Mac Mountain Lion OS Unready for Serious Use

•August 7, 2012 • Comments Off on Mac Mountain Lion OS Unready for Serious Use

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.
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Julia Gillard’s Party Marches Proudly to Electoral Judgment

•February 28, 2012 • Comments Off on Julia Gillard’s Party Marches Proudly to Electoral Judgment

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?

Online Violence and our Civil Society

•October 22, 2011 • Comments Off on Online Violence and our Civil Society

I have a friend who has become a best selling author of a number of children’s books through a well known multinational publisher.  He happens to be a Christian, who loves children, and has that rare gift of being able to communicate with kids in person and in groups, as well as in his remarkable books.  With a high platform, and commercial success, comes scrutiny. That’s to be expected. But, if you imagine that his critics are atheists or people of other faiths you’d be wrong.

You might imagine that within Christian circles there are constructive critics of the genre, and I would expect that. What neither he nor I expected, but is now normal in the new media environment, is ongoing virulent attack through many online forums. So my friend suffers a widely published textual assault that’s damning and personal, that tells lies about his character, asserts fallacies about his sexual orientation, distorts the narrative line of the books, and attacks the orthodoxy of his church.  Worse, it’s coming from people in other churches, even within his denomination, who have set themselves up as Christian thought police.  (An oxymoron, surely)

Now, my friend has never met these people, they don’t know him, nor have they tried to talk with him to chat about concerns they may have.  They’ve simply resorted to character assassination of the worst kind, and given themselves some sort of mission from God based on a peculiar interpretation about the content of the books.

It is of course painful.  It’s distressing.  I wonder if someone might try and act out the threats and abusive language by stalking my friend and causing him bodily harm.

But have you read the online comments to news stories recently?  A story about Steve Jobs this morning and the mean spirited attacks on each other by the readers took even my late-fifties-and-a-journalist breath away. Online comments on the Rugby World Cup reporting have yielded vicious remarks between fans. It’s everywhere on the net, people demonizing one another – we’ve all seen it, perhaps you’ve done it? Demonizing. Finger pointing.  Dehumanizing others.  So that computer driven hurting, maiming, killing, genocide, become in the end… OK?

It’s not the fault of the internet that large numbers of people reveal what’s really in our human makeup. That could be regarded as good, right?  People being “out there,” exceedingly, honestly?  Well, no if they’re not ashamed of behavior that causes harm.  Of how many suicides do we need to read, about people whose characters copped assassination over the net, before we accept our words, our texts have serious power?

Sacrificing face to face relationships for online virtual relationships might just be the thin edge of a wedge, toward a very dangerous and uncivil society, a society which regards politeness as a curse and cussing out a person, cutting them down, as heroic virtue.

When we look into someone’s eyes we get to appreciate far more than words on a screen can tell us about their author.  So my plea is – be careful how you respond to those with whom you disagree, online.  For every one who is faking a persona, there are more of us who aren’t. But even so, we’re someone’s brother or sister, someone’s child, someone’s parent and we all still bleed when cut.

Hotels.com: An Online Predator?

•August 12, 2011 • 2 Comments

Don’t make a mistake booking with Hotels.com – it seems they like mistakes in their favor and according to the head of the customer service at the Texas corporate office it’s their current technology that ensures you can do almost nothing to rectify it.

On Monday I booked for two nights at a hotel in Staten Island. A short while later a friend invited me to stay for a night – the second night of my trip there.  So I tried to use the online “change of itinerary” option but it led to a dead end.  So I called the number provided and spoke with a non US citizen with an anglo name and he appeared helpful enough to alter the booking to a single night stay, and within the allowed window for making the change before 4pm.  However at the critical moment of refunding the already paid amount for one night – he suggested I call back in an hour because the computer system wasn’t responding.

That was inconvenient for me since I was on the road for five hours immediately after that, traveling to Staten island from Boston. Today I have tried 5 times to call back and arrange the refund – and the first glitch was that the Comfort Inn operated off an unchanged hotels.com booking and despite the fact I checked out, handed in my keycard, left the room empty – the Comfort Inn told the hotels.com customer service agent that it has has no record of my checking out a day early.

So I asked the hotels.com operator to wait on the line while I called the Comfort Inn to get the manager there to speak with the person I spoke to on checking out.

But while talking with Comfort Inn by cell phone the hotels.com operator disappeared off the line and my landline phone started that hung up scream in my ear.  The Comfort Inn manager seemed understanding (keep in mind his Inn stood to benefit from this situation – two nights for one) but he offered a cheap consolation: a free night for having stayed in two Comfort Inns within two weeks, but for a future booking. He reaffirmed that because I paid hotels.com direct he had no record I even checked out at all!

I called back four more times to hotels.com and it seems as if they flagged my booking confirmation number as trouble – since on each occasion I waited through the recorded music – (a recorded message strongly encourages the caller to hang up since they are unusually busy in spite of a wait time of a few minutes only each time) but the line went dead soon after the dial tone to an operator began.

Thus this post – hotels.com appeared to have stolen a nights accommodation from me and blocked every avenue of its recovery. It still appears to me that it might be their customer service policy – in the offshore office – because the behavior of misleading me was consistent from the moment the first operator said the system wasn’t responding, (no offer to call me back to complete the transaction), to the next two phone calls when an operator took the call but hung up on me before dealing with the issue.  Remember I spoke with them on a landline – can’t blame cell phone drop out.  The last three calls failed entirely.  Seems like predatory behavior to me. So beware of hotels.com.

Post Script:  Since I first posted this, I located and called the corporate office for hotels.com in Texas (belongs to Expedia.com) and after waiting 25 minutes for someone to pick up I was taken seriously by a kind woman who in the end refunded my credit card the money that I didn’t spend.  For the principle of the thing it has cost me 5 hours on the phone.  Buyer beware!  I suggest ring the hotel direct next time – and that is what I will certainly do.

The Principled Courage of Hutchison and Obama

•August 6, 2011 • Comments Off on The Principled Courage of Hutchison and Obama

Part 1 of a series on Ideology versus Principle and how its shaking the foundations of civil society

I have a friend who is legally blind. The disease Retinitis Pigmentosa, restricts his vision to a narrow cone of 19 degrees.  Most of us get to use 160 – 170 degrees to the edges of our vision. Test it by starting with arms outstretched 180 degrees and while you look look directly to the front, bring them slightly forward until you can see your hands. Flexing fingers makes it easier to see them. Then imagine what 19 degrees is like by pointing your arms directly forward from each shoulder.  That’s all my friend gets to see.

When we sail together it’s as if he can see more than me – because although he sees only what’s directly in front of us, every part of what he sees there, the ocean swell, the birds, the boats, he’s learned to observe more keenly than me.

This helps me understand an intellectual form of retinitis pigmentosa. It’s as if what we see when we imagine life’s possibilities has become more and more restricted, to just 19 degrees.

And it helps me to understand the cause of the damage done to our neighbourhoods and communities by the more militant followers of political and social ideologies like “liberalism”, and “conservativism.”

Adhering to a way of making sense of the world – be it “liberal,” or “conservative” – might give us great perception on the issues that matter, like “poverty” or “public debt,” “a right to life” or “a woman’s right to choose,” but the problem remains that the issues dealt with by various ideologies are just a slice of what really matters to an increasingly diverse population of 312 million here in the US.

Ideological liberalism for example has little space for religious observance or religious views, and places a lot of hope in education, especially in the sciences. Ideological conservatism for example has little or no space for wealth held in common – “common wealth” – or trust in democratic government to administer it.

When we rigidly adhere to our limited view, like soldiers for the truth, we can prove dangerous. We’ll demonise people in order to exclude them from the perfect world of our 19 degree cone.

People who live by ideology, will start with attacks on the reputations of those who disagree with their view.  We hear them on syndicated radio shows, and national TV networks. They fear a conspiracy behind almost every exercise of power by people outside their 19 degrees of vision, like people scared of encroaching darkness.  But we also run across them in our neighbourhoods, workplaces, even in our families.

I experienced this today in a gift store on a pier at a well known beach. Glen Beck was pontificating out loud on the radio, T-shirts were nailed to the walls with out of context quotes from George Washington and other founding fathers promoting hatred of government, and the proprietor muttered and blustered as a background echo of Beck’s commentary so we all knew we were in a store where ideology reigned but which was also literally labelled as a “patriot” establishment.

When asked if he sold stamps for the postcards, he snorted, “There’s no profit in it.”

This kind of dissatisfaction with civil society has taken extreme forms. In recent world history we’ve experienced from the left of politics the blood baths of Soviet Russia, China, and Cambodia.  And on the right we’ve suffered The Nazi Third Reich, the Klu Klux Klan, South African Apartheid, now Al Qaeda, and for Norwegians, the recent massacre by an individual that is all too familiar. History warns us that people who surrender to an ideology reduce their hopes to pithy slogans and propaganda, derive their information from their own media, and when empowered, freely murder people who don’t fit the world they try to construct.

There is a difference between an ideological life and a principled life. But alas, people given to an ideology sincerely believe they are highly principled. It’s self deceiving, because they take their cue for action from their tunnel vision, and fail to reference the millennia old values that lie outside their view.  It’s as if my friend decided to drive a car again because what he sees, he sees well. That’s likely to become a fatal call for some unlucky family on the highway.

So here let’s make a distinction between living by ideology and living by principle.

Truly principled people take a case by case approach to the issues of the day.   That doesn’t mean they disown their preference for liberal or conservative society.  But they’ll use their preferred philosophy with its various values as a guide, not an absolute rule.  Their concern for the best outcome for real people outweighs their ideas for what makes for a better future. Ideologues prefer their ideals, like the freshmen congressmen who didn’t care if their stand against increasing the US deficit limit would tip the world economy into recession again, and ruin the lives of millions beyond the US. And of course, they’ve promoted themselves as the only principled people in Washington.

But truly principled people will act with courage, and care not for what their “base” wants or “believes,” but for nobler, wider, and deeper reasons than that. Usually they are motivated by core values derived from thousands of years of human experience rather than ideals derived from the past 250 years of their national history.  And they will risk personal humiliation rather than make decisions that will hurt a broad constituency.

Like Kay Bailey Hutchison breaking with her Republican Party to end the stalemate over the funding crisis for the FAA that would have destroyed the jobs of 10,000 people while members of Congress enjoyed their lengthy summer recess. Like President Obama facing off ideological members of his Democrat Party and seeking compromise from both parties in order to get a necessary debt limit increase before the government defaulted on what it owed and shook the foundations of the global economy.

What appears to afflict us in 2011 is that a critical mass of US citizens have come to believe that political party dogma is the most efficient interpreter of reality and political office the best way of shaping the future.  It’s ironic that what is happening in the US is hauntingly similar to an attitude that gave rise to the Soviet Union under Lenin.  And so we see enthusiastic base members of the political parties making sectarian politics the norm, while the danger for the rest of us is that we become disillusioned with politics and government and fail to engage.

We can reverse this trend.  We need to become more discerning of where the problem lies: mistaking ideology for a principled life.  And we’ll need to speak up and name the phoney when it’s at work or risk losing our civil society.

There’s no reversing retinitis pigmentosa although medical scientists are working on it.  And, even though it’s true that my friend sees better than most of us in the small view he has of things, he’d rather have his sight back again.  He at least is painfully aware that he suffers from blindness.

And, this is Who we Aren’t…

•May 7, 2011 • Comments Off on And, this is Who we Aren’t…

When I first heard the news of the US raid on Abbottabad, it was the same sadness came over me as on the day in New York City when the planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

In 2001, I was in midtown Manhattan and watched the towers burn, people tumbling from their heights, through the viewfinder of my Sony video camera, on a 16th floor balcony on Madison Avenue between 39th and 38th Streets. As I did so, I glanced up at the Empire State building just a few blocks away as if it might be next.

When the towers fell I was in my office, having no stomach to watch the inevitable end. I was primarily a pastor responsible for some 400 New York City Christians, some of whom worked in the World Trade Center. I knew it, and so I began to turn my attention to making contact with them all.

My first instinct was to assure my family back in Australia, that I was not near the towers.  I sent an email.  Clear to me in that moment, as a permanent resident in process of obtaining a green card: the US would vow revenge and use its extraordinary military might to get it.  I emailed home that afternoon how I hoped against hope that there would not be this knee jerk response.

The way I know Christ, as one of his followers, is to turn the other cheek.  To receive the blows rather than dish them out.  To overcome evil with good.  But it’s human nature to justify violence in the name of God. And so it turned out.  Bin Laden had invoked Allah to perpetrate a shocking evil, and the US would respond in spades under the so called Christian theological category of “just war.”  My reading of history says this pragmatic approach to life, a concern for immediate power, wealth, and pleasure of life, creates perpetual violence between empires and the people disempowered and impoverished by imperial agencies.

My email to friends and family back home got picked up by the Sunshine Coast Daily and published without my permission.  So in my hometown, Maroochydore, in the state of Queensland, Australia I’m on the record for my view written on the 11th of September, 2001.

I have been slow to respond to the events of this past week waiting for the full story to emerge.  I read the first of the reporting at 5:30am Monday morning May 2. What was clear was that Bin Laden was dead.  I was so uncertain of my response to the news that I didn’t mention it to a group of friends I met for breakfast at 6:00am.

Since 2003, I’ve spent more time as a journalist making documentary films than  as a pastor.  I have fourteen years experience now in the US and felt certain in that moment this news would not be coming from President Obama unless he knew it was true. He has shown great restraint over the past two years in public pronouncements (at great political cost) – he’s not like his predecessor.

As for the details of the reports, I’ve had no more confidence in them than anyone else other than those who must find a conspiracy.  The details will come clear, and have clarified over the past week, since the online press is vigorous and diverse, not only in this country, but worldwide.

Now a US citizen, I’m as aggrieved by this state sponsored assassination as I was when the US went to war in Iraq.  Yet, you would think reading the New York Times and other major US journals of record, that almost all Americans find the execution justified. But it’s not so.  Many wanted due process, the mark of a truly free democratic state.  There is a slavish patriotism that binds the major newspapers in the US to breach journalism’s commitment to the truth and covenant with the public, in moments like this. Liberal or Conservative alike are invested in America remaining dominant and the end justifies shortcuts with the means of reporting.

But because of the intensity of reporting by foreign correspondents, and by foundation- funded investigative reporters, how Bin Laden died, armed or unarmed, and the people with him, will come out even in the US press. I see the cleverness of the disposal of the body and how it makes sound pragmatic sense to those who conceived the raid, but again at the huge expense of relationship with a Muslim public.

On the release of the photo – I’m one of those who believes that documents and eye witness reports are the best enablers of truth.  Journalists know that truth is established best by multiple independent eye witness testimonies, and documents (textual evidence of decisions taken, conversations had).  And whether we acknowledge it or not, the veracity of a photo or video images (which can indeed be manipulated) depends on the personal testimony of the camera operator, not on the bare fact of the image/s.  Whichever way we cut it, in the end you have to have confidence in the journalist and editor that they have a methodology for getting to the truth of a thing.  If this personal trust gets broken – we lose ability to be sure of what’s true.

But beyond this issue of knowing what is true – my worry from the get go on Monday morning has been the high handed mistreatment of Pakistan’s people.  The US embarked on an unannounced raid inside a sovereign country, ignoring a culture which majors on personal dignity and an acute sense of what is shameful.  I believe the US administration did it because its officers didn’t trust the government or the military of Pakistan not to warn Bin Laden.  From the perspective of the US administration, the billions given to Pakistan had earned it the right to act unilaterally, and besides, it’s so powerful, it simply can. And did.

But the price for demonstrating to the world as much as to the people of the US, as President Obama put it: “This is who we are!” will be a deeper alienation of a people with little power and wealth, and with a different view of the world. Resentment and violence have been re-enforced for a very short term gain of  “vindication”  for many US citizens.

It will be said that US citizens are heartless imperialists, and so a vestige of goodwill gets squandered, not because Bin Laden was not fair game to be brought to justice but because of the way the US has done it – pragmatically and true to historical type – “this is who we are” – the epitome of justice in Hollywood films.

Acting by the lawlessness of the old wild west has been deemed more important than a relationship with people who might have admired a more restrained exercise of justice. Last night I watched a Reuters video clip from Khandahar in Afghanistan where even a teenager in the street argued intelligently for the universally held ideal of justice, through jury trial, which the US has spurned.

And so I remain saddened to the core and will continue to represent my opposition to the use of overwhelming force by the US as a solution to the world’s evils.  “Capture and kill” in its own way is like “Shock and awe,” a form of terror.  By styling this past ten years as a “war on terror,” rather than a police action, the US looks less and less like the light of liberty on the global hill.  Do we want the world to believe this is who we aren’t?  The moral authority of our global leadership in the eyes of important others has been shot down with Bin Laden. He knew this cultural blind spot, and that was always his game plan.