Sunday, January 31, 2010

Farewell Old Friend



1995 - 2010

Is there anything more wonderful than a puppy? Their enthusiasm for life, their unbridled joy at just being alive is so infectious. No one can resist them. They’re cute, cuddly and even if they do pee on your leg, somehow it seems OK.

I’ve always had dogs. Puppies grow into dogs and burrow into your heart and become part of your life. You walk them, feed them, take care of them. And in return, they give you their unconditional love and affection. They’re always happy to see you - never too busy to drop whatever they’re doing to get their ears scratched and head out for a walk.

Dogs are great companions. But just as puppies grow into dogs, young dogs become old dogs. And all too soon, old dogs get tired and sore and aren’t as interested in playing as they used to be. They start to hang out in quiet places and sleep more than they used to. They’re still a big part of your life. But they’re withdrawing a bit too.

A couple of weeks ago, our old dog, Blue, stopped going out for walks. We were about a block away from our house, heading out to the park we go to every day. But suddenly she stopped and wouldn’t walk any further. So we turned around and headed back home and I put her up on the back deck. Then Roxy (our younger dog) and I headed out for our walk.

Each day, I asked Blue if she wanted to come for a walk. She’d come out to the front yard with us and nose around the neighbour’s lawn. But then she’d head back to her spot on the back deck and go to sleep.

She was having trouble settling down. Her hips were locking up. She struggled to lay down and get up. She was whining more so you knew she was starting to ache a lot. She lost her appetite and started to lose weight.

I knew what was coming. I’ve had dogs get old and there is no way to put off the inevitable. But it’s so hard to actually make the call. When she needed me to help her get up and go down and up the stairs, I knew the time had come. Our dogs depend on us to give them a good life. We shelter them and feed them and nurse them when they’re sick. But when their time comes, we don’t let them suffer. When their quality of life declines, it’s our responsibility to comfort them until the end.

Last Wednesday, I booked a house call from our vet for Friday morning. Knowing what was coming was difficult - there was that nagging voice that said maybe I didn’t need to follow through. Perhaps Blue just needed a bit more time and she’d get her strength back and we could carry on a bit longer.

But about 2 am Friday morning, Blue’s whining woke us. When I went outside, she was struggling to stand, with her feet sliding off in all directions. She wanted to get up but couldn’t get her footing. So I supported her and we went down the stairs into the back yard, where she did her business with as much doggie dignity as she could muster. Then I carried her back up the stairs and put her on her blanket, where she’d been sleeping for the last two weeks.

She wouldn’t drink any water from her bowl, but if I dipped my hand, she’d lick it dry. We did that for five minutes until the dish was empty. She wasn’t whining any more. I watched while she fell asleep.
In the morning, she was awake but she hadn’t moved when the vet arrived. Heather, Jaime and I were on the back deck, along with Roxy. The vet’s name was Dr. Helen Rae and she was professional and respectful. Blue drifted off without a whimper.

I miss Blue terribly. Much more than with our other dogs. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s because I’m older myself and more aware of my own mortality. If so, I hope I carry myself into my old age with as much dignity as Blue did.

It’s taken me a couple of days to write this. As I do so, Roxy is lying outside my office door. She’s been very subdued since Blue left. She’s lost her constant companion and she’s struggling with that - just as I am. But as the days pass, we’ll both think a little less about what we’ve lost and remember how much we enjoyed our life with Blue.

The puppy that we found abandoned 15 years ago, with cut-up feet and covered with ticks, remained a faithful member of our family, much-loved by all of us and keenly missed now. We will always remember her.

Farewell, my old friend.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I really want a Spondulix machine

I've had quite a lot of Spam comments to The Daily Upload lately. Most are pretty straight forward. But some are so strange they're kind of entertaining. Like this one.

(I've edited it to remove the malicious links.)

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- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Media Channel considering shutting down

Over the last 10 years, I've found a lot of good stories through the Media Channel website. I've often referred you to their stuff, which I've usually found to be solid reporting. In today's world, trying to be non-partisan gets you branded as "Liberal" but that's just the way it goes.

But after 10 years, it looks like the site may be about to wrap up. That would be a shame but not unexpected, as the note I've received today points out. I'm reprinting it here, just in case any of you decide maybe you'd like to support their work. It may not be the end of the line - but it sure sounds that way.

Here's what arrived in my inbox this morning:

Declaring Victory and Leaving? It May Be Time To Say Goodbye…

We believe in the mission of MediaChannel. We believe in its value and so does a growing audience that regularly reads and sends editorial input. Many of you have responded to our fundraising appeals and kept us alive, but just barely.

We officially launched this media network on February 1, 2000, the anniversary of the student sit-ins that sparked the civil rights movement. We believe in the work we post - the media news, our blogs and our daily features. They are substantive, global, and offer a service that is often unique. No one else is really doing what we are, going way beyond just bashing or ridiculing political enemies. ("Oh, did you see what Glenn Beck is now saying?" Yuk!)

Over the years, we have upgraded our look, added videos, as well as interactive social media features. We have traveled the world to represent our work, in part because of invitations from colleagues, from Kazakhstan to Qatar to South Africa, who respect what we do.

We have been on top of the issues, and often ahead of the curve, aggregating content and taking a stand on war and peace, media reform, and economic crises. We have sacrificed a lot to keep MediaChannel going -- and we are not sorry we did.


But that is apparently not enough. It's not just about content, but marketing, positioning, politics and funding. The media environment has changed. Highly partisan news and commentary gets funded; work like ours, alas, does not. Maybe the partisan stuff just fits the spirit of these polarized and combative times more than more reasoned and probing stories.

Journalism is not just disappearing in the mainstream or giving way to tabloid news and propaganda, it's missing in the blogosphere too. Perhaps its just unfashionable, perhaps its only the loudest voices, and only the celebrity writers who people want to read because they have more visibility or the capacity to piss us off even more.

We have been reduced to frequent appeals to readers who, understandably, tire of being solicited too often, and not just by us, but by every independent media site struggling to survive. We understand why folks turn away, especially in this economic climate.


So we are being forced to conclude that it may be time to declare victory and phase MediaChannel out. If we do, we will do it with pride of what we have accomplished overt the last decade.

On the other hand, it's never over until it is.

There is a small hope that other media sites that share our values may agree to some kind of consolidation, or a merger. Perhaps we can save ourselves if we work together. We know that collaboration is one of those values everyone supports in principle, but it's hard to give up our competitive instincts.

Your ideas and financial support are welcome and needed.

We have been fighting for years to keep going and are now thinking about other options and initiatives if we cannot. Clearly, we are better hell raisers than fundraisers. Our costs are not that high, but there are costs, for a Webmaster, technology, distribution etc.. One deep pockets funder could write a check to keep us going, but we can't count on it. And it doesn't look like we can count solely on our readers either. Perhaps we have gone to "the well" one time too many times. We are sure those who never wished us well, the hackers and wreckers will celebrate. So what?

As we consider the options, we would like you to consider ideas, contacts, connections and interest you may have to help sustain our work or tell us that its time to move on.

We need help in reaching out for partners, a merger, or sale. [Email for suggestions.]

A recent grant we received was earmarked for a youth oriented channel, not for general institutional support.

Back in 2000, we never thought we would still be online in 2010 or that you would be with us. We are grateful for the help we have had and will have more to say about that when and if we have to.

Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of

February is our anniversary. Its also a leap year month, So, in that spirit, we will leap into the future one way or another by offering the best of our work and providing some time to see what, if anything, can be done.

You can make a tax-deductible donation online here, or by sending a check made out to:

The Global Center
575 8th Ave., #2200
New York, NY 10018
(Please write "For MediaChannel" on the memo line of your check.)

Thank you,

- Danny Schechter, Rory O'Connor, David DeGraw

Comments to


Monday, January 25, 2010

The World Waits

I've just finished my President's column for our local Macintosh Users' Group here in Victoria. It won't come out in print for a week or so, but because it's about tomorrow's big Apple announcement, I thought I'd post it here as well. Are we excited yet?
The world waits...

By the time you read this, we’ll all know what new magic Apple has brought to the world. As I write this, Apple fans – and a fair chunk of the tech community - are waiting with bated breath for the words from the oracle of Cupertino. By tomorrow, we’ll all know what the fuss has been about.

Will it be Apple’s version of a tablet computer? Or is it something more – destined to restructure the information landscape, just as the iMac, iPod and iPhone have done before. With each success, the legend of Apple and the remarkable ability of Steve Jobs to dominate the agenda grows more pronounced.

I don’t mind admitting I’m excited. I don’t know what Jobs will unveil, but I’m sure I’ll want one. I might not get it for a while, but I’ll certainly want it. And I suspect most of you will as well. That’s the thing about Apple and the products they create. Everyone wants them.

I haven’t always appreciated just how real the lure of the new tech product can be until I moved into the Apple realm. Not so many years ago, I was just another working guy in Toronto, stuck with using whatever computer system I had at work. I carried around a laptop, but it was always the one that the IT guys chose. I had a Blackberry on my waist because that’s what you used. It let me keep in touch with the office, keep up to date on all those reports I needed to read (or was expected to) and gave me a convenient way to catch up on emails any time I had a few minutes to spare.

But while the thrill of the new communications was intoxicating, I can’t say that I was that excited by the hardware. But then I started freelancing. I bought a PowerBook and things have never been the same. It was love at first type. The keyboard, the screen, the way it just worked. I was hooked. Later, I felt the same excitement for my first iPod and most recently my iPhone.

So I’m ready for what’s coming. It feels like we’re about to enter a new era with this tablet, or slate or whatever. Bring it on.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti - First the tragedy - then the media

It's been awhile since I did much more than scan the headlines. But of course, I've been watching the coverage of the earthquake in Haiti and the aftermath, like most people I know. Tonight the US and Canadian TV networks are giving over the airwaves to televised benefits. And we've all felt the wall-to-wall coverage that the quake has received.

While much of the media coverage has been exceptional - especially the first-hand accounts from reporters who were first on the scene, the coverage also raises questions about what gets coverage and when. What's happening in the rest of the world?

Today, I came across this article by Rebecca Solnit on with the provocative headline In Haiti, Words Can Kill. It explores some of the issues I was thinking about - especially the response of the big US television networks. And you will want to look at another post by Solnit, called "When the Media is the Disaster," for more on the subject.

They are provocative pieces. Talking about the way the event has been covered doesn't do anything to diminish the scope of the tragedy that has unfolded in Haiti, nor does it cast aspersions on the people who are working so hard to help with the relief efforts. But it is worth considering the way that popular culture influences the news judgement of the media and how that affects the victims of the natural disaster.

Here's a sample:
Other than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Los Angeles Times, this was “the biggest U.S. television news deployment to an international crisis since the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami” -- at a cost that can only have been obscene.

In the process, as happens on our obsessionally eyeball-gluing, single-event, 24/7 media planet, “world news” essentially became Haiti with the usual logos, tags, and drum rolls (“Earthquake in Haiti”). The three networks even briefly expanded the length of their half-hour news shows to an all-Haiti-all-the-time hour, with just bare minutes leftover for the rest of the planet. In a sense, as the earthquake had blotted out Haiti, so the news coverage blotted out everything else with an almost religious fervor and the language to match.

In place of the world came endless stories of a tiny number of riveting rescues from the rubble (“miracles”) by international rescue teams -- less than 150 saved when possibly tens of thousands of buried Haitians would not be dug out and conceivably up to 200,000 had died. Along with this went the usual self-congratulatory reporting about American generosity and the importance of American troops (they secured the airport!) in a situation in which aid was visibly not getting through, in which people were not being saved.

And of course, with the drama of people pulled from the rubble went another kind of drama: impending violence -- even though the real story, as a number of reporters couldn’t help but notice, was the remarkable patience and altruistic willingness of Haitians to support each other,help each other, and organize each other in a situation where there was almost nothing to share. It might, in fact, have been their finest hour, but amid the growing headlines about possible “violence” and “looting,” that would have been hard to tell.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Gruber on Apple's Tablet

Some of you may have already this article. I'm just catching up on my reading which slipped about over the holidays. But it's one that I can't resist pointing people to.

I'm an admitted Apple fan - there aren't many of their products that I don't like. (After all, I am the President of the Victoria Mac Users Group.) So I'm excited about the ongoing rumours
about the upcoming Tablet that Apple is working on.

I've heard lots of the rumours and that's all they are - as John Gruber explains in this post there is no one who knows what is really going on, except the ones that are working on it.

Gruber, who writes the blog Daring Fireball, is well regarded for his thoughts on all things Apple and for computing in general. He's always on my must-read list.

In this post, he delves into what is known, what isn't known, and what he thinks will be known when the Table finally arrives. It's a fascinating take on what's going on by someone who likely has a better handle on things than most.

It's a fascinating essay and it's guaranteed to get your excitement level going - even if you're not an Apple fan. Because it's going to change the way we use computers.

Here's the link