Monthly Archives: December 2007

Why Bloomberg Should Run

for Shel Israel.Michael Bloomberg is thinking of running for President as an Independent.  I hope he does it. This country is in a mess, and a candidate from one of the existing parties can’t fix it, because he/she will be bound by the principles of whatever party platform he/she runs on. An Independent, perhaps, will not be bound by the restrictions of party obligations. (Disclaimer: I am a registered Independent.)

Last night I was having an argument about immigration policies with someone I love who believes illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay in America, shouldn’t be able to work here, have drivers’ licenses, receive services, etc. You have heard this position; it’s the Lou Dobbs rap. We are being overrun with illegal alien criminals who come here to steal our jobs, rip us off, have their babies — and they won’t even learn English. And they send money back to Mexico.

Talking to him was really good for me, because it crystallized my own positions and reminded me why I feel the way I do.

I grew up right after World War II. My relatives escaped from Europe to Brazil and the US. Otherwise they were exterminated. The refugee Jews, like the refugee Irish and Italians before them, and the refugee Pilgrims before them, were welcomed with open arms by an America that believed the motto on the Statue of Liberty: "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…"

At that time, America believed that immigrants, and the resulting diversity, were what made America great. If you were a refugee, you didn’t have to wait for a visa, although everyone who came in had to make a stop at Ellis Island and be "documented." Then you went and got the low-wage job no one else wanted to do, until you paid your dues. Or you became a peddler.

I, the grandchild of immigrants, went to college and studied history.  There I learned that the Founding Fathers were, by and large, a group of agnostics, secularists, and people fleeing from the stifling hand of the Church of England. The Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the settlers of Virginia and Rhode Island all came here, I was taught in school, so that they didn’t have to profess the state religion. Our country was founded, and has existed until this day, without a state religion.

So how did we get here, to a place where everyone has to be a Christian, in some cases only a certain kind of Christian, to pass the test of nomination for President? And how did we get to the point where, even though people cross our southern border illegally because we haven’t enforced border security for years, we now blame Mexico? And why aren’t Mexicans and Guatemalans, willing to do anything for a less-than-living wage, fleeing poverty the way our own ancestors fled their own scourges, welcomed the way we welcomed people in the past — with a chance to be documented and become citizens within a reasonable period of time.

Do you think people want to risk their lives walking across the desert, paying coyotes for false documents and unsuccessful rides, leaving their families behind, to come to America and mow lawns? They do it because they MUST. They can’t get a visa. And they can’t feed their families back home. Poverty is as bad as extermination. It IS a form of extermination.

But never mind the poor Mexicanos who can’t get visas. Neither can people Microsoft and Intel need to hire to stay competitive, which forces them to build campuses in the countries where they find the talent.

Someone has to set America back on the path that made us a world power. Someone has to restore the history of America to the public school curriculum. Someone has to tell us who we are, who we are supposed to be. Maybe a short Jew with a big ego, a bunch of money and no real party affiliation can do it.


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New Year’s Resolutions

I hate this day.  This is the day I have to make a commitment to the future; I have to make promises on which I must later deliver. So here they are in all their glory:

1)Lose ten pounds sensibly
2)Spend more time in Half Moon Bay
3)Lower my "burn" rate
4)Make fewer time commitments (related to 2)
5)Get a trainer (related to #1)
6)Learn more Spanish
7)Find time for a significant personal relationship
8)Be immune to the life traumas of my foster children
9)Talk to my brother more often
10)Keep writing

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Friday Night With Friends, Qik, FlickrFan

Here we are at the Scobles, with Shelly and Rocky Barbanica, Robert and Maryam, Patrick, and Milan. And a bottle of Glenfidditch 30 year old Scotch. I did taste it. I’ve tried to embed the video in here, but the code didn’t work correctly from Qik.  If you click on the link, Robert is using his Nokia 95 to stream video of us sitting around watching Dave Winer’s FlickrFan stream photos from Robert’s MacMini to his 60-inch TV. It’s the hall of mirrors.

Rocky took this picture of Milan, who is now 31/2 months old.

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Where is the “Real Conversation”?

Chris Heuer started the Social Media Club, and now he has started The Conversation Group. He spends a lot of time thinking about where the "real" conversation is taking place. I’ve been asking myself the same thing. My conversations are mainly on Twitter and Facebook.

That is, they are now. They have been all over the place on the Internet over the past twelve years, from freenets, to BBS, to AOL, to email, to blogs, to microsites. I spend many hours online–so many that my family thinks the online world has replaced real life for me.  Last night we opened our Christmas gifts, and after about two hours, I drifted back to the computer to see what was happening on Twitter.

Chris makes the point that every time the locus of conversation changes (or at least I think he is making that point, but maybe I am) we leave friends behind. He is wondering what happens to those relationships.

Well, I can only speak for myself.  Twice a week I walk my dogs with someone I have known for 34 years.  Right before Christmas I met my former running group (we are all too crippled from many years of running to run anymore but we walk) for a gift exchange.  That same week, I convened a group for dinner that I used to dine with when I gave birth to my first child. I also had dinner with my college roommate, and I’m planning to go to my  high school reunion in June.

How do I stay in touch with these people? Through a tool most social media types don’t think of as social media — Yahoo Groups. About ten or twelve years ago, I started a small email list on a tool called Microsoft bCentral. It was considered a small business marketing tool.  At the time, I was in the PR business, and I wanted to show everyone how important technology was going to become in their lives. Because my friends were also interested, I put them on the list.

About seven years ago, when Yahoo bought eGroups, I moved the list to YahooGroups.  Shortly after, Blogger came along, and I started a blog.  I cut and pasted the blog entries into the Yahoo Group emails, and sent them out. There was no RSS yet (or I didn’t know about it).

The blog continues, although I’ve moved it to Typepad. I keep my dog’s blog on Blogger 🙂 The Yahoo Group continues.  The group has nearly 2000 people in it, and the blog has a similar number of readers — but they are completely different people. If you look at my LinkedIn profile, or Plaxo, there is very little overlap. Different people gravitate to different tools.

But the conversation continues. My takeaway: the technology is a tool.  The conversation comes from you, and your desire to communicate.  Utter, Twitter, Dopplr, Flickr,–you will find a way to talk to the people you love.


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Francine Hardaway’s 2008 Predictions

Hey, I can be as arrogant as I want on my own blog, right? I can assume the right to make predictions, because I have the use of the same crystal ball as ReadWriteWeb. Okay, they may know a little more of the facts than I do, but I have all the intuition. So I will give you my thoughts after reading their (excellent) predictions.

1)Yes, Facebook will decline.  I have been feeling it in my bones for months. Busy people are tired of trying to poke other back or be rude, and we are also up to our ears in new applications with which to bother our friends.  I hardly ever accept a new app anymore, unless it is sent to me by someone sending it only to me.  This NEVER happens.  And even if I do try an app, I never spam my friends with it. I’m too embarrassed. How can I send Stewart Alsop the Godfather Movie Quiz after I only got a 30% on it? I’m over it.  Everyone else will be, too. Except kids, and they have many choices.

2) Yes, Twitter will be acquired. The most incredible social media tool of the year for me has become Twitter. I can talk to the world, or my friends using many networks. But what happened around @SusanReynolds and her breast cancer surgery was incredible. In one day, @ConnieReece’s FrozernPeasFund raised $3500 for cancer research, simply by talking about it on Twitter, and on the day of Susan’s cancer surgery, ForzenPeasFriday, everyone changed their avatars on Twitter to a PEAvatar in support. I know Susan feels it, because four days after surgery and still with tubes in her, she’s blogging to her supporters.

Twitter is indeed a community, and fulfills the promise of social media by connecting people online who have not (yet) met face to face, and allowing them to get to really know each other in new and helpful ways. Most important, it does this in 140 characters. Less, my friends, is more.

3)The semantic web may or may not fulfill its promise in 2008, but it would have to be a pretty quick rise since it’s not out of private beta yet.  This is a case of people in Silicon Valley who have access to private betas thinking the world has already changed, when most of us here in the hinterlands can’t even access the change if we wanted to. And how fast DO we want to change? (Just a question).

4) Google will be vulnerable in some ways, but Google apps will catch on. These apps are incredibly useful, and optimized for mobile phones they truly rock.

5)Video on mobile phones will finally happen. Between Qik, Seesmic and an even better application I know of that is still in stealth mode, the average Joe will be able to capture video. I hope Seesmic becomes the next Twitter.  But again, first it will have to get out of private alpha. And the iPhone will have to have video capture in the 3G version. If it doesn’t, it will be a useless brick by the end of next year. (or just a niche product)

6)Many companies will run out of money and join the TechCrunch deadpool as VCs continue chasing capital-intensive greentech investments. Some greentech will actually catch on — especially power sources.

7)The government will do something about the credit crunch, and it will be wrong, whatever it is.. This will jar the economy.

8)Advertising dollars will continue to move online, but not to many companies who think they are going to get them and need them to survive.Advertisers are still experimenting, but with familiar properties. not startups.

9)Bloggers will continue to blog, because blogging is writing, and it’s a form of self-expression that is ageless. But people who don’t define themselves as writers will not continue to blog, because it is damned hard work and you have to enjoy it.

10)I will continue to be educated by the Marc Canters, Robert Scobles, Jeremiah Owyangs, and Dave Winers of the world and pass the information down to people in Phoenix who will continue to think I’m a strange piece of work. Happy New Year!


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Sweeney Tood is a Remarkable Film

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The talent pool involved in making Sweeney Todd is awe-inspiring.  Among other things, Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman  SING. This blows me away.  And Tim Burton’s direction is beyond superb.  The audience applauded at the end.  That rarely happens for a film.

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The New Me

Christmas?  How did it creep up on me? I know how: I’m having so much fun in my work that I don’t notice the days flying by. I meant to give you a few suggestions on what to buy people for Christmas, but I just never got around to it, and you are finished shopping by now, aren’t you? So let me tell you what I’ve been up to.

I have one tip for you from my work this year with Earth911. Don’t trash your
Christmas tree, recycle it. using this  community-specific online
network that was founded by the late Chris Warner to make recycling easy and practical. Fourteen years later, Earth 911
is the best online source for an eco-friendly holiday with local
information on recycling everything from Christmas trees to old
No excuses. They will tell you how and where to do it. Just go there and search for your zip code and Christmas tree. Next year we will have user-generated information evaluating all these sites, too.

Now let me tell you what I gave myself for Christmas this year, also because of my work. . I’m writing –don’t lauigh– a beauty blog  for RealSelf, a site that evaluates anti-aging treatments. What works, what’s a scam, etc. It’s a consumer site. I love the idea of it.

And I know you don’t think of me as lazy, but for the past ten years, since my husband died, I’ve been too lazy to wear makeup. It didn’t matter while I wore glasses, because the glasses WERE my makeup. But then I had cataract surgery and they replaced the lenses in my eyes. No more glasses. (Buppy conveniently ate them the first time I went to dinner without them). Bionic eyes.

So I  decided to get permanent makeup, which seemed ideal for a lazy person.

I started with my eyebrows, which had become non-existent, or at least invisible under my glasses. I figured if I had eyebrows, they would function on my face like glasses. They actually do. But this wasn’t simple.

In case you didn’t know it, permanent makeup is tattooing. Yes, you lay on a table while a tattoo artist sticks needles in your eyebrows for two hours. That was not fun. But those came out great. And the person I chose was an expert in blood-borne bacteria, which means she didn’t get me infected.  So I moved on to my lips.

Anatomy fans, the lips are a muscle! I didn’t know that until after I lay there for another two hours while she stuck needles in my lips. When I got up, I looked like a cross between a Ubangi (those Africans you saw in National Geographic who put plates in their lips to stretch them out) and Julia Roberts. Only now, three days later, do I look near normal. And I have to go back in a month for another application, because lips do not take color easily.

This cost a total of $750 for both procedures, about the cost of a pair of my Euro-glasses when I used to wear them. This is not the first time I have been tattooed, because a Maori tattoo artist inscribed a symbol for the beginning and end of the universe on my ankle in New Zealand five years ago. Don’t ask.

The jury’s still out on whether the lips are worth it, because the swelling has still not gone down. So I’m making all my public appearances at Christmas parties looking like I’ve taken a beating. And you know me: I have no shame. I wouldn’t think of missing a party because of a "procedure."

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  Is this the strangest Christmas letter you have ever received?  One personal note: my daughters have forbidden me to write about them, so I can only tell you that they are happy and healthy in Half Moon Bay, living their non-transparent lives. Me and the dogs?  We’re all over the web, and  Buppy has his own blog. If you have a minute over the holidays, check him out.

May you all have a happy and healthy holiday and a happy new year.

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My Leopard Story

I raced out and installed Leopard when it first came out. Ever since I did that, my MacBook used to hang. Often when it did that, I’d follow the old Windoze philosophy of ‘When in doubt, re-boot.”

Well, this morning I received repayment for my trouble. The Apple Genius Bar at the Biltmore told me that the problem I had been having all weekend (machine wouldn’t boot past the logo and the turning gear), was a problem of a corrupted drive partition, and they would have to erase and re-format my drive. This would take five business days, and I don’t know how to do it myself. Also they think the drive itself might be corrupt. At first. the Genius told me it was probably a case of re-installing Leopard but I tried to do that all weekend and couldn’t get it to install from the disk.

Now the theory is that the drive got corrupted because every time I pressed the power button to turn it off, I apparently corrupted my paths to my data. One of those things I would never know about.

And I can’t buy a new MacBook right now, so soon before MacWorld. That would be stupid.

So, because I am out of warrantee, it will cost $300 to fix. And then I will buy a new machine in two months.

And I have no idea how well my backed up data will work. All my photos and songs are on a firewire drive, along with my old client files. Everything recent is on my iPhone, or on Googledocs, thank God, but I can’t even remember what software I had loaded on the MacBook, all of which has been erased, and none of which I back up because I only did data backups.

Merry Christmas. Ho ho ho.

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One More Serious Thing Before Christmas

I just read something truly uplifting for the first time in a long time. So maybe this isn’t the last serious thing before Christmas. Maybe it’s the first serious thing in the spirit of Christmas.

And it doesn’t matter what side of this ridiculous political fence you are on — anyone can appreciate this.  Craig Newmark, the unique guy who founded Craigslist,  is also involved with the Sunlight Foundation.  The Sunlight Foundation was founded last year to explore how elected representatives use our money. How does it do this? Through technology, of course. Today its first major initiative was launched: a database of government spending.

What’s cool about a database? The fact that the new site,, which launches today, was developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in cooperation with the Foundation, and uses a database developed by the Sunlight Foundation.

To me, this is one of the most promising uses of technology: to make processes and activities transparent, to cast a light on autocratic governments around the world, on formerly secret and opaque processes, on intermediaries who hold information and therefore exercise power over the people who created them.

Thanks to OMB and Sunlight Foundation and the glory of the web (yes, you all know I believe the web has changed my life and that of most everyone else) we as citizens can now know where our tax money goes. Which means we can take steps to changing where it goes if we think that it is going to the wrong place.

This should please conservatives, who  are disappointed at the rate of growth in government spending, as well as progressives, who think the money’s going to the wrong places. Now we can exercise our right to vote and our power to change things.  This is what’s great about America.

Personally, I’m delighted this site launches just before Christmas, and just in time for some of us to study it before voting in the primaries. No longer can we say we don’t have the information to cast an intelligent vote.

Did you know, for example, that the largest government contractor is Boeing, who received  over $12 billion in government contracts for 2006, a whopping 8% of all contractor dollars?

61% of government contracting dollars go to the top 100 contractors, including all the usual suspects and the oil companies and auto companies. Mysteriously, when I searched for Halliburton, I only turned up $63,000 in contracts for 2006, so that must be buried somewhere in a subsidiary, because I know it’s more than that.

But analyzing quickly, I see that $146b is given out to 100 large companies and universities.  I guess this is the corporate welfare side of the fence.

On the individual welfare side, which is under the Assistance tab, the states of California, New York and Pennsylvania are the top three, followed by Johns Hopkins University. California appears twice in the top ten recipients of assistance, the second time for its education system and the first for its family services.

I’m not a data junkie, and I don’t have time to do it right now, but I can’t wait until someone with the right skill sets dives into this database. I’m sure interesting things will emerge.

So this database, in a season where the major political campaigns are talking about issues like what Mormons believe or whether Obama sniffed coke in high school, allows us to ask the candidates real questions on POLITICAL rather than personal issues before we cast our votes in 2008.

Happy Holidays.


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Review of Cool Social Media Club Phoenix meeting

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VSocial presented at Social Media Club Phoenix tonight. Such a cool site.  Didn’t know they were financed by my friend Howard Lindzon.


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