an all-electric car?”

Many articles have talked about one solution being that Broder should have received training from Tesla about how to operate the car before he drove it. That also is a strike against it. One of the reasons why Apple products are so popular is that you don’t have to know anything about computers or smartphones to quickly figure out how to use them. Heck, how many people ever read their gas-combustion car manuals? So, the idea of requiring training for how to use a vehicle is a major turn-off.

CNN did a follow-up piece shortly after Musk’s rebuttal, and it showed that there were no problems. But then people started arguing that the CNN drive was flawed because the temperature was 10 degrees fahrenheit warmer and it was done in one day (Broder took 2 days). For the average person, this is another major turn-off. How many of us are going to drive from Washington, DC to Boston in one day? So, the CNN piece just made it look like the car will function properly if you are a masochist who loves to take long 8-9 hour drives.

And then there’s the real killer of the article which is what Tesla has been hiding: the taped recordings of the phone conversations between Broder and the Tesla representatives. Again, people love Apple products because if you don’t understand how to use it, then you contact an Apple person who will give you a 1-on-1 tutorial. But in Broder’s case, the fact that Musk has not released any of the taped conversations can only point to one thing: the Tesla reps gave Broder bad info that contributed to his mishaps during his journey. Man, it’s bad enough when you have to deal with the idiots that you get connected to when you buy a product and it has a problem. But the last thing you want to do is be driving at night on a dark road, watching your remaining miles disappearing quickly and worrying that the EV customer rep is not reading stock phrases off of some cheat sheet. And what makes it even more worrisome is that if someone as important as a Times reviewer was getting such bad help from Tesla’s reps, then what happens when normal mortals need technical assistance? That’s a scary thought.

What was the better course of action for Musk? Keep the message going out to the public as a very positive one. Loan out Model S sedans  to other different news outlets. Have them test it and then write their own rebuttals to Broder. Look like a CEO with complete confidence in his product rather than appearing as someone scared that his baby might have a defect.

I’ve never driven the Model S, but judging by the awards its received and all the good press, it looks to represent a real leap forward for the EV industry. One negative article would have been quickly forgotten when followed by a slew of positive ones. But by prolonging the conversation about what happened to Broder, the only thing that Musk really accomplished was to bring up all the long-standing fears that people have about switching to an all-electric vehicle. It’s a shame.

The sad truth about the U.S. Presidential election is that very few people like either candidate. In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was running on a message of hope. It was good vs. something resembling stupidity (note: on a personal note, I’ve always felt that George W. Bush is probably the one President who would be the guy you’d want to spend an afternoon with).

Now we stand four years later, and what is the message? President Obama does not deliver a message of hope. He delivers of message of fear. Instead of clearly outlining what he would do, he paints broad brushstrokes with his oratory. Instead of outlining his agenda for a potential second term, he has compelled us to vote for him because he’s not as scary as Mitt Romney.

Just as President Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator, Mitt Romney is truly the Great Prevaricator. Have we ever witnessed a guy who lies as much as he? And the truly shocking thing is that he’s picked a running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, who is as bad at lying as Romney is.

This is not to say that President Obama is always telling us the truth. But at least he doesn’t do it in a way that mocks our intelligence. For example, when Romney tells the American people that he doesn’t have money stashed in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland (two of the most notorious tax havens for hiding money) to get a tax advantage, then my question is this: why not put it in good old Bank of America?

His famous “estimate” of the numerous jobs he created while the head of Bain Capital is another incredible lie. I’ve had friends who worked at Bain, and none of them can honestly say that this is true. The problem is that instead of Romney telling us the truth, he completely lied. The truth is that at Bain Capital, it wasn’t his job to save jobs. It was his job to buy vulnerable companies with a certain level of projected upside, buff them up (kind of like putting a new coat of paint on a house with a weak foundation), and then suckering someone into overpaying for it. What is the best way to rapidly increase the profitability of such a weak company? Cut jobs. Romney’s job was to cut jobs. Why can’t he just admit it?

Romney also told us that he would release several more years of his income tax records. He originally refused and said that it was not material to his fitness to serve as our President. I disagree. He is trying to gain a position in which the American people will be paying him a handsome salary/pension for the rest of his life, not to mention secondary sources of income such as talks and book deals when he finishes office. We have a right to see at least the past ten years of his income tax statements. That’s enough time to see just how dirty or clean he actually might be.

But we all know why he has still not released those income tax records. Because he is a guy who believes that his promises mean nothing as long as he can get away with breaking them. I would wager quite a bit of money that if the general public ever saw the last decade of his income tax records, we would be shocked at the methods he used to avoid paying taxes that he probably should have paid.

America, aren’t we tired yet of seeing all of these idiots operating outside the normal laws that the rest of us have to follow?

A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for completely bankrupting this country by helping the wealthy even more. A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for completely bankrupting this country by helping the poor, elderly, and middle class. Either way, America loses. But at least we can pick the lesser of two evils.


p.s. if you ever want to see an extremely tight correlation, look at the percentage of people who refuse to believe that we have a global warming crisis and then look at how many of them are going to vote for Mitt Romney.

It’s impossible to go against Apple Corporation these days. The stock has been soaring this year, the iPhone 4S is selling well, the iPad 3’s only problem is how to make enough of them to fulfill consumer demand. If we eliminate the Foxconn stuff, then Apple has become a juggernaut.

But as a new iPad 3 owner (sorry, I refuse to call it “the New iPad”, because what the heck am I going to call it next year?) and a current iPhone 4S user, it seems like the company might make a few small mistakes here and there (e.g. the battery indicator telling you that the iPad 3 is charged 100% when that’s not really the case), but overall Apple is doing just fine.

As someone who watches people carefully, I’ve seen a lot of people with Apple’s iPad Smart Cover. The truth is that the thing looks great, and the idea of a foldable cover that also doubles as a stand seems great.

The truth is that this thing is just awful. Seriously. The only good thing about it is that when you have the iPad covered and lift the cover off, the iPad automatically turns on.

If you go to the online Apple Store and read the customer reviews, you’ll see that I’m being nice in not completely savaging this product.

This cover is perfect if you meet all of the following criteria:

1) you just need something to cover the screen of your iPad.

2) you want something that looks nice but is not bulky

3) you just have to buy every Apple product that rolls off the assembly line

4) you don’t care if the back of your iPad gets all scratched up

5) you are looking for a simple stand to hold up your iPad and you are never going to touch it while it’s in the upright position.


Let me explain why this product is so bad.

The iPad 3 is slick slick slick. It’s a beautiful piece of technology. The only problem is that it’s a bit heavy if you keep holding it. So, you need something to prop it up. The iPad Smart Cover was supposed to be the answer. It isn’t.

This product has two fatal flaws.

1) when you fold it into a stand, it’s incredibly unstable. And if you touch your iPad (which I assume everyone will since it is a touchscreen), the stand falls apart and your iPad bounces off the table. I’m not sure how a company like Apple can market something which actually makes the user not want to touch the screen.

2) the product doesn’t cover the back. Okay, maybe you don’t care, but some people want to keep their iPad’s in pristine condition, especially when you look at the resale value of a mint condition iPad 2.


The problem is this: because the iPad 3 is thicker than the iPad 2, not all cases will fit it. And since Apple is so secretive about the specs of their latest products pre-release, companies selling accessories have no choice but to lag. This is the reason why being an early adopter of the iPad 3 is not so great: there aren’t a lot of great choices.

So, my feeling is that I’ll keep this cover (simply to be used as a cover) until about 27 days after I purchased it, and then return it. All the while, I’ll be hoping that the cover I really want will be available for the iPad 3.

Don’t get this cover if you can avoid it. There are already better ones out there, although none of them is really what I’m personally looking for. When the company I’m waiting for starts producing a cover for the iPad 3, then I’ll write a review on it.

I was an early adopter of the iPhone app called “GymPact”. The app’s purpose is simple: use money to motivate you to go to the gym.

There are a couple of reason for writing this. First, if you’ve read my previous reviews of this app (please look at the bottom of this post), I labelled it as the worst app in Apple App Store. It’s improved quite a bit since that review. But unfortunately, the company is less than transparent, so I feel a responsibility to everyone out there to completely explain the pros and cons of this app.

The short version is that I would now recommend this app.

The company was outright deceptive for the first few months the app existed, but their latest update addresses the big issues I had with this app. It now works fine.


Here are the steps you need to take if you don’t have the app:

1st    go to the Apple App Store and download it for free.

2nd  once it’s downloaded to your iPhone, then open the app and fill in the information to register

3rd   give them your credit card info.You need to do this to use the app. Don’t worry, so far the company doesn’t seem to have done anything sketchy with my credit card.

4th   you decide how many days you are going to go to the gym the following week. (note: you can change this each Sunday for the following week).

5th   each time you go to the gym, open the app and log in. It uses your iPhone’s GPS to know if you are really at a gym. (note: it doesn’t work if you just want to jog outside).

6th   at the end of each workout, you need to log out. If you forget, the program will automatically do this for you.

7th   you will see a log that tracks how long you worked out, as well as where and when you did it.

8th   if you reached your goal number of times you wanted to go to the gym that week, then the following Monday or Tuesday, you will receive an email from GymPact telling you how much money you made. (note: in general it’s like 50 cents per visit).

9th   if you didn’t reach your goal, then they will take out money for each day you missed. So, if your goal was 4 times a week, you set the stake (i.e. the monetary penalty) for $10 per miss, then your credit card will have $20 deducted from it.


Here are my own list of the questions I think that everyone wants to know but you can’t always find this information on the company’s site because the company has probably made some sort of decision to keep consumers in the dark. You’ll see what I mean in a little while.

Q1:  Will they give your credit card information to anyone?

A1:  The official answer is no. But really, how do any of us really know what’s going on with our information (e.g. Google and Facebook).


Q2:  How does this company make money?

A2:   According to them, they collect all the money from people who didn’t fulfill their weekly commitments, GymPact keeps 30% and the remaining 70% is split amongst the people who did make their pact.


Q3: How can I actually get my hands on the cash I’ve earned?

A3:  This is the part where the company’s lack of clear instructions can only be construed as an attempt to prevent people from withdrawing money. I’ve complained to the company and nothing has been done to make it more clear on their website. So, here is the full answer to this question. You have to link your GymPact account to a PayPal account. When you have at least $10 of credit in your GymPact account, then you can transfer the money to your PayPal account. To do this, you have to go to your Settings -> Reward s Information. Once you are there, input the amount you wish to transfer to your PayPal account, then click the Withdraw button on the top right. A few days later, you will see the credit show up on your PayPal account.


Q4:  Does this company really give money for working out at the gym?

A4:  Yes. I waited until I earned enough credit to do a transfer before writing this update.  GymPact really did send the money to my PayPal account.


Q5:  Can I change the number of times I go to the gym each week and the penalty amount?

A5:  Yes. But you can’t make any changes once the week has started. Next week, if you know that you’re going to be busy and want to reduce your gym visits, you have to change this in your profile by this Sunday.


Q6:  Can I get credit for two gym visits if I go to my gym twice a week?

A6:  Nope. You can only earn a maximum credit one time a day.


Q7:  How long do I have to be at the gym to get credit for a workout?

A7:  30 minutes.


Q8:  If I make a commitment for 3 days a week and go to the gym 5 days that week, will I make more money than if I just went 3 days a week?

A8:  No. If you fulfill your commitment for the week, the maximum amount of money you can make is only for the days you made the pact for (in this case it was 3 days).


Q9: Can I get credit for working outside on my own (e.g. in the backyard)?

A9: No. You have to go to a real gym.


Here are some changes that would make the app better:

1) allow health insurance companies to see the data to reduce insurance premiums

2) allow users to get credited for each workout they do in excess of the days they made the pact for. In other words, if you made a pact to go to the gym 3 days and then went 5 days, you should get credit for the extra two days. I understand why the company would not want to do this: everyone would make a pact for 1 day and then still collect money. Translation: the company would lose a lot of money. One way to work around this is to set a limit and tell people that in order to get credited for extra workouts, a minimum pact of 4 days has to be established each week for a full month.

3) some people might suggest that GymPact team up with Nexercise and allow people to get credit for their activity level. I’ve tried Nexercise and it’s a bit of a pain to use. The better thing would be for GymPact to tie in their software with a heart rate monitor. People can get credit for keeping their heart rate above an age-appropriate level for a certain total number of minutes, and those minutes do not need to be continuous.


Jason Russell is the CEO of the Invisible Children Foundation and he is the producer of a video that went viral recently. The video is called”KONY 2012″ and talks about how his organization is trying to bring former Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to justice by the end of this year.

The video is compelling and you can see it here:



If you couldn’t pull yourself away from the screen watching KONY 2012, you definitely aren’t going to be able to take your eyes off the monitor when you see Russell’s latest video where he is strutting around San Diego naked:



Russell’s wife has been giving interviews to do the typical damage control. She says that it was because of “extreme exhaustion and dehydration”.

This sounds like the now-common excuse heard every time a professional athlete is caught using performance-enhancing drugs: “It must have been in the protein supplement I was taking.”

Russell’s biggest problem now is his credibility. At this critical juncture in his campaign for KONY 2012, Russell is going to have to find a way to convince a recently stirred up audience to maintain its fervor for his cause. Just as he has attacked people for not being honest about what happened in Uganda, he must now demonstrate his own truthfulness and transparency.

Here is the problem he now faces with people’s perception of him:

1) “extreme exhaustion” is not a plausible defense. The average person watching the video of him strutting around naked is going to think one thing: if he was extremely exhausted, then how could he be running around like that and doing bizarre calisthenics on the sidewalk?

2) “dehydration” is not a plausible defense. Elderly people get dehydrated because their feedback system of water regulation is not as sharp as it used to be when they were younger. But Russell can’t use that defense because he is young. Also, he lives in San Diego and there is water everywhere. He’s not in the desert. He’s not a prisoner. So, how can the average person really believe the dehydration excuse?

3) the cursing he did. When you watch “KONY 2012”, one of the most touching moments for most Americans is when his young son appeared on the video. That kid is the reason why parents go to great lengths to protect their kids from harm. With all the cursing and frenetic behavior he exhibited in the video, it’s hard to imagine that his local Department of Social Services isn’t going to be paying him an assessment visit. I don’t expect Russell or anyone else to be a saint and not curse. Unfortunately, people who are giving money to support his cause want to be sure that Russell’s character is solid. This latest episode raises some major questions.


There is an answer: he needs to release the pertinent parts of his inpatient medical record. This would include any of the common renal (kidney) tests performed to corroborate his wife’s statement that dehydration was a cause of Russell’s behavior. It would also have to include the toxicology screen that the hospital had to perform in his case. It also would have to show the psychiatric evaluation that was conducted.

The biggest problem is that medical professionals and people with no medical training I have talked with have reached the same conclusion. There are three most likely causes for his behavior and none of them involve exhaustion or dehydration:

1) psychoactive drugs such as cocaine or amphetamine. If you’ve ever heard the term “tripping”, after you watch Russell running around naked in the video, you have a better idea of where that term came from.

2) a psychotic break. When you watch and listen carefully to what Russell said in the video, it has all the hallmarks of someone experiencing a psychotic break (aka a break from reality). If it was a psychotic break and if Russell now carries the diagnosis of some mental illness such as schizophrenia, his supporters and financial backers are entitled to know this information. Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are not the fault of the patient. But still, since Russell is now a public figure leading a foundation, the public has a right to know whether Russell is the right person to continue leading Invisible Children.

3) a publicity stunt. I admit that this is the most unlikely possibility, especially because at some point his son is going to watch the video and be shocked. However, in America, we see people do crazy stuff all the time for publicity. Look at Snooki and the rest of the cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore”. Do you really think that any of them really behaves like that in real life?


Attempts by Russell’s wife and his supporters to cover this up will be viewed as hypocritical since Russell is leading the charge to bring to justice a man who covered up a tremendous amount of atrocities.

Jason Russell needs to release the pertinent parts of his medical record from his most recent hospital admission to decisively return the focus to where it really belongs: KONY 2012.

If you haven’t seen the KONY 2012 video which was a viral phenomenon, you really should.

You can view it here:


In it, you’ll see some of the horrors that have hit the African nation of Uganda where a militant leader Joseph Kony went on a killing and rape rampage.

The video is pretty slick, but we expect that since Jason Russell is a video producer.

And let’s try to temporarily ignore the most recent news which is that San Diego police picked him up for vandalizing cars and running around the streets in his underwear while masturbating on Thursday morning.

When you watch the video, you will see Russell’s little son on it, and as touching as that kid’s appearance was, I’m even more worried about him finding out that his father is far less than the superhero he appears to be. And it’s incredibly ironic that while Russell has mounted this international campaign to make Joseph Kony responsible for his actions, his own public relations team can’t be honest about what has happened. Their statement is that “Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition.” Wait, there are people in many parts of Africa suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition. Russell is the co-CEO of Invisible Children and he lives in San Diego.

Most likely, this is the typical time-tested strategy of half-truths. Was he exhausted, dehydrated, and malnourished. Probably. But what was the cause? A psychotic break? Crystal meth? These are the likeliest candidates.

But I digress.

While the KONY 2012 video went viral, we started to hear from Ugandans and Ugandan-Americans about how much they hate KONY 2012 and how it’s not an accurate representation of where the country is right now.

What’s even worse is their criticism that this is just another example of Americans getting caught up in a fad.

Here are some indisputable facts:

1) Joseph Kony is the type of guy who makes those against the death penalty seriously reconsider their position.

2) Joseph Kony brutally killed enormous numbers of Ugandans.

3) Joseph Kony and his forces raped thousands of Ugandan women and made many of them become sex slaves.

4) Joseph Kony is at-large and people are searching for him to bring him to justice.


It’s really that simple.

So, what does all of this have to do with the 1988 Seoul Olympics? More than you think.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics was really the event that brought South Korea into the modern age. Highways were built, the subway system was unified and modernized, and Korea showed that it could produce a world-class event. The infrastructure created from the 1988 Seoul Olympics set the stage for Korea now being an economic power. It stands for the success that eluded the 2004 Athens Olympics in Greece.

The major negative thing that never received the press it should have received was how idiotic bickering by different factions ended up hurting all of them. Let me explain.

Until the 1988 Seoul Olympics, martial arts was not considered a medal sport. Really? Are we really going to say that curling is a medal sport but martial arts is not? When we think of all the characteristics which an Olympic sport should engender, the martial arts has all of them: physical conditioning, mental toughness, balance, speed, and some way of scoring matches.

So, since Taekwondo (태권도) is a Korean martial art, and because at that time the host country was allowed to add one sport, this striking martial art became a demonstration sport in 1988 and became a regular medal event in the Syndney 2000 Olympics. I should note that judo was the first ever martial art to become a medal event in the Olympics, but since judo is closer to grappling, I’m going to exclude it from this conversation.

The problem that happened with Taekwondo was that during and after the 1988 Seoul Olympics, almost every martial arts magazine was full of articles from different martial arts styles criticizing the choice of Taekwondo. Many said that it was the wrong martial art because points are almost never scored using the hands, so competitors are taught to just kick, and if they get too close, they stop fighting and press their chests together until the referee resets the contestants.

You can watch this video to see an Olympic gold medal match:


Many martial artists said that this style violates the balance of using the arms and legs that is seen with many style of karate such as Shotokan and also with many of the other striking (i.e. non-grappling) martial arts.There was so much fighting amongst the different martial arts styles because each one was trying to argue that their own style deserved to be an Olympic medal sport because it was better than Taekwondo.

The final result was that no new martial art has been added to the Olympics since that time.

What should have happened is that all the different martial arts styles should have banded together and praised the inclusion of Taekwondo with the goal of using that as a springboard to include more and more martial arts into the Olympics.

And this divisiveness is a big lesson that should be heeded by many.

In the case of the whole KONY 2012 video and campaign, Russell et al. have the goal of finding and bringing Joseph Kony to justice by the end of this year.

However, strong criticism is coming from Ugandans, and this is a major mistake. If Germany’s Adolf Hitler had lived and escaped from Nazi Germany, would Jewish people really say, “Hey, let’s not worry about him.” No, as Simon Wiesenthal demonstrated, hunting down major war criminals is necessary for healing.

Ugandans and other critics should be embracing the KONY 2012 campaign (note: I have absolutely nothing to do with this campaign, and I didn’t even really know about Kony until recently). They should be like the martial artists from styles other than Taekwondo who should have embraced the successful inclusion of Taekwondo as an Olympic medal event.

Instead, the attacks against the KONY 2012 campaign by Ugandans risks generating the same negative result that happened with all the bickering by different martial arts: nothing positive will happen in the future.

Do Americans have short attention spans? Yes. Is Kony a threat to Uganda now? Probably not. But the fact remains that castigating Jason Russell and his Invisible Child movement is short-sighted. America’s leaders have ignored the devastation imposed on the African continent by various warlords for too long. And average Americans have also ignored Africa. How could the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone not generate public outrage in America and the demand of its people for strong military intervention?

The answer is simple: there was no Jason Russell and his dedicated people to push the issue onto the American public.

Ugandans will almost universally agree that Kony was a horrible part of Uganda’s history. And maybe part of their criticism is generated by the sense of shame that they feel that Americans are leading the charge to capture a war criminal who the Ugandans themselves have not been able to corral. Maybe girls who were forced to become sex slaves for Kony’s regime are ashamed of people finding out what happened to them. It’s understandable.

But when victims decide to sweep things under the rug, that just benefits not only the criminal but also encourages future criminals to do commit even worse acts in the future.

Uganda is different now than it was when Kony was running around and terrorizing its inhabitants. But that doesn’t erase the fact that Kony needs to be captured and tried for war crimes. Yes, there might be complexities to this issue, but no one argues about the level of depravity that Kony embodies.

Ugandans and other critics of KONY 2012 need to seriously reconsider their criticism. Money and passion get things done. And the other truth is that America loves winners and hates losers. Capturing Kony in 2012 would be a major victory, and it could be used as a springboard to convince Americans to send more future aid and help to Uganda.

Continued criticism by Ugandans for KONY 2012 will most likely cause Americans to tune-out. Americans will say, “Fine, if Uganda doesn’t want our help capturing this criminal, then we also won’t give financial assistance for other things.” In the end, all the bickering would generate the same result that karate, kungfu, and other martial arts have achieved: nothing.

The lesson of the 1988 Seoul Olympics for martial arts is that there is power in unity and apathy caused by division. It is true that Americans like myself have been far too apathetic about the atrocities committed in African countries. And by causing a groundswell of support in America for capturing Kony this year, it starts the process of creating greater awareness of how to also support today’s Uganda.

And that should be the goal of every Ugandan and person who claims to love Uganda.

So, stop the bickering and let’s unite.


Every once in a while, a great company makes a completely stupid mistake.

The mistake is based on many things, but usually at the bottom of it is greed and pride.

Now we see that Apple is suffering from the same problems as so many big companies before it.

I was a bit upset that they didn’t call the iPhone 4S the iPhone 5, even though it had enough major upgrades to warrant changing the number designation. Some suggested that the “4S” stands for “For Steve (Jobs)” which is a nice tribute if it’s true. So, I won’t gripe about it.

But Apple’s decision to call its latest iPad “The New iPad” instead of the iPad 3 shows callousness towards its customers. I’ve read several articles where people try to defend Apple’s change. Some say that this is a way for Apple to rebrand itself and gain greater market share. Others say that this signals a healthy break by Tim Cook from the Steve Jobs legacy. Guess what? They are all completely ridiculous arguments.

When a product is excellent, stick with the numbers to avoid confusion. Let’s look at the greatest single-day sporting event in the world: the Super Bowl. This past February saw the New England Patriots lose to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. How do you think fans would feel if next year’s Super Bowl is called “The New Super Bowl”? And what will they call the Super Bowl after that one? Too confusing.

So, today, I bought an iPad 3 at an Apple Store. Just to test things out, I kept referring to it as the “iPad 3” and the Apple sales staff kept correcting me and saying that it’s called “The New iPad”. And one thing about Apple Store employees is that they have been well-trained not to show any disagreement with Apple. The saccharine look on their faces as they corrected me was enough to tell me that they also think that the whole new naming scheme is ridiculous.

But the real craziness won’t be evident for at least another year.


Well, if you’re going to get an iPad, you’re also probably going to get a cover and a screen protector. Every company clearly labels the packaging as iPad 1 or iPad 2, so there is no confusion for customers. So, this year, if we continue calling the newest iPad “The New iPad”, it doesn’t really matter.

But what happens next year? In March 2013 when the next iteration of the iPad comes out and people say, “I want to buy the new iPad”, what exactly will that mean? Does it mean that they want the New iPad from 2012 or the new iPad from 2013? And what are they going to call the March 2013 model? Are they going to call it “The New iPad”? or “The Newer iPad”?

If they change the shape of it, then it will make it even more difficult not only for consumers but also for retailers.Why? Because stores are going to have to deal with many more returns from people who buy the wrong iPad and/or the wrong accessories. Returns hurt the profit margins of companies, especially if the returns are even slightly defaced during the 30 days that most consumers have to return their purchases.

And for consumers, it all points to a big hassle. People like convenience. No one likes returning things, especially if it means going to the post office and mailing something back to a company and having to wait to receive an exchange or a credit.

There is one fortunate thing: “The New iPad” name is not written in stone. Apple can always make the announcement that they have decided to go back to the number convention system and call this thing the iPad 3.

And by the way, ignore the idiots who say that this is an “incremental” upgrade from the iPad 2. It’s a full upgrade. The screen is flat-out gorgeous, the response is much crisper than the iPad 2, and the 5-megapixel camera is way better. That’s what we expect from a new version of something: at least one major visible change and hopefully something under the hood that makes the device run better.

So, from now on, I’m calling on people to write about and refer to this device as the iPad 3.

Maybe Apple’s marketing department looks at all the different names of the Samsung phones and feels a bit jealous. It shouldn’t. Samsung has clearly marked the Galaxy S as it’s iPhone competitor. That is why the next Samsung Galaxy phone will be called the Galaxy S III. Samsung is not doing something stupid like calling it “The New Galaxy S”.

Think about it. Part of the fun of getting a new phone is the pleasure we derive from letting someone with an older model know that we have the latest model. It was a bit challenging for people with an iPhone 4S to get this satisfaction when talking to someone with an iPhone 4, but it worked out okay. And anyone with an iPhone 4S can definitely feel pretty good when talking with someone who has an iPhone 3GS.

But what happens next year when the next iPad comes out? Think about how this new naming scheme screws up everyone. Consider this future conversation next year between Person A who bought an iPad 3 and Person B who will buy an iPad 4:

Person A: Hey dude, I see that you have an iPad. Which one do you have?

Person B: Oh, I have the New iPad.

Person A: Really? Me too.

Person B: (hmm…does this mean that he has the latest iPad or the one released last year?)

Person A: (hmm…do we have the same model iPad or different ones?)


Now imagine this conversation:

Person A: Hey dude, I see that you have an iPad. Which one do you have?

Person B: Oh, I have the iPad 4.

Person A: Really? I have the iPad 3. What’s the difference?

Person B: Well, it’s much faster, has a kick-ass 8-megapixel camera and has Siri.

Person A: Wow. Maybe I should upgrade.


Do you see why the number naming convention is actually better for Apple as well as the consumer? It creates product branding differentiation.

I saw one article that said that the new naming scheme was good because automobile companies show that it works. I understand the point, but there are two problems. Ford can advertise its car as “The New Ford Focus” and Hyundai can call its latest car “The New Hyundai Sonata”, but everyone knows by convention that when we look up a car for its resale value, they are classified by the year they were marketed. Also, no modern car company that I know has ever produced the exact same shape car two years in a row. There is always some noticeable change.

This is a key difference between cars versus iPhones and iPads.

So, Apple, stop being stupid, and just admit that you made a mistake. Call it the iPad 3. You should be proud to extend a great legacy started by Steve Jobs. Stop trying so hard to run away from his reputation. Embrace it. Jobs had a lot of personal character flaws, but the one thing that made him special was his focus on the customer’s experience. Apple took all the complicated stuff that other companies were packaging and simplified it into something elegant. That is how the company should proceed.

Seriously, wake up and focus on the consumer again. And definitely don’t make the problem worse by doing something really stupid in October 2012 when the iPhone 5 debuts like calling it “The New iPhone”. Leave the cheap gimmicks to other companies and keep focusing on the product.

There are two things that have allowed Apple to be incredibly successful: a) Apple products sell themselves, and b) Apple Store employees have exuded genuine love for Apple products. If Apple moves away from these two core competencies, the company will surely fall.

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