Sunday, October 16, 2011

Google Dynamic Views Suck. It's Back to Old Blogger.

Well, that was a nice experiment with Google's dynamic views for blogger, wasn't it?  I don't know how many of you got to see it in action because DV's don't work with third party analytics, so I had no idea who was checking out ABM. I know through Google Analytics there were lots of visitors, and because DVs were flashing pictures and links at you like Saturday night at the carnival, there were lots of page views, but I have no idea who you were. Or what you were looking for.

So it's back to the old look until Google gets off its high horse and realizes what people really want (or at least this peep) isn't necessary what Google wants for him.

I'm a sucker for technology. Give me a button to mash down on and I'm there. And I don't read the manual. I just dive in. And I liked the interface it gave to old Action Bob, nice and spiffy and all dynamic just like the name promised and it caused people to at least look at more content. But flash is no substitution for real content, for real information.

I'm loving social networking more and more, especially since now I see it in real action with #Occupy. About a year ago I was at a very high faluting party at BU and there was a Very Big Deal professor (tweeds, flannels, just the right length hair) there holding court for all his pretty little blonde grad students, and he was joking about technology and proud of the fact that he didn't know Twitter from his professorial ass. And this was about the time when China was shutting down the Internet and he asked me with a broad wink to his harem what was Twitter good for. I mentioned China and freedom, and that wasn't good enough for him. He fired off some dumb joke that was meant to dismiss me, but it only lowered my opinion of him to about what Obama's approval rating is today.

But you have to draw a line in the sand. I don't own a smart phone out of choice (well, I'm really broke too, so I can't afford the additional monthly payment) but I really don't want to be that connected. I still want to engage in the world, face to face, in real flesh and blood. And when I'm blogging, I want to know who I'm talking to, and what they're looking for.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Times They Are A Changing

I feel like I got shot out of a cannon when I finished grad school. Others who had gone through the program warned me about it. You're so steeped in your studies you don't realize how single-focused you are. At times, when Sue wanted me to think about something--anything, plans for the weekend, what to cook for dinner--my answer would be, let me just get through this...and this would be an assignment, finishing a scene, finishing the semester, something, anything that was so encompassing of my mind that I couldn't fit one more thing into my head without the feeling that it would explode.

And then, suddenly, you're back out in the world. And what a world it is. Occupy, and all the craziness and noise that it brings as people shout and argue their values when to me it seems so simple: Our society has been overtaken by corporate greed with a complicit government. Anything that falls from that is suspect, including your political bent (liberal or conservative), your religion, or your place in society. It's something I'm definitely excited about, but it also wears me out as people seem fixated on getting their point across. We know what the problem is. If you don't, you haven't been awake for the past four or five years.

There is an increasingly worse economy that has made it even harder for a fifty-something-year-old man to find a decent job, and by decent I mean one that not only pays enough so I can pay my bills and have a little extra, but also one that I find fulfilling.

There's a political world where the president who I had reluctantly put so much hope and faith in, has done nothing in the line of what he ran for, and he is now putting troops in Africa, even though we're fighting losing and expensive wars on two fronts.

But all this makes for things to be so exciting. My plays are getting good feedback. That's a start. That means so much to me. Those plays are the real me, so personal at their source and they harken back to me as a boy, and now it seems I'm pretty close to where I wanted to be "when I grew up."

My life is Sue grows everyday. I love her a little more each day and I don't know what I'd do without my best friend. We walk through this crazy world hand in hand and as long as I know she still loves me all is right with the world. There are a couple of lines in Highland Center, Indiana about this, where Hank says to Alice Anne, Are you scared? and she answers, Not if I'm with you. That exchange took place between me and the real Alice Anne when we were on a plane coming to Boston when she had two more months to live. See, it's all so personal, as the world should be, I think.

You can even see Action Bob has put on a new face. Google opened the door, I walked through, and though I'm not 100% happy with this new interface, I'm willing to give it a chance. What I don't like is Google forcing me to do things its way. This is just one more example of corporate greed, small yes, but enough is enough. Corporations and governments, I believe, should serve the people. Corporations (are you listening, Google?) should give their customers what the customer wants, not what the corporation wants them to want. The only company that got away with giving customers what they didn't ask for was Apple, and Steve Jobs is dead. Google is no Apple, not by a long shot. Don't give me that free-market line, either: If you don't like Blogger move. You can't. They got you locked in. The free-market, as you call it, is broken, just like our political system. And that's what the Occupiers are protesting about. If you don't get it, that's not my problem. Stay at home and watch your television. Someone will come along shortly and wipe the drool from your mouth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What it was like for me at today's Occupy Boston protest

I feel I should get this out to people who may be either wondering what is really going on with all the Occupy cities in the United States or rolling their eyes at me going, here he goes again. John just can't keep out of trouble and he's a little too old to be an idealistic hippie.

I don't want to get into why I went, starting with the notion that I truly believe our government is completely broken and dysfunctional. I don't believe our one person/one vote notion of freedom is worth a damn anymore, and I think that anyone who says, If you don't vote you can't complain is truly clueless as to what's going on. Anyone you vote for except maybe on the very local level couldn't care less about you. They're politicians, and all they want is the office. And when they get the office they go to work for the people with the most money. That's not me, that's large multinational corporations. And then they sell off the country to the highest bidder.

It doesn't matter that Occupy Boston or Wall Street or Los Angeles or wherever (did you know they're all over the country? So many people think it's just Wall Street. No, it something like fifty something major cities) are just gathering and protesting. You hear the MSM say they are directionless and wonder what they are they protesting about? That's not the point. That's just the MSM doing what it always does. Hey, Political Candidate, what is your agenda? And the PC gives them one, just so they can tick that off their list. It doesn't matter to the MSM that tomorrow that agenda will change depending on the locale of that day's stump speech, they have an agenda. And this is where the MSM is so clueless. First, the Occupiers don't need them. The MSM is missing the boat on this one the same way they missed the boat on the paradigm that's putting them out of business in the first place. All the news and information is flowing back and forth on the social network and the digital world. At first I couldn't find any info on what was going on. I mean, people were setting up tents in Dewey Square in the shadow of the Federal Reserve Bank, and I couldn't find anything on the Globe's or the Herald's sites? Of course not. They're run by corporations, and their parent corporations aren't going to want that reported on. So I went to Facebook and Twitter and there it all was. (Right now I'm following real-time Twiitter and Facebook feeds as the Boston Police are approaching the tent city. They do this under cover of night, and won't allow the press to watch. When did our country become like this?)

Which is why last week I stopped by the tent city and I was amazed. I wanted to see things for myself. There was all kinds of organization going on there, including a press tent filled with computers. I mean, these people know what they're doing. And here's the thing: the MSM is missing the whole story. The BIG STORY is that for the first time in forty years, people are finally taking to the streets again in the United States. And today, I saw regular middle-class people, because what has been decimated in this country by corporate greed but the middle class, and there it was in full force today. In Boston there were thousands.

I had heard about the march on Facebook. Sue and I actually packed a picnic lunch and headed for the Common where students were going to meet then march to Dewey Square. It was a beautiful day, though kind of hot. We walked around and things seemed a bit scraggly. We walked around some more, and noticed the crowd had grown. People were gathering. Sue and I parked ourselves in the shade and watched for awhile, then the marchers began marching. Should we join them? It seemed weird. We passed some police officers and I heard on say that it seemed the marchers were heading one way. The cops didn't know where the marchers were going. And that's when it hit me. You know the first time you vote you felt this power, this right. I am an American and I am voting. Today I thought, freedom of assembly. That's what I'm doing. I'm free to assemble and a whole crowd can assemble and they don't need a permit from the city, who came up with that rule? This was our freedom and our right at its most basic core.

We wound our way through the Common, past the State House, passed the Fox News offices (it didn't look as if anyone was at home) through Downtown Crossing to Dewey Square. I said to Sue that if and when it comes to the police against the demonstrators, the tiny streets in Downtown Crossing would be the perfect place for the police to trap them.

People seemed awe-struck as we marched by. A lot of support, though. A lot of thumbs up. We got to Dewey Square and Sue and I peeled off and used the capitalistic bathrooms in South Station, then went back outside. The marchers, now thousands since the marchers from the Commons joined the Occupiers at Dewey Square, continued on down Atlantic Ave. If I didn't know better, I would have sworn I was marching in a walk for hunger. The march just continued on. Back through Downtown Crossing and towards the North End. We didn't know where we were going or who was in charge. We just followed the crowd. We marched past Faneuil Hall toward the Garden. It was in the North End where things went ugly. Not real ugly, but not pretty.

I was marching along thinking this is so much like a pretty day in the city, but at some point it's going to end. The nice relationship between the protesters and the police will end. Because as some point the city, as it is doing at this very moment, will impose its will on the protesters. And the police will be ordered to step in. Or you can't just quietly occupy a green space forever and do nothing. Something has to change. Because values will clash, and when that happens, people become unruly.

Check this out. This is the sort of rhetoric that is out there. This is a profile about one of the protesters on Wall Street:

"The goal to people like Ketchup is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word—REBELLION. These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back."

 I can understand that. It's how I feel. The system is broken, and isn't working for me. And it won't anymore. The government is not concerned with me or my loved ones and I have to start taking matters in my own hands. What that means I don't necessarily know. I know getting out and marching made me feel like I was doing something. And we don't know where this is going to take us. I posted something a few days ago where Chris Hedges, who has seen plenty of revolutions, talked about what was going on in the United States. I was most intrigued by what he said about the protesters in Berlin. They thought in a year they might have people crossing between East and West Berlin, and then suddenly the Wall was down. Even the leaders of the protest movement didn't see it coming.

But it was at a bridge in the North End where the police stopped the march. Traffic stopped, and by traffic I mean tour buses and duck boats (oh no, not the duck boats!) Later I read that the police said the bridge wouldn't have held the collected weight of the protesters, but doesn't sound a bit odd to you? I mean, it wasn't a suspension bridge made of jungle vines. But a couple of paddy wagons pulled up, and a couple of locals got into it with a protester in full view of the police, and one of the protesters actually pointed it out to an officer who then had to respond, and the woman said her freedom of speech was being trampled on because she couldn't yell inflammatory inanities at the protesters.

We started talking to a man who I know wouldn't have wanted to be identified, and I'll respect that. He asked what we were protesting, and I asked him, You have to ask? Where have you been the past four or five years? He agreed he knew sort of what it was about, and said it was an anit-capitalistic protest. I told him that was part of it, but also a dysfunctional government that is up for sale to the highest bidder. We had a nice conversation. Later I thought to myself that I should have asked him a question. He admitted to a six-figure income, and I should have asked him how much money in actual dollars and cents did he lose when the stock market crashed. I'm sure it would have been a lot. On that day, Sue and I looked at each other and shrugged, saying if you don't have any money to lose what does it matter? But I'm sure this guy lost big. And there's the big question: You asked me what I'm doing in the street protesting, and I have to ask you, after that, why aren't you off the sidewalk and in the street too?

Monday, October 10, 2011

10.10.11 OccupyBoston Raw Video

Just trying to dump as much of the video and images I shot today. Beautiful day that started out peaceful, but you knew that was going to end. But it was a wonderful crowd, thousands out there finally feeling, I think like I was feeling, finally doing something. I'm sorry, the one person/one vote system is broken, and I didn't know what to do. You vote someone in who promises change, and they then just vote with whoever has the most money. Today I felt like I was really finally voicing my total dissatisfaction with our government, and I was doing it with thousands of great, intelligent people. When you talked to them, they weren't nutbags, they were intelligent concerned people who really cared about their fellow human beings and for society and their country.

Web Analytics