Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Globe Direct: Hey Boston, here’s 34 tons of trash per week on us!

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

What would you say if I told you that there’s a Boston business that adds more than 34 tons per week of trash to the City of Boston’s waste stream*, trash that the residents of Boston end up paying to dispose of to the tune of >$100,000 per year**? What would you say if I then told you that the business that does this has managed to figure out how to get other businesses to pay for it, ripping them off in the process?

Ladies and gentlemen of Boston, say hello to “Globe Direct in association with RedPlum”!


Boston Herald rude sales people won’t leave us alone

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
To: Boston Herald home delivery department
Subject: Rude sales call from Boston Herald

My wife and I (you can find us in your records under our home phone number [elided]) are no longer Boston Herald subscribers. We currently have no desire to resume our subscription. Since we canceled our subscription, your sales department has called us several times trying to get us to resume. This needs to stop. The most recent call, a few minutes ago, was incredibly rude.


News update on Larry Hoffheimer, Parkinson Research Foundation, Macular Degeneration Association

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune recently ran this article by Barbara Peters Smith about Parkinson Research Foundation (PRF), its founder Larry Hoffheimer, and another, far more reputable charity with which PRF is competing in Sarasota. The article also briefly mentioned Hoffheimer’s other “charity”, the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA).

Readers of my blog know that I have written about Hoffheimer, MDA, and PRF in the past. In a nutshell, I believe that at best, MDA and PRF are incompetently run charities which spend far too little of their revenue on furthering their missions, and at worst, they are intentionally fraudulent charities whose real purpose is to enrich Hoffheimer and his colleagues rather than to help people with Parkinsons and Macular Degeneration.

I spoke with Ms. Peters Smith at length about the ample evidence that there are problems with these charities. Unfortunately, none of the concerns raised in my blog made it into her article as published. Here is the letter I sent her about the article:


How to misread statistics, ArsTechnica edition

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

A recent security breach exposed the plaintext usernames and passwords of almost 100,000 members of IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The usernames and passwords were discovered by a researcher in 100GB of log files inadvertently left open to the public on an IEEE FTP server.

Leaving aside for the moment how incredible it is that the IEEE would employ someone so incompetent as to think it’s OK to put passwords in a log file (well-known best practice in the industry is not only that you don’t log passwords, but you’re even discouraged from logging usernames on login forms, because people so frequently type their password accidentally into the username field), I want to instead comment on this graph that ArsTechnica published in their story about the breach:

(The graph was apparently published by Radu Dragusin, the researcher who discovered the breach.)

More accurately, I want to comment not on the graph itself, but rather on the caption which ArsTechnica published beneath it: “A breakdown of the 18 most common passwords exposed by IEEE suggest [sic] that engineers aren’t much better than lay people at choosing secure passcodes.”

In December 2010, the Wall Street Journal published a similar graph in an article about the breach of passwords for 188,279 users at Gawker. “123456″ was the most common password there as well. That graph showed that approximately 3,077, or 1.6% of the 188,279 Gawker users chose the password “123456″. In contrast, only 271 of the 99,979 IEEE users, or 0.3%, chose that password.

Contrary to ArsTechnica’s caption, it would seem that IEEE users are “much better than lay people at choosing secure passcodes.”


Pittsfield judge orders local blogger to stop writing about the news

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Ken at Popehat reports on Pittsfield judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega ordering a local blogger not only to stop writing about the daughter of a local public official who was the perpetrator of a hit-and-run accident which nearly killed someone and got off virtually scott-free after the courts “lost” some of the paperwork related to her case, but also to delete all articles on his blog that he had previously written about her.

Judge Sanabria-Vega’s order is blatantly unconstitutional and abhorrent to anyone who cares about civil rights and an involved citizenry.

If you are or know a lawyer admitted to practice in Massachusetts who might be able to provide the blogger, Dan Valenti, with pro bono legal assistance getting the judge’s order overturned and restoring his free-speech rights, please email

Boston Herald blood-transfusion scare-mongering

Monday, November 7th, 2011

To the editor:

To run an article which aggressively calls into question the safety of blood transfusions [2] [3] [4], without so much as a single word countering the scare-mongering, goes well beyond bad reporting and crosses the line to irresponsible, dangerous journalism.

Certainly, there are risks to blood transfusions. But there are risks to pretty much every medical procedure, and to print such a one-sided article is outrageous.

What’s next? Are you going to run a fawning article about how great Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine campaign is?

If your unbalanced article causes someone to refuse a blood transfusion in an emergency and they die as a result, their death is on your hands.

Shame on you.

Jonathan Kamens

Peter Gelzinis and Casey Anthony

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Mr. Gelzinis, 

Jury nullification” doesn’t mean what you seem to think it does. Please look it up before you make a fool of yourself again misusing the term in another column.

I wonder if you were present for Casey Anthony’s entire trial, or watched the whole thing on video, or read the transcript. If not, I’m not sure why you think you are in a position to second-guess the decision of the jury.

Your claim that the jury’s verdict is a lie and makes no sense is bunk and is incredibly disrespectful to the jurors who did their civil duty, put their lives on hold, experienced the trauma of sitting on this jury through this trial, and did their best to render a just verdict.

I often agree with your columns and usually find them to be leaps and bounds better than those of some of your clearly mentally disadvantaged colleagues, but I despise when pundits and talking heads use sensationalistic, inflammatory language to question the verdict of a properly empaneled jury based only on a tiny, biased subset of the trial testimony, i.e., the skewed mishmash reported in the media.

Please stick to the well-reasoned, well-supported, well-articulated columns you are so good at, and leave the lurid, yellow journalism to your colleagues who can’t write anything else.


Jonathan Kamens

Daughter’s unintentional trip to Newark still occasionally in the news

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Many sidewalks in Allston-Brighton still buried in snow – Allston-Brighton, MA – Allston/Brighton TAB

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Letter in today’s Herald: backyard pools are a safety hazard

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

In a recent tragedy, twin toddlers drowned in their family’s backyard in-ground pool.

Two articles in a row in the Boston Herald mentioned that the authorities were investigating how the twins drowned despite the fact that the pool had a cover.

There seems to be a widespread misconception, which the Herald articles exacerbate, that pool covers are a safety device. In my letter in today’s Herald, I tried to set the record straight:

Safety hazard

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A pool cover is not a safety device; it is intended to keep the pool clean, not prevent drownings. In fact, pool covers make pools less safe for children (“Police to study security tape in tots’ drowning,” July 19).

My heart goes out to the parents, but it disturbs me to see officials claiming they did everything right. If that had been the case, then it would have been impossible for the children to access the pool unsupervised. There is a reason why many insurance companies refuse to issue policies to homes with pools.

- Jonathan Kamens, Brighton