Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanks for the world-record spit-take, 'Morris'

Anonymous said...

How true of Cal DiFalco and The Hamiltonian. Freedom of Speech, this is what The Hamiltonian is about. This is what our great country is supposed to be about. Great Job Mr. DiFalco. Thank you for allowing our views and input on so many topics that affect our wonderful City. You should be commended and nominated for Citizen of the Year!!!!

Morris on behalf of many many Hamiltonians and Canadians.


That's all I can say. least for starters.

Yesterday I had two different coffee-conversations at two different locations with two different sets of table-mates. In each conversation, the profiles, mandates and behaviour of two of the online 'civic' blogs that I read -The Hamiltonian and Raise the Hammer- came up and were discussed to varying degrees. I actually played the role of 'advocate' in both situations, being the one to point out the merits of each site, attempting to offer up sympathetic explanations (bordering on 'cheerleading' at times) as to their respective functions, etc.

You might be wanting to ask 'Why would you bother to do this? You're an independent blogger, aren't you in competition with them?' And my answer would be simple: I believe in community. I believe in all of us having something to contribute to things being 'better'. The times when The Hamiltonian and Raise the Hammer have 'joined forces'...even if just to encourage people to get out and vote...or when, for example, Cal has commented on Ryan's site, have genuinely made me smile. Not because a shared opinion is being presented, or like-minds are on display, but because I believe that this 'cross-pollination' engenders the non-partisan, lets-get-real-dialogue-going mindset that prefaces things actually getting 'better'. Even as I recognize what each of them do, how they do it...and provide clues as to their ultimate intent.

For example, almost in toto, what Cal does is provide an issue for discussion...and then has his readers provide most of the actual editorial content. Though things might have changed slightly of late, this is the construct The Hamiltonian has front-and-center. Ryan, on the other hand, presents articles and editorials written either by himself or by contributors. Then, of course, the mic is passed around and people 'let loose the dogs of war'. (I have to say that the most disappointing element of RTH is the voting. To me, 'voting' has no part in any genuine discussion. Would you do that in real life? No. If you disagreed with something someone said, you'd counter it with your own argument...presumably in a hospitable and convivial way. You wouldn't stand there and yell 'Who thinks this guy's point is SHIT?!? Hands up if you want to 'downvote' this twerp!' If I had one suggestion for Ryan, as a casual, yet engaged observer, I'd say 'Get rid of the voting. PLEASE.') As for each blog's ultimate intent... Well, you can read what they each say about their site's mandate...but I don't happen to believe this tells the entire story.

Having said all this, I'm brought back to the comment made by one of The Hamiltonian's readers, the one that opens this post. And I'm going to address the vacuousness of the suggestion that 'Morris' makes, by reminding you of how The Hamiltonian does what it does. It is not an editorial production machine in the way that Raise the Hammer is. More to the point, Cal is no Ryan. I do not believe that there's much of anything of who and what Cal DiFalco is on The Hamiltonian. (And if there is...then he's certainly not a candidate for 'Citizen of the Year'.)

I repeat: The Hamiltonian's 'M.O.' is to present a notion, an issue, most often linking to an external source such as The Spec (oh, and while I'm saying those words, a gentle reminder to The Hamiltonian's Team of Moderators, who seemingly insist that commenters refer to the publication's name in its full form, 'The Spectator': here's their URL. When you go there, at the top, to the left? 'The Spec'. Please, stop being so cloyingly anal. You come off as a '3' dressed up as a '9'.) and then lets its readers perform the actual editorial function. Putting aside the fact that I have no way of determining what role Cal actually plays on his own site...which is actually kinda odd, given that he's put his photo front-and-center, a move that would be far more apropos for Ryan to do over at RTH...the fact is that there is no extant editorial presence. There is no 'leadership' to speak of...other than someone posting these issues, suggesting these topics for consideration...and then letting everyone 'have at it'.

So it's a little bizarre to see the kinds of sentiments that 'Morris' and others throw up. (I am not using this phrase advisedly, by the way.) During the election campaign there were more than a handful of instances when 'Cal for mayor!' cheers arose, when he was lauded, when he was championed. (Clearly, 'Morris' hadn't initiated my first spit-take.)

Which quite frankly made me wonder if these people had any more on the ball than those who voted 'by name recognition' in our recent election. And then there's the notion of this behaviour, these expressions of political awareness...on a certifiably laudable civic engagement site. Oi-friggin'-vey.

Look; I've met Cal. We had coffee together earlier this year, during which we had a very pleasant, quietly-revelatory meeting-of-the-minds. Subsequent to that, I've been fortunate to have had all manner of input concerning him presented me by third parties. (He is very active in certain arenas within his own community.) And finally, not to put too fine a point on it, one of the credos of writers everywhere has also been put into play regarding Cal, the one that says 'A person's true character isn't revealed in what they say, but in what they do.' And I'll leave it at that.

Even understanding that what I've said here might come across as 'sour grapes' (despite this assumption being woefully inaccurate and wildly ignorant of who I am and why I do what I do), I stand by what I've said here. Because the sentiments expressed by 'Morris' indicate to me the propensity for ill-informed, lazy 'cult of personality' thinking (I'm being generous) that is the exact opposite of what I value: informed, qualified opinions, resulting in substantive engagement...and by extension, the hope that there's a better chance of making things 'better'.

So to paraphrase that cute kid from the old Heinz Beans commercial, 'More substance, please!'

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I'm always interested in feedback, differing opinions, even contrarian long as they're delivered with decorum...with panache and flair always helping.