Way Before Obama was a Rock Star...

I find it eerie to watch this 2002 video of Barack Obama in which he states why, if he were in the U.S. Senate, he would have voted against the resolution authorizing military force in Iraq, not because peace is always better than war, but because this particular war would lead to very difficult scenarios in the aftermath of ousting Saddam. He speaks specifically of the potential of Iraq being torn asunder by conflict among Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds. Somehow, as an Illinois state senator, he was reading the realities of the Mideast more accurately than the Clintons, Biden, Edwards, Kerry, and the Bush Administration. One wonders what he sees now that will look this smart five years down the road. It makes me want to listen to him very closely.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Freewheeling the Video Love

It's Sunday, so I'm freewheeling. Checking out stuff on the internet with no plan, no agenda, no Getting Things Done task lists. So wasting a half hour watching a Discovery show on the phenomenal rise of the iPod is perfectly acceptable. And what a great story. My favorite part is how the choice of white for the ear buds was a stroke of dumb luck that created the fashion statement of the iPod and helped the craze go white-hot. Click on the image to the right, the head of Steve Jobs silhouetted against the Apple log, to watch the show.

Other fun video I've been watching lately, mainly on my video iPod, comes from the New York Times and the Washington Post, strange as that may seem. Here's an example from the Post, of Barack Obama feeling the love in Virginia, whose governor is the first in the nation to endorse him for president. The camera work and editing are terrific, and there's a good line from Obama when he says of America, "It's our time to lead. Our identity crisis is over."

And speaking of love, the New York Times now runs video portraits of newlyweds, titled Vows. Here's an example, of Amy and Brett, talking about how they met and fell in love. Slate's Troy Patterson last year gagged on these videos, calling them "the gentrification of exhibitionism," but he admitted he can't stop watching them, either.

It's odd to realize that I'm not watching actual television more than a total of an hour a week, occasionally checking in with the morning news programs while scarfing down some granola and orange juice. But at the same time, my consumption of video on my MacBook Pro and iPod is increasing, to perhaps two or three hours a week.

Here is a list of the video feeds on my iTunes directory--the links are aimed at the shows' RSS feeds which you can paste into iTunes or other podcatcher. If you have no idea what feeds or podcatchers are, you can still click on these links and mouse around a bit to try watching some of the individual episodes on your computer.

60 Minutes - I see Mike Wallace will interview Bill O'Reilly tonight. That should make professional wrestling look genteel.
Alive in Baghdad - award-winning citizen journalism in Iraq
Amanda Congdon's video blog on ABC - not as edgy and real as the original RocketBoom, but sometimes interesting.
GeekBrief.TV - endearingly goofy (and cute) girl who sometimes has good techno news.
Izzy Video - tips on taking videos, not updated very often, unfortunately.
MacBreak - well-produced, informative Macintosh show by podcast guru Leo Laporte.
National Geographic Atmosphere - gorgeous short videos from around the world.
NBC's Meet the Press - I'm getting sick of Tim Russert's gotcha journalism, but still watch once in a while.
CBS's Face the Nation - Bob Schieffer does it right, asking intelligent questions without resorting to forced reactions to quotes the interviewee wrote for his or her high school newspaper.
Loic Le Meur - the French national blogger whose feed contains more than half video and the rest audio.
Steve Garfield's video blog - the VlogFather, Boston's own video blogger extraordinaire.
Josh Leo's video blog - a talented young vlogger from the Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Pondering Our New Home

Pondering a New Home, originally uploaded by LenEdgerly.

Darlene and I spent some time this morning in our new Cambridge abode, empty of any furniture except the two chairs we borrowed from my parents' house. I did some writing in the kitchen, then switched to
the front room on the first floor, facing bay windows with a view of the Charles River. We've just begun the process of figuring out how to use the rooms. Where will her quilting studio go, and my podcasting studio and study? Meanwhile, I love the zen-like emptiness of sitting in a house with only two chairs, feeling the future whisper its suggestions.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Giuliani in Drag

I first heard about this in Andy Bowers's great collection of all the scary video clips out there ready to haunt Presidential candidates. It included a snippet from this video of Giuliani wearing a fetching dress, getting his ample breasts kissed by The Donald. Today Garrison Keillor weighs in with a Salon column titled, "Giuliani's Dress Rehearsal," which includes this helpful advice:
Mr. Giuliani should put the issue behind him by answering a few questions: 1) How much did he have to drink that night, and what was he drinking? 2) Whose idea was it -- his own or an aide's? If the latter, was there wagering involved and how much was bet? 3) Were the garments new or used, and who picked them out? And was he wearing male or female underthings? 4) On a scale of one to 10, how good did he feel in that dress?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Camille's Back

Not that she had in any way disappeared, but Camille Paglia today returns as a Salon columnist after a six-year absence. I have always been fascinated by her shrill, smart, and completely original take on the current scene. Reading her quick take on the Presidential sweepstakes makes me very glad she's back. Her ambivalent presentation of Hillary includes this link to a March, 2003 video in which the New York Senator tries to be nice to a group of women war protesters wearing pink slips, but in the end snaps at them and makes clear how committed she was to going to war against Saddam Hussein. It's one thing for Hillary now to try to convince people that she really was against the war and that President Bush sort of tricked her into supporting it. It's quite another to watch this video and see where she really stood on the issue just before the invasion began.

My man Obama gets dismissed in a friendly way by Camille, who prefers Edwards on the Democratic side. The real stunner was her all-but-predicting that Mitt Romney will go all the way to the White House. To wit:

Don't count Mitt Romney out. Not yet nationally known, Romney hearkens back to the patrician days of sophisticated Republicanism. In 1994, on my book tour for "Vamps & Tramps," I was sitting late one night in the empty lobby of WBZ-AM NewsRadio, located on a lonely road in Boston. While waiting to go on the David Brudnoy Show (Brudnoy, living with AIDS, would die a decade later), I listened intently to the guest on air before me -- Mitt Romney, whom I had never heard of but who was then mounting his unsuccessful senatorial challenge to Ted Kennedy.

I was very impressed. When Romney emerged, I shook his hand and said, "You're going to be president!" -- something I have never said to anyone, before or since. He flushed with pleasure and embarrassed surprise -- as if I had uncovered a secret. Afterward I followed Romney's career from a distance -- his return to private business, his directorship of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and then his surprise election as governor of Massachusetts in 2003. Stay tuned

And likewise, I'll stay tuned to Camille, hoping that Obama will prove her wrong.

Road Cut

Road Cut, originally uploaded by LenEdgerly.

I took this photo today returning from Estes Park, waiting for my turn to drive through a road construction detour.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Not the Woman President of Harvard

Click on the photo to hear Drew Gilpin Faust's comments about her election today as the 28th president of Harvard University. Displaying the usual level of humility at my alma mater, she described Harvard as "the most talented community perhaps in the entire world" and issued an eloquent call for "new ways of working together." I liked how she acknowledged the historic aspect of her appointment as the university's first woman president, and then firmly set that label aside the better to focus on the collaborative work ahead.

Night to Remember

I clicked on the Obama web site a couple of hours ago, not expecting it would be live yet, so I was thrilled to see a totally new site hove into view. Being among the first explorers, I was the first Len to grab a username, and since no one had formed a Denver group yet, I set up Mile High for Obama. People are leaving comments, looking around the virtual house with glee and hope, so this is really fun. My friend Kes from Fairbanks found the site tonight, too, and was the first to answer my friends invitation, so it was great to share the debut with him. Oh, I know. Getting this riled up with hope is ridiculous. I can't help it. I'm in. I'm all the way in. I imagine I will remember this night for a long time.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Obama Inexperienced? Not at Poker...

Bullets_0001_colored, originally uploaded by 'Scratch'.

From the U.K.'s Telegram come these tidbits on what sort of a poker player Barack Obama was during his time in the Illinois legislature:

When he was a young state politician in Illinois, Barack Obama played his cards right. "He had the stone face," said Senator Terry Links, who hosted weekly poker games at his home. "He didn't stay in hands if he didn't think he had a chance of winning."

"Barack wasn't one of those foolish gamblers who just thought all of a sudden that card in the middle was going to show up mysteriously. He's as competitive in politics as he is in poker. It's not like he's going to go into something without a course of action mapped out."

And later in the article, this:

But Mr Obama was a hard-headed operator rather than a mere wordsmith or academic. "You find out a lot of things about a guy from the way he plays cards," said Mr Jacobs. "Number one, Barack's conservative with his money, which is always good.

"It's hard to tell when he's bluffing. In fact, I never could - that's why he usually beat me. Also, he never threw good money after bad.

"I'm one of those players that they say chases flies. He was more disciplined. He had to have something going in and he was in control of what he was looking to do. And as president I'd rather have somebody who's in control than flying by the seat of their pants."

Obama's highest-stakes game yet begins tomorrow morning at 9:55 Central time, when he will officially launch his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois. This afternoon he sent me and few hundred thousand of his closest supporters an e-mail linked to this video explaining how the announcement will work and what changes will be evident tomorrow on his campaign web site. I wouldn't bet against him.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Web 2.0 Traffic Jam

I've been trying to return to the brand-new Yahoo aggregator/mashup site called Pipes after reading about it at 5 a.m. this morning, but I can't get back in. Pipes looks like a new and improved way of automagically collecting information through feeds from the internet the way I've been doing with Netvibes, a program which originates in France. I'm having the same trouble getting in to Me.dium , a site which shows you who else is visiting web pages you are on.

When one of these hot new ways of using the internet appears (fed to me immediately by NetVibes, of course), I sense a swarm of people rushing to try them out, which can overload even the vast computer resources of Yahoo, apparently.

I'm finding people in Denver who are active in the area of bringing new internet tools to organizations and corporations. One is Hugh Graham, whom I met yesterday for coffee with Anthony Radich, executive director of the Western States Arts Federation. Hugh has been toiling away at user interface projects for a long time. He also has a gorgeous and well-written blog here. Another is Brendan Leonard, blogger-in-chief at the Rocky Mountain News community journalism site, YourHub. I've been e-mailing Brendan, and he featured the latest episode of the Video Pod Chronicles here.

The real traffic jam sometimes, like this morning, seems to be in my head, where thoughts and ideas about how to learn about and use these new internet wonders swirl around so fast I get dizzy and overwhelmed, resentful of the fact that I need six or seven hours of sleep each night and time out to graze standing up in the kitchen. Since Darlene is away visiting her sister for a week on St. John, I have fallen deeper into the digital whirlpool than usual, since I have no one urging me to tear myself away from the screen.

The antidote: a half hour of zazen, next up on my schedule this foggy morning in Denver.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thoughts on the Biden Meltdown

I'm beginning to think politics in the YouTube/blogging Age is remarkably efficient. Here we have motormouth-plagiarizer Joe Biden's campaign over the day he announces it, thanks to his junior-high snarky comments about his fellow candidates, especially Barack Obama, whom he praised as being "articulate" and "clean." The world is too dangerous a place for someone this incautious when speaking into a reporter's recording device. I was particularly irritated at Biden's winky-winky apology on John Stewart's Daily Show, which only compounded the insult.

By comparison, Obama's response was grounded and graceful. Here it is in its entirety:
I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate. African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.
If Obama can maintain this sort of wise presence throughout a long campaign, I doubt we will be hearing much about his so-called lack of experience a year from now. Joe Biden's years in the Senate did not protect him from crashing his campaign on the first day. Maybe what really counts in a presidential campaign is how a candidate distills his (or her) life experience into character. By that measure, Obama is looking pretty good so far.

Newsweek, Salon, and USA Today have pithy coverage of the meltdown. Even more fun are the long threads of comments like this one after a Chicago Tribune column nicely titled "The Swamp." Relentless, personal commentary instantly available on the internet makes for quick turns of fate these days.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hunting for Web 2.0 Sites for the Arts

I've spent the last couple of hours looking for Web 2.0 sites that might be helpful to the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs and the Western States Arts Federation as they work on using social software to advance the arts. Here are a couple of intriguing sites I've been playing with that I will probably include in a presentation on Web 2.0 that I'm scheduled to give at the Denver Commission on Feb. 6:

ConvinceMe: This new site makes it easy to set up a debate topic and then argue your side and see whom you can convince. It's easy to find existing debates, and I weighed in on one dealing with whether or not Mitt Romney can win the presidency. ConvinceMe's tagline is "A New Way to Argue." The possible connection with the arts in Denver is to imagine a similar site which invites Denver residents to weigh in on artistic and cultural issues. Which public art project do you love or hate, and why? Is Denver a better music town or a movies town? What is the best undiscovered art venue in Denver?

goodreads: This site, which describes itself as "what your friends are reading," provides an elegant, addictively easy-to-use interface for posting books that you've read and finding out books that others have read, with reviews and comments. The arts connection here would be, again, to link people in Denver together around a common interest in the arts. goodreads provides code so I can put a widget on my blog, to wit:

I'm having a ball on this hunt for new ways to advance the arts through Web 2.0 creations, which are proliferating like lovely weeds. With the discovery of these two sites I'm confident I'll have a good show to put on at the Commission meeting.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

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