Saturday, May 19, 2007

From Thankful. . . .

Awful, awful news.

jc has passed away.

I can hardly bear to type this post. I just received this email a few minutes ago from jc's dad...

She died early Sunday afternoon on Mothers Day and has gone to join her mother and grandmother. Although Judy had not been in good health for several years, her sudden demise was a complete shock. She had had her 50th birthday on March 20, 2007.

Judy has been cremated. We request on Judy's behalf that you remember her according to your own religion or in your own way. Your prayers and good thoughts will be appreciated.

From me:

I've never known a greater soul, a brighter mind, a more loving heart, a more generous spirit.


Haloscan comment thread

Friday, May 18, 2007

Roger Ebert, back on the job

Just discovered that Roger Ebert is writing reviews again.

...and there was much rejoicing.

Haloscan comment thread

Open Thread

Holman as a pup.

Haloscan comment thread

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Governor Strickland signs anti-discrimination executive order

I didn't really have anything I was planning to post tonight, but figured I should update my shared items. I found this story at Pam's House Blend, and had to front-page it.

Gov. Ted Strickland, with a stroke of a pen, restored the ban on discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. His predecessor, the highly ethical Bob Taft, removed those protections in 1999.
Have I mentioned lately that I'm really glad Ted Strickland is our governor?

While at Pam's blog, I also learned that today is International Day Against Homophobia.

Anyway, just thought I'd share that.

And know the drill. Make with the chit-chat.

Haloscan comment thread

Happy Birthday, Mom (in Illinois)!

♥ Thinking of you on your birthday, Mom. ♥

...and looking forward to a belated celebration when you come to town.

Mom's coming to town to turn in Holman for his advanced CCI training, so the celebration will be kind of bittersweet.

There's an open thread here.

Open Thread

I've changed the time stamp on the Happy Birthday post to my Mom so that it will stay on top of the page until tonight. Here's an Open Thread for you all.

Via Cute Overload...

Haloscan comment thread

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Children of a Lesser Blog

Reminder: Howard Dean will be a guest on The Colbert Report tonight

Also, be sure to check the Democracy Fest web site for updates to the list of confirmed speakers.

The title of this post is based on a comment by Madscientist in Maryscott O'Connor's essay A Lesser Blogger: Or, You Don't Count--he noted that personally, he didn't find it all that bad to be "children of a lesser blog". I liked the turn of a phrase, so I decided to use it--in a tongue in cheek way--as the title of this post. I certainly do not consider My Left Wing (or Howard-Empowered People, for that matter) to be a "lesser" blog. And I'm proud of the dedication and independent spirit that is displayed by we, the many, who are not "top tier" bloggers.

Maryscott's essay was written in response to a Media Matters piece by Eric Boehlert, entitled Wash. Post still blind to liberal blogger successes. Mr. Boehlert does make some valid points--for example, comparing how often the Post quotes or mentions by name, liberal versus conservative bloggers. But things go downhill when he starts in on his hymn (How Great Thou Art) to Markos/Daily Kos...

To this day, the Washington Post has never profiled Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of The Daily Kos, the most popular and influential political weblog in the world. The Post didn't even review last year's influential Crashing the Gate, the hardcover progressive manifesto that Kos co-wrote with fellow blogging pioneer Jerome Armstrong.
...and hit bottom with his sneeringly dismissive description of the Post's front page profile of Maryscott O'Connor. The piece certainly had its negative aspects, but I think Boehlert mischaracterizes it. And a big part of his point seems to be that the newspaper profiled a "lesser known" liberal blogger rather than the well known, but not at all liberal Markos Moulitsas.

You can contact Media Matters through this link. (Adapted from the Media Matters recommendations for contacting the media) Please be polite and professional. Express your specific concerns regarding Eric Boehlert's commentary, and be sure to indicate exactly what you would like Media Matters to do differently in the future.

I've been on Media Matters' mailing list for some time now. I believe they do good work, and I share their action items and alerts as time permits. Even if I'm a *much* lesser known blogger, I believe that doing whatever little bit we can do *matters*. Finding out that Duncan Black (aka Atrios, the founder of Blogroll Amnesty Day) was a Senior Fellow at Media Matters gave me pause, but I thought it was unfair to let that one thing bias me against the organization. But Boehlert's piece was another clue that this media watchdog organization endorses and upholds the unspoken (well, among the "cool kids" it's unspoken...) caste system among bloggers. And, I'm sorry, but that's just not cool. I'm not too excited about the notion of crowning *new* royalty to replace the high and mighty media people once they are de-throned. I'm much more interested in building *geniune* people power--that benefits *all* the people.

Haloscan comment thread

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On Heaven and Hell

Anyway, I found myself thinking of these words from the hymn Borning Cry.

When the evening gently closes in,
and you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been
with just one more surprise.

I think that, no matter who we are, when our time comes, we're bound to be surprised. Some of us, I imagine, will be more surprised than other. Some of us will be pleasantly surprised, and others...not so much. Maybe, just maybe, Rev. Falwell is, at this very moment, getting his bearings in an afterlife where he is surrounded by loving families headed by same-sex couples. People of all different religions and ethnicities being welcomed with open arms by our loving Mother Godde. Maybe for him, that would be "hell"...

Another thought... Once we are no longer limited by our usual first person singular perspective, it seems plausible to me that we could experience, as some have claimed, a life review in which we experience from the other person's perspective every encounter which we have ever had with another. If it were to turn out that is what's in store for us, how pleasant or unpleasant do you think that would be?

Haloscan comment thread

Monday, May 14, 2007

This is the part where we "Do justice"

Many progressive people of faith cite Micah 6:8 as one of their favorite verses of scripture: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. This is the part where we do justice...

Last Tuesday's Columbus Dispatch had an article about the B.R.E.A.D. Assembly I attended on Monday, May 7. It's a pretty decent overview of the meeting, attended by 2000 central Ohioans. My quibble is that the people representing the payday lending industry get the "last word" in the article, but I can counterbalance that by sharing the transcript of the part of the meeting where a B.R.E.A.D. representative answered those claims.

After sharing the story of one central Ohio resident who borrowed $500 to help her son in a time of financial hardship and ended up in a cycle of increasing debt, the article by Sherri Williams outlines what B.R.E.A.D. is trying to accomplish with this issue:

BREAD wants the state to cap the payday lending rate at an annual rate of 36 percent, the same limit a federal amendment passed last year used to cap interest rates on loans for military families.

The number of payday lenders in Ohio has increased from 107 in 1996 to 1,562 in 2006, and Franklin County has the most in the state with 183 such businesses, according to a Policy Matters report released in February. The nonprofit group is a policy-research organization designed to broaden the debate about economic policy in Ohio.

Tighter regulation of payday lenders is critical because the average 390 percent annual rate for the short-term loans is excessive, said Carol Roddy, chairwoman of BREAD's research committee on the working poor.

State Sen. Ray Miller, who previously introduced legislation to regulate the industry, said the paralyzing poverty of the payday lending cycle affects Ohioans across the state, including in rural areas and suburbs.

"We are trying to keep people from a position of financial ruin from going from one check casher to the next to try to pay for the first loan and eventually end up in a financial position" they can't get out of, said Miller, a Democrat from Columbus.

Miller, the only state senator at the meeting, proposes an interest-rate cap along with limiting the number of loans a person can have with payday lenders at one time, and developing a statewide database that would track the number of outstanding loans one has with payday lenders.
The Dispatch article includes information from their interview with Jamie Frauenberg, president of the Ohio Association of Financial Service Centers, but a lot of that was addressed in the mock interview with the "loan shark", so I'll conclude with my transcript of that. From the article:
There were no representatives from the payday-lending industry at the meeting last night. BREAD members had a man dressed in a shark costume with feet hanging from its mouth symbolizing a loan shark for a mock interview.
B.R.E.A.D. representative: Now, I don't speak shark, so, have you brought a translator? Good, good. By the way, I see that you're mouth's kind of full there. Working on another customer, eh? (Laughter)

Now, can you please tell us why you feel that your industry should *not* have these reasonable regulations in place?

Shark: Moneymoneymoneygreedygreedygreedymoneymoneymoney!

Interpreter Payday reform is unnecessary overregulation.

B.R.E.A.D. representative: This type of reform protects Ohio consumers from abusive practices, and levels the playing field between consumers and lenders. That's the traditional role of covernment, and this is how we expect our legislators to protect their constituents.

Shark: Powerpowerpowermoneymoneymoneygreedygreedy!

Interpreter Regulation is unnecessary because the industry is designed for occasional users in emergency situations.

B.R.E.A.D. representative: Really? The fact is that the industry *traps* borrowers in a cycle of debt. Ninety-nine percent of all users borrow more than once a year. The industry makes over 90% of their fees on people who borrow five times a year or more, and over half of their fees on people who borrow 13 times a year or more. If the industry is making over half of their money on individuals borrowing on an averge of more than once a month, how can you claim that your product is made to serve an occasional need, or pay for an emergency expense?

Shark: Moneymoneymoneygreedygreedygreedy--ME ME ME!

Interpreter Since the loans are only generally for two weeks, the Annual Percentage Rate, or the APR, is not a valid way to evaluate the cost of payday lending.

B.R.E.A.D. representative: Well, I think that the system you represent traps borrowers, by encouraging them to become frequent users. The majority of them use the service many times a year. APR is a fair way to compare the cost of payday loans with the other types of credit.

So listen to this example: If you borrow $500 using a credit card, you can pay it off in four months, and it will cost you about $550. To do the same with a payday loan, will cost the borrower up to $1200.

Shark: Gimmegimmegimme....!

Interpreter Payday lending is the only way for many of these people to get credit.

B.R.E.A.D. representative: Do you know that currently, twelve states have banned payday lending, (applause and cheers) and there are other options for these customers to get good credit. Also, we're proposing, like the federal government, to cap the rate at 36% APR. If these businesses are unable to operate at that interest rate, there is something wrong with the business!

Shark: Whinewhinewhinecomplaincomplaincomplain...NOOOO!

Interpreter If we regulate payday lending, people will go to illegal loan sharks.

B.R.E.A.D. representative: Payday lending IS legal loan-sharking. It's just a legalized form of usury. The majority of payday users are law-abiding citizens who would NEVER think of visiting an illegal loan shark. That argument is akin to saying that we shouldn't regulate illegal drugs, because that would send drug users to illegal drug dealers! Many banks, credit unions, faith-based organizations and military organizations offer products that are alternatives to payday lending. Regulating payday lending will level the playing field between this exploitative industry, and instead offer other options that are more beneficial to the customer.

So...did you have anything else to say?


Interpreter I can't repeat that.
If you live in Ohio, I hope you will write to your State Senator and let him or her know that you support the proposed legislation. But even if you don't live in Ohio, I encourage you to learn more about the issue of predatory payday lending, and find out what legislation your state has enacted or might be considering.

Haloscan Comment Thread

Halosan, continued

Sorry about any commenting confusion. Making this up as I go along, and will try to offer a bit of explanation before heading to work.

It seems that people prefer Haloscan for the most part, when it's working. But more and more it isn't, and we're left with no way of commenting. As in *totally* locked out. So right now Haloscan is uninstalled--if it *is* installed here, then that is the only way we can comment. But I still have a Haloscan account, so I can make sure there's always an available Haloscan comment thread. I called it an "Open Thread" in the link at the top of the page, because, frankly, that's what *all* the threads are around here. You can use it to discuss any of the posts on this blog, or any other blog, or *whatever*--just like you always do.

But with Blogger commenting installed, at least another form of commenting is *available* when Haloscan is down. I don't yet know how to seamlessly integrate this thing--or maybe I do, but I don't know how to express it clearly in words at this moment. I will tell you this--I much prefer the idear of only having to manually post *one* Haloscan thread as needed, instead of having to make an alternate link every time a new thread goes up.

I've left the same open thread up as we had yesterday--there aren't all *that* many comments, and I really need to get ready for work now.

Bottom line--use Haloscan like you're used to doing, as long as it's working, and Blogger commenting when it isn't working. But I'm only going to put up one Haloscan thread a day, because it's easier that way, and I'm all about making things easier for myself whenever possible. And if there *are* any Blogger comments--from someone who, temporarily or as a matter of course, cannot get Haloscan to work--hopefully someone can be a good citizen and copy it into the main comment thread so that everyone will see it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

A post by Subway

On the Morning of Sept 11, 2001, my wife's son Daniel, who was an engineer with the Port Authority of New York, joined a meeting of German engineeers at Windows on the World. He left behind a wife of his own and two young children. My heart goes out today to all the mothers in the US, Britain, Iraq and Afghanistan who have lost their soldiers and children to the conflict we have brought upon the world.

One of the things the 21st Century was supposed to bring, was that perhaps we had all grown up enough as a species to have tossed armed conflict into the dustbin of history. Yet those who have stolen the reigns of power still think the monetary profit is worth the price in the blood of mother's children. I pray that one day there will be an end to this tragic war crime and that those who started it are brought to justice before the eyes of the world.

But for today, let us pray for the mothers, whose hearts have been plundered by this senseless waste of their children.



Click here for an open thread, Haloscan style, for those of you who find it easier (at those times when Haloscan is working.)

CNN's "Bush resigns" headline

SusanD mentioned this in the comments last night--that CNN had briefly, accidentally displayed the headline "Bush Resigns" yesterday. Here's the image, via a post at skippy's blog entitled "12 Seconds of Joy".