Sunday, March 11, 2018

Disappointing Trend on Facebook

As I recall, when Facebook and Twitter began, many complained that people were using the social media merely to report their daily activities. "How boring", people commented. Gradually, to some extent, people began to express points of view, rather than merely report on activities, and to share photos of their families, friends, travels and adventures.
 
But, frankly, these days, people seem to fill their News Feeds with articles by others, videos, so-called memes, sayings, and the like. To an incredible extent, gone are comments about peoples' own lives. Instead, often there's a parade of political commentary, political humor, animal videos, and the like. There are exceptions, and, to be honest, I've been guilty of this tendency, although I try to blog and I do tweet my own sentiments.
 
I just find this development depressing. Perhaps because I get my news primarily from digital newsletters and newspapers, and to some extent from real-time Twitter posts, I find Facebook's inundation with posts primarily not created although posted by my friends disappointing.

Trump and Putin

What does President Donald Trump's refusal to implement Congress's Russian sanctions law & his failure to direct Mike Rogers of the NSA to counter Russian cyber attempts to manipulate U.S. 2018 elections mean?

That Trump wants Putin to subvert our 2018 elections in favor of Trump GOP candidates? That seems to be an extremely reasonable inference. Didn't Trump call upon Russia during the 2016 campaign to use its cyber hacking capabilities to find Hillary's missing 30,000 emails? Trump seems quite comfortable colluding with Russia in pursuit of his own interests. Why not rig the 2018 elections. After all, it was Trump who claimed that the 2016 elections were rigged. We just hadn't realized at the time that what he meant was that they were rigged in his favor.

Trump's protectiveness when it comes to Putin may be a function of many factors, including Russian "dirt" on Trump for money laundering or other illicit or nefarious Trump behavior; or, a quid pro quo between Trump and Russia involving Russian intervention in favor of Trump in the 2016 elections in return for sanctions relief.

Whatever the specifics, Trump's posture toward Putin gives rise to the conclusion that they are in bed together, each pursuing his own self-interest at America's expense.

Democracy or Despotism?

I increasingly believe that this country is in a race against time. Will the demographic changes already underway reach a critical or tipping point in terms of changing electoral outcomes before the right wing succeeds in instituting an Ayn Rand style despotism.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Thank You, Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown delivers his final State of the State address this Thursday, January 25, 2018.
There was a time when I vowed never to vote for Jerry Brown again and I didn’t for several years. I was tired of his chameleon behavior, constantly running for this political position and that and frequently morphing into an entirely different leader with sometimes completely opposite policies in each new position.
But I did vote for him the last two times he ran for Governor and he has served the State of California well as Governor, bringing a common sense, prudent approach to government spending and often reining in a liberal legislature too eager to spend vast sums of money without revising an unstable tax structure.
But Jerry Brown’s bullet train, arguably his effort to match his father’s legacy in building California’s infrastructure, has been a far too ambitious undertaking which may end up being a failure that taints Brown’s record. As well, I wish he had pushed for property tax reform, a sensitive subject as he was on the losing side decades ago when voters adopted Proposition 13. Then, too, he should have been more aggressive in addressing pension reform, another delicate matter that won’t solve itself.
Nonetheless, Jerry Brown made me a supporter and I wish him well going forward.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Demise of AOL's Instant Messenger




AOL has announced that AIM, its Instant Messenger platform, will cease to exist in December 2017. Despite the disappearance of AOL chatrooms and the imminent demise of AOL’s Instant Messenger or IM platform, I still find that those 1990s means of communication held their own to today’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or the like (and I have them all).
People rushed home from work beginning in the mid-1990s to dial up AOL and then try to squeeze into a chatroom limited to 23 people. Gaining entry was a challenge and sometimes took up to an hour with so many others competing to get in! And, for several years, AOL was very expensive and many people jeopardized their savings as a result of an almost obsessive need to be online.
Many of us developed friendships during those years in AOL chatrooms that endure to this day. Instant Messaging or IMing came later (and AIM as a separate application came even later still) and, once it emerged, people often found themselves trying to keep up with the scrolling chatroom dialogue while simultaneously engrossed in one, two or more IMs! For women the challenge of balancing chatrooms and IMs was even greater than that encountered by men.
RIP, AOL Instant Messenger.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My heart is with ...

Senator Cory Booker posted today (Sept 6, 2017) a statement on Facebook < https://www.facebook.com/corybooker/> that began “My heart is with the people of the Caribbean who are enduring the destructive force of Hurricane Irma right now, and with the people of Florida … .”
When I started reading his opening words I wasn’t sure to which group(s) he might be referring. It got me thinking how many others might be included in a statement beginning “My heart is with.”
  • The victims of Hurricane Harvey
  • The Dreamers under DACA
  • The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar
  • The victims of flooding in Bangladesh
  • The victims of civil war and terrorism in Syria and Yemen
and surely many others.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fascism

I was in Tunisia in May 1968 when Paris exploded with demonstrations and the like led by radical student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit. I followed developments by reading the daily Le Monde newspaper available in Tunis. The students claimed that their spiritual leader was none other than Marxist-Freudian philosopher Herbert Marcuse, who was a Brandeis University faculty member when I was there. But, I was shocked to read in a subsequent interview of Cohn-Bendit that he had NEVER read any of Marcuse's writings!
Well, these days everyone is throwing around the term "fascism". Fascist this, anti-fascist that. "Here's a fascist, there's an anti-fascist, everywhere a fascist or anti-fascist." But I am convinced that the overwhelming number of folks using the terms have never read anything by or about fascist political thought. Don't misunderstand me - denouncing Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists makes perfect sense. Denouncing fascism also, in my book, makes perfect sense. But it might be helpful if people knew more about the origins of that term and the political principles it comprises.