Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is the cost of democracy?

Reading Andrew Sullivan's ongoing blog about what is happening in Iran and have to say it is very moving to read about the lengths Iranians will go to get a broader democracy.

We have tended, in the west to paint Iranians with one brush. They were included in the axis of evil and as such were fanatical terrorists intent on destroying the west. Well, this week shows that Iranians want a more moderate government with a more moderate political leader in Mir-Hossein Mousavi .

The theocracy will undoubtedly stand, but progressive Iranians and the free world hope that Iran can step back from the irrational dogma espoused by Mahmoud Ahmadineja and the hate that it had encouraged.

This is an excerpt of what Obama has said today:

"The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights...Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness."

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.
- Melville.

From today's statement from Mir-Hossein Mousavi:

"...I had come to show that it was possible to live spiritually while living in a modern world. I had come to repeat Imam’s warnings about fundamentalism. I had come to say that evading the law leads to dictatorship; and to remind that paying attention to people’s dignity does not diminish the foundations of the regime, but strengthens it."

This is not from today. But it shows the raw brutality of the Basij:

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Before we had Bruno, there was Richard!

Bless his heart, which is in the right place, but really...
I maybe sticking my neck out here and be accused of internalized homophobia, but I just find him embarrassing.

It might have been OK back in the 70's when Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde were the gay clowns that were safe to laugh at. But just as we have evolved beyond minstrels, I think that his shtick is way old.

Simmons' life-long mission of promoting health and a bill mandating non-competitive physical education in public schools ( Wikipedia) is very admirable and hopefully will bear fruit (sorry). But is his persona helping or hindering his cause?

As I have stated before, I am conflicted about the upcoming Bruno. I've read that this movie is an attack on hypocrites and homophobes (Queerty):

"Yes, he plays a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter, but heterosexual Sacha Baron Cohen's character Bruno is, for all intents and purposes, a comedic exercise in exploring gay stereotypes and going on a witch hunt for homophobes — both concepts that, on their face, we're perfectly fine with..."

But isn't the character of "Bruno" seeking out homophobes sort of like hunky plainclothes cops asking Georges Michael for a date?

I will have to wait until I see the movie of course, to see if I believe that Bruno achieves its goal of searching out homophobia and exposing self centered, superficial gay "divas". Or if it is just a cheap "shock-a-thon" featuring the outrageous antics of another fabulous gay clown.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

More on Is Obama doing enough?

Richard Socarides And Oscar Winner Dustin Lance Black Discuss Obama's Memo (from JMG)

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This weather doesn't make me feel like we're approaching the summer equinox.  On the other hand, it provides a good excuse for staying in an
This weather doesn't make me feel like we're approaching the summer equinox.
On the other hand, it provides a good excuse for staying in and writing.

They shoot horses, don't they?

(from The Onion)

Here's a little satiric sketch about high performance athletes and what happens when they just can't perform any longer.

"After gym physicians confirmed that a bad leg injury would be career ending, seventeen-year-old Shawn Johnson's parents agreed to have their daughter put down, as recommended by her trainers."

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Olbermann, Iran and "TWEET" power

I love Keith Olbermann. His coverage is smart, opinionated and revealing. Do we have a Canadian version? George Stroumboulopoulos? Jian Ghomeshi?

In this segment of his show Countdown, he discusses what is happening in Iran and the way Twitter is affecting the movement for greater democracy there. I have to admit, I have not followed this story very closely as I just couldn't get my hopes up to have them crash when the inevitable hammer of the Supreme Leader (and I'm not talking Diana Ross here) Ali Khamenei comes down.

Although the government had done its best to suppress communications by blocking the internet and silencing supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who insists that he had won the recent election, people have turned to Twitter to get the message of what's happening in the country out to the rest of the world.

There was a very interesting article in the New York Times on Monday titled: Social Networks Spread Defiance Online.

"A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. One feed, mousavi1388 (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar), is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and in English. It has more than 7,000 followers."

And a very amusing and insightful take on this phenomenon can be read on BoomTown: - Inane and Half-Baked Twitter Is the Forrest Gump of International Relations:

"Stupid is as stupid does, of course, but what it does illustrate quite smartly is that word of mouth–a concept as old as humanity–remains the most powerful way of distributing information."

It is easy for Twitter feeds to be echoed everywhere else in the world. The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what make it so powerful.”

I have been a recent convert to Twitter. Like many, I just couldn't see the point of letting people know within a limit of140 characters what I was doing. To be honest, it's one of the applications of Facebook that I had the greatest problem with also. Unless your saving a life, writing the great Canadian novel or winning a lottery ticket, I'm just not that interested in hearing what you had for breakfast or that your shopping for shoes.

However, I have come to the epiphany that like so many other tools that we humans have at our disposal, social media applications like Facebook and Twitter can actually improve the way we communicate and do business. Through a continual flow of "small talk", friends and those that we follow (as in Twitter) can actually attain a sense of who we are by seeing and sharing our interests.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is the medium the message?

For those interested in the confluence of communications and technology, the following video lecture is very interesting.

I've been immersing myself in social networking lately, having earlier rejected it as an obsessive narcissistic compulsion better suited to geeks and high school girls. As in "Q the musical" internet is for porn. And I might add; texting for teenagers, and twitting, for birds.

I remember when it was said that technology would isolate us. That we would become a society that walked around like zombies staring blankly into space as MP3 helmets of music block out everything around us.

And yes, that does happen; I do it myself, especially when I walk between Berri and Amherst Streets to avoid panhandlers and meth rants.

But the more that I am submersed in this social media pool, the more I realize that communicating is a very basic human need; up there with breathing, eating, and fucking. That we may hyper evolve the tools, but we will always use them to do the very basic task of reaching out to others; be it one to one, one to many or as in the case of twitter, many to many.

The social network has actually been the most democratic communication evolution yet. Everyone has a voice and the power to control the message. I wonder what Marshall McLuhan would have thought of this?

Rather than a waste of time, applications such as Twitter when used beyond the "What are you doing?" question, has given people the medium to personally engage with people from all walks of life, of tweeting Presidents, CEO's of companies as well as their BFF.

This video gives dramatic examples of how the new technology has changed global communications and democratized the process of disseminating the message.

(Thanks to Peter Cashmore of Mashable for the link.)

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Maher on Obama

I know, I know. It hasn't even been six months yet and already the President of the United States of America has been under fire for not doing enough; not on health care, not on the economy, not on GLBT rights, and not on the environment.

Maybe he should just reply: "This is haarrd."

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