Monthly Archives: July 2013

Koh Samet Oil Spill Seems to be Spreading

2013 07 30 koh samet oil spill

The WSJ‘s Southeast Asia Real Time reports:

The oil spill that hit Thailand’s popular Koh Samet island appears to be moving to coastal areas of the eastern province of Rayong, threatening to worsen the impact on the Southeast Asia country’s critical tourism industry.

“The crude oil spill in the middle of the sea has an extreme impact on Thailand’s tourism,” Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisrisak told reporters on Tuesday. He estimated that the damage from the oil spill to the tourism industry will be about 100 million baht or about $3.2 million.

A satellite image taken Monday evening showed a film of crude oil spill — which covers an area of about 15 kilometers, or 9.3 miles — was moving northeast of Koh Samet Island, which is about a mile away from coastal areas of Rayong province, according to data from the country’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.

Click through for a map.

There’s more from the AP, and National Geographic has some images.

The Bangkok Post also has a story and a map of the affected area, seen above.

(Image: Bangkok Post.)

3 Digital Tools I Used to Write my Master’s Thesis

In April, after more than six months of work, I submitted the thesis I wrote for my master’s in business and economics journalism.

At more than 11,000 words and 41 pages long, it was the longest story I’d ever written.

I interviewed dozens of people, analyzed hundreds of pages of court documents, submitted and tracked multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, read several books on my topic, and composed perhaps twenty drafts of what became the final piece.

I’ll tell you more about the story itself in the weeks and months ahead, I’m sure. For now, though, I wanted to share the top three digital tools I used to organize my writing and research.

1. For writing: Scrivener

2013 04 24 scrivener

I’ve been using the Writing app Scrivener since 2007. It’s less a word processor than a tool for organizing all sorts of digital materials and creating an environment where you can more easily produce text.

I made ample use, for example, of the folders shown on the top left corner of the image above. These folders allowed me to organize various snippets of text; keep running lists of items to investigate; maintain outlines and timelines; and more. I could always keep my main draft open and navigate, with just a click, to another item — as opposed to having to open several Word files and toggle between them.

When conducting interviews, I also relied on Scrivener’s split screen function. I kept my questions in the top pane and typed my sources’ answers in the bottom pane as we chatted. Scrivener also has an excellent full screen mode, which is helpful when you simply want to focus on the text.

The Mac version of Scrivener is $45. For more information on the app, here’s a detailed review of the app’s many features. And here’s a post about using Scrivener for dissertation writing.

2. For organizing data: Excel

2013 07 27 excel mac

Excel? You better believe it. I used spreadsheets to keep track of:

  • Court materials — I listed dates of various documents, their titles, a description of contents, URLs if they were online, and even the files’ location on my hard drive.
  • Sources — I kept track of names, job titles, contact information, and more.
  • Timeline — My story spans several years, so I used a simple timeline to keep track of the chronology of events. This was helpful when it came time to construct my narrative.

Excel is part of Office for Mac. Microsoft’s home and student version is $139.99.

For more, see this overview of Excel for journalists.

3. For bookmarking: Pinboard

2013 07 28 pinboard

I bookmarked hundreds of items online while researching my story, and Pinboard was a huge help. The Web-based bookmarking site is a kind of “antisocial social bookmarking” service.

That is, Pinboard offers all the benefits of social bookmarking, like the ability to access your saved sites from any browser or computer. But unlike many such services, Pinboard allows you to keep your bookmarks private.

You can also assign your bookmarks tags, so they’re easily sorted by keyword, and use a browser bookmarklet to quickly save a site and apply a label like “read later.” So as I came across various news accounts, books, interviews, and other materials online, I simply added a bookmark in Pinboard and could later go back and filter the sites by keyword.

Pinboard is bare-bones, fast, and easy to use. It was approximately $9 when I signed up last year, I seem to recall, and now costs $10.16. This is a one-time fee that rises as more people join the site.

So those were my top three digital tools: Scrivener, Excel, and Pinboard.

What about you? Have some favorite apps for writing or data organization? Let me know on Twitter or leave a comment below.

7 Links

2013 07 21 armstrong

  1. Cambodia’s Sam Rainsy Returns to Cheers Before Vote — Bloomberg
  2. Thailand riveted by tale of jet-setting, millionaire monk accused of rape and fraud — AP
  3. Bangkok construction boom faces resistance — Al Jazeera
  4. Fan Runs Arsenal to Video Hit in VietnamWall Street Journal/Southeast Asia Real Time
  5. How Clothes Should Fit — HowClothesShouldFit.com
  6. J.K. Rowling and the Chamber of Literary Fame — Bloomberg
  7. Photo above, via Michael Beschloss on Twitter: “Here is Neil Armstrong back in lunar module after his moonwalk this day 1969…”

(Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)

What Domesticating Siberian Foxes May Tell Us About Dogs

I recently watched a fascinating segment of the 2009 BBC show “The Secret Life of the Dog”. I’d never seen it, and wanted to share it here. It’s about domesticating foxes in Siberia.

The ten-minute show is embedded below and on YouTube here. Give it a watch:

The gist: Over the course of more than 40 years, scientists took normal foxes, which were aggressive toward humans, and looked for the tamest ones.

Then they bred them.

In just a few generations, the foxes — animals that would typically attack humans when threatened — had become completely tame creatures that snuggled the scientists rather than biting their hands.

What’s more, over time, the foxes started to look like…dogs.

Cute dogs.

The tame foxes even developed floppy ears, the color of their coats lightened, and their tails curled.

One theory is that the least aggressive foxes were less fierce because they had retained their juvenile traits into adulthood. And so dogs — domesticated wolves, that is — similarly display the traits of juvenile wolves.

For more, here’s an American Scientist article from 1999 on the experiment. And there’s a Wikipedia page, as well.

I also came across some domesticated fox footage on Youtube taken by someone who appears to own a couple of the creatures. The video becomes extra-remarkable at 1:14:

And finally, in case you’re wondering: It appears that you can purchase your own domesticated Russian fox. (The Cost: $8,900.)

My Favorite Moment from the Confederations Cup Final: Brazil Sings the National Anthem

Brazil beat world and European champions Spain 3-0 to win the Confederations Cup last night.

But really, the game was decided before the teams even kicked off.

It was hard to imagine Brazil losing, at home in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium, after seeing this (video embedded below and online here):


HIMNO BRASIL by dm_505f34141e1f6

That, my friends, is not a team that is willing to lose on its home turf.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, to be sure, but the Seleção won through sheer determination. And, as the video demonstrates, incredible passion.