Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last Day in Tucson


Tucson, Arizona. I first arrived in Tucson in December of 1982 for a job interview. I stayed at the Holidome on Palo Verde and allowed an extra day to check out the town. Not surprisingly, the University of Arizona and the shops immediately to its west caught my attention. I will remember forever the chat with a Zip’s music store employee about the university, the town, and what it was like to live here.

Eager for the well paying engineering position and living near mountains, I ignored the concerns raised by a downtown that felt like a morgue. It was deader than dead, silent and deserted. I told myself the fun occurred at the pubs and nightclubs to the east and north. That was 26 years ago. I don’t know if Club Congress existed in 1982, but if so I missed it. I knew what it was like at night in downtown Cincinnati, and whether one chose Fountain Square (or my favorite, the Serpentine Wall on the bank of the Ohio River), life was aplenty. I have fond memories of romantic adventures on that wall, especially Donna. Oh, Donna.

After moving to Tucson in 1983, I may have gone downtown five times in the next fifteen years, even though I lived for quite awhile at Fourth Street and Second Avenue. What reason was there to venture south of Ninth Street’s The Shanty? I joined the 4th Ave Food Co-op when joining meant a few hours of volunteer work every week. The street fairs back then felt far more like parties of music, dancing, and food. Some vendors had booths with items for sale, but nothing like the shopping orgies held today. I haven't been to the street fair this century.

Remember when we had REAL monsoons where you wonder if the rain will collapse your roof or blow out your windows? Remember the October 1983 flood and the summer of 1984 monsoons? In the summer of 1984, around 4 PM, find a bomb shelter. The afternoon commute could produce stories rivaling those of veterans, "And then I realized I was totally hydroplaning at 70 mph as the freeway entered the curve under the bridge!"

I will miss the desert, the mountains, the terrain, and the priceless nighttime motorcycle rides to the west. Some time ago, taking an 1100cc cruiser over Gates Pass and out towards the Desert Museum and beyond, flying across the desert and feeling the sharp temperature changes with the plunges into the washes, was an experience not to be forgotten. Ever been in the parched desert at the very beginning of a good rain, when the first kiss of moisture produces that unique smell? Know the smell I'm talking about? It's best far from town, and remember to listen to the extraordinary sounds the desert makes as it starts to drink.



I will not miss the Cloth, the greedy self-serving suits that destroy what they do not understand and squander fortunes in public funds on their mutual stuff-fests, accomplishing nothing for the taxpayers forced to fund them. What is sad is that we will never know what the town might have become if it had city leadership that served the community, not a small clique of naked emperors worshiping their acronyms and inflated salaries. What they get paid to do what is astonishing. I think Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jim Waring, in a discussion of Rio Nuevo in Phoenix, summed it up succinctly, "You spent nine million dollars and didn't build anything."

Best of luck to the educators and school officials struggling against the adversity education faces in Arizona. My adviser, a truly gifted individual and a tenured professor, also departs eastward for another university this summer.

My Road Trip begins Friday morning. The key stops along the way:

Albuquerque (Susan)
Wichita (Thalia)
St. Louis (Cynthia)
Final Destination (TBA)

Apparently the folks at Arizona 8th will entertain all sorts of notions regarding the women above. Go for it. I knew about the ludicrous 1998 made for TV film loosely based on Aldous Huxley's famous Brave New World, but it never occurred to me that some people actually watched it.

Some have asked about the new position, and I'll respond when I think it's appropriate. Of course the blog will continue. I don't want to miss the story when Hecker takes over The Tucson Girl's Chorus or Snell steals the funding intended for a domestic violence shelter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cloth Consolidation

Tucson, Arizona. Tucson business and community leaders announced today the creation of a new "supergroup" to foster greater collaboration of economic development, downtown redevelopment, tourism, and transportation, tentatively named "Greater Tucson Economic Partnership" (GTEP).

GTEP will encompass the existing Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP), the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau (MTCVB), and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).

Interim Board President Larry Hecker said Tuesday that the resulting organization will be "world-class" as it coordinates the efforts of economic development, tourism, downtown development, and regional transportation planning into one partnership.

GTEP will consolidate the offices of the four organizations into one group that will lease space at the new Tucson Electric Power (TEP) headquarters to be built on the site of the Santa Rita Hotel on Broadway Blvd. in Downtown. Hecker said that while the lease has yet to be negotiated, it will likely be in the range of $28 per square foot. "To have a credible effort, you need top-quality space to really sell the community to angels, investors, and developers," said Hecker. The new TEP building will be "world-class", Hecker said.

TEP Vice-President Steve Lynn will be the interim president of GTEP, until the group can bring on a "world-class CEO hired after a national and even international search,” said Lynn. Current CEO’s Joe Snell, Glenn Lyons, Jonathan Walker, and Gary Hayes, respectively, will continue in their roles, heading divisions of the new GTEP as vice-presidents, and will see their salaries increase about 20% as a "signal that we value their continuing contributions in creating a world-class organization," said Lynn.

GTEP board members would be drawn from the respective organizations, although hoteliers from the MTCVB board, downtown businesses from the DTP board, and anyone running a legitimate business on the TREO board would likely not be retained.

"Larry has asked me to serve, and I’ve asked Larry to serve" on the new board, said Lynn.

Asked about the timing of creating the new group during a sustained downturn that has seen funding to three of the four groups threatened, Hecker indicated that the synergies of all four groups working together to attract the Creative Class would help the group save money. Pressed for details, Hecker said that all four groups could save on stationery expenses, for example, and all could reduce labor costs on the lower end of their workforce, from sales managers at MTCVB and maintenance staff at DTP, to engineers and planners at RTA. TREO will likely not see any staff reductions, "as they’ve already sacrificed enough," he said.

The first order of business will be to develop a community blueprint, which will cost approximately $600,000, said Hecker. "It will be a world-class blueprint," he said. "It will be even more significant than the $250,000 economic blueprint that TREO commissioned two years ago. We are ready to make things happen."

"This is public investment in the organizational infrastructure that is needed to build on the great successes we’ve seen since 2005. The community has come together like I’ve never seen before, passing the RTA, electing visionary leaders like Council Member Trasoff and Supervisor Elias, and building a griffin on Scott Avenue," said Hecker. "Now we can leverage the bonding capacity of RTA and the collective resources of all of these successful organizations into one world-class partnership."

Asked for comment on the formation of GTEP, Snell of TREO said, "at the end of the day, we’re seeing that Tucson is truly emerging as a strong competitor among third-tier markets." Lyons of DTP said, "it’s my sense that Tucson is ready for an organization like this." Walker of MTCVB was at Sullivan’s Steakhouse with staff and clients and could not be reached for comment. Gary Hayes at RTA did not return phone calls.

Mayor Bob Walkup, who sits on the RTA board, said, "this is going to be the key to getting us where we need to be. This is the first project of Rio Nuevo, and the first step towards regional cooperation". Paul Loomis, mayor of Oro Valley and a TREO board member, gushed, "this will create world-class synergies for our community".

Blood in the Snow



Based on the bestselling novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In represents a truly exquisite and touching cinematic achievement that masterfully combines the frameworks of budding youth and sexuality with perhaps the most realistic treatment of vampirism yet to occur on film. A motion picture of maturity and intellect, its pace takes its time perfectly content to lose the action addicted in exchange for creating truly terrifying sequences for the astute. The film is not for dummies.

The weakness, vulnerability, and innocence of lonely and bullied 12 year old Oskar provides the perfect character to meet and befriend a strange girl new to town, one with a dark secret. Not adhering to horror formula, the film is a story of human interaction, compassion, and fear played against the screen of what is human and what is not, yet is. The film has the sophistication to produce more with less and stretch out on the skinny branches. See the film, and the distinction “skinny branch” will become clear.

As the pre-teen girl "who is not a girl" Lina Leandersson delivers one of the most compelling vampire performances I’ve ever seen. The viewer truly feels the developing relationship in the poignant and moving reality of what it is to be one individual connecting with another. The film is a touching and thought provoking love story.

It ain’t no Twilight.

Watch this film, and I promise you will never forget it. Equally unforgettable:

The Cement Garden
Spanking the Monkey
Pan's Labyrinth

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Malignant Distortion

The mainstream media appear to have for the most part fallen for Dick Cheney’s framework setting the context for his malicious lies suggesting the Obama Administration has made America less safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, but if one starts down the road of discussing whether waterboarding works, one has already fallen into Cheney’s trap.

I strongly recommend Jack Goldsmith’s 5/18 The Cheney Fallacy which says it all far better than I ever could. Cheney is deliberately fabricating (borrowing from the Karl Rove playbook) concepts that simply make no sense. The GOP, desperate to criticize Obama no matter what, is dangerously following Cheney’s approach by appealing to fear of Armageddon. That such fear will continue to win elections is a long shot.

As Goldsmith documents, Obama has not dismantled or weakened a single security measure protecting this country. NOT ONE. The hype about Guantanamo is just that, hype. The hysteria regarding these prisoners lacks the slightest rationality. One has cause for greater fear towards some of the creatures already contained in our maximum security prisons. The Unabomber (PhD Mathematics) machined his own screws and parts for his meticulously crafted bombs. BTK got off while slowly strangling a nine year old girl. Of course the GTMO folks need to be carefully considered on a case by case basis, which our president will do. GOP assertions that we are setting them free in the US with a gun and ammo store allowance are just ludicrous.

For reasons I can’t quite fathom, Cheney is lying, distorting the truth, and forwarding a conversation that borders on treason. The fear mongering "less safe" language he now throws at the Obama Administration in fact applies almost equally to the second term of the Bush Administration. Everything Cheney is doing is a malignant distortion that has nothing to do with serving this country and everything to do with serving himself per his delusional version of reality.

By the way, prolificity may suffer over the next couple weeks. The road trip is now T minus a week. As a hint of what I’ve been doing the last few days, anyone want to buy a house?

I recommend getting Liquid Nails out of your hair before it dries.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Tale of Two Stories

In 1970, Howard Minsky produced the film Love Story with Erich Segal's screenplay adaptation of his own novel.

The film starred Ryan O'Neill and Ali MacGraw as the star crossed lovers who undertake risk in order to marry and then face imminent separation because one of them is dying. With a stellar musical score based upon the song Where do I begin? the picture ripped the tears out of millions and set the fantasies of heart throbbing romantics sailing. I won't attempt to articulate what images of the serious, intelligent, and melancholy Ali MacGraw ignited in a just shy of ten year old psyche starting to get a sense of at least one component of what matters in life. Ohh.

The film forged into seldom (at the time) trod territory regarding character vulnerability and risk in romance. While pain on the screen was nothing new, the particular tenderness and simplicity of the anguish in the film accompanied by its music unlocked the hearts of the 1970 audience. Remember when Oliver confronts Jennifer about admitting one's feelings?

"It's a risk, isn't it, Jenny? At least I had the guts to admit what I felt."

She slows down and looks at him, "I care."

She notes her fear, "You're the preppie millionaire and I'm the social zero."

I've tasted the reality of that conversation (as the social zero) and have seen the wall slam across a face when my non-millionaire status came to light mid coffee. In the fictional film they transcend the SES barriers, but sparks fly, and after a particular blow up she bolts and he runs everywhere to find her. After an exhaustive search, he returns home to find her freezing outside their door, her face cinematic gold, "I forgot my key."

MacGraw is then priceless, forever etching "Love means never having to say you're sorry" in motion picture history and pulling tears through your ducts from the moisture under your toe nails. Shot on location at Harvard, the institution ritualistically screens the film to its incoming freshmen, socializing them to ridicule the story. Me thinks thou dost protest...

Another actress with a more prominent trajectory, Farrah Fawcett, now faces in reality the fiction portrayed by MacGraw. While at an older age, Fawcett is dying of cancer. What does this have to do with Love Story? Farrah Fawcett is the for real partner of Ryan O'Neill. Almost forty years after playing the man losing the ultimate love of his live, Ryan O'Neill now gets to see the situation in reality up close and personal. My heart goes out to him, and good for him for finding someone to love so deeply in such terrain.

Her medical records were leaked, resulting in the upgrading of the computer systems of hospitals across the country as well as legislation regarding the security of medical records, legislation with teeth signed by California Governor Schwarzenegger. The result - the tabloids aren't talking much about Farrah these days.

I am inspired by the courage displayed by Fawcett and O'Neill and their willingness to produce their own publication, Farrah's Story.

The critics have raised issues with the production, but frankly I find them infantile in light of the big picture. Until convinced otherwise, I interpret the work as an effort to contribute to others in a profoundly personal way as one faces one's own death. This ain't Little League, and the critics are spiritually dead F-heads that can pound salt. I wouldn't go critical in this terrain with nerf balls lobbed from 30 feet. Neither should anyone else.

Love Story addressed the heart. Farrah's Story addresses the soul, and yes, What a journey.

Word is that her time now consists of days and not many. God speed, Farrah Fawcett. We're all behind you in the queue and closer than we'd like to admit. I pray I can face the music with the courage you have demonstrated. Should I have the opportunity to meet you on the other side, for what it's worth, I'll approach with admiration.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Cap and Gown

Tucson, Arizona. The University of Arizona has its graduation ceremonies this week. Many colleges (the university has quite a few) have their own events limited to their own students. The College of Education had its ceremony yesterday morning at Centennial Hall for both graduate and undergraduate students.

Wearing a cap and gown for the first time in 26 years, I was moved to have an experience so completely different from that which occurs getting that first degree while so young. Back then life occurred as an infinite sea of possibilities, and it seemed like we were the center of the world. From the late forties instead of the early twenties, I saw those feelings again yesterday among the undergraduates about to cross the stage and turn their tassles before beaming parents wiping away tears. I wonder what roads they will traverse, what bright spots and dark despair lies before them on their version of the 26 year path that took me from where they stood yesterday to where I stand today. Where, but more importantly, who will they be in 26 years?

My first degree came from a college of engineering with graduates destined primarily for corporations. Yesterday’s ceremony graduated those pursuing careers in education, bright mostly young faces eager to commit themselves to educating both the young and not so young, some training in physical education, special education, and (yours truly) higher education. As I listened to the speeches and statements of the speakers, it dawned on me that I was amongst those truly committed, in a way I’ve not seen often, to helping others, and profoundly so. I am talking about the expansion and development of the very way others see the world, their associates, their friends, their loved ones, and their lives. Such perspectives reflect a different universe from the obsession with making and accumulating money, and by the latter I refer not to the engineers of 26 years ago, but to the characters in a more recent past.

In a way difficult to capture with words, I suddenly had the experience of belonging, of being with souls not unlike my own. I certainly took the long way home, but it is starting to look like I am getting there. Many of the words spoken on stage were intelligent, articulate, and touching, but I was most struck by the concluding remarks of an undergraduate student completing her bachelor’s degree and destined for a classroom somewhere in our K-12 system. Speaking of teachers and teaching, she said, "In the eyes of the world you may be one person, but in the eyes of one person, you may be the world."

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Torture Snowball

Perhaps to the chagrin of the Obama administration, the released torture memos have sparked a conversation regarding torture that continues to snowball towards a full blown spectacle usurping a significant share of the country’s psyche. Torture is not a superficial subject, its roots extending deep into challenging material taught in graduate level philosophy courses on ethics and the nature of morality. What can happen to few for the sake of the many? If a man falls overboard, yet stopping the ship to save him endangers the whole ship…or the entire convoy.. (He drowns.) Remember the agony of Sophie’s Choice? Choose which child dies, or both will be killed.

Even when the trade off exists, it is abhorrent and deeply disturbing. Darker still is implying the trade off exists when it does not.

Soulless, sick, and evil, the malignant Cheney shows no restraint in taking the country into the polarizing, painful, and soon enough, surprisingly consuming Pandora’s box of torture under the color of law. The mess will hinder the Obama administration and damage the country, but what does Cheney care? Worst of all, Cheney is forwarding an evil and malicious lie – attempting to frame torture in the context of the question of whether it works, i.e. that the trade off exists.

Already some are starting to crack and beginning to legitimize the question as Cheney desires, such as The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen in his article, What if Dick Cheney was right? As Sirocco observed, one has already fallen into darkness by asking the question. Does it work? I can solve hunger. Execute all without food. Unemployment? Shoot those without jobs. Incinerate the sick and uninsured and our health care concerns are resolved. The solutions work, no? SEMANTICS - What does it mean to "work"? See the lie?

The conversation gets messy quickly. Does torture really work when no other method does? Why waterboard when offering a good cigar does the trick? Until shown otherwise, I respect the protocol of the FBI, which is no cake walk for those on the tough end of the table. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has methods for getting information from you that you didn’t even think you had. They have highly proven and sophisticated methods refined over decades that masterfully drill towards the gold in your head. The FBI does not torture. It knows better, and it was getting good information, but not what Cheney wanted to hear.

Who in the world can possibly believe that something works if it has to be done 183 times?

The plot thickens and exposes intriguing fissures. A Pew Research poll found that among white evangelical Christians, a solid majority of 62% said torture was sometimes or often justified. For the religiously unaffiliated, the number was 40%. I find both numbers appalling, but what’s with those adhering to Christian values supporting torture? Those complexities at a later post.

The cup runneth over and I haven’t even started. Not only about torture, the conversation extends deeply into the nature of American democracy and the attempts (mostly successful thanks to a GOP Congress) of an evil administration to establish tyrannical control of the country. I could quote George Washington, other founding fathers, and numerous presidents including Ronald Reagan, who supported the UN Convention Against Torture. Prior to Cheney, the United States did not torture. This brutal conversation documents how America’s version of Nazi Germany muscled the bureaucracy into violating sacred principles at the heart of that for which the Union stands. Scholars and historians will be busy for years.

People identifying themselves as Republicans:

2004 – 30 %
2008 – 25 %
2009 – 21 %

Note the 4% drop in a single year after falling 5% in four years. The decline is accelerating dramatically towards the 15 % Cheney Limbaugh core.

Someday the departed will consolidate.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flying Blind

The continuing contortions of the Republican Party on the national scene border between humorous, pathetic, and disgusting. Starting with the disgusting, we have Cheney’s ongoing assertions that torture works. From yesterday’s Face the Nation:

Cheney said that techniques such as waterboarding were successful in producing security results, citing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whom he said did not cooperate until after he had been waterboarded. "Once we went through that process, he produced vast quantities of invaluable information about al Qaeda."

The statement contradicts all evidence released thus far, which paints the alternate picture that the FBI obtained useful information long before Cheney’s CIA showed up with wet rags to extract justification for invading Iraq. Word is that Zubaydah was providing good information until they starting waterboarding (83 times) after which he professed to be Shirley MacLaine. Cheney’s assertion about KSM?

183 times?

Turning to the pathetic, I refer not to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s suggestion that the GOP needs to listen and learn from voters (imagine), promoting a listening tour, nor do I refer to Rush Limbaugh’s slamming of the idea with, "We need a teaching tour." I refer to the embarrassing retraction of Cantor after Limbaugh’s remark:

SCARBOROUGH: So, let’s start with Rush Limbaugh, who seems to be mocking the idea of a listening tour. What do you say to Rush?

CANTOR: You know, Joe, really, this — this is not a listening tour
.

Turning to the comical, aware that the current crop of white, bald, overweight, and decaying images (Limbaugh, Gingrich, Cheney. .) is hurting the Republican Party, former McCain-Palin campaign advisor Nicolle Wallace is speculating on who might take the helm, including the apparently conservative actor Gary Sinise.

Gary Sinise?

She also speculates on the military, perhaps David Petraeus or Ray Odierno, but why these guys would want anything to do with the GOP is unclear. Neither occurs as obsessed with oppressing science and teen sex, promoting the fastest possible incineration of the planet, unprovoked and unnecessary wars, corporate greed fests, and mandated prayer in school. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, coat hangers in back alleys and torture.

Perhaps the GOP would have better success finding inspirational leaders if it had an inspiring place to go.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Eastward Bound

The completion of the PhD has in fact led to a new employment situation, and I'm delighted to announce that your humble blogger has accepted an institutional research position with an up and coming four-year university on the other side of the Mississippi. I’ll post specifics later, but within a few weeks I’ll be loading up the car and catching the freeway east. x4mr is leaving Arizona after 26 years.

Last week I met my future co-workers, terrific people, and it will be an honor to be part of this team. The team is x4mr certified "cloth free." We’re in the administration building just two floors from the university president. The IR Department runs top of the line SAS and SAS Analytics on Windows XP with first rate Intel boxes running two 21 inch monitors each. You run the statistics on one screen and write to the other. The extremely sharp database analyst tells me that once I taste the dual screen MO, I will never tolerate single screen use again.

How ironic that in a certain respect the self-serving Cloth did me a favor. In a month I’m Dr. x4mr conducting institutional research for a university. Compare that to the incessant hostility, criticism, adversity, and financial carnage in the clothiverse at the bloody hands of swine who resent hard work and results. The new paycheck isn’t quite that of a Clothmeister, but it’s just fine, and I earn it. Far more important, the IR position makes a real difference helping others make a real difference with real people. I’ll take that any day over being a naked butt ugly emperor held aloft by empty rhetoric and back door swindles.

I honestly don't know what the "new reality" means for the blog, but quite possibly nothing at all. Without getting into details, the engine that runs this place shows no signs (none) of stopping anytime soon. I foresee only one development that could usurp its output.

I haven't met her.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Casey Talks Twitter

Social Media Guru Casey DeLorme follows this blog from San Diego and responded to my post about Twitter. His grasp of the subject dwarfs mine.

Wait, wait, wait, wait... wait!

You hit a bit on it in your throwaway on that last comment, X4MR... except the tools aren't being made by the NSA, but by kids, entrepreneurs, and hobbyists who know how to hack Twitter (which keeps an open programming interface specifically for this).

Twitter's really one of those you have to use for a while to get any sense of its rhyme or reason.

I'm currently ranked among the top 100 most-followed Twitterers in San Diego. That's after about a year of use with an intense focus on seeing what I could accomplish with it since Nov. I even landed mention in a front-page article in our major paper earlier this year by suggesting--via Twitter--that San Diego’s mayor do more to harness social media to reach constituents: http://tinyurl.com/mayor-twitters

(Note: It helps that I'm an experienced public relations professional who focuses his work on Internet-based communications.)

I ghost-write a second Twitter for Volunteer San Diego (http://twitter.com/volunteersd). We just passed 2,000 followers. They talk to us... asking questions, making suggestions, and spreading our message with the whole of the San Diego Twitter community. It's like having a conversation with the biggest, most receptive focus group you could imagine.

As you go, you begin to get a real feel for the platform:

1) It's different for everyone. On the surface, it appears to be 6 million people all text messaging at each other with nobody listening, that's akin to saying that blogging is 50 million bloggers writing nothing to each other and nobody reading. There's a lot more happening there.

2) Most begin by posting drivel. Like, when they're eating. For the first several months I tweeted lines like "Doing nothing." and "Thought I was doing something, but... nope." Then I caught on to the systems plethora of smart information.

Sound familiar? We all learned our way into the blogging world by jumping in and sorting things out until we knew where to look. But now we're participating on blogs like this one.

YouTube is similar... seems like a world of sophomoric humor or a place for posting stolen movies (i.e. http://tinyurl.com/hey-lucas) until you realize the likes of Berkeley, MIT, and Yale are posting full courses. X4MR likes statistics, how about a full Yale course on game theory (http://tinyurl.com/yale-game)?

Think back further and email was the same way. Everyone first sent a few messages to figure it out. Then we spend some time forwarding stupid jokes that we think nobody else has received... hopefully we grow out of that. Now it's a tool for work. For keeping in touch with loved ones. You even subpoena emails when you've got a court case.

Someone once sent me a picture of "rules for the telephone" that were posted when phones were first installed in companies. There was a time limit, a suggestion that only business be discussed, and a reminder that you didn't have to yell. Each new technology goes through this kind of growth period before proving its real value. Great thing is, we catch on...

It appears, from your “baby-doll” Meghan McCain quotes here that she doesn’t really get it yet. Could she be a still-vacuous 24 year old that the Republican Party is using to project themselves as “not just fat old white guys”? (I hope not...)

Really want to get it? There's a fantastic article from the new York Time magazine on this learning your way onto Twitter, with the reporter stating up front that he thought it was stupid, then sharing his experience as he caught on to the Twitter ambiance in http://tinyurl.com/digitally-close

3) Nobody who follows that many people is actually paying attention to them all (I follow 2,171 at the moment). With some practice, you learn to use twitter-based tools that allow you to pay attention to just certain people... or even specific keywords and topics. I'm also able to catch trending topics, many of which I can apply directly to my life or work.

4) It's a bit like having a service that watches the news for you and points the direction the stories are going. The swine flu was a good one, with a major twitter trend being to point out the real facts about the story (internationally, mind you) both outpacing traditional media AND calling traditional media on the carpet for fear-mongering. There are some genuinely intelligent individuals on twitter... posting unfiltered AND from everywhere in the world.

It's also breaking news faster... with reports from the scene. One of my favorites was when a plane ran off the runway at Denver International. The first news was from a passenger who tweeted "Holy Fucking Shit! I was just in a plane crash!" (I posted to my blog about that one: http://tinyurl.com/hfs-crash) The first pictures and news about the plane that landed in the Hudson earlier this year... also sent via twitter (from someone on a ferry that diverted to help rescue the passengers).

5) People hold extensive and widely participated-in conversations. I've had blog posts go as far as 22,000 (yes, that's thousand) readers because twitterers shared what they viewed as worthwhile with overlapping circles of followers. (Serious network effect there.)

There are three basic ways to converse on twitter.

a) Talk to everybody (just send a tweet). You can also forward a tweet (it's called Re-Tweeting, or RT) that someone else sent.

b) Talk to everybody, but direct your tweet at a particular user. (done by using their twitter address with and @ symbol. i.e., to talk to me would be @getspine.)

c) Talk privately via direct message, the equivalent of an email.

5) Totally creative uses (as in, it's a new medium... and thinking about it in terms of an old medium--like text messaging or blogging--can be limiting).

During the Oct. 2007 wildfires in San Diego, whole communities were panicked about if/when they had to evacuate their homes. The American Red Cross set up twitter accounts by Zip Codes and sent regular updates. If you were being ordered to evacuate, you actually received a text message (a Twitter option) on your cell phone letting you know. Wow!

There are numerous instances of twitterers using their large followings to raise funds (called micro-fundraising) for good causes: http://tinyurl.com/help-daniella

Or to make their voices heard with governments and corporations (again, the New York Times): http://tinyurl.com/tweet-activism

Last month I gave a presentation on the future of public relations at a Public Relations Society of America conference. Audience members LIVE tweeted my presentation via iPhone and Blackberry. I came back to find more than 100 comments, quips, and quotes from my presentation. Even had people following on Twitter ask questions through those in the live audience. Talk about interactive. I was everywhere at once. I also found out what they agreed with, argued with, and what they thought was particularly funny or pithy.

And, yes, sometimes I miss Tucson. However, between blogs (thanks, X4MR), my Facebook account (you're welcome to "friend" me), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/getspine or @getspine), it's a little like I never left. I even talk to city council members and local reporters this way.

Cool tools.

Oh, and though I'm definitely an omnivore in all other respects, I find video games really boring. But that is NOT to say someone couldn’t write a whole comment (or even a book) on how they’re useful tools, too. Where do you think they get the pilots for those drones?

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Talking Twitter

My cell phone is a phone - no photos, video, or text. At Facebook I only email my daughter and see her "wall" or whatever it’s called. If I get an instant message in real time from someone, I don’t know how to respond and close the box.

Well, I felt compelled to look into Twitter and created an account. Geez, Louise. Begging the patience of the experts, let me bring the uninformed quickly up to speed by saying that essentially upon joining one obtains a web page that lists the "tweets" of all those one selects to follow. One can also write a tweet that will then be posted on the pages of those who are following. You pick who to follow and others can choose to follow you. Unlike the blogosphere where one must visit different Web sites to read different blogs, with Twitter everyone you follow shows up on your page. Whatever you write gets posted on the pages of everyone who follows you (along with everyone else they are following). This is quite the bomb for individuals who have no life.

Unlike a respectable blog post, which has content akin to an article in a paper or magazine, Twitter posts are extremely brief, and based on my sampling, almost devoid of content. I selected various people to follow, and for most of them, I had to deselect them because they posted a ridiculous abundance of vacuous one line remarks that drowned out my "page." More on that soon.

I checked out Congresswoman Giffords tweets, and she seems to have a sense of what makes sense, posting infrequent short notes that actually say something.

Co-sponsored new legislation on earmark reform yesterday - I think it is critical that we break the link between lobbyists and legislators. April 23.

Sent a letter to Geithner - to reward AIG executives for greed and mismanagement is an affront to us all. No one at AIG deserves a bonus. March 17.

Note that a month elapsed between tweets. Perhaps initially thinking it might be a good idea, she has likely (and wisely) concluded her time is better spent elsewhere. Astute politicians will quickly discover that the granularity of this application is problematic if not properly understood, and its minutia is ore from which the opposing campaign might get lucky and find precious metals.

Twitter tells you how many followers a person has, and you can click on followers and literally read the list of who is following whom. I have zero followers and have posted zero tweets, a condition likely to persist. If I had more real estate, I’d remark on who is following whom amongst all of our elected officials, reporters, party officials, and so on. Maybe later at another post. An illustrated web where followed and follower links are expressed as lines between nodes could be interesting.

AZ Star reporter Daniel Scarpinato does Twitter, and while short of where I’m headed, extends deeper into the application, launching on average about a tweet a day that includes links to his articles or other Web content (the real power of the application). Daniel’s 46 followers include many elected officials and other well known names (as well as blogs). Rachel Maddow is rather prolific yet also intelligent, usually each snippet offering a link to something interesting. That she has 464,000 followers is one thing. That she follows 554 people says another thing. Can you imagine reading the daily tweets of 554 people?

Search on Barack Obama and there are over a hundred Twitterers, including Obamaantichrist and worse. The White House just launched a legitimate Twitter site in the last few days, and even though it's only posted a couple tweets, it has over a million followers.

Now I venture into the ludicrous. Some consider the blogosphere a plethora of infinite inanity: Never have so many with so little to say said so much to so few.

Well, Twitter takes the concept to a level that makes the blogosphere look like Scientific American. I’ve posted some favorable sentiment towards Meghan McCain’s maverick clashes with the Limbaugh crowd, but when it comes to Twitter, someone needs to get this gal some help. As for the 33,000 people that take the time to read what follows, I’m at a loss for words. This is unedited word for word and literally represents only the last day and a half in the life of Meghan McCain.

--What should I get my mom for mothers day? Any ideas? I was thinking maybe an "evil eye" necklace.
--Gotta love bbq and bud light
--My friends and I discussing dinner: "we should get a good salad", were on our way to bbq, ribs are calling my name.
--So excited to hang out with old friends tonight!
--Song of the Day: "These Days" by Nico
--I wish I could do more interviews with my Dad!
--I would go all out and move into a casino.
--I'm fascinated by anything Las Vegas related, I would move there if it was conducive to my lifestyle.
--I just got the book "Winner Takes All" by Christina Binkley and it looks so good!!
--About Las Vegas and the men who helped build it.
--Great meeting with the publisher, getting so pumped for my book!!!
--Totally raining in nyc right now!
--Amy Winehouse and a taxi!
--Standing in the rain, waiting for a taxi. Who says I can't keep it real?
--The gentleman next to me is having an anxiety attack about this baggage claim, so at least it’s not just me.
--Fuck this baggage claim
--I'm sure there are people in lab coats and those circle-mirror-head things taking data right now...my response is through twitter
--I'm pretty sure this baggage claim is some kind of scientific stress test and I'm being analyzed about how I respond.
--This is by far the longest baggage claim I've ever seen, it’s like a baggage claim on steroids.
--Landed, finally! Super tired.
--To the man sitting in front of me with the trucker hat and plaid shirt, please stop leaning back and knocking my diet coke on my computer.
--but I like Patron 2
--I will say, I learned the hard way that when lime peels get on your skin, and you go out in the sun, it makes your skin burn easier.
--Song of the day cause it’s almost summer: "Right Round" by Flo Rida
--It's a secret recipe my godfather taught me, but seriously men have fallen in love with me over my margaritas, they are the best.


The above keeps going, and going, and going, the Energizer bunny. If we ultimately plug futuristic receptacles into our cerebral cortices that allow every mind to access the non-stop chatter of every other mind, I’m checking out. It’s hard enough to get my own head to STFU.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

TIF for Rent?

Tucson, Arizona. An anonymous source submitted the following remarks 45 comments deep at last week’s Conniving Cloth post. The naming and logo assertion can be easily confirmed. When was the Alliance clothified into the DTP?

A little bit of research by the "right" people will have one discover that the Downtown Tucson Partnership is actually a violation of Non-Profit law. Additionally their Security Division is in immediate violation of the Department of Public Safety regulations for the naming and logo of the Security Agency. They still wear "Downtown Alliance" patches and shirts. They have not bought new ones as all the loot is going to the Calgary Czarist and Queen Caraena's salaries. This seemingly small thing with name and logo is actually huge in the eyes of DPS. They could be closed down on the spot.

A bit more research may bring a real gem of undisclosed activity into the sunlight, which is that no one to date can tell the citizenry if TIF monies are being used to pay the rent at TCC to the BDFC. Yes, "rent." And what might be the rate of return to these clandestine investors be?


Dot after dot begins to fill the screen. We have the Lot 175 cash scam. We have TREO stealing funds allotted to other non-profits. We have the December Rio Nuevo bond maneuver. We have the DTP gunning for a fat Rio Nuevo gig. They used TIF to promote a parade, travel, dine, and study, but TIF funds paying rent?

At the moment it's an anonymous comment at a blog, but facts are persnickety and persistent. Not always, but with a degree of regularity time wounds all heels.

Tick tock.

Cloth: I am shocked to learn that financial improprieties are taking place.
City Council: Here's your bounty, sir.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Conniving Cloth II

I posted Conniving Cloth almost two weeks ago about the efforts of Clothmeister Glenn Lyons, head of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, to position himself to rake in millions of TIF funds under the guise of doing something related to Rio Nuevo. The DTP is the result of the clothification of what was once a respectable organization (the Tucson Downtown Alliance).

The comments at the post elaborated on Lyons strategy to sweeten his faucet at the trough. Sure enough, Rob O’Dell has an article in today’s Star discussing an upcoming "closed door" meeting of the Rio Nuevo board to do exactly that. Make no mistake. That meeting is not about building a building, paving a street, running a waterline, or producing any result for the public good. It is set to do one thing and one thing only: clear the path to stuffing Clothmeister accounts, in particular DTP and Lord Hecker. It is to arrange massive cash flow from TIF to the Cloth.

When I said that Clothmeisters don’t do anything, I misspoke. Their time is devoted to conjuring up schemes to inhale vast sums of public funds, keep a ton for themselves, and squander the rest on friends and consultants. They do it extremely well. TREO torches $100K a month of city money and twice that in lookie good gifts from the corporate PR crowd (TEP, Wells Fargo, Click, Raytheon, PICOR, etc..). DTP’s numbers are similar, and Lyons sees an opportunity in the demise of Shelko’s $120+K gig.

Antoneri gets it, and I suspect Paton does as well. As much as I bash the GOP at the national level, here in the city I’m probably as red as anyone. I guess I don’t get why our local politicians are such spineless pushovers in terms of stuffing the pockets of greedy, arrogant (meet them sometime) do nothing swine that produce zero results year after year, yet stand up and demand millions of taxpayer dollars to conduct a charade.


SOMETHING ELSE