Boston’s North Shore Business Expo 2013 – a flourishing economy

•April 3, 2013 • Comments Off

Boston’s North Shore Chamber of Commerce attracted a record number of local businesses, large and small to its annual showcase – the North Shore Business Expo on March 5, 2013.

The mood of the local business representatives was strikingly positive and is captured in the video below.

Reflection from an Aussie Expat on the Blizzard of 2013

•February 11, 2013 • Comments Off

Youtube and First Amendment Rights

•January 8, 2013 • 2 Comments

I received the following email from Youtube this morning.  Before reading, here’s the context: it’s about a trailer for a short documentary of an historic church celebrating its 200th anniversary in February 2009.  The request I made to Youtube to monetize it – was made early in 2012 – after at least 8 months, they have clearly agonized about it and come back with this! —-

<Dear Christopher Gilbert,

Thanks for submitting your video “Park Street Church – Bicentennial movie trailer” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd1KLtxJzHY) for monetization. We did not approve this video for monetization because the content in your video and/or the metadata may not be advertiser-friendly.

Please note that YouTube reserves the right to make the final decision whether to monetize a video, and we may disable monetization for partners who repeatedly submit ineligible videos.

As next steps, please read our Community Guidelines before enabling another video for monetization.

Thanks,

The YouTube Team>

May or may not be advertiser friendly?  Really!  A trailer on an historic center city Boston church, that points to the short documentary that has been for 3 years a Freedom Trail experience?   Thoughts on an appropriate response to the keepers of the Youtube gate?

“De-Friended” – the embitterment of Facebook communication

•November 1, 2012 • 1 Comment

I had a grandfather who liked to greet my visits as a young adult with a rump steak cooked to my liking and a Fourex beer. Sitting opposite me he would sip a neat whisky, probably his fourth or fifth for the day, and descend into an embittered rant about Australian politics and life in general.  When he was really in his stride he’d turn his invective to family matters.

At this point, from behind the barricades, so to speak, I’d let fly with a growl, “Stop it Cec!”

He would stop, with a sarcastic grin on his face, back down, and change the subject back to the mundanity of his 24/7 care of my stroke-paralysed grandmother.

My grandfather was an object lesson for me in how a life can become sour, and I was confronted with it in every encounter from my earliest childhood.

The memory of this has been freshened for me in this US election cycle.  Who knew I would become an American citizen in my middle age? And it’s Facebook, that wonderful forum for dropping in and out of one another’s lives, across all continents, that has brought back that same experience for me.

The rants I object to are from people who matter to me and their biting words seem to reveal a bitter hatred of President Barak Obama, the real cause, they believe, of all their patriotic disappointments. With as much well meaning as my departed grandfather, they name-call anyone associated with the Democrat Party, and to me it seems vicious. (I wrote on this in the last election cycle when it was email that was the vehicle for disinformation and hate commentary.)

What they have in common? They are white, they describe themselves as Christians, as I do, and they are staunchly Republican.  Me, I consider myself an independent politically.  I also value good journalism.

It’s hard to speak about these encounters. How do you discuss this assault with words without returning serve like I inevitably did once I was old enough, with my grandfather?

My attempts to debate the rationality of the arguments from three people I care about has resulted in permanent “de-friending” – that’s got to be a word in the English dictionary by now.

One, a woman of high public profile, was convinced that George Soros is incarnate evil in the US, wrote about it with a passion, and directed it to what I came to realize was a gathering choir of like- minded believers.  But she excludes dissenters. She can simply de-friend them. Like me.

The other an 18 year old high school senior, and sharp debater – his language became so out of control, that I suffered the worst personal slanging in five and half decades of life for daring to warn him that Facebook rants might affect his job prospects.

Then yesterday – the catalyst for this reflection – a former colleague, cut the Facebook cord then wrote me off to his Facebook audience as a one-eyed Obama supporter.  Because? I challenged his conspiracy-theory attacks on “Ohblahblah” with New York Times & Washington Post reports from eyewitnesses in Benghazi.

For some years he has been, in my perception, a megaphone on Facebook for every right wing extremist that supports his view of Obama as the cause of the demise of the USA. And, all the way from Australia.

It’s the mean spiritedness that gets to me, but beyond reminders of my grandfather, I allowed myself to make another attempt to persuade him to another way of seeing Benghazi and the film by the discredited Dinesh D’Souza,  “Obama 2016.”

De-friended!

The issue isn’t really he said/ I said.  The issue is the lack of value we give to people who don’t see life the way we see it.  So little value in fact that it’s easy to cut them off despite previously important relational ties.  Now mind you, I own that my participation in the backward and forward is not without its own follies.  Who handles an argument faultlessly?  But in each instance, I didn’t expect nor want a friendship divorce.

Still, it’s not a black eye.  I’ve been king hit twice in my life.  And, it’s not a gunning down, or a roadside bomb – so perspective matters here!  It is a shunning, as a pariah, as one who just doesn’t get it

So, I discover that each de-friending hurts because it demonstrates that the feeling behind the argument is more important to my former Facebook friends, than me as a friend.  That their integrity feels impugned because I exist as a challenge to the lens they use to view reality.   Therefore, for them, I’m quite expendable.

Expendable.  Said that way, it sounds like the seed of terrorism doesn’t it?  Come to Facebook & see how to make an enclave of like-minded people, militant and chanting cliches over a life reduced to just a few issues, and discard our non accepting friends, our dissenting relatives or neighbors. De-friend them!   It’s a bit like how the seeds of murder are sown in simple anger with another.

So, as I began, this isn’t just a Facebook phenomenon.  It’s been the experience of human beings since records have been kept. Novels and memoirs and movies, and our news cycles are full of it, and in those stories “de-friending” often comes to murder, slavery, torture, war, or romantic tragedy.

For all its benefits in interpersonal communication, Facebook is a new channel for expressing our feuding over tribal or cultic loyalties. And since, ironically, it is NOT face to face, some people are willing to put into text online what they would never say to me in person.

The danger here is to our very souls – a selling of ourselves to a mean spirit, a spirit that makes sport of others through the expression of our basest feelings.  And the saddest thing? When we do this we know we are doing it, but believe it is coming from our truest, our best self.

Lord, help us!

Mac Mountain Lion OS Unready for Serious Use

•August 7, 2012 • Comments Off

Here’s a list of just three issues with Mountain Lion on a MacPro 3,1 late 2008. 2 x 4 core 2.86Ghz.

1. It messes with Calendar so that my other Mac devices get altered to the default event color and titled “new event.” instead of the event I named.

2. More serious – it won’t recognize 3 of my external eSATA disks which Lion always recognizes – and it’s not a firmware issue for the eSata cards. 

3. Word Attachments in email can’t be opened using right click by pages or by Open Office from within mail. They have to be saved and then opened from the saved location with the alternative programs.

These three are enough for me to wonder what a mess lies within. I have ditched my Mountain Lion OS for the time being and will persist with Lion.  It’s not really a mountain lion – it’s more of a bear.

Julia Gillard’s Party Marches Proudly to Electoral Judgment

•February 28, 2012 • Comments Off

In one of the most perceptive reports on the battle for the Australian Prime Ministership and the future of the Australian Labor Party, the New York Times correspondent Matt Siegel suggests that the battle will be won ultimately by the Australian people -

From the last paragraph in a New York Times analysis Feb 28, 2012:

Ms. Gillard’s supporters may dismiss Mr. Rudd’s popularity with the electorate at their own peril, Mr. Wesley said.

“I think a really quite damaging narrative has opened up in all of this, and it’s been lost in some of the commentary,” he said, “and that’s this idea of ‘the candidate of the people versus the candidate of the party,’ and you couldn’t have had a starker difference looking at the polls this morning and looking at the results of the vote. I think that will be manifest in the election when it comes.”      

Kevin Rudd has a popularity with the people by a factor of almost two times that of Julia Gillard.  All commentators are quoting the polls: 53% prefer him as Prime Minister to 28% for Gillard.

From conversations with Aussie voters it is clear to me that there will be revenge of the people on the Labor Party soon unless Rudd is restored to his former post of Prime Minister.

The hubris of the current Labor Party caucus is breathtaking for its lemming-like rush over an electoral cliff.  Rudd – the man most capable of standing outside the group think and cronyism of the “bunch of mates,” knows this, and will have other opportunities to serve the Australian people in politics.

He may even be called upon to rebuild the decimated Labor party.


Jealousy at the heart of Australian Labor Party’s Implosion

•February 26, 2012 • 1 Comment

There are miles of words written these past few days about the battle royal for the Prime Ministership of Australia.  Commentators from every angle are parsing every shred of the evidence they have about Kevin Rudd’s behavior and Julia Gillard’s.  And in reading many of them the cynicism about politics is the dominant coloring, and the predictions of outcome are: status quo will win… in less than 2 hours.

The two commentators I find most helpful are Michael Gawenda and Peter Hartcher.  They seem to get to the heart of the misinformation that’s been tipped into the public place by venal political opponents of Rudd.   And most of the reporters and commentators seem to buy that enough voices shouting about Rudd’s micromanagement, his tyrannical style, even calling him dysfunctional, psychopath and destabilizer of the government  - they seem to think there must be significant truth in it. But Dick Cheney in the Bush administration used the same tactic over the Iraq war and journalists and commentators bought that too, to their everlasting shame.

Gawenda is right in that we have no idea if Rudd is the leaker of damaging information about Gillard’s government. He suspects he is, but no one is coming forward. But journalists have used the cheapest argument of all in this debate – an ad hominem argument – we all know it’s true – but they name no names of journalists to whom Rudd or his supporters have leaked.

Hartcher is right that Labor loses hugely in this fight, especially if Rudd is not elected – because the downward spiral of a party led by people who most Australians regard as treacherous will continue.  It’s a footnote that the leader of the Liberal Party is the least qualified candidate for Prime Minister in a lifetime.

My own analysis – with 1.5 hours to the showdown between Gillard and Rudd is that jealousy has consumed Rudd’s opponents.  The Rudd government in 18 months was the most productive government for reform and legislation in the history of the country. That has been attested to by Hartcher and others. It was driven by a brilliant man.  And it’s his brilliance, and his popularity with the people of Australia, not his so called dysfunctional “let’s get it done” leadership style to which the mean spirited Labor caucus has responded so viciously. With the power that comes with popularity Rudd was a threat to the status quo of the caucus.  Self interested politicians, giving favors, to call in favors, found their style of politics was under threat from Rudd as all powerful leader. He wouldn’t deal with them.  They stabbed him in the back and Gillard will be forever tainted by that – such a sad way for the first woman Prime Minister to rise to office.  Es tu Julia?

It seems clear to me that fear and jealousy in the party will win the day and Julia will get the nod.  There may well be an early election because the independents who helped Gillard form government in an indeterminate previous election may find the “resolved” Labor party under Gillard has just spent it’s last dollar of favor.

It’s one of the saddest days in Australian political history to watch the best person for the job lose (in this case the man) because a political party of cronyism refuses to be reformed. But, I persist in hope that in a few hours it won’t come to this conclusion and sanity prevails.

Post Script: Caucus Room Ballot came out 71 -31 in favor of Gillard.  It’s not a drubbing that it’s claimed to be for Rudd.  It went as expected.  But it’s death throes for the Australian Labor Party – and perhaps decimation for Labor at a very early election. Where is there a credible alternative political party for Australia to ensure there is a functional parliament?

 
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