Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bill Stickers is innocent

This is an internet funny that has had Son in Ohio LOL for days now, so I thought I'd share it with you all, in honor of Son's birthday, which is tomorrow. (He'll be 14.)

Just found this bit of background today--apparently the gag is even older than I thought...

In a New York newspaper The Olean Herald, 1884, there's a piece reprinted from the London Graphic:

"A countryman named William Stickers, flying to London to escape from rural justice, was appalled at reading on a wall: 'Bill Stickers Beware!' He went a little further, but reading again, 'Bill Stickers will be punished with the utmost rigour of the law,' gave himself up for lost and surrendered."

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Why blogging matters

Last night I posted "What does it mean to be a blogger?" in response to a piece by Jerid of Buckeye State Blog (currently blogging from New Hampshire) entitled "Don't Tell Obama You Blog". Since then, Jerid has described positive interactions with Obama's staff (see his remarks at the end of this post)

Do check out some of the comments in the "Don't tell..." post to see what some of the concerns might be about admitting bloggers to such an event. In particular, one commenter suggested that maybe the candidate wanted to have an open discussion about faith with people who didn't want their opinions broadcast across the universe? maybe they didn't want their pictures taken. maybe they didn't want to be quoted.

Yeah, I can see that. In particular, the thought of some blogger snapping an unflattering picture of me, posting it on the internet, and me not being able to do a dang thing about it. It would be nice to have some assurance that people would have the decency not to do that. Maybe someone can answer this for me--are there any rules for "real" news media with regard to getting consent before publishing someone's image and/or words?

As a blogger, I don't really consider myself to be "press", but the "real" corporate press does have something to do with why I blog, and this goes back long before I was annoyed by the slanted coverage of the Dean campaign.

I used to participate in a program called Parents as Teachers. The program's headquarters were in a building that used to be a public high school, but at that point in time housed a number of continuing education and career and job search prep programs. There was this little resource center room which was childproofed and had books for parents and age-appropriate toys for infants and toddlers. I can't tell you what a blessing it was to have such a place available to me when my kids were that age. I was feeling pretty isolated during the day at home, but the logistics of taking an infant and a toddler out *anywhere* by myself were sometimes daunting enough that they often *did* keep me home.

The program also included (if you desired) home visits from a resource person who specialized in early childhood education. About once a month, she would come by with an activity or two to show us, and would give me a few printed handouts about "what to expect" at a given age. Having taken child development courses, and having devoured plenty of parenting books, I could have gotten by just fine without the handouts. But I really appreciated the social connection, and the reality check that the things I was dealing with really *were* par for the course for a parent of small children.

And one more thing...this program, unlike a lot of programs out there, was not aimed at "high risk" families. Nor was it designed for low income families. It was just a little bit of that "village" that makes raising a child a bit easier, especially for a new parent who didn't live near family or in a neighborhood filled with other young parents that the kids and I could hang out with.

This is where the press comes into the scene. You may have wondered where I was going with all of this, but it was necessary to try to give you a flavor of what sort of program this was, and what it meant to me before moving on to the part about the media.

One day a reporter from a Columbus news station came to the resource center to do a segment on the place. It was clear pretty early on that the reporter had some preconceived notions. I later heard from the woman who did our home visits that he kept asking her questions like, "So, everybody here comes from a broken family?" No, she emphasized, again and again. Nor is everyone here financially needy, or a teenage mother, or...or...or...

It didn't do a bit of good. That evening, Demetrius and I watched our local newscast, and were treated to the image of myself playing with little Son and Daughter in Ohio, accompanied by the voice of the reporter saying something to the effect that "This center is especially important to people from broken homes, who lack good role models for parenting. " Nice.

All of this took place more than 10 years ago, and the specific details are a bit hazy at this point. But I do recall Demetrius voicing his displeasure that his wife and children were portrayed in that sort of light. My response? Well, it didn't bother me right away. I wasn't especially embarrassed or anything like that. But the more I thought about the portrayal, not of me, but of the demographic served by Parents as Teachers, the more I found it offensive. Because the message really seemed to be, "You see this place? This is a special service that is made available to the poor, sad, clueless people who would be lost--LOST, I tell you--without it."

So, on the one hand, the resource center was getting some publicity. And that could have been a good thing. Sometimes there is a resource right in your own back yard that would be a big help if only you were aware that it existed. I loved the idea of making more people aware of that program. Parenting is a job for which most of us get precious little training--people from *all* walks of life, not just "people from broken homes, who lack good role models". But I wonder how many people automatically dismissed the program as something that is only for "those" people. How many people, who *could* have found that center to be a real blessing in those early years as a first-time parent, never even considered looking into it due to way that report was "spun".

I know we can all think of more egregious and damaging examples of media bias. Certainly, the media's complicity in helping Bush sell the invasion of Iraq to the American public was one of the biggies. But more mundane examples, like the one I described above, are significant in their own way. They certainly are capable, for better or worse, of impacting the lives of ordinary people. Back then, blogging the other side of the story was not an option I had available to me. I can't tell you how grateful I am that we now have this medium at our disposal. And that, when we work together, we have the ability to "set the record straight" in ways that can make a real, positive difference for people.

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You don't say...

Just found this via Plunderbund. The funny thing is that just last night I was writing a post touching on, among other things, whether bloggers should be considered "press".

"We didn't seed the presidential marketplace," says spokeswoman Tia Mattson. "We do have such a broad demographic that even though he's not a 'normal' consumer, he fits right into it: sporty, outdoorsy."
The president isn't a "normal" consumer--you don't say! This story was filed under "Top News" by the Washington Post.
Bush's decision to wear black socks with his Crocs was ill-considered. The combination makes one think of an old man on his way to the beach. Besides, the shoes were conceived for use on boats. The holes allow air to circulate and water to drain. And the non-slip bottoms offer stability. Pairing them with socks is a contradiction.
I just thought this was funny and decided to share. Would that we had a president who ONLY made bad decisions when it came to fashion...

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Open Thread

Trying out an online game that someone at work told me about. It's a bit like Tetris.

Son in Ohio pointed me to a site called "This is Broken", which I haven't found time to explore yet, but I'll share the link in case anyone here wants to check it out.

Son turns 14 this Sunday, by the way. Yikes.

A few links:
Bob Evans dies at 89

GOP Congressman Introduces Legislation To Restrict Pelosi Trips To Enemy Countries

Bush administration close to shutting down Guantanamo; White House meeting Friday

Don't Tell Obama You Blog

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mother Jones article on political bloggers

It hit the news stands a couple days ago, but now the Mother Jones article for which Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing was interviewed a while back appears in the online edition of the magazine:

"This is what happens when you crash the gates. All of a sudden, you're not just a pajama-clad kid in his parents' basement; once you've demonstrated your power and influence, people start demanding accountability and transparency. They want to know, for instance, that you aren't pushing a candidate MERELY because you (or your friends) have been paid by that candidate to do so."

Read the rest here.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

From the comments: DemFest scholarship recipient

Jessica left this comment in the last thread. I appreciate having something to frontpage so as not to devote a whole post to the results of the video contest. (Or more lolcats.)

This takes a while to download, but thought some of you here who contributed Deanfest scholarship money might be interested.

About 24 minutes in, one of our scholarship recipients is interviewed for a couple minutes about his experience at the event. He's the youngest person elected to the NH State House (19 yrs old I think), and even mentions in the interview that it was originally called Deanfest! (Although he was a little confused that it was organized by supporters of Jim Dean. LOL).

His friend (and the 2nd youngest person elected to the NH House, 20 years old I think) was another one of our scholarship recipients and we asked the 2 of them to do a little session about how they were elected (they used the internet very sucessfully as a campaign tool). My mom led them to their training room and they were very nervous because they had never done anything like this before and didn't know what to say. My mom told them if they felt really stuck to just take questions and the discussion would lead itself. I guess it went very well and they were very happy afterwards, and I heard good feedback from the attendees that attended that session that they were very inspirational. Just thought that was a cute story because they're State Reps, but soooo young! Kids! But, our country will be in good hands with people like them stepping forward and getting more informed and involved. That scholarship money was a good investment in our country's future. An investment that's usually very hard to actually see results from. Thank you to those here that helped.

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Notes and photos by listener

Well, I am home from the Outer Banks where birds, like this Oystercatcher, nest. When the seas rise due to global warming, the Outer Banks will become totally submerged. This could happen in our lifetime, folks.

Our wildlife biologist Son*in*NC took us into restricted areas to take the GPS coordinates of Oystercatcher nests, so they can be checked on. He records where the nests are, how many eggs are laid, how many chicks hatch and survive, and what causes them to not survive. When each chick is a week old, he swiftly affixes a tiny transmitter to its back. That way, if the chick disappears they can often find the transmitter and determine what happened. Sometimes it's predators like raccoons, or the stupid humans who run them over by driving their vehicles on the sand, and sometimes its the weather. This year, for example, a strong storm wiped out quite a few nests, and the parents had to start all over. When the chicks are three or four weeks old, he puts bands on their legs, so they can be identified in years to come, and their migratory patterns and habitat needs can be better determined. This has to be done before the chicks are five weeks old because that's when they fly!

We actually saw this freshly hatched Oystercatcher chick and its sibling in the process of hatching! See the little wing sticking out of the egg? We felt badly to have disrupted the nest during "delivery," but we also know this was to get the coordinates and protect the nest. Nesting areas are cordoned off as much as possible to keep the eggs and chicks from being run over. It was utterly amazing to be out there searching for the nest someone thought they'd spotted once, then to find it on the day they came from the egg!

But the most important chick of all to Son*in*NC is his own chick (who turns 10 months old on the first day of Summer and started walking last week!).

What will it take to save the Outer Banks? If Al Gore is our next President, then maybe the chicks can be saved for generations to come.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Open Thread

This was one of the pictures featured on Cute Overload for Father's Day.

And here's the video Demetrius did for the The PopSci Podcast/Jonathan Coulton "I Feel Fantastic" Video Contest. (You can see some of the other videos here.)

Yes, I'm gratuitously showing off my talented hubby. And I'm okay with admitting that. :)

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Love is God

One of my heros, Pete Townsend turned his fans on to the wisdom of Meher Baba. I had one of his poems in my wallet for years, but when I looked for it today it was gone. So I'm left with giving you the jist of his words. It amazes me how the ancient wisdom, handed down through the generations, applys to our new sciences.

God is Love and Love must Love.
But Love is One, Infinite and perfect,
And has naught to Love
But itself.

So Love must imagine a Lover to Love...

Back in the 70's I read a Hindu story of Krishna Lila.

It seems there were a group of devout women called 'Gopis.' Their hearts so were filled with the Love of the Love, that they cried day and night in yearning so deep that Krishna's Heart was broken came down and he gave each Gopi her own personal Krishna.

Then there's this Jesus fella.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see Love."

Eternal Love is something we all carry around. We are Love's imagined Lover. Our Love is as timeless as the Lover that imagined it.

Something to think about.

by Subway Serenade

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

From the comments

Hi, all,

My name is Kevin Shaw and I'm the guy in the blue shirt next to Charlie in the blogger's photo. This was my first DemocracyFest and it was a blast. Thanks to everyone that worked so hard to make it a great event.

Yes, I'm the guy that was tossing condoms during Subway's performance of "Comdomaniacs". I'm also the chair of Montgomery County (PA) Democracy for America and webmaster for PA for Democracy and a huge Howard fan, albeit late to the party (Howard's canpaign was pretty much over by the time the 2004 campaigns got to PA). I first heard him speak at a League of Conservation Voters canvassing event near Philly. I was an immediate convert and after working Leave No Voter Behind with MoveOn, found a local DFA group to participate in. had some software troubles last year and so I had to start over. Here's my old blog, and here's the new site.

So, anyway, thanks to all of you for being so accepting of a stranger in your midst. It was fun banging on Subway's guitar and trying to remember the words to some old songs.

Like Howard said, "I don't know where you'll be next year, but I'll be there!"

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