AVC Investigation Committee

Today, I was approached by Konner McDonnell about assisting with the AVC Investigative Committee (AVCIC). This has presented a dilemma for me. I wish to be as helpful as possible, yet at the same time make sure that my sources and confidential information are adequately protected.

I have agreed to provide as much information as I can to the committee provided it doesn’t violate the confidentiality of my sources and stays within the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Important to the commission, I agree not to disclose any of the information we have talked about until it is publicly released.

Besides providing information that may be useful to the committee, I also agree to review findings and provide my feedback to the finding. However, I do not intend to do any investigation on behalf of the committee. My goal is simply to see that the committee report be as fair and accurate as possible.

It is my hope that AVCIC will set a good example of how investigations can and should be done in Second Life. If you have comments, please contact me directly.

For additional information, check the AVC statement about me joining them.

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V. in Gaza

On the Group Psychotherapy mailing list that I am part of, there has been a lot of discussion about what is going on in Gaza. This is intermixed with discussions of conferences and issues that people run into in their practices. It seemed to me that these threads were more interrelated than they initially seemed, so I wrote the following:

I've been struggling to keep up with all the emails on this list and make sense of them. So many of them call out to me to say something and I've just not had the time or energy, and if I had, others would be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of emails In generate. So, I am glad that V. has given me a chance to try and tie together all my reactions.

It seems like there is an important underlying theme, how do we respond to injustice. We see a parent bullying their child. Do we walk away and say that the parent had terminated therapy and there was nothing more the therapist could do? Or do we try to find some other way to get through?

When we see a peace process breakdown, do we walk away and say that the different sides are hardened in their positions and it is useless to talk about it, or do we seek to find empathy and help others find empathy, and perhaps even a shred of hope?

When we see callous youth, do we blame it on the education system or the media, shaking our heads as we walk away, or do we own our own roles as educators as part of the media landscape and seek for ways that we can bring a little empathy and hope into yet another situation that might appear hopeless?

Four years ago, my wife ran for State Representative in Connecticut. It was a seat that a Democrat had not run for in around ten years and a Democrat hadn't won in around a hundred years. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district two to one. There was very little chance that she would get elected, but it was important to run. In the election she received 44% of the vote, much greater than anyone ever thought was possible.

Afterwards, people who hadn't seen the election results would ask if she had won. I would always reply, that yes, she had won. She hadn't gotten elected, but she had won. I didn't know exactly what her victory meant, and I still don't know exactly, but we saw increased dialog about the issues our little part of Connecticut faced. We saw other people become more involved and find their own voices in politics. I believe I even see a little more civility in some of the discourse.

It is with that in mind that I complement V. on her successful intervention. Would I have done things differently? Perhaps a little bit, but I'm not sure. Did the presenting case for the intervention get
resolved, the parent finding help? We don't know. We might never know. Did V.'s action send forth a little ripple of hope? Yes.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of
energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Robert F. Kennedy

So, with that, I want to thank V. for her contribution to trying to find peace in the Middle East, for her contribution to trying to help students in the United States learn more about the battles for justice that we have faced in the past and face in the future, and for her contribution here.

(Note: I post this with permission of the person on the list who brought the vignette, and have changed some of the details to protect privacy and confidentiality.)

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Saturday afternoon random stuff

It is a quiet, rainy day. Mairead and Miranda are with their mother. Fiona has been out with Kim at various activities; horse grooming in the morning, and rehearsal for the Palm Sunday Pageant in the afternoon. I have spent time, reading through emails that have piled up and listening to various shows on NPR.

As I get through the emails I’ve built up a list of websites that I’ve browsed and left open, something like 20 different tabs in my browser. Personal Paranoia is a website by Nick Carlton. He added me as a friend on BlogCatalog, I believe. I liked what I read and left the window open to come back to.

I’ve been checking in at Cool Justice a lot over the past few days as we continue to write about and try to make sense of the latest developments in the Avery Doninger case.

I had a meeting on Wednesday where it was suggested that I should check out Fielding Graduate University. “Our mission is to meet your educational and professional needs as an adult learner and a mid-career professional.” In the same discussion, the Carter Center was mentioned. They have The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships For Mental Health Journalism. Applications are due no later than April 28th.

Another tab had Introducing the Book open. It has a very funny tech support video.

Then, there are all kinds of tabs open for interesting events. Yesterday, South by Southwest started. Everyone is Twittering about it or jonesing to be there. The ”Big Gamble” symposium website is open, as is the Life 2.0 summit, where I still can’t find a schedule of who is speaking when. This overlaps with Take Back America 2008. I went to Take Back America last year, and I’m trying to figure out my schedule for this month.

Then, there are various job leads that have crossed my desk in one manner or another. The Center for Community Change is looking for a Web and New Media Manager. Virtual Thesaurus is looking for a Executive Producer to manage all editorial of its online magazine on language and the creative process. SLCN.TV is looking for a part time webmaster.

Two final websites; one is an article about Babak Zamanian, an Iranian blogger who has been sentenced to jail because of his writing. The other is 23andme, a personal Genome Service. For a thousand dollars, you can send them a sample of your saliva. They look at around 600,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms, not the whole genome, but enough to get a very good view ones genetic ancestry and makeup. When I have a few thousand to spare, it would it looks like a great geek toy.

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Mixed Media

My queue of unread emails has expanded significantly again. There is so much to read. There is so much going on in Second Life. I have articles and emails to write. Yet it is also college break and the girls have been around. I drove Miranda to the train station this morning. She is spending some time with some friends before heading back to school. I asked my Mairead what some good father daughter time might be, and she suggested visiting a bookstore. It led to a good mixed media day.

The first store we stopped at is part of a large national chain, yet there is a foreign language section with ties to Yale and some great books. Mairead stopped there while I went and checked out some other books. I’ve been thinking of getting The Writer’s Market to see if I can find a publisher for my novel, and perhaps some other good writing gigs. Miranda is also interested in this, since she has written one novel and has some others in the works. However, I just couldn’t see spending $50 on the 2008 deluxe edition of The Writer’s Market.

When Mairead had selected her books, we headed off to another bookstore. This one was a small local bookstore. It was full of books from ancient literature to new media and from Marxist to anarcho-capitalist theories. As I looked at the new media books, I was struck by how old they seemed. I found it interesting to look at what they had to say, as I thought of what was piling up on my hard drive. At one point, Mairead asked me if I remembered who wrote Interview with the Vampire. We both remembered that the author’s first name was Anne, but we couldn’t think of the last name. If I were sitting at home, I could googled it and had the answer in a moment. As it was, the quickest way of finding out was to call Kim, who quickly reminded us that it was Anne Rice.

Cellphones and Google have changed the way we search for information. The Internet has changed our view of what is timely. This changes what you can find on the shelves of the large bookstore chains. However, there is still something very special about going to a small local bookstore, with a great collection of obscure books. Father and daughter, old media and new.

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New England News Forum and Quinnipiac University co-sponsor symposium on Gambling

The New England News Forum together with Quinnipiac University will be co-sponsoring a symposium on gambling next Tuesday from 7 until 9 PM at the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room at the Lender School of Business Center at Quinnipiac. There will be two movies and two half hour long panels.

The first panel will be moderated by William "Liam" O'Brien, a media-production professor at Quinnipiac. It will include Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, Massachusetts secretary of economic development Dan O'Connell, as well as Barry J. Cregan, interim president of the Foxwoods casino and UMass Dept. of Public Health Adjunct Professor Rachel A. Volberg.

The second panel will “will cover the challenge of reporting on the news and effects of casinos in Connecticut.” It will include UMass journalism instructor Stephen J. Simurda, New York Times editorial writer Maura J. Casey, David Collins, editorial columnist at The Day, Marvin Steinberg , founder and director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling , and Indian Country Today staff reporter Gale Corey Toensing.

Earlier in the day, starting at 4:30, two short documentaries about gambling will be screened.

More information can be found on The New England News Forum website

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