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Friday, May 13, 2005

Tending the Spirit

Ken McCarthy’s annual System Seminar was definitely worth attending—a needed shot in the arm for yours truly. The technical info was very helpful, as always, but that isn’t what really mattered. I don’t have to fly half-way across the country and shell out for hotel and food to get technical info.

What made the difference was the quality of the attendees and the great atmosphere that Ken puts together to attract such a stimulating audience. Ken assiduously avoids the pitch-fests that so often characterize such events. You know the drill: the presenters are there to pitch their books and tapes. Not at Ken’s events. Not only does this make for a far better experience, it creates the trust which draws the quality audience.

It was just great to meet and hang out with some really sharp people from all across the country—and the planet, for that matter. All sorts of interesting folks doing all sorts of interesting things. Internet marketing is still such a new, dynamic, learn-as-you-go kind of endeavor that being around some of its more effective practitioners makes for a truly stimulating atmosphere.

So it’s the people, far more than the presentations where the true value exists. Actually, the same could be said of the blogosphere. It isn’t so much what’s being said as it is the spirit that exists within and around the whole endeavor. It’s what makes it worth the effort.

I discovered that fact last year, somewhat painfully, when I dropped out of blogging for about nine months. A dry rot of isolation began to eat away at me—even though I was benefiting from the freed-up extra time. In the end, the extra time simply wasn’t worth it.

I’ve been known to make some snide remarks about the “circle jerk-ism” of all these blogging conferences to which some people are always running off—examining such who-gives-a-shit questions a “is blogging journalism?”

After my experience at my conference this past week, I realize that these blogging affairs—while the themes may be of manufactured consequence—serve a legitimate purpose for the attendees—providing community and a bolstering of the spirits in a new and uncharted territory where isolation and doubt are frequent enemies.

So, I’ll retract my previous smart-ass put-downs of these affairs—which is not to say that I won’t continue to savor the roastings that Jeneane and others dish out from time to time.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

In 'n Out

I'm back from Chicago. The conference was absolutely great. More about that tomorrow.

It was nice of AKMA to offer to keep his eyes open for me, but it wouldn't have done much good. I was in and out of Evanston in a flash--just long enough for a coffee (Peet's) and dinner (Wolfgang Puck's).

Next time I'm there, it would be great if I could arrange my schedule to include attendance at one of AKMA's sermons.

Having married into a Jewish family, and enthusiastically supported my kids being raised in that tradition, your humble blogger has not been inside a church in years--except for weddings and funerals. However, I would gladly make an exception for the opportunity to hear the good Reverend do his stuff. Ditto Jordon Cooper, by the way.

How much better would the world be if the preponderance of clergy of all faiths possessed the openess of mind and heart of these two worthies?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

From Our Fearless Reporter

You can always count on Sheila Lennon to dig up the good stuff. How about a Cream reunion concert at Royal Albert Hall?

Wow! I would have almost been willing to pay for a hop on the Concorde (if they were still flying) to get to that one. But then, imagine trying to get a ticket. You'd have a better chance of getting a private audience with the queen (not that you'd particularly want one).

Will they produce a video--pretty please?

Anyway, catch Sheila's account. Plenty of good links--as always in her case.

In Rememberence of the Kent State Four

Thanks to Frank Paynter for reading the roll of our four murdered comrades.

Here's a link to an account of the event.

On this day three years ago, Eric Olsen, a native Ohioan, later to become the founding editor of Blog Critics, wrote this very interesting perspective in remembering the tragedy.

"I am of the opinion that May 4, 1970 was the day Youth Culture completed its ascendancy to dominance in the United States. The process had begun fifteen years earlier in movie theaters across the country as the electrifying downbeat of Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” opened The Blackboard Jungle, a shocking film for its time, and ignited the rock ‘n’ roll explosion."

Eric's sharp insight inspired me to post a related personal experience--which remains one of my favorites from my archives. (Wish I coud blog like that every day).

Expounding on Ratzo the Reactionary

Yule Heibel has responded to my request for some perspective about Ratzinger and the Hitler Youth issue. In doing so, she provides a backdrop of information and context that is truly enlightening. Her opinions, as aways, are extremely well-informed. She contributes a take on the new Pope and his past that I was looking for.

See the comments to my "Bavarian Muddle" post of May 2 directly below.

Many thanks to an extraordinary blogger!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Peter the Great

86th birthday greetings to one of the greatest Americans of the second half of the twentieth century--and still going strong in the new century. That would be the mighty Pete Seeger.

Many thanks to wood s lot for an excellent birthday piece.

Still Growing

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Monday, May 02, 2005

A Bavarian Muddle?

Thanks to Yule Heibel for the link to Billmon of Whisky Bar regarding the issue of choice, and Ratzinger's service in the Hitler Youth. He provides an excellent rundown of related stories.

I'll take Yule's word for it that Billmon has it right. However, if Jewish leaders aren't much concerned about Ratz's Hitler Youth episode, or his being drafted, are we making too much of it?

Admittedly, Ratz (or "Ratzo" as Frank Paynter deliciously refers to him) is an abysmal selection for Pope, but as for his youthful timidity (or ass-kissing) vis-a-vis the possibility of resisting, I have to believe that it must have required a bravery possessed by a rare few to have been able to take a stand in Bavaria, of all places.

I will glady be proven wrong on this. But isn't citing the example, as Billmon does, of the White Rose movement, however moving and however striking, ultimately a simplification?

I remember vividly what a complex and convoluted issue it was in the U.S. in the Sixties about whether to serve or not serve in the military. (Thank God I completed my service before Vietnam!!) A lot of people were just plain terrified to go against the established authority. That didn't make them bad people, in my view, even though many of radical bent were quick to condemn the average Joes who donned the uniform.

I assume it must have been more complicated than that, and certainly more terrifying in the Bavaria of 1941.

I could be off base on this one. My lack of clarity may well earn some rebuke. But I remember from the post-Vietnam era how easy it is to point fingers, and it 's something I try to avoid unless it's thoroughly unambigous, e.g., detesting Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Any clarification from Yule or others is most welcome.