Sunday, March 24, 2013

When Did The Ford Hall Forum Become A Drinking Game?

How was that?  At the end of the presentation, we were encouraged to ask questions.  But we were first admonished to remember that a question starts with "Who; what; why; where; when and ends in a question mark." by Edward Powell, the executive director of  StreetSafe Boston and the evenings moderator.

So how is that for a question?  It starts with "where" and ends in a question mark.  I hope is also conveys my disappointment with the "Ford Hall Forum".

Being the nerd I am, I would happily spend all my time traipsing from one lecture, presentation, forum to another all around Boston and the surrounding area.

So last Thursday, armed with birthday money (thanks Mum & Dad) for a nice dinner and a cab ride home, I set out for Suffolk University.  The Ford Hall Forum topic presented for discussion on March 21st was "Guns Don't Kill People, The Media Kills People".  Now before we go further, let me point out that a forum is, according to Websters, "A public meeting place for open discussion".  And thus it is not a lecture.  This will be important to remember later on.

The moderator, Edward Powell, gave a short presentation on the topic and his background working with Boston's youth and his efforts to stem violence, gun and otherwise.  It's very laudable work, if there were something I could do to assist him, I would.  I get right off the bat where he will be coming from during this forum and I understand.

Then Mr. Powell introduced our two speakers on the topic; John Rosenthal the founder of Stop Handgun Violence.  Mr. Rosenthal in the program handed out, describes himself as a gun owner and reiterates that point several times over the course of the night.  Mr. Rosenthal wants you to know that he is not against gun ownership, and tries to make the point several times with stories of skeet shooting and duck hunting.

Our second speaker is Charlton McIlwain, associate Professor of Media, Culture & Communications at NYU Steinhardt.  I would hazard a guess that Professor McIlwain thought he was brought in to discuss the media's view and impact on gun violence, I know I was there for that discussion.

Instead it was a diatribe against the NRA and Republicans.  A rant about people who require more than three rounds in a gun - that's all they give you when you duck hunt.  And for the most surreal aspect of the evening during the Q&A there was a celebration of how marchers on Washington and the Mai Li Massacre stopped the Vietnam war.  It was the most ridiculous bit of revisionist history I have seen outside of an Oliver Stone movie.

We were treated to such half truths like Republicans, surrounded with issues of great import are only concerned with the cancellation of White House tours.  This information was greeted with gasps, then murmurs of approval.  Evil, useless Republicans (remember, this is Boston)!  Of course Mr. Rosenthal left out all the examples where POTUS wastes far in excess of $18K per week (the cost of the tours).  It's what is known as "Washington Monument Syndrome" and it's a very valid criticism......when you tell the whole truth.

We were also informed that we must strike at this issue while it's hot in the wake of Sandy Hook. You see, these gentlemen, Rosenthal & McIlwain want you to know that no one cared when black boys are killed, but now we have white babies.  So that's an important fact to know, there has been no serious discussion of gun control until now because we are all racist pigs.

You think that's disgusting?  Oh no!  You haven't heard anything yet.  Mr. Rosenthal wants America to WAKE UP.  You know how he wants to do it?  He wants to get his hands on post mortem pictures of Sandy Hook victims.  He claims each child was hit 3 to 11 times.  And he wants to take these pictures and post them on his Mass Pike billboard!!!!

So anyway after explaining we are all racist and we can't make good decisions without gory pictures of bullet riddles babies..........the rest of the talk called for national gun owners registry, restricting types of guns and ammo, etc.  One unintentionally humorous idea that Mr. Rosenthal proffered was that Smith & Wesson produce guns like the one James Bond used in "Skyfall".  Great movie, don't miss it.  Anyway, the gun only works in Mr. Bond's hand and for no one else.  Who is going to buy that?  You know I have only been shooting twice, but half the fun of the other participants was trying each others guns.  Some people buy and resell guns.  What's the market on a gun that only shoots for one person?  Smith & Wesson, like most other businesses in this country are in it to make money.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

Mr. Rosenthal listed off horrific incidence of how many suicides, accidental deaths workplace violence happen every year in the US.  He incorrectly added Fort Hood which is not "workplace violence" but was an act of terrorism.  But there is risk and death and injury all around us.  Ban cars and you'll save more lives.  If this is your attitude, take away guns, cars, swimming pools, bathtubs, washing machines, staircases, knives, baseball bats, bycycles, boats.  Just wrap every kid in cotton batting and sit him in a climate controlled room, and feed him through a tube (can't have him choking on less than well chewed food).  Mind you, it won't help save all the children who get cancer

And never mind that face that more than 50 million Americans own handguns and never do anything wrong.

There was also an aggravating, aggressive mind-numbing misinterpretation of the 2nd amendment.

Did I get everything?  Lies, half truths, bad ideas.........oh yeah.  The drinking game.

Had I been so inclined and brought an adult beverage with me.  Then say I took a drink every time Mr. McIlwain finished up a Rosenthal point with "Well I basically agree." And/or a drink every time John Rosenthal said "When I was at the White House".  I would have been hammered.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Where My Friend ADM Harvey USN (ret) Landed.

ADM John C Harvey, USN (ret) will head Virginia's Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities.

ADM Harvey, who recently retired after 40 years in the US Navy is the Virginia resident tapped by Governor McDonnell to help lead Virginia through the aftermath of sequestration and the budget cuts.

The executive order McDonnell signed creating the Commission can be found here.

Well, he couldn't have found a better person for the job, could he?

ADM Harvey hasn't exactly been sitting around since his retirement, between last fall and now, he has been a guest lecturer for UVA's Darden School of Business.

You can view a new interview with ADM Harvey about DoD cuts and BRAC here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy 100th Mama Kelley!

My mother's mother, a woman who was a huge influence in my life, was born 100 years ago today.

She went to go and join my grandfather in Heaven years ago, yet she is a presence in my life still.

I quote her so often that once, five years after she passed a work colleague told me she was confused, was Mama dead or alive.  That's how much she is still with me.

There was a time when the pain of losing her was so fresh I couldn't see today for what it always was and always will be - a celebration!

To celebrate I will go visit her on this beautiful sunny day.

This is my favorite pic of Mama & Papa dancing at my Uncle Frank's wedding.
We'll talk about the new Pope the Church has announced.  They picked a great day!  Normally you know that I would be glued to Twitter for such an event.  But I have a prior committment - see you soon Mama.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Time/Date Problems

The problem with not working is not realizing what day of the week it is.  As the Dowager Countess of Grantham says "What is a week end?"   Except for doctor's appointments there is very little in my life which requires any precision timing.

But this "floating" through life has it's downside.  Like yesterday when I ate a burger for lunch and hours later realized it was a Friday in Lent.  Today when I realized to late to get there, I am going to  miss "Isaac Hull in Love".  It begins at 2 pm and I would need more than 90 minutes to get there.  I was always dashing somewhere at the last minute when I was living in Charlestown.  Hull takes more planning......not my strong suit.

Of course, there is still time for you to get to the USS Constitution Museum in the Charlestown Navy Yard by 2 pm.  And you should, the Museum, does a good job with presenting these historic moments and making them relevant today.  Their Bicentennial Lecture Series keeps The War of 1812 from fading into the mists of history.

Happy Birthday Commodore Isaac Hull, born March 9, 1773;

Friday, March 08, 2013

Lost In the #Filibuster, #Filiblizzard

....and getting blindsided by the real snow storm.  Yesterday was all rain and wind as I played only reading politics.  I had watched nearly ten of the twelve plus hours of the recent filibuster, tagged #Filiblizzard.

And I've been reading about the Conclave of course.
So imagine my surprise when I woke up a couple of hours ago.  What happened???  They are now talking about 2 feet!  I was teasing Jonn Lilyea about his snow.  "Yeah, it's still winter, boyo!"  Joke's on me!!

So I jumped in the shower, trying to catch the 11 o'clock shuttle.  While I dressed and packed, I fielded phone calls.

During one call Frankie said something I jumped on impatiently.  "Chill out, Gunsmoke!" he responded.

What?  I could only burst out laughing.  "Do you even know what 'Gunsmoke' is?"

I  missed the shuttle and I am trying again at noon.

I'm hoping to get back by Sunday.  There is supposedly one spot in this building that is "better" than mine.  Apparently it's rarely available and few besides the landlords have seen it.  Such moves go by seniority and I am low man on the totem pole.  But the viewing is Sunday and I at least want a peek.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Why Google Is Dangerous For People With ADHD

This happens to me more times than I can say.

I should be going to bed at a reasonable hour.  I'm thinking about spring.  I want a bike.  Let's Google this.  Just this and then I'll stop.  That Schwinn looks good.  Is Schwinn made in America?  Let's check.  Real quick.  No clue on their website.  Let's ask them on Twitter.  Just that and nothing else.  Oh, look, there's a tweet from - fill in the blank - and he linked to something.

And two hours later, I'm still reading.

So the other night I promise myself that I am just going to take a quick look at my email.  There is a link from a local political source about Cardinal O'Malley.  Well just a peek.  Cause I don't like O'Malley and I never have.  It's a blog called Boston Catholic Insider.  In the comments some people mention some terms I am not familiar with.  So I Google them.

Two hours later I can barely keep my eyes open as I read about anti-popes and this alternate Catholic reality.

It's never, ever just a quick peek.

Funniest part was the next morning I was telling Tommy and he knew all about it already.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Last Saturday - 24nd Annual Maritime Symposium

Last Saturday the place to be was Boston University's College of Communication.  That is where Navy League of the United States, Massachusetts Bay Council presented the "24th Annual Maritime Symposium".

So, of course, that's where I was!  My first war game!

I was an observer, allowed to go from room to room.  Here's how it works.  Participants (all college ROTC I think) are divided up into teams.  I think there were 80 or so kids from more than a dozen New England colleges and universities.  Efforts are made to break the participants up so you aren't hanging with your friends.  They ideally want to form teams of strangers, coming together for the first time.  

Groups are given some materials and sent off to different rooms.  Each group has a moderator.  Generally the moderators are people with military experience who are there to keep participants on track.

1st- The scenario.  It was prepared, as was the whole program by LtCol Mark Stanovich, USMCR.  Mark was not there in his Marine Reserve capacity, but you can't help but note it because he is the USMC exemplar. The situation, while put together months ago, is something that has heated up lately - Territorial disputes in the East China Sea in 2015.  I feel that since going over all the suggested reading and the background stuff which we got in the email invitation weeks ago, all I see/hear is about China and territory disputes.

I heard this described as "The Spratly Surprise", though I don't remember reading that anywhere.  The specific territory described in the 3 move political/military scenario were the Spratly Islands.  Indeed the only difference between the 2015 situation and real life today is that the territory in dispute are the Senkaku Islands

Participants are briefed on the "situation" and told they have been convened to advise the President for his response on the matter.

I went into about half the rooms and talked in between sessions to participants in the hall.  I tweeted until the phone started dying (off-topic, I need some super battery).

First off, probably one quarter had not read any background or seemingly studied much history or geography (in the sense I studied geography in school) in general.  There were some silly facts and misinformation tossed out by students that Mark Stanovich (who was also roaming room to room) would appear and correct.  Teams were guided to keep on the path by their moderators and the controllers who were rating/grading as the game proceeded.

After everyone worked through the 3 moves with their team, presenting began.  First teams presented to other teams.

I pegged the winning team just after lunch, although I am sure others saw it earlier.  They were moderated by Col. Robert LaBriola, USMCR, who I had by coincidence met at EPIIC the day before.  This team presented to the whole Symposium, as the "U.S. Briefing Team" and took questions from their fellow participants.

This is a learning experience for the participants.  They are being introduced to the concept of problem solving/teamwork in a seminar with time constraints.  Participants were routinely prompted "The President's waiting" while it was acknowledged that there were "unknowns" and quickly changing "facts".

And for young people who didn't have the benefit of nuns in their education, they did pretty good!

Two things I observed; teams with young women were more concerned with world opinion, and there was a universal belief in the lure of capitalism for the Chinese.  Obviously no "Occupier" think here.  Which is funny, because I don't think that trade sanctions, blockades etc would weigh as heavily to the real life Chinese government.

The hardest part was keeping quiet!  There were things said by teams that I almost had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from jumping on, lol.  But maybe when they are as old as I am.....they'll be this smart.

So, how did I round off this day?  Fabulous dinner in the North End with My Marine.  That was after I kinda sort made him drive nearly to the edge of the map (Route 128, if you're playing at home) by not paying attention as we drove out of the parking lot.  Criminy, we were only at BU.  I don't dare confess how much time I spent out there in the past.  I had the bombolotti di zucca at Gennaro's and it was delish.  While his chicken parm was!

Anyway, between this and EPIIC the previous day, it was a helluva weekend.  i slept for days.