My First Jimmy Buffet Concert

I went to my very first Jimmy Buffet concert Saturday night in Birmingham, Alabama. I am not sure what I expected but it was certainly an unusual event…half concert, half party and 100% fun!

Fans waited more than a decade for a live performance of “Margaritaville,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “Come Monday,” “Fins,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and his other signature songs. Buffett, now 65, and his 12-member band, the Coral Reefers, hadn’t played in Birmingham since November 2001.

The arena was packed with about 14,000 fans or more aptly named “parrot heads” many of them decked out in parrot head hats, shark-fin visors, Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts and other tropical garb. Ideal for people-watching especially a first timer to a Buffet concert. I was certainly underdressed.
Buffett set a congenial tone at when he strolled on stage to introduce the opening act decked out barefooted in a T-shirt and swimming trunks. “Sweet home Alabama!” he proclaimed. he was clearly excited and ready to celebrate his strong ties to the state. He went to Catholic School in Mobile and actually one of my old professors at Spring Hill College there taught him to play…ironically a Jesuit priest.

He recalled his past in Mobile, inserted Birmingham into various song lyrics, praised the state’s football champs (including my alma mater, Auburn) and generally acted like a proud homeboy. Photos of Alabama were part of the stage design, displayed on a huge screen behind the performers.

Even his playlist, nearly 30 numbers strong, clearly was made for the occasion. It included “Bama Breeze,” “Pascagoula Run,” “Back Where I Come From,” “Stars Fell on Alabama,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Birmingham” and “Southern Cross.”

Buffett delivered familiar song introductions with a wink and a grin. That upped the audience’s excitement, as listeners anticipated the first notes of “Jamaica Mistaica,” “Volcano” or “Son of a Son of a Sailor.”

He is no Sinatra but he sounded just like I remembered back in his hey day. Today I have a renewed appreciation for Jimmy Buffet and his crazy fans.

Google Caught in Our “Cookie” Jars

Google intentionally circumvented the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser, using a backdoor to set cookies on browsers set to reject them, in the latest privacy debacle for the search and advertising giant.

Google immediately disabled the practice after the Wall Street Journal disclosed the practice this week..

Safari, which accounts for about 6% of desktop browsing and more than 50% of mobile browsing, is the only major browser to block so-called third party cookies by least I thought so before the article…

When you visit a website, all browsers, including Safari, allow that site to put a small tracking file on your computer, which allows the site to identify a unique user, track what they have done and remember settings. However, many sites also have Facebook “Like” buttons, ads served by third parties, weather widgets powered by other sites or comment systems run by a third party.

Safari blocks the sites that power those services from setting or reading cookies, so a Facebook widget on a third-party site, for instance, can’t tell if you are logged in, so it can’t load a personalized widget. Google, along with a number of ad servers, were caught by Mayer avoiding this block, using a loophole in Safari that lets third parties set cookies if the browser thinks you are filling out an online form.

Google’s rationale seems to be that Apple’s default settings don’t adhere to standard web practices and don’t actually reflect what users want, since the browser never asks users if that’s the privacy setting they want. Facebook even goes so far as to suggest to outside developers that getting around the block is a best practice! Ha we are all already concerned about privacy and they call this back door approach a best practice?

Google said it used the backdoor so that it could place +1 buttons on ads it places around the web via its Adsense program, so that logged-in Google+ users could press the button to share an ad. Without the work-around, the button wouldn’t be able to tell Google which Google account to link the button to.

Now if Safari weren’t so dominant on mobile to the popularity of the iPhone, it’d hardly be worth the code to get at the 6% of desktop users.

But more to the point, if this is a problem for Google and Facebook, and if the defaults actually do mess with user’s expectations, it would seem that there are better ways to bring attention to the issue than getting busted working around them. What do you guys think? Are we watched every cyber second of the day?

Halftime in America

The most talked-about advertisement of the Super Bowl did not have a barely clothed supermodel, a cute puppy or a smart-aleck baby. It was a cinematic two-minute commercial created by Wieden and Kennedy, featuring Clint Eastwood, an icon of American brawn, likening Chrysler’s comeback to the country’s own economic revival.

And within 12 hours of running, it became one of the loudest flashpoints yet in the early re-election campaign of President Obama, providing a reminder, as if one were needed, that in today’s polarized political climate even a tradition as routine as a football championship can be thrust into a partisan light.

Some conservative critics saw the ad as political payback and accused the automaker of handing the president a prime-time megaphone in front of one of the largest television audiences of the year.

Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who served as President George W. Bush’s top political adviser, said Chrysler was trying to settle a debt to the Obama administration for rescuing Detroit carmakers with billions of dollars in loans.

“The leadership of auto companies feel they need to do something to repay their political patronage,” Mr. Rove said on Fox News, where viewers of the network’s morning program “Fox & Friends” rated the ad their least favorite of the game. “It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”

David Axelrod, President Obama’s chief political strategist, seized on the commercial almost immediately. He sent out a Twitter message shortly after it ran, declaring, “Powerful spot.” And, as if to underscore the Obama campaign’s lack of involvement in it, “Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?”

The White House cast the ad, which was accompanied by similar full-page newspaper advertisements on Monday, as an affirmation of the president’s economic policies. Asked by a joking reporter whether the commercial counted as an “in-kind contribution” from Mr. Eastwood, Jay Carney, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, said it merely laid out the facts, and indeed the ad resembled a main theme of the president’s State of the Union address last month.

“This president,” Mr. Carney said, “made decisions that were not very popular at the time that were guided by two important principles: one, that he should do what he could to ensure that one million jobs would not be lost; and two, that the American automobile industry should be able to thrive globally, if the right conditions were created.”

The ad’s title, “It’s Halftime in America,” along with its uplifting and inspirational script, recalled one of the most famous campaign ads ever produced, President Ronald Reagan’s re-election year “Morning in America” ad of 1984 — albeit with a post-recession twist.

Mr. Eastwood, who narrates the new ad and appears among images of molten steel and city streets, says: “How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And how do we win?” He concludes, looking straight into the camera: “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do, the world’s going to hear the roar of our engines.”
Dan Wieden

In an e-mail, Mr. Eastwood said politics were not in the equation. “The ad doesn’t have a political message,” he said. “It is about American spirit, pride and job growth.” Mr. Eastwood, a former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., who usually voted Republican, has acknowledged recently having a political change of heart.
Chrysler similarly denied that politics were at play. But that ignored the fact that as a major beneficiary of a government loan program derided by many conservatives, whatever it does over the course of the next nine months will be scrutinized in a political light. Based on rates NBC was quoting advertisers, the two-minute spot cost Chrysler about $12.8 million.

Shown before an audience of more than 110 million people, according to Nielsen, the advertisement came at a fortunate time for Mr. Obama’s re-election team. It dovetailed with a positive jobs report on Friday and the rolling start of a general election campaign that it assumes will be run against Mitt Romney. (Mr. Romney opposed the auto bailout, as did Mr. Eastwood in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in November.)

But the conservative outcry over the spot brought to the foreground the tricky politics of the auto industry rescue, which has cut both ways for the Obama administration. What do you think.