Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Letter From Claverack 03.05.2017 From a very worried place…

March 6, 2017

It is a very chill night, here at the cottage. Jazz is playing softly.  It came to me tonight, that Alexa has been learning about my jazz likes and so when I say “Alexa, play jazz…”  Well, it seems she’s learning my favorites.  I am interfacing with artificial intelligence.

Tonight, I am spending it with me.  And I feel like I’m good company tonight.

It is good to hygge at the cottage tonight.

The noise in my world is incredible right now.  My closest friends on Facebook send numerous posts every day, every hour about our political situation.  Dinner last night was non-stop. At today’s brunch at the Dot, his name wafted through the air. My client is the Miller Center for the Presidency.

Donald Trump owns the conversation, ladies and gentlemen, in my head anyway.

His ratings are through the roof!

And that’s what he likes.

For twenty minutes, I have been sitting here working to find an un-trite way of saying:  I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.

This is a global phenomenon, our President Trump.  He’s a global big deal and I can’t believe what’s happening.  Come on, whatever side of the aisle you’re on, this is not a normal presidency.

Just isn’t.

Every tweet generates frenzy.

And the Russians are coming…

Every time I turn around, there are the Russians.  Did anyone in the Trump camp NOT talk to the Russians?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Everyday there is a Trump story that carries the news beast through another day.  On good account, I have it that people in the news business are run ragged these days.

Let’s face it: we have a ratings obsessed President.

And his ratings are HUGE.  Which is what he likes.

It’s just not like anything I have ever, ever seen.

It’s not like anything any of us have seen.  If anyone has, let me know, please.

The weekend has been consumed by parsing Mr. Trump’s tweeting that the Obama Administration ordered wiretapping of his phones during the last days before the elections.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said she’s “seen no evidence” and that we need to deal with evidence, not statements.  Bravo.

Senator Richard Burr, also a Republican, and Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said they would follow where the evidence leads in the Russian investigation.  Kudos to you, too.

Senator Rubio posits the President may have information the rest of us don’t.

And, I think, if he does, he should reveal it.

Right now, as I’ve said, one of my clients is the Miller Center for the Presidency at the University of Virginia.  Because of my work with them, I find myself thinking about the presidency and our president a lot.  A lot.

At church today, I heard very little of Mother Eileen’s sermon because my mind was racing on what I should say in a report to them I need to submit this week.

While I am very hygge in my cottage, I am more than a little unnerved by what is going on in Washington.  And that is seeping deeper into my life, the concern I have for the fabric of the country in which I grew up and in which I live.

Oh, yes, I know we will get through this. And I want to be sure we get through this in as healthy a way as possible.

I am one little man, sitting in a cottage on the Claverack Creek in upstate New York.  And I, one little man, can do things to influence how all this plays out.  God help me, I am politically active.  I called my Congressman’s office from Saba to articulate my concerns.

It is time for participatory democracy, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.  Which means dialogue.

And right now, we aren’t dialoguing.

We’re living in an either/or world and that’s not healthy.

We need to pay attention.

Really, we do.

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 11 21 2016 Join me on the barricades, please…

November 22, 2016

It is November 21st.

Three days after my birthday, a time of extraordinary celebration.  Starting on the night of the 17th, I had dinner with my friends Annette & David Fox.  Leaving them, I connected with my friend Robert Murray and I kept him company while he ate at Thai Market.  Feeling frisky, we followed that by a stopover at Buceo, a Wine Bar on 95th Street.  Things got a little hazy about then.

And that was okay.

The following day, I took the train north and met my friend Larry Divney and his friend, Mark, at Ca’Mea for a birthday lunch.  Then dinner with Lionel and Pierre.

Saturday, I spent the day doing my best to respond personally to everyone who had wished me “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or in emails.  I am still doing that.

It was great.  It was wonderful.  It was a great and lovely distraction in this most confusing time.

Donald Trump, billionaire reality TV star, is the President Elect.

My friend, Pierre, husband to Lionel White, more than best friend said it was [and he is right] that it’s a little bit like we’re Italy and we have elected Silvio Berlusconi as President.

For days, I have done my best to adjust to this.

Over the weekend, for my birthday celebrations, people entered the evening doing their best not to talk politics but that lasted maybe five minutes. How can you not talk politics at this moment?  Once people realized they were in a “safe” place there were revelatory expressions of emotions…

In whatever way you want to think about it, there has been a major shift in American politics.  What I saw this weekend was a beginning of a counter-revolution, a sudden and decisive movement by the left to become a “loyal opposition.”

For years, they/we have felt we had the moral high ground and that was just whisked away from us.  So who are we?

We are faced with the rightfully disenfranchised who voted to place Trump in office. [Let us make note that he did not win the POPULAR vote.]  He won the Electoral College vote, an arcane system I haven’t really thought about since I studied it in high school civics and so I need to understand it better as TWICE in this short century, a President has been elected who won the popular vote but did not win the Electoral College.

As I said, I need to study this but it seems the Electoral College was weighted to help slave states be reasonably represented.  So much to relearn… Or learn for the first time!

We are entering a decisive time and, I think, everyone call feel it.  Politics in this country will never be the same.

Nor should it.  A registered Independent, I am resolutely Liberal and now I have found I must actively fight for the liberal ideals in which I believe.

Join me on the barricades!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From New York 03 22 2016 A dirge for Brussels

March 23, 2016

The sun is setting as I sit looking out at the creek, the vista in front of me full of greying light and the still barren branches of the trees clawing to the sky. 

Mahler plays in the background.  He seemed right for the moment, a day in which I have been enraged and sad, felt broken and hopeless, contemplative and escapist.

When the alarms went off this morning, the screen of my phone was cluttered with news pushes from the BBC and AP about the tragedy in Brussels.  I rubbed my eyes and attempted to focus, not wanting to believe what I was reading.  But it was there, a truth that had entered the world, unwanted but present, never to be put back in any bottle.

I hit the snooze alarm and closed my eyes, staying there until I had to break into the day.  Playing commuter, I made a round trip to the city today for a meeting I felt I could not miss.  If I missed my train, I might miss the meeting.

It seemed inconsequential when I really thought about it, a media meeting balanced against the carnage of Brussels, another IS attack on western civilization.  However, our worlds go on and we met and it was good and some business might develop from it and we never talked about Brussels.

We are becoming inured to the cadence of troubles that has burst upon the world.  We are accepting all of this as the new normal, much as did the Russians did during the last fifty years of the Empire when anarchists struck again and again.  You have to go on because what else does one do? 

Perhaps we should take a break, think about what is happening, see what individually we might do to change the horrible road we’re on.

We don’t really know how to change the map, the road; we do our best, or our worst, and keep on going.  We are, at this moment, caught up in the flow of history and we poor individuals don’t know how to do much to change it yet it is somehow, in democracies, in our hands.

Ted Cruz has apparently called for the patrolling and monitoring of American Muslim communities.  I wanted to take my phone and throw it across the drive when I read that. 

How do we make them our friends when we cast them all as enemies? 

It is frightening and complex and every Muslim I know is as appalled by IS as I am.  Monitor and patrol their communities?  He is taking a page from the Trump playbook.

As I drove to the train this morning a commentator on “Democracy Now” which I do not often listen to, claimed that if there were a Brussels style attack in America just before the election we will be looking at a President Trump.

And I was afraid he might be right.

On my way out of town tonight, on the 4:40 heading north, I might have been imaging it but it seemed there were a lot more soldiers in Penn Station than there normally are.  And I understood it.

Facebook notified me that Facebook friends of mine in Brussels were all safe, for which I was grateful.

I am frightened tonight.  I am going into the city again tomorrow and that doesn’t frighten me.  But the world in which we are living frightens me. 

“The War on Terror” may not be the best option in dealing with this situation which is rapidly, I think, growing out of control.

We have failed to address systemic issues in the Mideast and are reaping the rewards.  Just saying…

I am in the third act of my life.  It is for my younger friends and relatives I am concerned.

It is for the world I was born into that I am concerned.  It is slipping away from us.  IS is taking our peace and our consumption habits seem about to take much else from us. 

Scientists are saying global warming is worse than they thought.

No wonder I am playing Mahler tonight.

Letter From New York 08 01 15 Thoughts from the west bank of the Claverack Creek…

August 2, 2015

Behind me, soft jazz plays on Pandora. In front of me the creek is reflecting the green that overhangs it. The sun is setting and I am at the table on the deck writing on my laptop. It seems the perfect way to end a day.

It was not an eventful day. I woke early. As I went to turn on the coffee pot, the deck glistened with a recent rain. I went out there to sit.

In the early morning, I sat reading the NY Times and taking in the fresh air, listening to the songs of the birds in the trees. It seems right that I am bookending the day with more time on the deck. Every moment here is precious. In a time I can see coming, the trees will turn the brilliant colors of fall and then the winter will come. I enjoy the seasons and am grateful that my little piece of heaven includes four of them.

It is a soft and silky evening. Alana, proprietress of the Red Dot, and Patrick, her partner, were here for part of the afternoon and recently left. As I was leaving after lunch at the Dot, she asked me to stay and I did. She wanted to come and sit on the deck, watch the creek and experience a moment of peace. It has been a tough week for her.

They came. We had wine and cheese and then they left and I am here in the silver light of the end of day, listening again to the songs of the birds and thinking about the world.

An eighteen-month-old Palestinian baby was laid to rest today, immolated by Israeli extremists apparently. The rest of his family is being treated for burns. It is unsure that his mother will survive. Following a Jewish Orthodox man attacking the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, knifing nine people, including a fifteen year old who is fighting for her life, this is a week when Israel is asking itself serious questions.

The serious questions they ask themselves are the same serious questions we all need to be asking ourselves. In America, we have become inured to the violence and that is tragic. For a few moments, after an event such as the killing of nine in Charleston, we ask questions but then go on, forgetting what has occurred until the next atrocity and when that happens, we quickly forget. It seems, sometimes, we learn nothing. The Confederate Flag has gone down in South Carolina and that is good but shouldn’t it have come down long ago?

While it is warm in upstate New York, it is blisteringly hot in Iran and Iraq. Iran posted a heat index of 165 degrees Fahrenheit today and in Iraq a four-day mandatory holiday has been declared to help people cope, especially since the delivery of electricity is not very reliable. I can’t comprehend a heat index of 165 Fahrenheit. Sorry, not processing. I think I would incinerate.

The Donald is still leading the Republicans in the polls and I am still confused how that can be but it is.

There has been no agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after meetings in Hawaii. Everyone seems to thing it will still happen but that it didn’t happen was unexpected. And a bit of an embarrassment for Obama… However, there were 650 people meeting! It’s hard for me to get three people to agree on where to eat!

Facebook is prepping a drone to bring Internet access to people who don’t have it. Its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is expecting a baby. Gosh, the world keeps going on. I’m more excited by the Internet access than the baby but that’s probably because I don’t know Mark personally.

An Ebola vaccine looks more than promising and, hopefully, it will help contain and eliminate that scourge from the world.

The light around me is very silver. The day is ending. I am in twilight and the world around me is growing quiet. The birds are not as outspoken. Far away is the sound of something motorized, a sound I don’t recognize, something new. The jazz continues playing and soon I will go into the house and watch a movie.

Letter From New York 05 13 15 In search of laughs but not snark…

May 13, 2015

As the workday draws to a close in New York, I am preparing to go to see “The 39 Steps” Off Broadway. A few weeks ago I made a pledge to myself that I would work to do one cultural thing a week for myself. Two weeks ago I went to “It’s Only A Play” on Broadway with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing. The following week I went to a screen of the new film version of “Far From The Madding Crowd,” the rom com version according to some reviewers. And I went to the new Whitney Museum.

Tonight, it’s “The 39 Steps” a lighthearted take on Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name. Earlier today I was seeking out what I might do next week. Maybe a morning at another museum?

What has been dominating headlines and my email today has been the tragic Amtrak crash last night just outside of Philadelphia, killing seven at the last account and injuring many dozens. I could almost visualize the spot where the train left the track. I don’t know how many times I have traveled that route, coming and going between New York and D.C.

My nephew, Kevin Malone, phoned me last night to see if I was all right when I didn’t respond to two texts. I was already in the soft arms of Morpheus when they came in and didn’t hear the alert sound. Several other friends checked in on me today, all knowing that the route is one of my regular trips.

It now appears the train was traveling at near 100 MPH when the curve is supposed to be taken at 50 MPH.

There are about 100 of us who are regular commuters on the Empire Line, which runs from New York to Albany. We have a Google groups mailing list and it has been very active today. It feels as if distant members of our “family” have been involved.

In what may have been inappropriate or at least awkward timing, a Committee in the House voted today to cut funding for Amtrak.

As a regular consumer of Amtrak, I am a big supporter and can’t believe that we are allowing our rail infrastructure to slip the way it is. But then I am boggled at the way we are letting all our infrastructure crumble. I think about it every time I cross a bridge; thousands of them are not up to snuff.

The peevish and pudgy North Korean dictator has apparently executed the number two man in the army for falling asleep at one of his meetings. He had him shot with an anti-aircraft gun, certainly a way of making sure the job was done thoroughly. Probably he didn’t sleep through that.

A number of North Korean officials have simply disappeared and he is said to have had his aunt poisoned after ordering his uncle, her husband, killed.

Still awake is George Lucas, who is celebrating his 71st birthday. Happy, Happy to the man who gave us “Star Wars.”

In what is probably no surprise to anyone who follows the tech world, Facebook and Instagram are the two top social apps for mobile users. Facebook owns Instagram. The Zuckerberg juggernaut plows forward.

The Verizon purchase of AOL is continuing to be parsed in the press, with bits of snark attached to many such as: this will be the second time AOL has been involved in the world’s worst merger.

On the campaign trail, the big story today is that Jeb Bush fumbled a question about the Iraq war and that has created a discomfort among his supporters and an opening for his rivals.

In Iraq, the defense ministry is claiming that Abu Alaa Al-Fari, second in command of IS, has been killed in an air raid on a mosque. The U.S. cannot confirm the death but does confirm the mosque was bombed.

Fourteen months ago, MH370 disappeared into the ocean and has not been found. Searchers did find an unidentified shipwreck. It shows the equipment is working well though still not find the missing plane.

In the South China Sea, the Chinese are building some islands. Their position is that the extension of the islands increases the area of their international waters. The U.S. doesn’t agree. Nor do Japan and the Philippines.   A U.S. warship sailed through those waters and the Chinese are upset, sounding warnings about playing nice in very strong words.

I am off to catch my play, with hopes of a bit of food before the curtain rises, looking forward to an evening of laughs not snark.

Letter From New York 01 10 15 After all, it’s the Sabbath…

January 11, 2015

When I woke to a bright and sparkly morning, I picked up my iPhone and used The Weather Channel app to ascertain the temperature. Much to my surprise, it had plummeted to zero degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like minus sixteen. My eyes dazzled at the screen.

It doesn’t usually get that cold here but that cold it was. I checked the water faucets in the kitchen that generally freeze up when it gets that cold but was relieved to find they were running. I made coffee and went back to bed to read The Week, my favorite magazine.

You could feel the cold seeping through the walls. I was grateful for my comforter and flannel sheets. Curling up in bed, I sipped my coffee and read, wrapped in my warmest robe. It was a lovely way to spend a couple of cold hours this morning after waking earlier than normal.

As is often the case with bitter cold, it was bright and sunny so the day had a cheerful feel to it. Bright light flooded the living and dining rooms and warmed the house.

Around the time that “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” started broadcasting I was out upon my errands, checking mail and going to Kohl’s to find a birthday present for Alicia, the daughter of Nick who helps me on weekends. I opted for an educational toy that would help her learn how to spell, feeling I had exhausted the princessy things at Christmas.

It was wonderful this afternoon to watch her tear through her presents, seeing, for a moment, the world through her three-year-old eyes. Really magnificent.

So, fresh home from her party, I’m having an exciting Saturday night in Claverack, writing my daily edition of the blog and doing laundry. Later I will watch an episode or two of Marco Polo on Netflix and then head for bed.

I actually did not do emails today. I was taking a break. I made sure on my iPhone that I wasn’t missing anything important but I didn’t dive into them on my laptop. That can wait until tomorrow. Today, I wanted a little respite from the world.

Brunching at the Red Dot, I only scanned the headlines of today’s NY Times. Even when I was reading The Week I felt like I was studying history because it is a look back over things I have been following all too closely during this past week.

No, today I wanted a bit of rest from the trials and travails of our world, from the constant staccato of events from all over the world that bombard us by the minute. I eschewed the Twitter feed and only checked Facebook to make sure I had missed no birthdays.

It was a time to concentrate on the here and now, the little world around me, centering myself as best I could. I have felt the pressures of the world all week and have listened to that staccato beat of bad news and today I just needed a break.

Today was a day to enjoy shopping for a three year old, to wonder at the geese on the creek and to enjoy the deer that gathered in my yard while watching the sunlight dance through the barren trees of my property.

It was the Sabbath.

Letter From New York May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The webisphere and blogosphere were, literally, a twitter about Google’s announcement of Google TV [ http://www.google.com/tv ] – a new device that using Android’s OS will allow us to better merge television with the internet, all in one device, the Holy Grail that folks have been looking for since the tantalizing possibility began to emerge lo those many years ago – donkey years in internet time as a British friend of mine might say, meaning not so many years but a long time in the fast changing world of technology.

Google is partnering with Sony and Intel. Sony wants to find a way to leapfrog its competition, which it has been having a hard time staying ahead of and Intel wants to get its chips into the television set. Google gets onto the television screen in the living room with an opportunity to earn money from advertising on that screen. From what I’ve been reading, the device promises a seamless experience between traditional television and web viewing. One reviewer credited Google with working on integrating traditional television as opposed to going around it. Everyone will be watching closely because Google has done so many things right – though it has been no means infallible. YouTube is headed for the bigger screen of television sets, getting ready to play in prime time.

Facebook, another ubiquitous internet player, has found itself taken to task once again for its privacy policy, as it seems to be sharing just about everything you do on Facebook with the companies marketing through the website, sharing profiles and extensive information about you with their partner websites. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, seems to have declared the age of privacy dead. The company’s privacy policy has been called confusing in the extreme while continuously changing. Long in some degree of hot water for the amount of information it gives away, there seems to be something of a backlash right now with May 31 named as the day to disconnect from Facebook. Will we? Probably not. An astounding number of us are members of the Facebook nation, myself included, and it does provide a service and we seem to adore sharing “stuff” with everyone else and everyone seems to relish knowing this “stuff” about us. However, the company does seem to be saying it will make it easier for users to adjust their privacy settings. At the end of the day, people will probably not disconnect themselves from Facebook – we do seem to be living in a day of changing perceptions of privacy. In fact, we seem to relish exposing ourselves on the net through Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites. We can’t seem to get enough of this sharing thing.

However, Mark Zuckerberg did say in the Washington Post that Facebook may have moved too fast and will simplify the way users can control the amount of information shared. Not exactly an apology…

While the technological webisphere and blogosphere have been all aflutter about Google TV and Facebook’s alleged foibles, others are attempting to read the tea leaves of Arlen Specter’s defeat in Pennsylvania. His switch to the Democratic Party didn’t work out quite the way he had expected. Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul and closely associated with the Tea Party movement, has won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Kentucky. All in all, last week’s election was a bad one for incumbents and bodes well, many say, for Republicans in the fall. Or may be not, say others, as it might appear that the Republican Party is being taken over by the Tea Partiers and it remains to be seen if they can win in general elections. All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a wild election season.

All in all, it’s a wild time out there. World financial markets are in turmoil, the political scene is unpredictable, we’re moving into uncharted territory with the clean up in the Gulf of Mexico. North Korea is saber rattling. The Euro is under pressure. Iraq and Afghanistan grind on. It’s a scary world out there but summer has arrived; there is warmth in the air, green in the trees and hope springs eternal…