The incredible archive of Marion Stokes

The life’s work of Marion Stokes is packed into 140,000 VHS tapes that fill four shipping containers. On those tapes is an archive of news broadcasts dating back to 1977. What started as a hobby for Stokes – recording the most important events from the news – turned into a tremendously valuable archive. She recorded…

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Bloodthirsty dictator too tired to kill

So I read this news story the other day about an African dictator who took control of his country in a military coup. But now he’s regretting it…because he’s not getting enough sleep and he’s tired all the time. Yeah, a bloody uprising can really put a harsh on your sweet dreams. Guess he wishes he’d stayed…

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The library with no books

So I got an email from my old school yesterday. They’re building a new library (aren’t they always?) and they wanted money to help furnish it. In the email was a cool video – one of those architect’s renderings that flies you through the space, like a ghost. So I watched it. And you know…

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Why it pays to be a little bit famous

It’s a bizarre world we live in. …where Justin Bieber gets more airtime than cancer researchers. …where Lady Gaga (a friend here at RTG, admittedly) has more fans than someone who works in African orphanages. …and where Rob Ford… OK, we won’t go there. But you must pay attention to why this is. To be…

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The dumbest thing he ever did

I was talking to someone the other day who said this: Pulling the plug on my personal marketing was the dumbest thing I ever did in my career. Whoah! Actually, recognizing where things went wrong and trying to fix them is actually quite smart. But he’s right to say that stopping his personal marketing was…

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Whole Foods, the McRib and something real

I was in a Whole Foods the other day. It’s not often I get to visit one of these emporium. Good thing probably (says my credit card). Now…I believe I’ve got the Whole Foods thing figured out. People don’t go to Whole Foods because they want great food (which it is, by the way) or because…

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The guy who split the atom in his kitchen

Did you hear about the man in Sweden who tried to split the atom on his kitchen stove? Apparently he was successful in creating a small meltdown – but then had second thoughts because it might not be legal to set off a nuclear reaction in one’s apartment. Turns out he was probably right. The police raided…

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How to indentify your best prospects and clients

Wouldn't it be nice if you could tell who was most likely to hire you or buy something from you? T’would save you a lot of time and uncertainly, right? The good news is, you can. Kind of. You see, when you send an email newsletter, you can get a report on who has opened it…

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Living with “the world’s greatest invention”

Back in my old newspaper days, when I was working on a daily morning publication, l lived by deadlines. There was the deadline for getting news stories to the news editor. The deadline for laying out the first page. The deadline for editing the articles. And the deadline for getting the paper to press. And…

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What Downton Abbey can teach you about newsletters

Cora: "I hate to go behind Robert's back." Lady Grantham: "That is a scruple no successful wife can afford." Attention Downton Abbey fans – it’s back in the New Year. If you watch it, I’m betting you have a favorite character. And I’d wager big that it’s the Dowager Duchess, Lady Grantham. Maggie Smith is a fine…

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When salt is the new vitamin

So now they say that butter is good for you. And salt ain’t that bad either. …Think I’ll go scarf down a big salty buttery bagel. (Oh, I’m not a doctor, so do your own research before you follow my lead and open that giant bag of pretzels.) I relish these about-turns. Just when you get to…

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How to channel your inner Lady Gaga

The other day I saw Lady Gaga on a chat  show. The singer had hair that was four feet high. Like a shocked porcupine. Then half way through the segment, the host called up one of Gaga’s fans using Skype – his face was transmitted directly into the studio. This guy was probably the biggest fan you ever…

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Cheap sausages and ads that bump

Back in the year 2000, when I was in charge of the editorial of an online magazine, I demanded that my boss change my job title. I did not want to be named Content Director anymore. Call me Editorial Director instead, I stomped. Now, that might sound to you like I was being oh-so fancy.…

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More questions answered

The email and phone lines have been a-buzzin’ recently with questions about our newsletter service. So let’s push through a few now. Here comes the first one. Does the newsletter come complete with articles, or do we choose them from a library each month? Both! Ha! Yes, the newsletter comes complete with articles, so you can use…

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Last person standing

The day the power button broke on my smartphone was the day I needed to purchase a new one. Shame it took another four months to hold a replacement gadget in my sweaty little hand. You see…I had my eye on a particular phone, but it was so popular that it was always sold out.…

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It’s not all bad news in Portland

Last week I tried to find some good news about Portland, Oregon, to put in a client’s newsletter. But I had a hard time unearthing anything positive. That’s not to say Portland is a negative, miserable place where nothing good happens. Not a bit of it. Never been, but I hear it’s very nice. It’s…

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The shellfish on the tennis ball

I was walking along a beach one afternoon. The tide was coming in, and in the surf I saw a tennis ball. I’ve always fancied myself as an English Rafael Nadal, so I stopped to pick it up. …and saw it was covered with tiny little shellfish. They were very much alive…moving around, poking out of their…

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Water into rock

When I was about 10, I went on a school trip to see some caves. Wet and damp, they were. But I found them fascinating. (Except the time when the guide turned off all the lights – I was plunged into a darkness so dark that it smothered me.) The best bit was learning about…

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She hands over the chickens, two by two

Chicken day is the busiest at the farm. That’s because once a month, poultry is ready for collection. It feels like the entire county descends on the farm for fresh chickens. It’s not my farm, of course, but a local couple who rear pigs, cattle, sheep…and chickens. Now, this post isn’t suitable for vegetarians. So…

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