AlanGustin Blog2

The Unbelievable Arrogance of Obama’s ‘Czars’

Posted in Information, news, Politics by alangustin on July 16, 2011

I have been silent of late. I have grown weary of the political scene in America. Sometimes I think that the only reason politicians exist is to give the media something to talk about.

I saw something this morning that brought me out of my self-imposed, political-commentary exile.  It was a quote from Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, and one of Obama’s economic advisors.  Immelt succeeded Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who stepped down in early 2011.

It is reported that Immelt said to business owners, “Stop whining and start hiring!” 

Easy for him to say.  GE gets preferential treatment from the Obama administration.  GE has a strong lobby group pounding on the heads of lawmakers, and now, with Immelt as Obama’s right-hand-man on the economy, GE has an even stronger crony relationship with the current administration.

I believe that Obama is becoming more and more desperate with each day we get closer to the 2012 elections.  I believe Obama is becoming progressively more frustrated with his ‘Czars’, who can’t seem to come up with anything concrete  to deal with the debt crisis and the high unemployment rate in America.  I don’t believe anymore that Obama is an intelligent person.  I used to think that he was very intelligent.  But the truth is, his intelligence was exhibited only during his campaign for the office of President of the United States. 

Why else would he immediately appoint all those ‘Czars’ to surround him after being elected?  I believe it’s because he doesn’t have a clue about how to be President, and he knows it.  He was hoping his ‘cabinet’ would save his bacon by coming up with all the ideas to make him look good.  How’s that working out for ya, Obama?

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve provided $16.1 billion to General Electric by buying short-term corporate i.o.u.’s from the company at a time when the public market for such debt had nearly frozen. Having the chief executive of such a company advising the White House on job creation at a time when Mr. Obama is assuming a more deregulatory posture could further alienate liberals and be seen as undermining the White House’s commitment to reducing the influence of lobbyists and special interests.

Another complicating factor is union uneasiness about outsourcing by G.E. Officials at the United Electrical Workers Union say the company has closed 29 plants in the United States and one in Canada in the past two years, eliminating more than 3,000 jobs.

“We understand the logic of asking someone like that to step up and play a leading role,” said Damon Silvers, the policy director for the AFL-CIO. “But there’s a real tension there in making a G.E. executive a central figure thinking about U.S. jobs.” –N.Y. Times

So the guy who is responsible for 29 plant closures in the U.S. and the elimination of over 3,000 jobs has the freaking gall to tell other business owners to “Stop whining and start hiring”? …Really?  What a joke. 

The smell of incompetence is emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and I look forward to 2012 as the election year that ends one of the most damaging presidential terms in American history.

As for Jeffrey Immelt… I hope he can reconcile with American business, because with statements like, “Stop whining and start hiring”, he has certainly alienated himself from any reality-based, business leaders.

For some discussion about Immelt and his disconnect with reality, click here.

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#FollowFriday Post… a Follow-Up and More.

Posted in Announcements, Information, Social Networking by alangustin on February 5, 2011

It would seem that I got sucked into a conversation that not too many people really care about anymore. It has only been a few days, but out of about 150 people who visited the post “Would You Kill #FollowFriday?” — only four left comments, indicating that the topic has been done to death already, or that most people don’t really care.

Of course, the fact that this blog doesn’t enjoy much of a following has a lot to do with the outcome as well, but I have to admit that four comments out of 150 views is pretty lame. Now I have to face up to the fact that I was way behind the timeline on this one. This is just one more in a series of lessons I’m learning about blogging and social networking, with this lesson titled, “Yesterday’s News is Just That – Old News. Of course, this is where our adopting of – and total immersion into – social media has brought us. We live in an “instant” world now, where it seems that if you’re not paying attention, you may as well get out of the game.

But that is a cynical view on my part, and the more important lesson I’m learning now is titled, “Superficial Social Networking is Just That – Superficial”. Some things take extra time to sink in. I am still climbing the learning curve where it remains fairly steep, and I cannot see the horizon yet. But I have learned this: it’s wrong to assume that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are some kind of “magic bullet” that will bring fortune to an entrepreneur. There’s more work to be done than simply sending out a tweet about a new blog post once a week, or mentioning your followers every week in a barrage of #FollowFriday tweets. This brings me back around to the original topic of this post.

It seems that most of us ride the learning curve when it comes to using Twitter. I remember when I first saw a FollowFriday tweet. Actually, it wasn’t just one tweet; it was many, many tweets. The same guy kept popping into my timeline with tweet after tweet listing other users. After I figured out what was going on, I noticed others doing it. Not wanting to be left out, I jumped in head-first tweeting my #FollowFriday tweets along with all the others who were doing it. As soon as I started doing it, my email inbox started filling up with messages from new followers. Wow! This was great. I started following people left and right, and before I knew it, I had a few hundred followers.

Then I noticed something. The number of followers coming in started dropping off. I found myself working harder to put out more, interesting and informative tweets. But this was becoming a one-way street, and I was growing weary of the ride. I needed to pull over and park for a while and reassess my use of social media. I viewed a YouTube video in which Seth Godin was asked a question something like, “Do you think social networking is important for small business, and how would you suggest doing it?” (paraphrase)
His answer made ultimate sense, but it was also a disapointing wake-up call. Godin said that it really doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 Twitter followers. If you don’t have any real relationships with any of them, you’re simply watching a counter that does absolutely no good whatsoever. He went on to describe what a real relationship was… valuable.

Forming valuable relationships (the mutually-beneficial kind) involves more than merely mentioning someone in a tweet along with ten other users. This is what I’ve learned (again) over the past few days of reading posts and comments on the topic of #FollowFriday. It’s easy to get caught-up in the whole I-gotta-have-as-many-followers-as-Bill-Gates syndrome. As I learn about the practice of using twitterbots or paying for followers (neither of which I use) to boost numbers, I’ve decided that I don’t wanna play that game.

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. I created a follow tag called #SuperSunday#Follow which I’ve been using to tweet my FollowFriday tweets (on Sunday, of course). But this Sunday will be the last time I do that. After this Sunday, I will instead dedicate myself to forming real relationships with those who want to do the same. I will, no doubt still recommend followers from time to time. But I will mention only one person in a tweet, and only if I have a reason to.

I now realize that people are going to use Twitter the way they want to, and that’s good. Attempts by some to try and “regulate” the use of FollowFriday is futile, unless enough people feel the same way and simply stop doing it. As long as Twitter allows the FollowFriday tweets to continue, then it’s all legal and up to the individual to participate in the #FF practice or not. Twitter is an amazing social network. Its vastness is mind-boggling. However, its effectiveness is in question relating to how it’s used, and that’s up to the individual to find out. Tweet on, tweeples!

Would You Kill #FollowFriday?

Posted in Information, Social Networking by alangustin on February 2, 2011

There has been some buzz on several blogs about the value of FollowFriday tweets on Twitter. If you’ve had a Twitter account for more than a week, then you are probably familiar with this “tradition”. These tweets, which usually include the hashtag #FF, most often contain a list of between 5 – 10 Twitter account names, as a mention of people to follow. A typical #FollowFriday tweet looks like this:

Here’s another…

If you notice, this guy has created his own version of #FF which he calls #SuperSunday #Follow, that he tweets on Sunday. Can we assume @alangustin either a) doesn’t have the time to #FF on Friday; b) he wanted to create a unique #Follow tag; or c) he didn’t want his #Follow tweets to get lost among the deluge of other #FF tweets taking place on Friday? Perhaps all three reasons apply.

@alangustin is not the only tweeter who has created his own #Follow tag. There are tweeples publishing #Follow tweets on every day of the week… #I’mHappyMonday; #TuesdayTweeples; #WonderfulWednesday; #ThirstyThursday (oops, sorry… that’s the night I go out and drink); and of course, #FollowFriday.

You get the picture, right?

As I understand it, this practice was started by someone who wanted to recommend certain follow-worthy Twitter friends to everyone who follows him. Not a bad idea. If I form a real relationship with one of my Twitter friends, and I get value from following that person, naturally I’ll want to promote him/her by mentioning them in a tweet. In turn, reciprocation brings more followers to everyone involved.

What has happened, due in part to over-zealous application of the #FF practice, is that now people are literally “spamming” by sending out sometimes dozens of these #FF tweets in a barrage that might contain the twitter names of all of their followers, in the hope that this will easily increase the number of their followers.

All of these well-meaning people, who probably really feel as if they are doing a good thing, may need to take a closer look at this practice, and re-evaluate its efficacy. The spawn of #Follow tweets occurring on every day of the week has prompted some to question whether this practice has simply become “noise” in the Twittersphere – taking up precious space on their TweetDeck consoles and diluting its effect to the point of becoming mundane or useless.

It could be suggested that most of the buzz surrounding this topic comes from those who have been successful at obtaining a vast amount of Twitter followers. Conversely, those of us who have a modest number of followers may gain valuable new ones through the use of FollowFriday. Some, who have already gained hundreds of thousands of followers probably consider FollowFriday to be a major distraction, as mentioned before, and naturally desire less noise among their noise. This is the basic premise of the argument (in my humble opinion), and I think both sides have viable opinions and suggestions that should be considered.

To provide some background, please read these blog posts:
The Chris Voss Show
TheNextWeb.com
F. Andy Seidl

As you can see, there have already been some great blog posts about this topic which contain varying opinions. But some think the conversation needs to continue. For those, I post the following questions, which you may answer in your comment.

What to do about FollowFriday?

Simply copy and paste the questions to the comment box, add your answers, then post your comment.
1) How many Twitter followers do you currently have?

2) Do you post #FF tweets?

3) If you answered “yes” to #2, how do you do it? (i.e., are you selective with your list, or do you include all of your followers by using multiple tweets?)

4) If you answered “yes” to #2, do you get new followers via #FF, and if so, is it a significant amount?

5) If you get new followers using #FF, what do you do with them? (i.e., follow-up with contact, add to list, get to know, ignore, etc.)

6) Do you use #FF on days other than Friday? If so, why?

7) Do you automatically Retweet #FF tweets that mention you? If so, why?

8) Would you consider using #FF more effectively, such as limiting your #FF tweets to Friday only? If so, would you put more thought into your #FF tweets?

9) Do you think #FF tweets (and all similar tweets on other days of the week) should stop altogether?

10) Do you feel you have a “right” to tweet whatever you want, and if that includes #FF, then that’s your business?

11) If you could post one question about this topic (not already mentioned above), what would it be?

Some people who use Twitter consider the social network to be an extremely valuable asset pertaining to forming new relationships – whether business or personal. Others use Twitter for mere entertainment. Whatever your reasons for using Twitter, many wish to keep it alive and relevant. Some think that the over-use of #FollowFriday is ruining the Twitter experience for others. Lately, it seems that #Follow tweets are becoming irrelevant by virtue of mere volume. Should we all consider being more creative in the way we approach gaining new followers? Or should we ignore the self-regulating aspects of a social networking phenomenon like Twitter? Each question produces another. So be it.

Follow Up

After enough comments are in, I’ll tally up the results and publish them in a follow up post. We can then discuss the way we might all agree to change our FollowFriday practices so as not to create animosity among the Tweeples.

Note to readers: I am one person who is guilty of sending the “spamming” kind of #FF tweets. I have been practicing #SuperSunday #Follow for a long time, and now I see that there may be a better way to go about gaining new Twitter friends. I include this note so I don’t come off as a hypocrite. Being relatively new to Twitter, I am always open to the suggestions of others. Some of the opinions I’ve read regarding FollowFriday make complete sense, and I look forward to reading the comments of others who may, like me, come away with a new outlook on FollowFriday. There is also a deeper, underlying topic that this post may bring to mind, and that is: “Does it matter that I have 500,000 Twitter followers if I never interact with them on any level?”

…food for thought. — Alan

Who’s a Spy?

Posted in Information, news by alangustin on January 12, 2011

This is taken from a comment by Socrates at the wired.com blog:

WikiLeaks actions clearly constitute espionage. In a war-time environment, potentially including the “war on terror” as determined by Congress, such a release of information could be interpretted as providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States, which constitutes an act of treason and is punishable by death. In a perfect world, nations would not be needed, and national secrets and other protective measures wouldn’t be necessary. We live in an imperfect and hostile world, where violence and the pursuit of power are still commonplace. The United States is a sovereign nation that must act both nationally and globally to protect its citizens and their interests. Risking the lives and freedoms of Americans in the name of profit-driven journalism is not only fraudulent, it is contemptuous.

This comment was in response to an article titled, “Twitter’s Response to WikiLeaks Subpoena Should Be the Industry Standard” read source article

I don’t know the laws concerning espionage, but someone does. If the commentor, Socrates is correct, then Assange could be held accountable. Certainly Pfc. Bradley Manning (the supplier of the leaks) should be tried for treason.

The opinions on this topic are fairly polarized along political “left” and “right” lines. It should not surprise anyone that the liberal left consider Assange to be some kind of cult hero — ‘stickin’ it to the man’ and all.  And conversely, it doesn’t surprise me that conservative-minded folks would adopt the opinion of Mr. Socrates. I find the conservative view the only one that makes real sense, unless you are hoping for some kind of anarchy-or-nothing world in which nothing is protected — short of protecting yourself. I don’t think I want to live in that world.

The radical leftists, throughout their existence in history, have shouted, “Revolution now!” time after time, believing that their revolution will be the one that brings the ultimate, functioning utopia to the world. They are wrong every time. They still hold out blind hope that other cultures and societies believe as they do, think as they do, and will someday, “all just get along”. But I find it interesting that most of our homegrown radicals are happy to reside right here in the good old USA — where it’s reasonably safe and warm.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Socrates alludes to, the world is not a utopia, nor will it be for a long, long time, if ever. Although I agree that the world could be a much better place, radical revolution of the kind that would usher in chaos and anarchy should never be desired by level-headed people. What might the Assange supporters think of him if the information he leaked facilitated a terrorist attack that affected their home town, or killed a loved one.

There are many loved ones serving in our armed forces overseas. These are the ones that may be directly affected by the Wikileaks, and that is where the rubber meets the road for me in this discussion. As long as our elected officials deem it proper and necessary to wage war on terrorists, John Q. Public must accept and abide by the decisions of their elected leaders. Those who think that the Wikileaks are a good thing should think about who might be harmed by the leaks. If a change in policy is desired, then change policy at the voting booth, not by breaking the law.

As for the topic of the original article at Wired, which discusses the bravery displayed by Twitter.com in trying to protect their users from having their accounts given over to subpeona, I think the requested information should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If the Law enforcement agency can show reasonable cause to suspect a crime was comitted by a Twitter user, then that user account should be accessed by law enforcement, but only to the extent that information pertinent to the case at hand is turned over. I don’t believe law enforcement should be able to issue a subpeona for multiple accounts, unless the law makes provision for that action.

Tucson Shootings and the News: The Frantic Race for Exclusivity

Posted in Information, life, news by alangustin on January 11, 2011

In our ever-increasing, “speed-of-life” pace to know what’s happening before it happens, our society has become reckless in its acceptance of — what I call — news splatter.

What has brought this to a head for me, was the recent shooting spree by the obviously deranged, Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Arizona. The shooting that resulted in the deaths of six people and the critical wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was a horrible tradgedy.  But it was made even more horrible by the unprofessional reporting by several major news outlets, including NPR, Reuters, CNN and Fox, that Congresswoman Giffords had died.  What ensued was a veritable cornucopia of confusion and back-peddling, once it was determined that Giffords was still alive.  NPR issued an official apology, which should have included a disclaimer that stated, “We take no responsibility for those other news organizations who were so focused on scooping each other that they simply parroted our initial, erroneous report.”

The culture of the news industry has always included “being the first” to report a newsworthy event.   The news media morphed along technological lines.  It was required that they stay on top of advances in personal communications, such as radio, television, the world-wide-web, and lately, mobile devices.  Smart phones have literally changed the face of the news industry.  It is common these days to see a cellphone video included in a television news story.  And “reporters on the street” are recording events as they happen, and broadcasting the information on the Internet hours before anyone in the news media even hears about the event.  It’s amazing what is taking place in the world today, and how news is reaching people.

I was tweeting with my Android what I heard on my car radio the day of the Tucson shootings.  Something took over and compelled me to tweet each new development as I heard it reported on Fox News Radio.  I was driving,  and pulling over every thirty seconds to tweet the news as I heard it.  I was splattering unsubstantiated news reports left and right in a mad frenzy. Looking back, I realize how twisted that was.  But after thinking about it for a couple days, I realize what caused me to do it.

Something in us humans drives us to be “the first to know”.  And then… “the first to tell”.  Like the housewife in the supermarket checkout line who whispers to the person next to her, “Did you hear about Maggie Smith? She’s getting a divorce”. 

Maggie’s not really getting a divorce.  A neighbor overheard Maggie’s husband, George yelling at Maggie during an argument about burnt pancakes that morning. 

Gossip…  right?

What’s the difference between the gossip about Maggie, and the erroneous report by NPR that Congresswoman Giffords had died at the supermarket in Tucson?  Not much.  Unless you’re the family of Gabrielle Giffords. Gossip is almost always harmful.  Look at how fast gossip travels throughout a community.  It doesn’t matter how fuzzy the facts are, the gossip spreads faster than a viral YouTube video on meth.

The evening of the Tucson shootings, the Twittersphere was rife with tweets and links about the shooting, the shooter, the sheriff, the accomplice, the condition of Gabby Giffords, (I was sickened by Obama’s reference to Congresswoman Giffords as “Gabby”) …etcetera, etcetera…

What really tore me up though, was the subsequent barrage of cow manure that emanated from all news outlets from every corner of the country regarding the motive of the deranged killer, Jared Loughner.  The news media couldn’t get enough about the irresponsible statements being made by people whose desire for the limelight hobbled their ability to think before speaking.  Everyone was splattering everywhere.  It was disgusting.  And the news media couldn’t report it all fast enough.

At the start, I had been a willing participant in this ‘information orgy’ with my ‘uber-tweeting’.  Disgusting?  Perhaps.  Becoming the norm?  Definitely.  Soon, every wannabe journalist with a 5G, camera-equipped iPad will be broadcasting the end of the world as it happens.  In 3-D!

What remains to be seen, is whether or not this phenomenon of communications will self-regulate, and become a viable way for humans to be informed, or decay into an anarchistic, free-for-all that benefits only those whose desire for attention takes over all the bandwidth on the planet.

What will be the result of this parody of the press?  Only time will tell.  But consumers of the news, from now on, will have to deal with filtering what they get.  Either that, or simply relax and slow down…  give it a day or two before putting a nail in the coffin of any story.

Resting… my case.

Posted in Information, life, Social Networking by alangustin on November 27, 2010

Every now and then, perhaps once every ten years or so, we busy, busy people deserve a rest.  Even though we may feel guilty for taking a breather for a few seconds, we obsessed types must learn how to force ourselves to recharge.

My mantra used to be, “Sleep is overrated.”

My only drink used to be espresso.

My philosophy was, “All work and no play is the only way to fly!”

In this age of “trying to get on top”, while building a business or ten, while Tweeting and Facebooking and Actual Networking (the real, face-to-face kind) while raising a family and holding down a hobby or ten… damn! I missed that text.

Uh… where was I?

Oh yeah.  In this age of trying to cram a lifetime of work into six weeks, we need all the help we can get.  And I’m not talking about the next Twitter app or multi-tasking tool.  I’m talking about physical-mental-spiritual rest.

What good does it do me to have an abundance of busy-ness if I’m dead, or worse yet, scattered around a bunch of half-baked, ill-planned, projects just for the sake of having them fill every little crevass of my spare time? 

Spare time?  What’s that? I’m going to get to the resting part, the recharging part, later

But thinking about all this brings me around to something that I’m very curious about.

I have a few Twitter accounts.  I have a couple FaceBook pages.  I have a few blogs.  I also have a day-gig, which means that I need to cram my Tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts into my spare time.

Other people seem to spend all their time Tweeting, updating and posting, or at least, that’s how it seems.  So if they are spending all their time social networking, how in hell do they ever find the time to do some actual work?

Could it be that they are cheating?

Does using TwitterBots qualify as cheating? Are those using robot blog posts being lazy? Do we recognize it when someone is utilizing these “shortcuts” to promote their product or brand?  I think so.  But if everyone else is doing it…

Does the guy with 32,000 Twitter followers actually take the time to read the tweets from all those followers?  Okay… so that would be unrealistic.  How about even one percent of those tweets?  

You see, I believe that there is real value in being real.

Should I rest my case now? Probably. But I mean to keep this conversation going, even if it’s with myself. I hope others will join in, because I am interested in what real value you are finding in Social Networking.

Lizard Brain Caught in Lie!

Posted in Information, life, Politics by alangustin on September 5, 2010

The Lizard Brain himself

CNN, the highest-rated news organization today (snicker), runs an article about Keith Olbermann calling Glen Beck a liar because the host “inaccurately told the crowd at his recent Washington, DC rally that he “held” George Washington’s handwritten inaugural address.”  Read article

Some of the the comments that followed the article were civilized and interesting.  But what made me laugh, were liberals, who don’t like Mr. Beck and call him a “hate-monger”, had these things to say about Mr. Beck and his followers:

lizard brain, idiot, hypocrite and a liar, twisted, bigoted, racist loud-mouth, all Mormons are pathological liars, class-less fool, nut-case, deluded liar, undereducated whine bag, lying gas bag, modern KKK, You Tea Baggers, Like a slimy televangelist, these people are f$@king crazy, slay Glenn Beck, human scum,  you whiney Christian Conservatives, freaking lunatic, people who behave like him eventually kill themselves, What a FREAK!!!!, Beck is a dangerous man, this Nazi, idiot Teabag lemmings, shock jock nutjob, loud mouth moron, a pathetic excuse for a human being, the feeble-minded who follow him, a bunch of stupid people, i hate glenn beck, pathological liar, he’s an egomaniac, Beck is a fraud, “Spewers of Lies”, You teabaggers, He’s a freakin idiot, Glenn Beck is A Lying Scumbag, Teabagging NUTs, you wingNUT fools, this bag of wind, a clever pusbag, pawn of the anti-Christ, he is a Nazi devil, the mouth-piece of Satan, former alcoholic zookeeper, A charlatan and perfect snake-oil salesman, right wing anti-Obama pigs, Snake oil salesman, he is a fake, a fraud, a con-man, stupid people believe him, he is an ignorant buffoon, I despise Glenn Beck, that idiot Beck, weak-minded xenophobes, loud-mouthed idiot, constant lies by Beck and his racist buddies, right wing nut job, Glenn(the hate monger)Beck, this moron, this babbling lunatic, attention/media whores like he and Palin, He’s a liar and a sociopath, right wing nuts, I think Beck is a scumbag among scumbags, glenn beck is a moron, Glenn Beck is human scum and a liar, …etc.

I think the next time you libs feel like accusing someone of “hate-speech“, you should check yourselves.  I hear more hateful rhetoric coming from the far-left than from the far-right by a large margin.

The few ‘civilized’ comments held a common theme… “hey, let’s stop all this stupidity and have a conversation about what’s wrong with our country and make sensible suggestions about how to get back on track as the greatest nation in the world.” 

If you’ve ever subscribed to a political newsgroup, you would find the most vile, obscene, hateful comments you could ever imagine.  Both ‘right-wingers’ and left-wingers’ are capable of the worst kind of profane name-calling imaginable.  That’s why I don’t go there anymore.  The trolls are truly disgusting.

I have, at times, grown weary of Mr. Beck’s style of  ‘info-entertainment’, but I believe he is sincere in his patriotism. Whether or not he is sincere, or just trying to make money, is a matter between he and God.  But when the left resort to ‘hateful-name-calling’ while accusing someone like Beck of ‘hate-mongering’ and of being a ‘hypocrite’… well, that’s true irony.

 

Facebook Smarts

Posted in Information by alangustin on August 22, 2010

I use a firewall on my laptop to protect it from worms, trojans, and other malicious code that may get past my router at home.  I found an interesting article on the Zone Alarm blog about setting up a custom friend list that allows only selected friends to see certain posts.   This can come in handy when you have “friended” people that you may not know so well. 

Click here to read the article

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