September 8th, 2014
09:44 AM ET

Asking LEGO to "Save the scientists"

LEGO’s new Research Institute Minifigures set has caused quite a stir. It features three female scientists, and sold out within days of its limited release last month.

There is now an online petition to bring back the scientists as a permanent fixture. It says, “Strong female characters are important for both girls and boys to see represented in LEGO toys.”

The Research Institute set is one of the few to showcase working women.

The idea for it was submitted by Dutch geochemist Ellen Kooijman. She says she hopes LEGO will make more sets and add additional female scientists and engineers.

Kooijman also says, “If this product actually results in more girls pursuing careers in science that would be really great… because I think diversity is really good for science.”

Click on to hear more from Kooijman’s perspective.

November 20th, 2012
11:05 AM ET

On the future of news

Imagine news as a filter in the age of information overload.

News Stream producer Ravi Hiranand recently spoke to The Verge on the future of TV news:

"A TV news show has a finite length. So I can’t show you every single photo of Superstorm Sandy’s power. I have to select the most powerful ones, the most important ones, and I can try to explain to people who might not necessarily know anything about New York why a particular image is so striking."

If you too are a media junkie, read on. It's a great discussion piece.


May 29th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

Diamond Jubilee: UK puts weather before Windsors

I remember the Queen’s Golden Jubilee ten years ago. When the commemorative flypast took place, I was festering in a box room on an ex-council estate in East London. I think I was hungover.

Actually, I was 22 years old. I know I was hungover.

Three miles west of my less-than-regal living quarters, more than a million individuals had mobbed The Mall and the wider environs of Buckingham Palace. Many were armed with union flags, others just with cameras, hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the boyishly handsome Prince William. There was, by all accounts, a party atmosphere – aided I’m sure by the fact that the Great British elements had opted not to rain on this particular parade.

But more than the event itself, I recall an outpouring of surprise from the press and the public alike that the occasion had not been a washout in the wider sense. The Windsors were perceived to have a popularity problem.  Papers such as "The Guardian" decreed that they were out of touch with the populace, and the populace would be out of sight come the Jubilee.


May 10th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Instagram: My addiction and affliction

Nicol Nicolson's Instagram page

I made an exhibition of myself on CNN last night.

My dear friend and colleague Ramy Inocencio was proficiently analyzing Toyota’s latest earnings when, 35 seconds into his hit, a pair of arms rose up over his left shoulder. They belonged to me. And they proceeded to run the gamut of soccer-style celebrations: the fist pump, the airplane, the Saturday Night Fever 45° point…  The spectacle lasted 15 seconds but, watching it back, it’s an agonizingly long 15 seconds. And the thing is, as shamelessly scene-stealing as this episode appeared to be, it wasn’t my fault. It was Instagram’s.

While the wider world obsesses over the imminent opportunity to purchase shares in Facebook, I am instead obsessing over Facebook’s latest purchase. Don’t get me wrong. I was "gramin" long before Mark Zuckerberg got his prosperous paws on the photo-sharing site. But as with any addiction, Instagram crept up on me, posing as a harmless hobby before eventually enveloping me in its allure.


August 25th, 2011
02:22 PM ET

"Stay hungry. Stay foolish." The impact of Steve Jobs on a CNN news team

Rarely is news of a CEO stepping down a worldwide trending, all-caps-making event. But it is when it's Steve Jobs.He led a company that transformed a vast array of businesses - personal computing, portable and online music, smarter mobile telephony and post-PC computing. He delivered a string of products that appealed to our emotions by focusing on the user experience and consumer happiness.

He even pioneered a retail experience that was shanzhai'd in China.

Anyone who's held an iPod has no doubt pressed a mental pause button today to consider an Apple without Steve Jobs. And yet, Steve Jobs has made an impact not only on consumers the world over, but producers as well - producers of business plans, even producers of one hour news bulletins.

In 2009, a colleague and I threw out a question. "If Steve Jobs produced a news show, what would it look like?"


July 18th, 2011
09:17 AM ET

Flat faces can't fly

Listen up pugs. You're grounded!

In fact, all flat-faced animals can no longer fly on Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific airline starting Monday.

The ban on Brachycephalic (that's the technical term) dogs and cats stems from health concerns. Their short snouts and snub noses can cause difficulty breathing during air travel.

Cathay Pacific cites " increasing concern in the industry" as a reason for this move. British Airways reportedly has a similar policy in place.

As a pet owner, I can empathize for the problems this will create for many people. But as a proud beagle-lover, I have to wonder why you like such goofy looking animals!

July 13th, 2011
08:07 PM ET

Harry Potter’s heart’s in the Highlands

From Harry Potter's roots in Edinburgh's Old Town (where a young Joanne Rowling started scribbling her saga) right up to the climactic, cinematic Battle of Hogwarts, Scotland has cast its spell over the series. And just as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy had viewers salivating over New Zealand, the Potter movie anthology has done a first-class branding job for my home country.

A quick admission before I proceed. I am a former employee of VisitScotland, the national tourism board. Indeed, I was working for the organization in London when the first Potter film was released. Times were hard. The motherland was still reeling from the double ignominy of the foot and mouth outbreak and Madonna’s Highland wedding to Guy Ritchie. We were grateful for small mercies, such as Madge’s decision to leave her leotard at home.

Then, with a wave of his little wizard wand, Harry Potter breathed new life into our industry. Hagrid’s hut sprung up on a Highland hillside. Small Scottish children hopped aboard the Hogwarts Express as it chugged its way west from Fort William. The national newspapers were full of it. The rest of the world would follow.

Much attention has focused on filming locations such as London’s Kings Cross Station (bearing a remarkable resemblance to its neighbor St Pancras) and Gloucester Cathedral (whose corridors are recognizable as the haunt of Nearly Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle). But for me - and millions of Potterphiles - the majesty of the wizarding world is most potent in its landscapes. These made me homesick as a 21-year old in London, just as they do as a 31-year old in Hong Kong. And, as such, I offer you my five favorite Scottish Potter scene-stealers:


May 17th, 2011
05:21 PM ET

Big Mac Milestone

If you are the sort of person who counts calories, and watches what you eat, this might not be the blog for you. This is the story of one man, three decades, and tens of thousands of Big Macs.

Don Gorske has eaten 25,000 Big Macs

Today (May 17 2011), Don Gorske, a middle-aged American from Wisconsin, will bite into his 25,000th McDonald's Big Mac. Yes, that's 25,000 of the 540 calorie, double pattie, triple bun burgers. And what's more, he has a receipt for every single one of them.

Don eats a couple of Big Macs per day, every day of the week. He even has spares stashed in the freezer for emergencies. Yet recently, he's been on a diet (of sorts). He's slashed his Big Mac intake to one per day. Why? So that he can hit his Big Mac milestone today, exactly 39 years (to the hour) that he first locked lips around a McDonald's patty.

News Stream ordered 25 Big Macs, just 1,000th of Don Gorske's lifetime intake.

Just one Big Mac is more than a meal for me, and even the more meat-loving members of the News Stream team could only stomach a couple, so as well as chowing down on the 25 burgers we ordered this afternoon we helped ourselves to a side-order of number-crunching to make Don's achievement a little more palatable.

  • Don Gorske has eaten around five-and-a-half thousand kilograms of Big Macs.
  • That's a whopping 13-and-half million calories.
  • He's also consumed 725 kilos of fat just from Big Macs, yet remarkably his cholesterol levels are fine! (156mg/dL in case you were wondering).

In 2008, Guinness verified that Don had eaten the most Big Macs ever, at the time just 23,000. Imagine, at his current rate of consumption if he lives until the age of 86 he'll have eaten 40,000. Now that's something for him to chew over.

April 13th, 2011
07:45 AM ET

Yuri Gagarin, SuperTed and the Case against Space

Getty Images

A lot of people are going to hate this blog post. To all those people, I’d just like to take a quick moment to say: “Suck it up, haters”. 

Here’s the deal. Some people are lost in space. Some, like me, are lost in space-related conversation. I just don’t get it. I don’t want to get it. I will never get it. 

When most of my colleagues watch the Yuri Gagarin video from five decades ago, they gasp in awe. When I watch it, I struggle not to choke on my own vomit. 


Post by: ,
Filed under: General • News Stream ephemera • Personal musings • Space
March 31st, 2011
07:30 PM ET

April Fools’ Day Pranks – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Let me start by clearing a few things up:

  • Scientists have NOT proven the existence of the Loch Ness Monster
  • Abba are NOT reuniting to perform ‘Dancing Queen’ at Kate and William’s reception
  • Snoop Dogg has NOT been neutered
  • Charlie Sheen is NOT a nice person 

At this time of year, news outlets revel in their readerships’ gullibility. But the art of media foolery is so rampant that an increasingly skeptical public is starting to doubt the veracity of stories long before April 1.

Take Rebecca Black for example. We almost needed to believe that ‘Friday’ was a hoax, despite its mid-March emergence. So indescribably offensive was this autotuned iniquity, the conspiracy theorists flooded online forums within hours. Sadly, we’ll have to chalk that down to wishful thinking.


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