45 days for one tweet

Aaron Taube writing for a shitty website (but hey, even shitty websites publish something interesting once in a while):

Shortly after the initial meeting, Lindsay met with a copywriter and graphic designer to brainstorm tweet ideas for the next month. It was then that the copywriter suggested a tweet centered on the idea that Camembert, a French cheese popular during the spring, was best served at room temperature.

The article reads like satire, but this bullshit actually happens — it was one of the reasons I did not last long working in social media at an agency, as well as the fact that I was embarrassed to explain to people what I did for a living. Not everyone is embarrassed though:

“I think that if people give you a hard time for it, it’s really because they’re more jealous that they don’t have a fun job.”

The Sherpas

The avalanche that killed 16 Sherpas on Mount Everest last week, which took the title of deadliest incident there from the events of 1996 that were chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, has put an end to this year’s climbing season on the Nepal side of the mountain.

It seems no surprise to anyone that such a tragedy happened, given the well-documented, deteriorating conditions on Everest. As those conditions have worsened, the Sherpas have borne the brunt of the increased risk.

Despite the raft of millionaires hanging around base camp, as Grayson Schaffer wrote in Outside last year, the Sherpas are poorly compensate and badly insured:

Since passage of the 2002 Tourism Act Amendment, Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism and Aviation has required all local trekking agents to purchase rescue and life insurance for their porters. Sherpas working above Base Camp need at least $4,600 in death coverage and $575 in medical, while low-altitude porters must be insured at $3,500. Each expedition must also cover its Sherpas with, collectively, at least $4,000 in rescue insurance.

Still, it doesn’t take long to discover how inadequate most of these measures really are. While training is significant, no amount of practice inoculates Sherpas from the increased exposure to risk they’re asked to take on in the mountains. Walking through the Khumbu Icefall, a shifting glacier with the constant threat of calving, is considered so dangerous that some outfitters acclimatize their clients on neighboring peaks to avoid traveling through it. In a typical season, a climbing Sherpa might make a dozen round-trips through this area, some earning a bonus for each extra lap. Guides and clients usually make between two and four.

When it comes to rescue insurance, the $4,000 coverage is almost meaningless. High-altitude helicopter rescues, which became routine starting in 2011, have drastically increased the chances of surviving an accident above Camp II. They also cost $15,000 each—more than three times what the required insurance will cover. That gap has already led to embarrassing problems.

In 2012, Summit Climb Sherpa Lakpa Nuru was beaned by a falling rock on the Lhotse Face and lay bleeding and semiconscious at Camp II. Meanwhile his expedition leader, Arnold Coster, haggled with Summit Climb’s in-country trekking agent, Everest Parivar Expeditions, over a medevac’s $15,000 price tag. About a half-hour into the negotiation, Rainier Mountaineering guide Dave Hahn came over the radio from Camp II urging other expeditions in Base Camp to take up a collection before the rescue became a body recovery.

Also worth reading is T.R. Reid’s 2003 profile of the Sherpas in National Geographic.

This isn’t the Doug Hamlin you’re looking for

Once upon a time, the front page of this site, doughamlin.com, featured a short, not terribly witty blurb naming several occupations I do not hold. Those occupations were culled from the resumes of and news bits about other people named Doug Hamlin.

A few days back, while going through my occasional routine of checking up on activity around my various social network accounts, I noticed something unusual: every person listed on my LinkedIn “who’s viewed your profile” page was apparently employed by the National Rifle Association.

Strange, I thought, but more likely a glitch than something to actually be worried about.

Well, mystery solved.

Early this morning, Google Alerts (which apparently still exists) sent me an e-mail about this article on Guns.com (which apparently is a real website).

It seems someone, who is not me, has decided to sully my good name by becoming a prominent employee of the National Rifle Association, which, I believe, is one of the most cancerous organizations on American society today.

So, for the record, let me state that I believe in reasonable gun rights, but I also believe that the Second Amendment does not deserve some sort of extraordinary treatment that the rest of the Constitution is not privy to. I do not believe the American public should be terrorized (and that is what it is) without recourse because of the whims of a vocal and influential minority.

If you are looking for a scoundrel Doug Hamlin, I am not he. But, please, when you find him, give him hell.


Jack Chang, whose Sunday Dispatch I’ve enjoyed reading the past few weeks:

Blame is a response to when things go differently than we had planned. And maybe the reason we blame airlines, companies, people, ideas, is that we have trouble accepting that there will always be things that are beyond our control, and we can’t blame circumstance, because it is simply the way the world is at a given moment. Maybe to see past the opacity and into a complex system we begin to realize that our expectations are built on rocky foundations to begin with, and this can be incredibly frightening. Some of us are more comfortable not knowing.

The media diet obsession

The New Republic explains why there are so many listicles about what people read, calling them “our most pretentious obsession.” I am as guilty as anyone of enjoying them.

The media diet, of course, is a creature of—and an intended guide through—the ever-intensifying anxiety over the endless streams of content in our inboxes and Twitter feeds. […] Divulging your media diet is the more elite equivalent of sharing a Granta link on Twitter to demonstrate your obscure and fashionable tastes. And it’s easy to see why the media loves a media diet: it stokes industry vanity, it smacks of insideriness, it reflects assorted journo-rivalries and feuds.

And apparently I am not cool because I am not familiar with Granta, so I need to go fix that.

“We strongly deny”

I watched the Frontline documentary “League of Denial” last night, which I recommend you also do if you haven’t already.

Near the end of the episode (and also teased at the very beginning), a lawyer for the NFL, Beth Wilkinson, is quoted thusly: “We strongly deny those allegations that we withheld any information or misled the players.”

This is one legalistic cliché that grates at me every time I hear it. How exactly does someone strongly deny something? Seems to me, if someone needs to strongly deny something, it is a good sign they are lying through their teeth.

Unsecured call

I was cleaning out a folder in my Dropbox when I came across this screenshot from June 2011. I tend to take a lot of screenshots and this one especially got me curious since I had never seen it before and I don’t think ever seen it since.

I guess Apple was trying to warn me about the NSA?

Unsecured call