Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Move over Britney, we want Dick!

The new darling of the talk show circuit? It's not Zac or Britney. It's neither Paris nor Perez. It is Dick Cheney. Now some of you might not remember him. He was the Vice-President. It may be tough to recall since, on September 11, 2001, he went to a secret, undisclosed location and didn't return until January 20, 2009. (Except that one time he shot his friend)

Well, he is undisclosed no more! He has been on Fox with Sean Hannity, CNN with John King and on Politico.com.

What's he saying? Fashion tips? Whipping up a quick meal for the ex-VP-on-the-go? Building houses? Curing AIDS? Encouraging the spaying and neutering of pets? NOPE.

He's bitching about the current administration.

Well, Mr. Cheney, I know I'm not the only one who would like you to, well, shut up. From the NY Times. From CNN. It seems to me that you had 8 years to solve the world's problems and you didn't. In fact, they seem to be a whole lot worse now then they were in 2000.

Am I being political? Hardly. There is a very small club of men on this planet who understand the challenges faced by a sitting president. Dick is in that club and has a responsibility to either be supportive or silent for the good of our nation. There are plenty of dissenters, pundits and looneys who can deride a president and an administration with out the second highest office in the nation being sullied. It may not be in character Mr. Cheney, but please, show a little dignity for the rest of us.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere…

Salamanders and their eggs are among the most sensitive creatures to water pollution. In this case, these salamander eggs are healthy and waiting for May and hatching. (Unless a turtle decides he wants a salamander omelet.)

By Pat Rossiter, YOUTH Forum Guy


We have had the pretty extraordinary privilege of living in a place where the supply of water is abundant and potable. This is simply not true in much of the rest of the world and with each passing year, it becomes less and less true here in the United States.

Now as you sit, comfy-cozy here in New England, the problem seems remote right?

If you live in one of the towns served by the Metropolitan District Commission’s water supply, you had a dicey few days.  Evidently some unwanted visitors were residing in the water coming from one of the reservoirs. Fair enough, boil your water for a minute. Of course now that I think of it, this is the first time in my memory that I can remember a municipal water supply being affected in such a manner. I may just not be remembering it, but I can say with a great deal of certainty, that the water here has been for the last 38 years almost entirely and absolutely safe to drink.

OK, maybe not. Now it seems literally tons of pharmaceutical chemicals are routinely washed down the drain and into our water supply. The chief culprit? You and I. That’s right, mother’s little helper may just be making Jack a dull boy.  Think its just the pills? Here’s a report from 2005,“Most common among the chemicals found were disinfection byproducts, nitrates, chloroform, barium, arsenic and copper.” Mmmmm…I’ll have mine over ice please.

It’s all starting to freak me, and others out.

While we are fretting over the price of oil, it may just be that the real issue is not what goes in the car but in our mouths.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Craigslist Killer: Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark Discusses Internet Crime at 2007 CT Forum

The popular website craigslist.com has been in the headlines following the arrest of Phillip Markoff, a Boston University Medical School student believed to be the "craigslist Killer."

Last week, 26-year-old Julissa Brisman was found dead at the Marriott Copley in Boston, after Markoff answered her ad for massage services on the site. Markoff has since been linked to at least one additional crime of similar nature, and has sparked many questions about safety on craigslist and other social networking sites.

In October 2007, craigslist founder Craig Newmark visited The Connecticut Forum as a panelist for our Tech Revolution Forum. In this clip, he talks about crime on craigslist, stating that
"The moral issue is that you have to help a victim fast, but due process is really important especially in this time of warrantless searches. So you gotta help the victim, you gotta stop the bad guys, but you have to do so in a way that you're not a bad guy yourself-and that type of situation happens relatively frequently."

Check it out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Real Housewives of New York...Recession? What Recession?

Hello, my name is Katlyn, and I am a Real Housewives addict.

So much so that on a recent trip to the big apple, I begged my mother and aunts to make the trek to the upper east side to visit Zarin Fabrics, the family business of my very favorite housewife, Jill Zarin. (Even if Jill was not there, I would have settled for her little chihuahua Ginger, but we can talk about that later...)

This popular Bravo reality show follows a select group of high-end housewives from cocktail parties to shopping sprees, charity events to fashion shows, and chronicles all the drama in between. The Real Housewives of New York is currently on the air, with past seasons documenting The Real Housewives of Orange County and Atlanta. (The newest season, The Real Housewives of New Jersey premiers later this spring)

I think that aside from the cat fights and couture, the shows real draw is the fact that it offers us a peek into a world many of us may never see. The lifestyles that these ladies live are simply unimaginable, and for most, unreachable. It's just fun to watch, wish, and drool in envy.

Last night the drool dried, and I found myself actually reaching for the remote and changing the channel (gasp!) in the middle of the episode. Here's the rundown:

  • In an interview with BBC News, Jill danced around the question of how the economy is affecting her with plugs for her charity events.

  • After she already received a $16,000 handbag for her "downsized" birthday gift, Jill was surprised by her husband Bobby with a brand new Mercedes SUV. Minutes later, she was upset and unhappy because it was not compatible with her iphone. Bobby just laughed, and offered to get her a different car.

  • Alex McCord-van Kempen also celebrated a birthday, and received $6,000 diamond earrings. But the gift giving didn't end there...hubby Simon then treated her to a one-of-a-kind couture corset...made from a feed bag...to the tune of $7,000.

    Diamonds, i would expect.
    But a $7,000 feed bag corset is where I draw the line.

    We are in a recession, and there are more people losing their cars, jobs, ( it was reported earlier this month that McCord-Van Kempen lost her Marketing position at Victoria's Secret) and the shirts off their backs, than there are living like the "Real" housewives.

    I would be lying if I said I am not going to watch the show anymore. I will. (In fact, I hope it's on when I get home. ) The difference is that I now realize that my beloved housewives are not just entertaining us, they are rubbing $3, 000 diamond encrusted salt into the working-class wounds of Real Americans.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miss California Controversy Fuels Gay Marriage Storm

A dark cloud continues to loom over the 2009 Miss U.S.A. Pageant following the controversial remarks made by Miss California Carrie Prejean.

When Perez Hilton, the openly gay celebrity gossip blogger and Miss U.S.A. Judge asked a question regarding the legalization of gay marriage, Prejean answered:

"I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman."

Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton went on to win the crown, leaving Miss California first runner up. Following the pageant, she reacted by saying she's proud she stayed true to her beliefs and wouldn't change the response – even though she believes it cost her the crown.

This is just the latest installment in the gay marriage firestorm. Earlier this month, The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) launched a new religious ad campaign with a commercial entitled A Gathering Storm, which was parodied on The Colbert Report late last week.

NOM's A Gathering Storm

The Colbert Report's A Gathering Storm

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pudgy, Homely Woman Can Sing...Not So Amazing! People's Reactions...Truly Amazing!!!

Throughout our days, in fact, throughout our lives we are constantly making snap judgments and labeling people based solely on first impressions about their outside appearance. If someone is pretty/handsome, we typically assume many positive things about them. If they are homely and/or fat, we assume many negative things. And if they are unusual or strange looking, we become uncomfortable, afraid, and may discount them completely as a person. This all happens in an instant....all the time...day in and day out.

What do these snap judgments and first impressions say about us?

Well...one thing it makes us is an enormous mob of people and media who find it absolutely incredible that Susan Boyle, a pudgy, homely woman, can sing well. The incredible part is not that she can sing a beautiful song, it is how amazed we are - and that is only because of her physical appearance...her outsides. What a sad statement about us!

Isn't it amazing that tens of millions of us are at a point where we think that talent only comes in "attractive packages." Should we be so surprised that homely, pudgy, weird looking people have talent, smarts, humor, character, love....all the things that people have inside.

Our entire Connecticut Forum, for 17 years, has been based on seeing beyond the labels, the outside appearance, the first impression, the fast judgment. Our Youth Forum is also about breaking through the labels and mis-impressions kids have of each other, and adults have of kids, to explore and discover the real person, the whole person, the "outsides and insides" of people through authentic connection and relationships.

Apparently we still have much work to do and we will keep working at it....day in and day out.

In the mean time as you go through the day, look for an unattractive stranger, at work, in a store, on the street... pause for a moment... say hello... if you are very brave ask a question... and see what happens from there. Enjoy the discovery.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rod Blagojevich Is a Celebrity? Get Me Out of Here!

Pending a judge's approval, impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will frolic in the Costa Rican jungle for a month this summer with nine other G-List "celebrities" as a cast member on the reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

It has been reported that he (and his hair) will make $80,000 per episode.

Just one question: will you be watching?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day Tea Party Revolt

Fingers are wagging at "tea parties" today across the nation, but they're not dainty little pinkies held high in the air.

Disgruntled American taxpayers fed up with higher taxes and government spending convened today in protest at hundreds of locations in all 50 states.

Following the precedent set by the Obama campaign, the FreedomWorks organization - chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and its President Matt Kibbe - has mobilized grassroots volunteers nationwide through the power of blogs and other social networking sites in order to "(lead) the fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom."

"Folks, you've got to get to know this organization ... They have been doing a great job all over the country educating people." -President George W. Bush

Why tea parties? Why not pizza parties, or coffee klatches, or - better yet - cocktail parties?

Well, according to Wikipedia...

The Boston Tea Party was a direct action protest by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor. The incident remains an iconic event of American history, and has often been referenced in other political protests.

The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, especially because they believed that it violated their constitutional right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. Protestors had successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain. He apparently did not expect that the protestors would choose to destroy the tea rather than concede the authority of a legislature in which they were not directly represented.

So the Colonists believed the Tea Act "violated their constitutional right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives."

By association, I suppose this means that some disgruntled American taxpayers believe that the Obama administration's taxation and economic stimulus strategies violate their constitutional rights to be taxed only by...their own elected representatives?

(Am I the only one struggling with the logic of this tea party analogy? Didn't the vast majority of American voters elect President Obama into office? And as our elected representative, doesn't he have the right to tax us?)

Had someone consulted my opinion about this whole Tea Party idea, I definitely would have suggested a Coffee Klatch instead.

You can find related articles about the Tea Party phenomenon at:
Wall Street Journal
Hartford Courant

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Breaking Good News: Portuguese Water Dogs Can Trounce Pirates!

Arrrgh! I wish someone would break it to the teenage pirates pillaging off the coast of Somalia that skulls and cross bones are OUT - have been for at least three years, or however long it's been since the name Jack Sparrow wafted through the collective conscience. Today it's all about peace signs, baby. Peace signs and hearts and rainbows and unicorns.

Piracy is out too, for that matter. Eye patches? Peg legs? Foul-mouthed parrots? Not in fashion anywhere, and especially not online or on Wall Street.

We're so over Pirates.

In fact, we've all had just about enough bad "breaking news" news for awhile, haven't we? Who really wants to hear one more true story about war, hostages, ransoms, and other "man-caused" disasters? Who wants to hear about another devastating tornado, earthquake, mudslide, fire, or tsunami? Not me, and I know I'm not alone.

Mention the word "economy" in a crowded room and you may well trigger an involuntary reflex reaction whereby people's index fingers become firmly implanted in their ears. (Really, it's true. I've seen it happen.)
Kidnappings? Murders? Executive bonuses? Tainted pistachios? Aaargh!

It's time to think about puppies.

That's right. Puppies.

News of the Obama family's new addition, Bo, a six-month-old Portuguese Water Dog, is exactly the kind of news we need - and it comes not a moment too soon.

Did you know that Portuguese Water Dogs worked alongside fishermen, retrieving their broken nets, diving for fish, and carrying messages between boats? Did you know they're exceptional swimmers, with webbed feet and rudder-like tails? Did you know that these spirited dogs are "self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue...of exceptional intelligence...obedient?"

And they're eminently cute.

Imagine that! A First Puppy who, for all intents and purposes, could double as a Navy Seal! A presidential pooch who could likely trounce a sea of Somali pirates with one paw tied behind his back!

Now that's news, and it doesn't get any better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Matthew Dowd on bullsh*tting former President Bush

When Matthew Dowd was at The Forum back in September, he filled us in on what it was like to work on the re-election campaign for George W. Bush in 2004. Even if his Dubya impression wasn't pitch perfect, his behind-the-scenes insight was fascinating.

You can watch more of the recently posted videos from The Presidency at The Forum's YouTube page.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What Will Anthony Bourdain Say Next?

Back in January, we posted Anthony Bourdain's well publicized complaints about fellow Food for Thought panelist Alice Waters.

It sounds like Bourdain is recanting some of his previous statements in anticipation of their meeting at The Forum next month. In a recent Facebook entry he writes:

Same thing happened this past week. I'm happily playing tea party with my daughter, contemplating future good works, thinking about sending a fruit basket to my producers (who I'd abused so badly after the blowhole incident), generally in the kind of mood that makes me want cuddle stray dogs, adopt a kitten, sing Cumbaya with the homeless crackhead who hangs outside my neighborhood supermarket - when the text of Alice Waters' open letter to the President hit my Inbox.

The new guy in the White House has a lot on his plate - as a recent trip through America's Rust Belt had just brought rather poignantly home. So I found the allegedly chronic non-voter Waters' offer to head up a "kitchen cabinet" - an advisory board guiding the new administration to a new, organic, locavorean foodie Valhalla - well ...presumptuous. Particularly in light of the Normandy invasion of chefs, logistics and ingredients for the series of benefit meals which followed. I had a hard time visualizing all these guys foraging for vegetables in D.C. in January. The combined carbon imprints of these talented interlopers - alone ... seemed at odds with the high minded sentiments in the letter.

...next thing you know, my comments are all over the blogosphere, attacking the Mother Theresa of the food world, viciously sinking my snaggled teeth into the shanks of St. Alice of Berkeley - possibly the most beloved and revered figure in the world of food.

This is made only more awkward by the fact that we'll soon be appearing together in a panel discussion in Connecticut. I cringe, imagining myself in the green room, sheepishly extending a hand over the tuna wraps, Fiji water and complimentary spanokopita, mumbling something like, "Wow ...like, sorry I compared you to Pol Pot. Perhaps that was a bit ...excessive." Next, I'll be accusing Tom Hanks of cannibalism.

We're waiting to see what Bourdain will say next... Tom Hanks, a cannibal? We'll find out, on May 14.

Monday, April 6, 2009

U-C-O-N-N - UConn, UConn, UConn!

By Jamie Daniel, Advancement Associate & UConn basketball fan

UConn basketball pretty much is Connecticut sports, so the loss of the men's team on Saturday was a blow to many of the state's sports fans. I was disappointed, but it was a great game of basketball and a tournament run that lasted longer than many thought it would.

And, if we're being honest here, I just never felt all that connected to this UConn team.

There, I said it - and it's a huge weight off my shoulders.

I am a lifelong Huskies fan: I celebrated with my father after the Tate George buzzer-beater against Clemson, I idolized Rebecca Lobo and Nykesha Sales, the season schedule for both teams hangs on my fridge every year and somewhere, deep in my parent's basement, is the scrapbook that I made the year I was 12 containing every single article written about the legendary women's team that went 35-0. But this UConn team, led by this Jim Calhoun - the angriest, scariest version of him yet - just didn't have it. They might have had the skills, but, especially after the loss of Jerome Dyson, they just didn't have the heart. Call me naive, but skills alone can only bring you so far.

I'm not sure Calhoun will retire, but I think it's time. UConn needs someone who can revitalize the program and reciprocate some of that love that Connecticut has to give to its beloved Huskies.

In the meantime, I'm excited to watch that other UConn basketball team show us all how it's done on Tuesday with the joy, class and heart that we expect from UConn college basketball.

(For a dose of nostalgia watch "The Shot" with George here, about 2 minutes in.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Good Vibrations

By Pat Rossiter, YOUTH Forum Guy

String Theory says that, fundamentally, all things in the universe are composed of vibrating strings of energy. If you've ever sung in the shower, you've experience that special pitch that makes the whole shower, the whole room, maybe the whole universe ring. This is called resonance. The hard surfaces also bounce the sound around, this is called reverberation. Put these two together and magic happens.

If the vibration of sound in your shower does incredible things, it would stand to reason that, if the universe is vibrating, there are some things that are at just the right frequency to cause resonance and reverberation through out the universe. (Yeah, I know. I'm just looking for a good reason to post this.)

Here's one of those things...

"Gute Nacht" from J.S.Bach's motet Jesu meine Freude BWV 227

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm not the only one...

By Pat Rossiter YOUTH Forum Guy...

In a special follow up...

With the Obamas visiting across the pond, you'd expect talk of the global economy, international relations, and even nuclear disarmament, 

But the best thing, and the reason why I LOVE Michelle Obama, is that during a visit to Betty and Phil Windsor's house, she sidled over to Her Majesty the Queen of England and landed a warm and affectionate hug on the old gal. 

Evidently this is not something that you do...I mean she is a queen in the most literal sense. We American's though have our own brand of protocol that shifts with each new executive. My guess is we won't see too many pig roasts and pie eatin' contests during this administration. Nor is their much brush to cut in Chicago. 

Regardless of that, Europe seems to love Mr. Obama and positively ADORES the Mrs. 

From what I can tell, Betty does too.  She did after all hug her back. (around 1:15)

(Yeah...me and Michelle, huggers.)