Tricounty News

Depression is not a character flaw

I write this Tuesday, the day after actor and comedic genius Robin Williams took his own life. Both social and traditional media are full of news and (mostly) comments about the tragedy.

“What does he have to be sad about,” I’ve heard more than once about someone with depression. Or, even worse, “She just needs to change her mind and be happy.”

The owners of such thoughts and comments obviously don’t get it. Depression is not a choice, a lifestyle, or something that afflicts those who are down on their luck. 

We all have sad things happen in our lives, and we all have times when we feel “down” or “low.” And then we swing out of it and the world continues. This is not depression.


Such a disturbing week

When I was in college, in another century, I was surprised to learn that there are 120-140 or more conflicts in the world at any given time. We never hear about most of them, unless an American (or American interests) are at risk.

Back then, we didn’t have nearly the information available to us like we do now. In general, I’m all for more information being available. But it can be a bad thing sometimes.

Last week, in a search for the truth I spent a lot of time watching and reading Russian and other “sources” on the downing of the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine. It was quite disturbing and, to be honest, I’m still feeling the adverse effects.

Amid all the accusations and counter-accusations, the innocent victims have nearly been forgotten. (Of course, if you believe many Russian sources, those who perished on the plane were neither innocent nor victims.) Meanwhile, hundreds of families are mourning the sudden loss of loved ones, while being denied access to their remains or even remnants of their lives now scattered across fields in far-away Ukraine.


Launching a new tool


Facebook recently celebrated its tenth birthday. It has evolved quite a bit since its inception as a hook-up tool for college kids. It is the primary social media tool for people of all ages today and, as many would say, has become a morass of negativity and an enormous time-suck.

Promises of Facebook as the free marketing tool for business, the one to replace all else, have fallen flat.

Facebook is a tool for engagement, not for selling. 

Meanwhile, businesses need to be online and using what’s available to market their products and services. But there’s a giant gap between social media and true digital marketing. We think we’ve found the link that can bridge that gap.

Buzz360 is that bridge. 


Ding-dong, the witch is dead

I’m not a vindictive person, but sometimes I make an exception.

When I saw that Eduard Shevardnadze had died, I’ll admit that the song from “The Wizard of Oz” went through my head every time I thought of it.

As Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union from 1985-1991, the West (especially the United States) viewed him as a hero, helping to bring down the Evil Empire. 

At that time, I was at Stanford University and, although working in medicine, I was enthusiastically involved in the Russian and Soviet Studies programs at both Stanford and U.C. Berkeley. Condoleeza Rice herself, in 1985 and ’86, introduced me to many of the national scholars in the field whom I had idolized as a grad student.


Cherish your freedoms this Independence Day

Back in December, I had the honor of attending a naturalization ceremony. The ceremony is the final step in the long process of becoming a United States citizen.

That morning, 74 new citizens were sworn in. They had come from 37 different countries and five continents. And all had driven through a snowstorm to downtown St. Paul; no one was missing, no one was late. The afternoon group was checking in as we were leaving. They do this, we’re told, about every three or four months.