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Social News: Chile’s Earthquake Shakes Up Social Media

On February 27, 2010, just outside of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the area. It wasn’t long thereafter, that social media was feeling the aftershocks.

First, it was Twitter: Because of twitter’s accessibility via text message, many locals were updating their twitter pages in an effort to tell others that they were okay and safe. Other users were using it to get in contact with locals to try and find loved ones. Twitter instantly became a back and forth of information about those affected.

Hashtags such as, “#terremotochile,” “#Chile,” “#ChileEarthquake” were being used to centralize tweets about the quake. Many users were retweeting missing persons tweets, in an effort to reach more people in the Concepción area.

@SherylBreuker, in particular, tweeted “Any info on Maria Alicia Moya, please update or contact @kencamp or @sherylbreuker ASAP #chile #quake.” It wasn’t long after, that Maria was found and @sherylbreuker tweeted “we just got word that Mariali is safe and ok thanks to an amazing new friend and the power of Twitter! OMG! Awesome!!!!” This is just one instance of how social media helped connect people.

Another is Google’s Person Finder app, which was used in Haiti in January after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-Au-Prince, was relaunched for the relief effort in Chile. The app gives up-to-the-minute information about nearly 63,400 records to those providing (or seeking) information about those affected by the earthquake. Although the information is not verified, it still provides a resource for families and friends to find missing loved ones faster than an agency could.

It works simply by providing the user with two buttons, “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone.” The user selects which one and enters the information accordingly. It also provides a map pinpointing aftershocks.

(Credit: Google)

To some, social media is a stupid time-suck, but in times of crisis, it saves lives, helps connect loved ones and keeps people better informed at a faster rate than mainstream media outlets.

Text your support:

1. Text the word “CHILE” to 25383 to donate $10 on behalf of the Habitat for Humanity

2. Text the word “CHILE” to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of World Vision

3. Text the word “CHILE” to 52000 to donate $10 on behalf of the Salvation Army

4. Text the word “CHILE” to 85944 to donate $10 on behalf of International Medical Corp.


How does a hypocrite answer a question?

A guest writer for this week: Bob Johnson.


Ms. B.S. Herself!

Ms. B.S. Herself!

Tuesday night I attended a Barnes and Noble author event: Andrea Batista Schlesinger on her new book,The Death of “Why”? I attended for two reasons: one, because Christine Quinn was introducing the author at the event and, two, to hear more about this new author’s work (I actually was very intrigued by the book’s description, I was even thinking about buying a copy.)

In Quinn’s introductory remarks, I was surprised to hear that Quinn said that she is a strong supporter of encouraging everyone to ask critical questions (even questions posed to her). I was especially surprised about Quinn’s revelation because I have been trying to ask for Quinn’s help for more than three years (more on that in my next post).

After Ms. B.S. finished talking about the importance of asking questions and the dearth of intellectual curiosity in our country. Ms. B.S. selected me to ask the first question. I had a question that pertained to Ms. B.S.’s talk, my experience with Quinn as well as Ms. B.S.’s book.

I carefully framed my question to make it relevant to the evening. Thepublicity for the event noted — in big, bold letters — that the event was “with Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council.” So, a question opening with a remark about Quinn certainly was germain (and Michael and Tito, for that matter!).

I began my question with, “I am so sad that Christine left because one of the reasons I came was to ask her why she refuses to help the disabled…” Here’s a video of me asking the question (and you may be able to watch it on CSPAN Books if they don’t edit it out):

After Ms. B.S. dismissed the question that she would not allow me to ask, several others in attendance spoke up to my defense and asked Ms. B.S. that why, if she is a proponent of asking questions, would she dismiss my question before I could even ask the question. Her response “His question was irrelevant.”

Ms. B.S. is the executive director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (although currently on leave). From their YouTube channel:

The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy is a non-partisan, non-profit think tank generating the ideas that fuel the progressive movement. From releasing nationally recognized studies of our increasingly fragile middle class to showcasing progressive policies that have worked to advance social and economic justice, DMI has been on the leading edge of the public policy debate.

Kinda makes you go, “hmm,” doesn’t it?

After Ms. B.S. spoke, she barreled her way towards me and asked me, ”Do you really think it was appropriate to ask a question about Christine Quinn and not about my book?”

My response: “Absolutely. You didn’t even let me ask my question. But right now my question is ‘How can anyone ask someone like you a question when you refuse to listen to the question itself?’”

Ms. B.S. walked away in a huff.

While she was signing one copy of her book, I rudely interrupted her to give her my flier (stay tuned for details in my next posting) and asked if she could get the flier to Quinn. She snarled at me, pushed the flier onto the floor and barked “Why don’t you get it to her yourself!?”

The police asked me to leave as I thought to myself, “And you work to advance social and economic justice? No, no, no, silly Bob, Ms. B.S. is interested in one thing: her book.*”

For someone who had just finished talking about the importance of asking questions and the importance of intellectual curiousity, I would have expected something more than petulance. Perhaps what she meant by “intellectual curiousity” was “intellectual curiosity of a turnip.” [Turnips: please do not be offended. Mea culpa.]

Hypocrites come in many colors: red, blue, white, black. The Drum Major Institute has a wonderful mission. Perhaps Ms. B.S. should reacquaint herself with it. Her book is about the importance of questions. Perhaps she should read it.

As my friend Josh said, “For someone who wrote a book about addressing a symptom to a larger problem — not listening — she’s only perpetuating the problem by not listening herself. Here’s a clue: people don’t ask questions for fear of being shut down. Batista is my case in point.”

And, by the way, be sure to tune in to the broadcast of the evening’s event on CSPAN’s BookTV to find out how a hypocrite answers a question. I’ll give you a hint:  ”I don’t know” was one of her favorite responses.



P.S. I learned early Wednesday morning that Ms. B.S. is working for the Bloomberg re-election campaign. If you do not know, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (and Christine Quinn) both ignored the voice of the people of New York City regarding term limits. Ms. B.S. is for the people? Give me a break! At least now I know why she is so rude: she works for Bloomberg. I can finally get some sleep…

*Ms. B.S. is not just interested in selling her book, she’s interested in a political career with the people who do not give a hoot about democracy! You live up to your name, Ms. B.S.! If I had known on Tuesday night that Ms. B.S. was in bed with Quinn (to whom Ms. B.S. gave a big embrace and kiss) and Bloomberg, I would have addressed the relevance of my question when she confronted me with its appropriateness. I’m so glad that I didn’t contribute money to my new hypocrite friend’s coffer. I think I’ll buy a copy of “The Company of Wolves” instead.

Midwest meets Midtown


On my subway ride today, I noticed the couple depicted and thought they were out of place. Contractor, ok, but a plain clothed and knitting wife?

As New Yorkers, are we jaded by high fashion, expensive suits and generally over-the-top people? Even though I grew up in a meat and potatoes type of town, I have gotten so used to the fact that these people do not exist in my everyday life, I practically wrote them off as fiction. I mean, why knit when you can spend $400 on something that some child in Sri Lanka knitted for you?

They seemed so out of place and almost lost, but yet they live here. Among the people in their $500+ suits and $400+ shoes, their simple Carhart, and home-knitted what-have-yous stood out more than the annoying Mexican playing the guitar at the end of the train.

It seems like New Yorkers have developed a complex of judging others in order to justify their excessive lifestyles. Most of us do it, we see someone that is clearly not from here and we judge them.

Idiots, don’t they fucking understand – WALK ON THE LEFT, STAND ON THE RIGHT.

Did you see what she was wearing? I didn’t even know they sold clothes like that anymore…

These are just a few things we think (or hear) on a daily basis. But, does it really come down to the fact; we judge them because of an inner, unrecognized, guilt or reduced self-worth? Perhaps when we see them, something in the back of our minds screams, “look they are comfortable with themselves, they can just be. There is no need to hide behind labels and designers.”

New Yorkers are so insecure with themselves whether rich or poor, we will do anything to seem better than the other person next to us. It does not matter if he has D&G sunglasses, I have the Prada shoes or he has a rent-stabilized apartment overlooking the park, but I own and am the president of my co-op board. Then, some ‘mid-western’ looking person(s) comes along and suddenly we are forced to recognize and, on some level, deal with our insecurities; so we judge them to make ourselves feel better and to reestablish our personified self-worth.

I think this is why the rest of the country views us city-folk as animals or strange people. We cannot just be, we have to identify with something at all times. We can never just exist, or better yet, co-exist. We are in a constant state of unrest with all the people around us. Unlike the rest of the country where it is not weird if anyone other than your barista remembers your name. We consider it stalking and creepy or, in rare cases, refreshing.

We are strange people, but nevertheless I love my town and our culture no matter how crass it can be at times.


Birthday bash in San Fran

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

As the title suggests, I spent my birthday in San Francisco! This has now become an annual tradition, to point on a map and say ‘that is where my birthday will take place!’ After a great flight on Virgin America from JFK to SFO we arrived at my party epicenter. We stayed with Jen’s cousin in San Jose, which made the trip all the better!

From biking across the Golden Gate Bridge to running in the Pacific in Carmel-By-The-Sea, it was the best birthday by far!

I hope you enjoy the pictures!