Friday, December 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye To Facebook

REMEMBER THIS ONE?
In the grand scheme of things this little bit of information is not "newsworthy", but it's important to me and, after all, this IS my blog.  More than a year ago, HERE, I wrote about why I was considering leaving Facebook.  As you scroll down through all those "maybes" I included you'll understand my mindset then and, for the most part, now.  Go ahead and read it, then come back and finish this one...  I'll wait...

CHANGES

Back?  OK, since I wrote that piece a few things have changed.  One, I have many more "Facebook friends" than I did at that time and, most of those additions are folks I wouldn't know if I tripped over them.  That doesn't mean they are not lovely people and I suspect the reason most of them asked to be friends is because they liked something I wrote, so I'm grateful for that interest.  Some of them are folks to whom I sent a "friend request" because I was interested in them.  My decision is NOT about them...

MEDIA CONVERSION TO FACEBOOK COMMENTS

Something else has happened.  Both of our local print and online media outlets - The Daily Pilot and The Orange County Register - finally got tired of dealing with the avalanche of comments on their articles and the time it took to edit them so they took an easier way out - they washed their hands of it - requiring all commenters to be on Facebook.  They apparently assumed there would be a good deal of self-editing if people actually had to attach their names to their comments.  From that standpoint it has seemed to work out.

ABDICATING CONTROL OF CONTENT

However, in doing so both of those fine newspapers have abdicated a significant chunk of their "content" to an outside entity that has no skin in the game.  The "comments" are no longer governed by the standards established by the respective newspapers - they belong to Facebook and Facebook defines the rules of the game,  controls who gets to play in their sandbox, and for how long.  An algorithm in the Facebook server farms decides whether a complaint about "abuse" is valid or not and, apparently arbitrarily, punishes those who violate that algorithm.  These fine publications have allowed thin-skinned whiners and an algorithm in a server farm decide what is appropriate for publication on their digital space.  There are 1st Amendment issues at play here that I can't begin to resolve.

RELEVANCE AFFECTED

The result of that control is that the comments in both of those publications have diminished in their relevance, which is a shame.  Yes, there are still some interesting comment threads, but I recall the "good old days" when a 100 comment thread on a Daily Pilot article was not unusual and, for the most part, those that made it through the editing screen used to maintain civility on the site produced some pretty darn relevant discussions on the issue at hand.  Not so much anymore.  I do admit, though, that in the case of the Register comments, some became so vile, nasty and mean-spirited that they were virtually unreadable.  Hence, the change to Facebook.

A MARKETING TOOL

As I mentioned in my earlier entry, I joined Facebook originally to have an additional marketing tool for my blog.  That worked out just fine.  I have many more readers than I did four or five years ago and the page views will probably hit 1 million in January.  Of course, much of that is due to the contentiousness of local issues over the past few years and part of that growth is certainly due to my new "friends" on Facebook.  Thanks for that.

DESPITE THE LOSSES, I'LL SAY ADIOS TO FACEBOOK

But, after much contemplation and consideration about what I will be giving up - watching sweet Caroline grow up before my eyes; the opportunity to tease my friends Anita and Rusty about their persistent photos of each other with wine glasses half full (or empty, depending on your viewpoint); the ability to be in contact with my great-nephew, Nathan, when he's deployed in dangerous places around the world; those spontaneous musings by my friend, Byron, about his kids and the evolution of their lives, photos of his artistic meals and his brilliant analysis of issues when he chooses to engage himself in them, plus all the other snippets of the lives of others I see every day - I've decided to cease my participation on Facebook.

NO LONGER IN THE MOSH PIT

I realize that once I pull that plug I will no longer be able to post comments on articles that provoke me in our local media.  I will no longer be able to spar with those who don't share my viewpoint.  On the positive side, I'll no longer be jumping from status page to status page, trying to see what everybody is talking about.  It's just plain exhausting.  I'll still be able to submit letters and commentaries - unless corporate policy turns that over to an algorithm, too - but won't be able to keep that ball rolling once I give it the initial kick.  That will be up to others.  I can live with that...

TENDING MY CROP

There are many reasons why I've made this decision.  One of them is because, at my age, I'm losing real "friends" at an increasing pace and that bothers me - a lot.   There are just so many minutes in each day, but I find myself casually immersing myself in the lives of strangers instead of tending to the real friendships I've spent decades nurturing.  The recent ninth anniversary of the passing of my best friend since we were five years old probably helped me tighten my focus on what is really important.

FACEBOOK'S INTRUSIVENESS

Another reason is the growing intrusiveness of Facebook in my life.  I don't like the seemingly constant changing of the rules of the game.  The whole "Instagram" thing recently got me thinking about this a lot.  Life today has plenty of complications and the pace - especially for an old fella - can be overwhelming.  I read "1984" back when it was just a clever bit of fiction.  Today, well... you make the call on that.  I'm disappointed that Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook continue to manage their company like they were still back in their college dorm room.  I'm not comfortable having a guy who still acts like a pre-pubescent, pimply-faced teenager being able to exercise so much control over my life.

CUTTING THE CORD

So, sometime soon - probably the first of the year - I'm going to cut my tie to Facebook.  The link to this post will be there and I will continue to market my blog there until the day I officially snip the Facebook umbilical cord.  I will probably never forgive Zuckerberg and his minions for devaluing the word "friend" in our society, but I do appreciate the acquaintanceship of those of you who have communicated with me on Facebook - my "after Facebook" friends.  If you care to engage in a discussion on issues of the day that I address on my blog, you are welcome to do so.  If you don't want to wrestle in that particular mud pit, here's an email address where you can reach me - thepotstirer@earthlink.net.  I'll be happy to hear from you on any issue that you feel is important or just to chat, but it won't be on Facebook.

AND YOU, TOO...

Those of you who are "before Facebook" friends already know how to reach me at other email addresses and, of course, I always look forward to your thoughts and wise counsel.

WHO CARES?!

"Who gives a rat's rear about West deciding to bail out of Facebook?", you ask.  "What an arrogant, self-absorbed SOB that West guy is to think anyone cares!", you say.  Well, you're probably right on both counts, but I thought there might be one or two people - "Facebookians", as my nephew refers to them - who might wonder about my disappearance from the Land Of Zuckerberg, hence this explanation.

STILL IN THE GAME AFTER SOME NECESSARY TIDYING-UP

As I said above, I'm not going to stop expressing my opinion on issues I feel are important, but my life was becoming much too cluttered and this is one step in the housekeeping I need to do.  Soon, with mixed emotions, I'll bid Facebook a not-so-fond adieu and just keep on moving forward. 

 Happy New Year to you all....

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Foley On Sandy Hook Aftermath Discussion Panel

MORE CONVERSATION POST-SANDY HOOK
Last week, on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, Newport Mesa Unified School District Trustee Katrina Foley participated in an online panel which was moderated by Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus and included expert psychologists Cathy Paine and Stephen Brock.
ON THE HEELS OF THE NMUSD TRUSTEE MEETING
This event took place one day following the meeting of the NMUSD Trustees which I wrote about HERE and which Foley mentions during her part of this short, 15 minute discussion.

VIEW IT
Listening to what these folks have to say may provide some perspective for you on managing the post-Sandy Hook era with your children.  You can view the discussion HERE.


*****

A CASE AGAINST SROs
Separately, in my previous post about School Resource Officers reader Bruce Krochman suggested that I read a report by the Justice Policy Institute, HERE, titled "Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police In Schools", which I did.  Much of what is presented in that report seems counter to my perception of our experience locally, so I've asked for some help interpreting the report as it may, or may not, apply to our local schools.  I'll report more on that once I've gathered more data.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Will Sandy Hook Tragedy Restore Costa Mesa SROs?

A FEW CONCERNS...
Today the Daily Pilot, our local newspaper of record for more than a century, included in the online version a commentary I sent to them recently.  It may appear in print sometime soon.  You can read it HERE.

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
When you read through that piece you'll find several questions, but no answers... those will have to come from the trustees of the Newport Mesa Unified School District and the elected leaders of the City of Costa Mesa.

SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS
One of my major concerns is, and has been, the removal of the School Resource Officers (SROs) from the Costa Mesa High Schools.  That move - a result of the draconian budget cuts by the former city council - created a huge vacuum in those schools.  Legendary SRO Jess Gilman (shown here at his retirement ceremony with his wife, Rhonda, and Chief Tom Gazsi) was removed from Estancia High School and placed on patrol.  He subsequently retired and is working in a security capacity at a university not too far away.  All reports are that he was an excellent patrol officer, but those close to the issue acknowledge that his best utilization is that of a School Resource Officer based on his experience and history in that role.

AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE EQUATION
As I said in the Daily Pilot piece, during the study session on December 18th at the NMUSD headquarters the common thread throughout most of the discussion was the need for SROs in the schools.  Of course, there were many other issues addressed - I wrote about them HERE - but the question of the missing SROs is a critical element in the discussions and seems to be a pretty easy one to address.  The commitment by the Trustees and council members to fund SROs in the future needs to be reached, but the SROs could be replaced immediately by using some of CEO Tom Hatch's  $1 million slush, er, contingency fund to bridge this fiscal year until funding could be allocated for the 2013-2014 budget.

IGNORANT COUNCIL MEMBERS DON'T HELP THE PROBLEM
Part of the problem is that some members of the current city council seem to not be in touch with the situation.  For example, new Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger - who arguably spends more time at Estancia than other council members because of his strong interest in youth sports there - apparently is oblivious to the fact that we don't have SROs there any longer.  I'm not sure how that level of ignorance can exist, but it does.  The short, 2-minute video clip below - from the last council meeting of the year right at midnight, - confirms it as he attempts to set new council member Sandra Genis straight on the subject.  Perhaps if Mensinger spent more time paying attention, reading the staff reports and not fiddling with his Ipad and phone on the dais he'd actually understand what's going on up there.  Two years is plenty of time for him to grasp the procedures.

YES WE DO!  NO, WE DON'T...
Get Microsoft Silverlight

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 DP 103

 (Photo courtesy of Daily Pilot)
TIME FOR FUN
Our friends at the Daily Pilot have posted their latest version of their "103", the list of 103 persons or things that were influential in our communities during the year.  As always, this one is a fun list to scroll through.  You can read it HERE.  It looks like this year's list is a little dyslectic since the "103" is actually "130", one hundred thirty names on the list, PLUS 21 more "reader picks".

MOVERS, SHAKERS AND THE REST OF US
The list is full of politicians, sports heroes, educators, philanthropists, business leaders and a whole lot of just plain folks who make a difference in the community.

OLYMPIANS TOP THE LIST
We can all speculate about who should or should not be on the list, that's part of the fun.  However, I doubt that anyone will disagree with the choice of our Olympians to top the list.  So, "#1" is actually 22 names of local Olympians - a good start for this list.
 
LANZILLO ON THE BOTTOM
The bottom slot is occupied by Private Investigator Chris Lanzillo, whose presence at Skosh Monahan's gin mill in the run-up to the recent election certainly did create controversy.  Yeah, he deserves to be down there...

GREAT CHOICE
Number 2 surprised me, but I sure don't disagree with it.  Sandy Genis' activism and successful election to another tour on the Costa Mesa City Council certainly makes her worthy of this lofty position.

JUST RIGHT
And, it's somehow appropriate that she is ranked above #3, new Mayor Jim Righeimer.

GOOD CHOICE
It was good to see Robin Leffler on the list this year.  Her role as the President of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG), that broad-based grassroots organization that was instrumental in the defeat of Jim Righeimer's Charter in November, certainly qualifies her for a position on this list.

LOBDELL...
It was interesting to see City of Costa Mesa Communication Director Bill Lobdell's name on the list.  Not that he doesn't deserve the recognition - he certainly does - but I smiled when I saw it because the original DP 103 was created by Lobdell and Tom Johnson when they both were with the Daily Pilot.

GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
I also smiled when I saw the name of Jess Gilman, retired legendary School Resource Officer, on the list.  Sadly, it took his retirement for folks to fully appreciate his value to the Costa Mesa schools and the community in general.

ME, TOO...
Oh, yes... I'm on it again.  I'm down there at #91, sandwiched between Amy Senk - publisher of Corona del Mar Today and the BEST BLOGGER in our area - and super activist Mike Scheafer.  That's pretty darn good company, if you ask me.

ENJOY
So, the list goes on and on.  Take a few minutes to read through it and smile, or grumble, as you see the names included this year.  Enjoy...


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Commission Application Deadline Friday

A REMINDER FOR YOU ALL
A little reminder for you, prompted by a loyal reader this morning...  Friday, December 28, 2012, is the deadline for filing applications to be considered for one of the five (5) vacancies on two important City of Costa Mesa commissions.  I wrote about it earlier, HERE.

FIVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE
There are two (2) vacancies on the Planning Commission and three (3) vacancies on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE
As indicated in my previous post, the application can be found online at the city web site, HERE, or get one from the City Clerk.

ACT TODAY
So, if you're interested in some public service, fire that application off to The City today - or by Friday at the latest.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Everyone...

 SOME MUSIC FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
In case you needed a little music to help you through this day, here are a couple ditties that you may find enjoyable.

A CLASSIC
This first one, The Christmas Song by Nat "King" Cole is a classic.


A NEW ONE
This one, by Ray Stevens, is newer, but sends an important message.

 
MERRY CHRISTMAS, ONE AND ALL...
We here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish every one of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a safe, prosperous and HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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