Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Supercomm - Day 1/Life's Twists and Turns

I arrived earlier today for Supercomm and moderated a session on telepresence this afternoon. It was quite well attended, and our panel was in good hands with Lee Himbeault from Telus, Mark Weidick from Cisco and Phillipe Millet from Orange (and the i3 Forum). We were pleasantly surprised to find that only a handful of people in the audience had experienced telepresence, so we had lots to talk about.

Aside from that, I kept running into people all afternoon and didn't get a chance to see any sessions or walk the exhibit hall, but I'll do that tomorrow. Most of the impressions so far though, have been that the show is much smaller than the past. I'll just have to see for myself tomorrow, and will let you know.

Thought I'd share a quick slice of life from my trip back to the hotel. Sometimes things happen without rhyme or reason, but something interesting always seems to come from it. Inexplicably, I got on the wrong shuttle bus, but got dropped not that far from my hotel. As soon as I stepped off the bus at the front of the Hyatt Hotel, there was a pretty vocal anti-Israel demonstration with both sides separated by barricades and lots of police watching closely. The pro-Palestinians were far greater in number, and there were a handful of Israel supporters on the other side, which is where I quickly gravitated.

The ignorance, hostility, racism was really hard to watch, especially since most of the pro Palestinians looked American - and even more sinister seeing them wrapped in the Palestinian flag, wearing the black and white headscarfs, and carrying some pretty nasty placards. To give you a taste, this was typical of what they were chanting in unison, camp sing-along style: "Hey there Israel, what do you say? How many children did you kill today?" Ugh.

Y'know, I saw Inglorious Basterds with my 13 year old son recently, and came away feeling a bit uncomfortable, but still pretty good about the film. It's a perverse form of Jewish pride (but everything Tarrantino does is a bit perverse - that's another topic altogether), but after seeing this ugly display of brainwashed hate masquerading as some form of legitimate protest, I don't feel the least bit queasy.

I just felt bad that the pro-Israel side was so outnumbered, and I hope it ended peacefully. When I heard a white woman from their side scream "go back to Europe", I wasn't so sure, but the police presence was pretty strong. Wow.

Freedom of speech is what makes democracy special, and these people obviously have no idea how good they have it here. Just try to open your mouth in Gaza and see what happens. I'd better stop - I know protests like this happen all the time, but to see it up close like this kinda sticks with you and makes you wonder what makes people think like this. Anyhow, I've posted a few photos and you can draw your own conclusions.

I'll be back tomorrow with Day 2 of Supercomm.

I know I got on the wrong bus, but am I really still in Chicago???

"Olmert's A Whore" - nice t-shirt, buddy...

Not sure why there were so few supporting Israel, but I was glad to stand with them. Makes you wonder, though, when these Israel-bashers organize protests like this and basically nobody is listening, you'd think they'd wonder if maybe their message needs a re-think. I highly doubt it - hate trumps reason every time.

Let's end on a positive note. As big cities go, it doesn't get much better than Chicago, and the Wrigley Building is just so cool, especially lit up like this.

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