Mike Huber: Times Union herder of cats

I’ve seen a bunch of community bloggers come and go, and Mike’s always out there, shaking the trees for new folk, trying to create a diverse platform.

times union press credential Mike Huber
TU cat herder Mike Huber

Long before the Times Union came up with blogs for community members and staffers, it housed these websites for community organizations. I did a couple of them, including for my church at the time, and since that was in the last century, that should give you a timeframe. And the guy in charge was Mike Huber.

I started my own blog in 2005. When the TU was looking for community bloggers in 2006, he saw my track record of blogging every day for a year and tried to get me to participate with the TU, but I demurred.

He asked again the next year, and I pretty much ignored him. But it’s hard to ignore Mike, because, in his own quiet way, he can be a bulldog.

Finally, in 2008, I capitulated. Mike helped me figure out blogging on the WordPress platform – my personal blog at the time was on Blogspot – such as the time I had a picture of Dudley Do-Right, who I swear looks like Eliot Spitzer, which took up about six times the dimensions of the whole page. Mike got that right-sized for me.

I’ve seen a bunch of community bloggers come and go, and Mike’s always out there, shaking the trees for new folk, trying to create a diverse platform. I’ve witnessed some tension between some community bloggers and a couple of staff writers, or among community bloggers, or the community folks resenting that they provide free content while getting less and less from the TU, which must have been exhausting at times. with poor Huber, stuck in the middle, trying to make everyone happy. Occasionally, I probably gave him a harder time than he deserved once or twice.

I saw Mike by chance this past Friday in the building where I work. I almost didn’t bother him – he was sitting at a table, talking with someone – but Mike and I go WAY back. We’ve talked a LOT, especially in the early days, not just about the project at hand, but more philosophical musings, most recently when he gave me a ride to some blogging event.

O the other hand, I knew that Mike was my link to get more than a few things fixed on the Times Union website, which I’d come across more than occasionally.

Mike Huber, thanks for being your wise self. I wish you well in whatever you’re doing. Shannon Fromma, good luck; I understand a water gun is good at controlling unruly felines.

Murder in the virtual, or actual, degree

One can see the moment when the bullets strike his body, his face writhing in pain.

Arthur retaliates for me asking HIM the question by querying:
Should VR murder be banned? VR being virtual reality

I’ve been conflicted about, not just this most recent iteration of faux violence, but even decades ago, going back to the Vietnam war. It was believed by some, including me, that the weapons of war that look like video games were making killing too easy. Now it’s the common, “clean” way we kill our military targets.

So I wondered if the reverse were true, whether video games that simulated murder, was, in some way, honing an instinct for violence, at least for some people. My gamer friends, to a person, all said no, that the venting of faux aggression on a screen was merely a way to release tension and that there was no crossover to real life. Their certitude never made sense to me.

In 2015, an American Psychological Association task force report stated that “violent video gameplay is linked to increased aggression in players but insufficient evidence exists about whether the link extends to criminal violence or delinquency.”

The liberal in me has a live-and-let-live attitude towards these things. But the moralistic side of me is uncomfortable with this.

The truth is, though, is that I’ve been more disturbed by videos of real people dying on my TV screen. Watching Eric Garner being choked to death by a NYC policeman is so disturbing, it’s difficult to believe that it’s real.

Seeing Walter Scott running away, and, depending on who was editing it, seeing him get shot in the back by a South Carolina policeman, bullets clearly penetrating his body, was horrifying. That the shooter was not convicted was even worse.

Witnessing the dying body of Laquan McDonald as it is struck several times by bullets from Chicago cops was awful. If it were lighter outside, it would remind me of the dance of death of Sonny Corleone in the 1972 movie The Godfather.

Most recently, it was the death of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, who was murdered by a Turkish security person, that was horrifying to watch. One can see the moment when the bullets strike his body, his face writhing in pain.

All of these are available to be seen repeatedly on the Internet. I can’t help but wonder if it informs the public, or merely numbs it from these acts of death.

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