This is a quick 7 mile street tour From St. Paul to Mall of America, in Minneapolis, MN, along Minnesota State Route 5 West. Check out the Mississippi River along the way. The drive begins in St. Paul, crosses the River, around the MSP Airport and over the giant mall. Fun ride.
You haven’t seen me post much recently. Regrouping, working on a whole new start. I’m planning a series of video interviews in June 2019 with the candidates running for Mayor of Mount Vernon, NY. Better content, more research, no more lasagna videos, although that one actually cooked (I know, corny).
In the meantime, I recorded this sped-up 5 minute drive-through video, where I start in Pelham, go east to west on Third St., winding through Mt. Vernon, and I end up on Bronx River Road in Yonkers.
I intend to use a segment of this as background for the intro to the above mentioned candidate interviews. But in the meantime, it’s an interesting journey, and I decided to make it a quick, standalone clip.
Join me as I take the Pelham Public Schools survey. Pelham, New York is a suburb just north of New York City. The Board of Education and the District Strategic Planning Committee would like input to inform a new strategic plan. The survey is wide open to all, and you can take it as many times as you would like.
The instructions say, “…please feel free to take as many of these surveys that apply to you or take them multiple times for each child. “
While the survey is a genuine gesture toward community engagement, the method and the questions themselves make me wonder if the results will be, well, worthless.
Clearly, some people worked very hard on this, and I’ll assume goodwill. What’s most troubling is the consumerization of a public resource. The questions are framed as if public school is a product, and the deliverable is customer satisfaction. As if a district strategic plan is like a software feature release.
Public education has many purposes – preparing people to participate in society, preserving class structure, and you can fill a library with more objectives. In any event, the verdict on whether it’s working is impossible to capture on a Likert scale, and the jury should not comprise all people with a keyboard, regardless.
For those of you in the “Well, what is your suggestion?” crowd, I have a few:
1/ A single survey, not 9 surveys.
2/ Require authentication, and select a random sample.
3/ Max 7 to 10 questions, not 58.
US Senator Kamala Harris (D) of California announced this week she will run for President. In this podcast I share a few clips and quotes to suggest this is a serious candidate, with experience and depth, worthy of public trust. She will need to bridge her credentials as California’s top cop with her positioning as a political progressive. Harris has a controversial criminal justice record, but that will make perfect sense if she can avoid vapid campaign dribble.
Senator Kamala Harris On Education, Criminal Justice Reform & Why Debating Is Important
Interview from The Breakfast Club, With DJ Envy, Angela Yee And Charlamagne Tha God!
Podcast link, in case the embedded player isn’t working for you.
The First Family featuring Vaughan Meader was a blockbuster album from 1962 that was a parody of the Kennedy family.
Amazon has it: https://amzn.to/2W8uG4j
Mo Rocca is a correspondent for CBS This Morning. He has a new podcast called MOBITUARIES, the very first episode really caught my attention. He talks about a very famous comedy album from 1962 called The First Family, and I have a personal connection to that record. Check out mobituaries.com
Before I explain all that, let me just say, as a vlogger and podcaster, I really look up to the Mo Rocca’s of the world. His work is polished and beautifully written and produced. There’s a team of pros involved, and he leverages everything CBS News has to offer. It’s first class, and I recommend you check it out at mobituaries.com, and on every podcast platform you could possibly have.
Now, about The First Family. I have no firsthand recollection of John F. Kennedy. I wasn’t born until two years after he was assassinated. But I was the youngest of 4 children, and my nearest sibling is 8 years older than me, so I missed an experience they all had. I had my own record player and a small collection of records that I was allowed to play myself, as opposed to the grownup collection that contained my father’s Broadway show soundtracks, and my mother’s collection of classical music in which I had no interest. There was a whole separate collection for my brothers containing contemporary artists, but it was off limits to me.
So my child safe collection consisted of relics from earlier childhoods – a Mickey Mouse Club album, a kids album by Groucho Marx, a Peter and the Wolf album, and in 1970 I got my first new record that was mine alone – The Sesame Street Album. I played them over and over and over. Playing these records was something I could do myself, and it was tons of fun.
There was one album in the kid collection, “The First Family”. I never question why it was in the kid collection, I just played it over and over like all the others. It was a political parody of President Kennedy and the First Family. I liked it because the cover had a picture of a family including the kids, and balloons, so it seemed like it was for kids, and there were kids in the album too.
The question is “Why was The First Family” even a part of my playlist as a kid? I have no idea. I learned from the Mo Rocca podcast that this album was a blow out success in 1962 – It won Album of the Year, it was one of the best selling albums in history. Why wasn’t it protected in one of the grownup collections? Did my parents not like Kennedy? Why did they buy it in the first place? Who knows?
Then, watching Rocca made me think about my own direct connection to the album? Why did I love it so much? The jokes were over my head. I had no idea who Barry Goldwater was, or Albert Schweitzer. To this day I don’t get a lot of the political references. So what was it that made me love it so much?
The answer is that it was funny, AND because if you listen to it carefully, Vaughan Meader, the guy who plays Kennedy, gets applause and adoration at the end of every cut. And as a kid all I wanted was attention like that. And third, because The First Family on that album seemed like a fun family, one that spends time together and has fun. Listen to this:
So I ran around my house at the age of 5, 6 and 7 talking like Jack Kennedy, with a kid’s ear version of a New England accent, saying “Ask not what your country can do for you…” But what I was really doing was imitating Vaughan Meader impersonating Jack Kennedy. It didn’t matter. I killed it, and the grownups loved it. It never failed to get a laugh from relatives and friends that came over. I didn’t know what I was doing, or why they were so amused by it.
Coincidentally, I found The First Family album in my basement a few week ago. I don’t even have a record player to play it on now. I was inbetween my Sesame Street album and the Mickey Mouse Club album. I still have them, but now I would have to play it back on Spotify if I want to hear it.
The Mo Rocca podcast, Mobituaries looks like it’s going to be a winner. I strongly recommend this first episode. He has interviews with Vaughan Meader’s wife, one of the producers of the album, and clips from a 1998 interview that CBS did with Vaughan Meader. A lot of the podcast is about how Meader’s career basically ended with the assassination, and how Meader himself never fully recovered from the trajedy. But there’s a jawdropping surprise ending. It’s very hard for a podcast to pull off a stunt like that, but Mo managed to do it. I listened to the entire 52 minutes and you should too.
RedBlueTalk is all about how politics and government impact peoples lives. I would be tickled if you would subscribe to the channel on whatever platform you prefer.
A’tif Khalil is a citizen journalist focused on Mount Vernon, New York. In this episode we discuss the challenges of covering stories about City Hall when you know the people inside, personally. We also discuss a recent incident involving Mount Vernon’s Mayor along with Internet celebrity Fatboy SSE. The two visited the local high school on Friday, January 12, unannounced, resulting in a disruption of the school day and suspensions. Khalil publishes local news stories in Black Westchester Magazine and on WBAI radio.
Lohud.com has done a great job. They have an entire playlist of videos documenting the implosion of the eastern span of the Tappan Zee Bridge on January 15, 2019. It was crazy.
So you’ve got the financial stuff to make it in New York’s expensive suburban housing market, but the loss of the SALT deduction, stock market volatility and possibly the end of the world have you thinking twice. If you are fearing more than fear itself, apparently you are not alone. One real estate broker published an annual survey for his territory, Pelham, New York, including this striking remark:
“People want to live below their means.”
PODCAST LINK (in case the embedded player is not working)
Licensed Real Estate Broker Maurice Owen-Michaane talks about his “Pelham 2018 Market Report“. Michaane sees a trend in buyers seeking homes that are LESS costly than they can actually afford, even in New York’s affluent suburbs. We discuss the market psychology and geo-politics driving this new trend.
Twas the Sunday before Christmas…December 23, 2018. AJ Woodson, Producer and Host of Black Westchester / People Before Politics asked me to be a guest on his show. Why? He happened to notice that I attended an annual report conference held by the Comptroller of Mount Vernon, NY the prior Thursday, December 20, 2018 at Mount Vernon City Hall. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas posted an excerpt of the meeting on Facebook, and there I was in the second row, seated next to A’tif Khalil, who reported on the session for Black Westchester. Small world.
The meeting was a public briefing by Deborah Reynolds, Comptroller for the City of Mount Vernon, to explain the status of the budget. Her remarks were centered on the draft 2019 fiscal budget, which at that point had not been presented to the Board of Estimate.
There were also charged political accusations against the Mayor, including allegations that she is unable to perform her duties because of an administrative lockout from the City’s general ledger software, MUNIS. Missed filings. Unauthorized purchases. More.
When I was asked to be a guest on BW, I dusted off my meeting notes, and then began to parse through several key documents that provide the backstory to this intriguing he-said-she-said matter. In September 2018, the Mayor filed an Article 78 lawsuit to compel the Comptroller to pay over $1 million dollars in unpaid bills, including $278,000 for the attorneys representing the City in the lawsuit itself. In October 2018, Mayor Thomas petitioned Governor Andrew Cuomo to remove Comptroller Reynolds from her position. There are more clues about the current state in Reynold’s response document.
In short, it’s a complicated mess, but in this episode of People Before Politics, I was given a generous amount of time to break it down, to the best of my ability, based on the publicly available reports and filings.
Many thanks to the Black Westchester team, for this opportunity to parse it out and try to make sense of the matter. People Before Politics is a great show. I look forward to it every Sunday at 6:00 PM at inthemixxradio.com.
I’d appreciate any feedback you may have to offer. @redbluetalk
If One Direction was big the last time you changed your Facebook password, then for heaven’s sake, change it now. While you’re at it, I strongly recommend turning on 2-factor authentication.
We’ve become numb to headlines like this: “Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users” – NY Times 9-28-2018. 500 million guest accounts at Starwood were hacked. Research at Google reports that if your account data was breached, then you are 10 times more likely to be a victim of hijacking. If you’ve been phished, 500 times more likely.
RedBlueTalk is supposed to be about how politics and government impact everyday life, so what does Facebook passwords have to do with that? A lot. You see, it seems like the US Government is either unwilling or unable to do what needs to be done when it comes to the largest technology companies. Congress holds flashy hearings, but very little happens in the way of fines, regulations or anti-trust activity. “Well Senator…” we heard Mr. Zuckerberg drone on last April, but what really changed? Nothing.
It’s way beyond Facebook. There has been an endless stream of large companies that confessed to data breaches including massive streams of customer data. Macys, Adidas, Sears, Kmart, Delta Airlines and on and on have had names, addresses and credit card information stolen.
Facebook is like catnip for hackers. They absolutely love it. Facebook makes its system widely available to developers through a public API, or Application Programming Interface. This makes it possible for third party developers to write programs that work with Facebook. This way of working has unlocked tons of great apps, like TinFoil for Facebook, which allows you to enhance privacy, or PiZap which lets you edit photos right on Facebook without an external editor. Unfortunately, it also allows developers like Cambridge Analytica. That’s the now famous political firm that was hired by the Trump 2016 election campaign. It gained access to private information for more than 50 million Facebook users. Congress hauled Mark Zuckerberg in to talk about it. Zuck shrugged.
Passwords are not enough anymore.
They can be stolen, guess or phished, fairly easily. Phishing is where you provide your password to a hacker, thinking you are typing it into a legit site. Everyday Internet users like us need to take a queue from the big companies. When you work for a giant firm, you are required to use a “token” or some extra piece of information in addition to a password before you get access to corporate resources.
Google, Facebook and Twitter all allow users to enable 2-factor authentication. You should use it. It requires that you enter a one time password in addition to your regular dusty old password. It creates reduces the chance that a stolen password will work at all. That is why I’ve created this video to show you how it works with Facebook.
My daugher asked, “But will I need to enter the one-time password everytime I use Facebook? That would be horrible.” She is correct, that would be inconvenient, and the answer is no. The way Facebook works, you only enter your credentials (username/password/2nd factor) when you are trying to access Facebook from a device that is not known to Facebook. I’ll bet you look at Facebook on your phone several times per day. C’mon admit it, most of us do. You never get prompted for your password, right? That’s because the Facebook session on your phone is persistent, meaning it remains active even if you use other apps or close the Facebook app. I find even if I log out of Facebook, I’m not prompted for a password when I launch the app, as long as I’m on the same Android phone. However, if I try to connect to Facebook from some other device, another phone or PC, then I am prompted for credentials, and that’s the only time you’ll need to fetch a new one-time password from a text message.
Your password is going to be hacked if it hasn’t been already, so be ready.
1/ Don’t count on the government cracking down on the companies that lose your personal data en masse. The evidence is everywhere that the government could help, but won’t because of its love affair with billionaire technology pioneers.
2/ Change your password and make it unique for every service, especially the big targets: Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
3/ Protect your privacy like the big dogs, and turn on 2-factor authentication everywhere possible. If someone gets your password, they would also need your mobile phone to log in as you, anyplace. That’s makes it much harder, and also let’s you know immediately that somebody’s trying to use your password.
4/ As I mention in the video, give yourself an escape hatch, in case you lose your phone. When you enable 2-factor authentication, also print out backup codes and keep them handy, so you don’t get locked out of Facebook, if you don’t have your phone.