Poster boy Jim Parsons WINS!

How cool. Asperger’s poster boy Jim Parsons has won an emmy for his role as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory: Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series.

'The Big Bang Theory' cast also supports the Alzheimer's Association.

I applaud this talented comic who has been a real ambassador for geeks and people with Asperger’s everywhere. Along with the cast and creators of the hit show, he’s helped shift the public image of those afflicted with such ‘syndromes’ (sigh). It’s more common now to see them as bearing certain gifts and talents and making a positive contribution to society albeit with their so-called ‘fixations’ and sometimes embarrassing or inconvenient honesty. Yay.

Good on him. Good on them.

Remember this neat Stand Up to Cancer video? ‘It’s up to every single one of us…’

{See comments}

Paranoid (?) but a whistleblower

Is it paranoia when you know there are most likely people spying on you? Sigmund Freud (image: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend I read a fascinating profile of WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange in a recent TIME magazine. (It’s available online at TIME here.)

Here’s a bit that struck me (emphasis mine):

Assange has retained a hacker’s mentality. He works from secret bunkers on major leaks and is convinced he is under surveillance from government intelligence agencies that tail him when he travels. There’s a touch of paranoia in his style, but say this for Assange: he takes his work seriously. In discussion with TIME, he offers lengthy and reasoned arguments about U.S. jurisprudence and the importance of the First Amendment.

It’s a paradox. While Assange might like to pummel the U.S. for its performance in Afghanistan, he also understands that his work is founded on principles of which the U.S. and its Western allies remain important protectors. “We must make the default assumption that each individual has the right to communicate knowledge to other individuals,” Assange says of his decision to publish the Afghanistan papers. “And the U.S. First Amendment is clear that publishers have the right to tell the people what is going on.”

The combination of ‘a hacker’s mentality’, ‘a touch of paranoia’ and a firm belief in free speech and the right of individuals and publishers to expose political and other machinatiions reminded me of a clichéd image of the Japanese: Intensely curious about others, but intensely private. Continue reading →

When ‘gurus’ attack — HOW you do it is important

Two Faced - image: badattitudes.com (click)

From a review of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

It’s full of tips and advice but the one I like best comes from Buffett via Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends and Influence People:

Criticism is futile, said Carnegie. Rule number one, don’t criticise, condemn or complain.” … “Everybody,” adds Carnegie, “wants attention and admiration. Nobody wants to be criticised. The sweetest sound in the English language is the sound of a person’s own name.”

I was pondering this recently, after I had a brief interchange on discussion forum PropertyTalk along these lines with a poster called Max Percy … and reflected on my own journalist’s ‘nose’ and my penchant for publicly pulling the legs off various spruikers’ hyperbole dressed up as ‘marketing’.

Should we, as the Carnegie quote is often used to suggest, AVOID identifying things that are wrong? Should we launch into song: ‘Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative …’ ?

Or is it better to call it as you see it, to speak up openly, and, where needed, sound a warning?

Max said:

… I think that many of the so called property gurus or self proclaimed property experts are fakes or even con men.

That is not to say everyone is that teaches pupils about property and run seminars.

I will attack the industry if and when necessary and expose rorts and snake oil spin/products and seminars, but dislike the practice of publically slagging individuals.
… However while I detested the model I did not publically or privately slag the owners of Blue Chip. To do so in my view would be most unprofessional.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments in this thread Max.

With respect (and this is purely a matter of personal choice) I think it is ESSENTIAL sometimes to name names and be specific about one’s concerns about particular operators — publicly.

Some of the dodgy characters you so rightly identified as con-men are very smooth and easily capable of name-droppping and conning their way towards people’s money. I was prompted to name names when it became apparent that one spruiker in particular was referring to me by name and implying a positive association with me and Empower Education to disarm people.

It was a little but like what Kieran Trass’s latest newsletter/infomercial … describes. Kieran makes that point very well in my opinion. Read it if you haven’t.

Of course, such an approach opens the ‘critic’ up to all manner of retribution, retaliation and smear campaigns, including the anonymous glove puppet attacks I’ve copped here from time to time, not to mention nasty threatening phone calls etc. I’ll say no more.

It takes guts. But sometimes, in my personal view, to allow oneself to be muted or to say nothing in the face of wrongdoing takes a toll … and one later can wish that one had spoken up cogently and plainly earlier instead of giving in to squeamishness.

So, what do you think? Faced with deceit, should one be restrained by a sense of decorum … or should one try to dismantle the poppycock and bullshit that con-artists use to lull their victims into a daze, cobra-like, while vacuuming their wallets or equity?

I was encouraged by a comment recently in a BBC interview with John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff and Obama administration transition head and lobbyist/government relations honcho. Podesta says he sets out to be an independent even critical voice, and adds this proviso:

“If you’re going to be critical of your friends I think you ought do it on the record — not behind their backs.”

Yes. That, for me, makes a big difference. How you criticise is important.

Gurus on attack?

I despise the sleazy innuendo, gossip and smear campaigns that some try to deploy against those whom they regard as rivals.

As if to prove my point, just a few days after my comment to Max about critics copping “all manner of retribution, retaliation and smear campaigns”, property spruiker Dean Letfus attempted to undermine the professional credibility of one his critics. Continue reading →

A fragment …

image: blogs.westword.com (click for an interesting article about fax scams)

This document fragment found itself to my office fax machine. At the top of the first page was a handwritten note …

This is much too pointed… could even be inflammatory! TONE IT DOWN, please … don’t  waste ‘straight-talk’ on this rubbery character. – M.K.

[fragment begins]

== D R A F T _ O N L Y = =

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your recent application for Association membership. The assessment panel was impressed with the length of your application and supporting documentation — although the character references you enclosed raised some concerns which I detail below.

The purpose of this letter is fourfold:
(a) to update you on the assessment process for Association membership;
(b) to outline issues raised by the material you submitted (and other information);
(c) to present questions arising; and
(d) to seek clarification/responses from you.

The panel requests further evidence regarding some of the claims you have made in your application.

1) Marketing claims to be an “Ethical Investment Strategist”
Members of the panel were concerned to know, in detail, what criteria you used to justify your new business ‘positioning statements’– specifically your claim to be an “Ethical Investment Strategist”. Continue reading →

Well said, that man.

Sometimes you see what someone else has written and think: “Wow. I couldn’t say that any better.”

This, from a rally in support of religious freedom in New York City does it for me…

Eloquence in just six words: 'Groundless Hatred Is The Real Enemy.' (Image: Huffington Post)

Thank you.
One day it could be my freedom under threat from bigots with loud voices.

How is this clearer in any way?

Spotted on a bike ride with my son yesterday …

Gee, what was wrong with ‘Howick Police Station‘?

Is this newspeak really better?
“Run, Jimmy! Run to the Community Policing Centre!” Er, nope.
(…and what, I wonder, do they call a Fire Station these days?)

Any other examples?
+
Update:  A thought occurs — maybe it means there’s not always someone (on duty) there?  Hmm. But Police Stations are unmanned/unstaffed elsewhere, surely, and still called Police Stations …

Facebook leaks like a sieve (Part 2)

Yes, I know I've said it BEFORE ... (click) Just get it!

Sorry if this reads vaguely like an echo chamber, but it’s a point that bears repeating.

Everyone has something to hide — or to keep private, which is not quite the same thing.

This article Tracking the cyber footprint by the NZ Herald’s David Fisher sets out to reveal something of perils of posting information on Facebook, and, coincidentally, the way ‘friends’ can expose enough information about you that ‘enemies’ can use. Food for thought.

NB: If, for ‘marketing’ reasons, or to ‘raise your profile’, as some do, you deliberately set your personal Facebook wall and pages as open to the public, well, that’s a different story, naturally. You’ve published it. Tough luck.

Parts of David Fisher’s article made me vaguely uncomfortable:

The Herald on Sunday wanted to speak directly with Sperling. We found her through Facebook – and anyone using the website should be aware of how we did it.

Picture editor Chris Marriner obtained access to her Facebook page through one of Sperling’s online “friends”. [Comment: Some ‘friend’!] Facebook’s privacy function allow users to leapfrog through people’s social networks. This gave us access to her online musings, updates on life and photographs of her family.

Based on comments made online, Marriner was able to narrow the geographical location of her home to two suburbs in East Auckland. A closer look at the photographs showed she lived on a cul-de-sac. Marriner pulled up Google maps and noted each cul-de-sac in those two suburbs.

By then, a reporter and photographer were in the car heading for East Auckland. Marriner walked those streets – virtually – before they arrived, using Google Street View to compare the Facebook photographs with the houses on the streets. By cross-referencing information from Facebook and Google applications, he put our people on Sperling’s front doorstep.

Mission accomplished. A professional challenge met. But big picture: Why? She wasn’t a fraudster or a kidnapper or a criminal. Why the manhunt? What was the story? Continue reading →

More good Jon Stewart on NYC controversy

Bless this guy and his team for showing the frailty of the hypocrisy and falsely alarmist nature of the ‘claims’ by the religious right … and pulling out Charlton Heston’s principled speech…

… showing their attempted selective application of the ‘founding principles’ of the US Constitution so well.
Watch the video below the foldContinue reading →

‘The problem with Google is that Eric Schmidt is creepy’

Not just for geeks: Here’s a really thoughtful post about Google, culture, and information privacy.

From John Gruber.

Well worth your time to read. And I like the way he’s unafraid to mention the FACT that people’s personality, ethics and character can lead their decision-making. Good on him. – P

The future of publishing?

Olly Newland with interest.co.nz's Bernard Hickey see ollynewland.co.nz

Olly Newland and Bernard Hickey on the set at interest.co.nz (click to watch the interview at ollynewland.co.nz)

I had the pleasure a week or so ago of accompanying one of my authors Olly Newland on a visit to the interest.co.nz offices. The Auckland-based e-publishing business seems like a success story by any measure.

Its nearly ubiquitous host, journalist Bernard Hickey provokes ALL sorts of comment — good and bad — on a regular basis by his sometimes outlandish (and almost always perceived as partisan) statements on various matters financial and investment-related.

Bernard garners bagloads of ‘F R E E’ publicity and branding for interest.co.nz (as well as the revolted discontent of those who see themselves as his rivals) by apparently being ever available to the news media and his almost tireless efforts to seemingly be everywhere and make comment on everything in his niche. It’s paying off, as much as e-publishing can, I think. (I hope it is.) Certainly in terms of ‘positioning’ and ‘mindshare’ in their niche, these guys are tops.

In my observation, a lot of people enjoy a good argument — particularly men who spend much of their time justifying past decisions or denying fault of any type. (ahem) So the interest.co.nz comment stream is one long bunfight of conflicting opinions … particularly after one of Olly’s columns is published there … great! Continue reading →

Wedge issue

In what’s showing up as a litmus test in the run up to the US November elections, my hero Senator Al Franken author of Lies – And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them is, as expected, speaking to uphold and defend the US Constitution.*

Franken said conservative opposition to the mosque is “one of the most disgraceful things that I’ve heard.”

“I don’t know how many of you have been to New York, but if a building is two blocks away from anything, you can’t see it. It’s a community center. They’re going to have a gym. They’re going to have point guards. Muslim point guards,” Franken said, to laughter and applause.

“They (Republicans) do this every two years. They try to find a wedge issue, and they try to work it.” source

Yeah. That’s how I’m perceiving it too.

Franken also reportedly called out former House Speaker Newt Gingrich specifically for incendiary comments about the proposed religious center earlier this week.

“The most offensive thing I heard was from Newt Gingrich: ‘We can’t let the Nazis put up a building next to the Holocaust Museum,” asserted the Democratic Senator. “That’s equating all Muslims with Al Quaida. George W. Bush said Al Quaida is ‘a perversion of Islam.'” source

Where do these guys get off?

Read this:

The religious right want this to apply to WHO, exactly?

From Answers.com

The first ten amendments were presented and ratified with the Constitution [15 December 1791]. The Constitution would probably not have been ratified without the rights guaranteed to the states and people in these amendments, which are called the Bill of Rights.

*This is what US Senators swear…

* OATH OF OFFICE for Congressmen, Senators of the United States:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

The US President swears this:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Another con

image: Daily Telegraph article (click)

In my in-box today … Does this con actually work? Have you heard of anyone falling for it? Really?

Hi,
Its me Mike I really don’t mean to inconvenience you right now, I made a little trip to UK and I misplaced my passport and credit cards,please I know this may sound odd, but it all happened very fast. I need to get a new passport, and get on the next available flight home. I’ve been to the US embassy, they’re willing to help, but I’m out of cash and I have minimum access from here. Can you loan me some money and I’ll be willing to repay you as soon as I get home.

Please reply as soon as you get this message, so I can forward the details as to where to send the funds, you can try reaching me on this number for now, +447024035615 or 011447024035615, I also have an ID to pick the funds up if sent via western union through walmart, or money Gramm through walmart i will be waiting for your responses

Mike [snip]

Seems pretty thin to me.

According to this Daily Telegraph article Britons receive more than 420,000 scam emails every hour.

Every seven seconds someone is conned out of money – an average of £285 per person.

Crikey! What does that tell us?

Lessons about lying from ‘expert’ Dean Letfus

Last week in my post about Tall Poppy syndrome being the last refuge of the scoundrel I mentioned property spruiker Dean Letfus’s apparent reluctance to answer criticism …

Spruiker Dean Letfus says he has been studying lies.

What I DO find interesting, however, is that the spruiker in question, Dean Letfus, doesn’t actually answer my criticism — of (a) his marketing methods, (b) his hyperbolic claims & promises and (c) his demonstrated track record as a property spruiker/commission agent while promoting himself as an ‘educator’ — in a meaningful way. No. Instead, he chooses the Madoff-esque route of slandering his critic while spouting double-speak to the faithful…

Pursue truth, real truth, knowing you will rarely find it in people who have agendas, are negative or critical, and where their envy is showing.

Oh dear. Speaking personally, I interpret that dodge-the-question-smear-the-messenger behaviour as fitting part of a pattern…

Guess what? He’s still not answering — he’s still doing the smear thing.

AND he’s claiming new expertise (to add to his property and internet ‘guruships’) … (1) as a student/teacher of America’s founding documents and constitution, and also
(2) how politicians and the media tell lies “with supporting lies”. (He’s worked it out, apparently: ‘I have now studied sufficiently to understand [it] as a “tactic” or “strategy”.’ )

Yesiree, the President of the United States, former US senator and sometime constitutional law professor Barack Obama says religious freedom is enshrined in the US constitution, but property salesman, former print finisher and self-professed internet guru Dean Letfus from Pakuranga dismisses that opinion (and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s) as “patent rubbish” (!) — based on WHAT, you ask? Oh, some quotes he probably copied-and-pasted from a religious propaganda website justifying bigotry and second-class status for US citizens of other religions? It’s almost embarrassing.

After overtly damning Obama’s and Bloomberg’s careful, judicious statements about the constitutional protection of religious freedom as “lies”, instant expert Dean Letfus then (if I read him right) takes another swing at lil ol’ me with this brief treatise on news media ethics and “lies” … Continue reading →

Right/wrong vs Can/should

Oh boy. John Stewart (in fine form) revs up on the plan to locate an Islamic community centre (Mosque) two blocks from the site of the World Trade Centre. I like his take, as usual … and his roasting of the Fox News phoneys on their lack of consistency.

And then there’s a squirmy/bad taste segment on religious freedom with The Daily Show‘s ‘Senior Religion correspondent’ John Oliver…

Well worth watching. (Video below the fold.)

This issue is, it seems to me, another of those where people’s rhetoric kicks in and they start throwing partisan labels around — well before engaging their brains.
Continue reading →

Godwin’s Law (again)

Godwin’s Law strikes again…

Billionaire investor: 'Obama Administration's Tax Proposals Are Like 'When Hitler Invaded Poland'. Yeah right. (click)

What an arse, sorry, billionaire investor arse.