Sunday, March 30, 2008

Startupalooza PDX

Spent the day Saturday at the local Startupalooza, a social/business event showcasing small start-ups based in Portland. Lots of tweeps I'd never met before were there along with old pals from my old enterprise software PR days.

Observation: we will have a golden age of tech in Portland soon enough. There are more and more small companies producing ingeniously useful software being created by young and passionate people who move here to be Portlanders and who then intend to stay instead of shipping out to the Bay area, NYC or Boston.

I've already started using this creation and will soon download this one for my Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Outsourcing U.S. clout

This is a recurring theme here. We overreact on security and apply tough measures in the wrong places, we scapegoat immigrants for our economic ills and crises of identity, and we risk ending up poorer and isolated. With any luck we'll have a President of USA in 2009 who will see the folly of the current situation and apply progressive policies to fix it.

Recently I spoke with the dean of a highly regarded business school in Canada, who has ambitions to raise the school's standing so it is at a level with the best of the US schools. He said the best thing that has happened to his plans to recruit internationally was the Bush administration. Students from all over the world who are accepted by Harvard and Stanford are told by INS that visas cannot be expedited. They give up and go to Canada or other countries. Their gain, our loss.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Solastalgia revisited

Some time ago I remarked on this term, which seemed to capture so well my feelings about changes in the landscape due to global climate change. Maybe it is
catching on. As this article states, solastalgia is a neologism that Glenn Albrecht, an environmental philosopher at the University of Newcastle’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, created in 2003.

Now there is a new term, "psychoterratic illness" that labels the psychological response to climate change, of which solastagia is one form.

"Psychoterratic illness involves the psyche or mind and terra or earth. So a psychoterratic illness would be an earth-related mental illness, where both nostalgia and solastalgia are examples of people being made “mentally ill” by the severing of “healthy” links between themselves and their home or territory.

And ill physical health due to a degraded environment is:

"Somaterratic illness, on the other hand, involves soma or the body and relates to damage done to the human body, its physiology and/or genetics, as a result of the loss of ecosystem health by, for example, toxic pollution in any given area of land." I suppose the effect on humans of the dioxin found in mozzarella in parts of Italy recently would qualify.

Here is the part of the article that relates to what I wrote previously:

"SK: Do you see a relationship between the conquest of Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia, the state of environmental degradation and the experience of loss that we are seeing today? If so, what is that relationship from your perspective and research?

GA: The answer is, yes, there is a relationship between the two colonial cultures: the two continents were colonized only by the systematic dispossession of complex and formerly sustainable Indigenous societies."

Read the rest to learn more.

Photo from today's New York Times of Haiti by Marc Lacey.

Friday, March 21, 2008


First cut: I went to the Obama rally here in PDX today. Got up at O'Dark to get in line early enough to get a good seat. Ate cheese sandwiches in the car on the drive down. It turned out we didn't really know where the Memorial Coliseum was, but we spotted a man walking with a sense of purpose in the general direction and he was headed there so we followed. We were about the 1000th persons to arrive and got in line. (In a sweet irony, I realized that in 1965 I had followed my older sister to our first Beatles concert in this arena.) Our seats were a couple of rows from the stage. The crowd was psyched. From the very young to senior citizens; Asians, blacks, caucasians; the well and shabbily dressed, a good cross section of PDX was present. (I just detest the TV commentators' query on whether or not Obama has the white vote; clearly he has a lot of it, at least as much as does Hillary or McCain.) Two hours later the photogs with their stylish hair cuts and huge cameras showed up, TV and other media got on their observation desks and eventually the DipDive video of Obama's speech set to song was broadcast. That was the cue. The photogs ran over to the corridor near an exit, crouched and pointed their cameras, so everyone in the crowd in the general area titled in that direction, hanging over the barricade in the direction of the doorway, cameras ready, too. As the DipDive video ended, the doorway coughed up some of the Obama entourage and then the man was there shaking hands, Bill Richardson in his shadow but gamely joining in.

Obama did his usual stump speech without betraying any of the fatigue he must be experiencing. I was reminded again how serious and almost tragic an expression he sometimes carries. It goes beyond a Lincoln-esque melancholy, but something like what I've noticed in the face of a Michelangelo Madonna and child, that ineffable sense of grave portent.