A Tough Week

It has been a tough week. Too much time on the road. Too much time dealing with simply getting by. I have blog posts that I want to write, but I'm too tired to tackle them today. Yet with this, there hasn't been an earthquake or cyclone in Woodbridge, CT, so I can't really complain.

I write this, in part, as a placeholder, getting at least a minimal entry up, so I can keep another National Blog Posting Month alive.

More tomorrow.

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Second Life Parallel Processes

I spend two days away from my computer and come back to over 2000 unread email messages and several interesting discussions. Last year, Gartner, “the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company”, predicted that 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A "Second Life" in the Virtual World by the End of 2011.

Not everyone is happy about the prospects of this. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois is pushing for legislation that would Ban 'Second Life' in schools and libraries. Needless to say, educators that use Second Life for pedagogical purposes in schools are not particularly supportive of the proposal and there has been a lot of discussion about this on the Second Life Educators list.

Meanwhile, on the Group Psychotherapy mailing list, there has been a backlash against the discussion about the therapeutic potential of virtual worlds. Some of it seems to be motivated by discomfort with Second Life. Some of this may be motivated by concerns about possible dangers to children in Second Life, particularly related to sexual content, that is the big concern of Rep. Kirk, it seems like other concerns are more prominent, such as people spending too much time in Second Life at the expense of face to face social interaction.

This concern sounds fairly similar to concerns about kids watching too much television, and it is interesting to note that one therapist talked about how one of his patients had increased time for Second Life by decreasing time watching television. From a McLuhanesque perspective, this is perhaps a positive step, since Second Life is much more immersive and interactive.

It may also be that some of the concern comes from a fear of the unknown. For many of people, Second Life is something they haven’t experienced. They’ve read about it in various places. They’ve read about the dangers of video games. Second Life and video games remain a foreign and threatening technology to them.

There is perhaps another underlying theme on the Group Psychotherapy list, the concern about ‘alternative therapies’. The discussion about therapy in Second Life often centers around art therapy or psychodrama. People aren’t sure what to make of alternative therapies.

Yet this ties into yet another parallel process. As I was driving by daughter home from college yesterday, she talked about what she wanted to do. She is a musician, an actress and an artist. She is interested in psychology and was very interested in alternative therapies.

One of my todo items for today, as I tried to dig through emails that have piled up was to ask friends on the group psychotherapy list for good material for my daughter to read to find out more about alternative therapies.

So, I’ve read through a bunch of emails, I have many more to go. Let’s see what the folks on the Group Psychotherapy list have to say.

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What's Wrong with West Virginia?

Many of my online Obama supporters have been asking this question over the past few days, and I am sure are bound to be thinking this again today. Does Obama have a problem with poorer, less educated, white rural voters? What should be done?

Well, yesterday, I drove from Connecticut down to Virginia to pick up one of my daughters from college. I stopped in Martinsburg WV and spent a few hours canvassing for Obama. Martinsburg is in Berkeley County, part of the Washington DC exurbs. Obama did better in Berkeley County than just about any other county, with the exception of neighboring Jefferson County. Yet my experiences did not match those of the pundits.

I didn't see a poorer less educated rural white America. I saw a wild and wonder state that is part of the United States of America. To borrow the words from a famous speech,

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too:

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States.

We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

(For those who don't recognize it, this is an excerpt from Sen. Obama's speech in 2004 to the Democratic National Convention.)

So, why did Clinton do so well in West Virginia? Let me offer a few thoughts. First, and I know that some of my online Obama supporting friends are going to jump down my throat on this, Sen. Clinton is not a bad person. I believe that she does care deeply about this country. I would gladly vote for her over any of the Republicans. More importantly, what is wrong with West Virginia is related to what is the matter with Kansas.

Thomas Frank explores What's the matter with Kansas in a book with that title. The key idea is that voters have been distracted by the wedge issues, abortion and gay marriage, by conservatives who are opposed to the key message of progressive Democrats, because they know that this key message is something they cannot stand against. What is this key message? Well, let's return to Sen. Obama's 2004 Democratic National Convention speech.

It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

What is wrong with West Virginia? What is the matter with Kansas? It is that we have lost this fundamental belief. Yet it is here that I diverge from the pundits and the bloggers. The problem isn't with the good people of West Virginia or the good people of Kansas. The problem is that the pundits, and the bloggers, have gotten caught up in the horserace and have forgotten to talk about our fundamental beliefs.

Yet as I walked around parts of Martinsburg, I found people that hold fast to this fundamental belief that we are our brother's keeper, that we aren't a Red America and a Blue America, we are a United States of America.

So, let me be bold, and perhaps offensive for a moment. The problem is not the good people of West Virginia or Kansas, the problem is every blogger that is pontificating online about West Virginia without having gone door to door to talk with people about being our brother's keeper, without having gone door to door to help us be one America.

And this is bigger than just the Presidential Election. Yes, I know that this is supposed to be the most important presidential election in a generation, but unless all of us work together to help perfect the vision of a more perfect union, of 'E pluribus unum. Out of many, one', then it may not matter who gets elected president.

Knocking on doors in West Virginia was very different than knocking on doors in New Hampshire. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. People here had not been contacted by campaigns and they were grateful that someone cared enough to come to their door and talk about our nation and who should lead it. I believe that the people I visited will be more involved in helping set our nation back on the right path.

So, I end this with a challenge. On May 20th, there will be a primary in Kentucky. Use this as an opportunity to get in touch with people there about our fundamental beliefs about being our brother's keeper. Help people across this great nation of ours become more involved in repairing the moral fabric of our country.

What's wrong with West Virginia is that we are not talking enough to all Americans.

Road Trip

In a few moments, I will hit the road on my way to Staunton, VA to pick up my middle daughter from college. It is about an eight hour drive.

On the way, I'll pass through Martinsburg, WV where I plan on stopping and doing a little get out the vote in today's West Virginia Primary.

So, I'll mostly be offline, although I hope to put up a few posts on Twitter, BrightKite, Utterz and/or Flickr and I hope to get at least limited access this evening.

Upcoming Conventions

Saturday was the Democratic State Convention in New Britain. I had family events to attend to and couldn’t attend. However, Christine Stuart has this report up on CT NewsJunkie.

Tonight will be the Democratic Congressional Seat conventions. I haven’t heard details about the conventions in the first and third congressional districts. It is clear who the nominees will be and the conventions are likely to be about as exciting as the State Convention was.

Over in the Fifth Congressional District, Chris Murphy’s convention is supposed to start this evening at 6:30 PM at Crosby High School, 300 Pierpont Road, Waterbury. In the Second Congressional District, Joe Courtney’s nominating convention will take place at UCONN Storrs Campus Rome Commons Ballroom, starting at 7 PM.

While I’ve received more emails about Courtney’s convention than I have of any of the other incumbents, the most buzz right now is about the Fourth Congressional District Convention, where Jim Himes is expected to receive the nomination. It is taking place at the Cesar Batalla School, 606 Howard Ave, in Bridgeport, also starting at 7 PM.

The Himes campaign also has an interesting idea, become a Virtual Delegate. You can donate and make a nominating speech. The event is also up on Facebook and there is an after party.

Since I’m driving to Virginia tomorrow, I’ll probably miss these conventions. However, there are plenty of other great conventions coming up. Later, I’ll post information about some of the State Senate Conventions that will happen next week.

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