Archive for September, 2006

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Is this a good idea? Do we truly want to encourage Bram666, Vampire In Training to vote?

I’m so torn between the philosophical beauty of a democratic republic and the cold hard reality of letting some people have an equal say in the process.

Ultimately I believe that equality is the essence of Americanism, and that the ability to vote responsibly is the greatest exercise of that equality. But the older I get the more I feel like registering people to vote without giving them any further access to information is like handing out drivers’ licenses without a road manual. Or being saved at a Billy Graham crusade. (Oh yes. I went there.) You’ve given people a first step without follow up. (Now is the time for all of you who’ve been to a BGCrusade to step in and point out that they now do intensive followup with new converts. This would put my mind at ease.)

We can Rock the Vote, we can Get Out the Vote, we can even MySpace the Vote, I guess. But until we educate the voters I am sorely tempted to view these grassroots efforts as nothing more than a compromisation of every educated, pondered and serious vote out there.

I look forward to all of the comments and emails telling me that I’m wrong.

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I have a hard time placing a value on my work. That’s the worst part about being a freelancer. I find myself wanting to give away my services as often as I charge for them. Not because I’m so very good-hearted, but because I have a hard time believing that I am worthy of being paid a going rate. Given all the articles out there about “how to ask for a raise” and “making what you’re really worth” I suspect I am not alone in this.

After many years I’ve come to believe that the majority of employers understand this quirk of human nature and eagerly exploit it. Twice I’ve worked in companies where I started as a temp and continued to earn temp wages while performing management-level duties. It’s cheaper for the company who hires you (obviously) and in many cases a temp comes from a different budget than a full-time employee. Part of our current employment culture is to rely heavily on an arsenal of ‘temp-to-hire’ workers to whom the company is not fully accountable. It’s good for American business and shareholders because it decreases costs and increases profit margin. If you’re the poor fellow or gal whose been a “temp” for a year and a half, it’s less lovely.

This brings me to the latest announcement regarding Michael Rosenblum’s VJ Revolution And Dance Party. I think Mr. Rosenblum has some good ideas and sees some possibilities. Yet every time the topic has come up, the pay scale seems to be the hitch. As Terry Heaton comments

His most pressing need now is for an Executive Producer for D.C. … The pay isn’t much, especially for the market sizes where the test is being conducted, but that’s seldom the point for a start-up.

I seriously question this rationale. Even the biggest companies realise that they can’t bring temps in for the executive level positions. It would seem to me to be more common sense to invest the cash in a seasoned Exec Prod with finely-honed chops, ready to take on the establishment with knowledge gained from within the trenches. I can understand the rationale for paying less than scale for novice product, but the knowledge to be an Executive Producer is not earned without expense and should be compensated.

This is coming to be my main problem with Mr. Rosenblum’s Revolution. He talks grandly of his large paydays (and, admittedly, losses) yet he doesn’t seem to believe much in trickle-down theory of employment. Yes, we have a video revolution. Will there be large paydays in it for anyone?

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~ Wanna hang this on your fridge? Come on. You know you do.

~ Would someone please explain to me who John Mayer is? Why did he get 10 minutes of coverage on CSI without being killed?

~ I have been obsessing over a certain house since we moved to Nashville years ago. It always fascinates me whenever we drive by. I’ve sworn to Hubster on several occasions that I will see inside the house before I die.

Whadda ya know? Lo and Behold! It’s for sale. And you can see nearly every room online at this website. Good thing, because I lack the $2.7 million purchase price. And even if I had $2.7million I can think of other things to spend it on. I will, however, spend many lunch hours using these photos to reconstruct this house in The Sims 2

This brings to mind a question. How come when you look at the photos of the most expensive houses it seems like, more often than not, the people who can afford them aren’t necessarily gifted decorators?

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Yesterday I talked about my email from Howard Dean, which was basically a solicitation for donations to the DNC. One of the parts of the letter that I didn’t mention was this:

The future of our party, and of our country, depends on the ability of Democrats to get a strong national security message out in all 50 states this year. Donate to make it happen and watch President Clinton fight back now:

Surprise surprise. The DNC has turned the Clinton Smackdown into its version of the PBS tote bag. I mentioned to Hubster on the way to the grocery store yesterday afternoon that I thought it was not the best idea the DNC had, what with copies of the video available all over the internet. Then we started talking about something else.

So this morning I see via Sharon Cobb that the video has been pulled from YouTube. Sharon has this to say:

I suspect R. Murdock will ignore fair usage and charge an arm and a leg for use of this footage. He’s up to something. I’ve never seen Fox remove a tape from YouTube.

Is Fox News the sinister one here? Claiming the right to something they own? There are a lot of blogs that have exploited fair use to its limits and beyond, by constantly posting whole texts of interviews and other blog posts. And YouTube clips without further comment. Fox was claiming their property.

And then of course, there’s this. The DNC can’t charge for content it doesn’t own, but the form is set up in such a way as to get the big money donation and then give you a fine-point link to ThinkProgress’ hosting of the video.

Sorry, Sharon. To me it looks like the number one party looking to profit from this video is the DNC, NOT Fox News. And even if Fox News did want to profit from it, it’s their property and their right.

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Cycling used to be one of those sports that only a a few of us cared about. Then came Lance. Never mind that he will never never never be as good a rider as Eddy Merckx.

I realise that cycling’s ratings have gone through the roof–well, the cycling-version of a roof–since Lance. But during all the TDF coverage this year, I don’t think Phil and Bob and the other guy could go five minutes without reminiscing about Lance. Who has retired. At least poor Axel Merckx has escaped most of the inevitable comparisons to his father. They were too busy comparing Axel to Lance.

Now that Lance let his life get rapidly out of control retired, I was hoping to hear less about him. But no! Now he’s running in the New York City Marathon. Why? Get this. To raise awareness of his cancer foundation. My man, please. Have you been anywhere in America and not seen at least 30% of the people wearing those yellow bracelets? You have already achieved what we marketing people call ‘saturation of brand awareness’. Livestrong is the Coca-Cola of cancer foundations.

I guess I should be happy that he’s made the news for some reason besides his increasingly screwed up love life. But somewhere deep inside me I realise I’m developing an Armstrong allergy. He’s becoming cycling’s version of Elizabeth Taylor, spiralling out of control while desperately clinging to past accomplishments.

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This afternoon I had one of those moments usually reserved for Lifetime Television. One of those moments where Valerie Bertinelli finds her husband’s credit card statement complete with three front-and-back pages of porn charges. Or Meredith Baxter-Birney-Baxter finds a locket that proves that her loving husband used to be a woman called Angela.

I have been married to the same wonderful man for more than 15 years. In fact, next month will be the 17th anniversary of our first date. He is the neat and tidy version of our family, the one who still irons. (I myself am partial to Downy Wrinkle Releaser.) Hubby is the person who stays grounded while I do the ‘off with the faeries’ thing.

So when I uncovered his hidden secret I was floored. It was the last thing I ever expected to hear him say.

It all started with a phone call from the church, asking if we would be willing to help with the babies on occasional Sundays. I was honestly flattered to be asked. I’m actually quite good with babies, insofar as they remind me of particularly fluid-filled yet hairless cats. I joke. I love babies. Although when my sister-in-law saw me interacting with her firstborn, she couldn’t keep the surprise from her voice. “Kathy, you’re good with babies!”

Yes, I am. And so I said that I would happily mind other people’s children four times a year for a very limited amount of time. Watch me be a hero! And Hubby eagerly joined me.

That’s when the revelation came.

“I” he tells me somberly “have never in my life changed a diaper.”

Wha?!? How can you be thirty-mumble and have never changed a diaper?

“I never had the opportunity.” He quickly followed that up with a profuse eagerness to learn. Which I believe. If ever there were a man who would embrace diaper-changing as a part of manhood it is The Hubster.

That’s what surprises me. Here’s a man who would happily change a diaper yet doesn’t know how.

The things you learn in a marriage.

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Ol’ Howard periodically sends me emails. I guess that’s because I’m on the Democratic Party’s email list. They usually involve Howard’s desire for me to give the Democrats money. This I do not do. I’m not crazy. Political ads drive me nuts. If I were to give scratch to either major party it would be somewhat like paying somebody to hit me about the face and neck. Besides, if I were to give money to a major political party, it would probably not be Howard’s. Yet I find his emails interesting. Like today’s.

The most interesting part?

You know that Democrats have a real plan for destroying Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, fixing the mess in Iraq, and really securing us at home.

They do? Really? Pray tell, Howard, what is it? Because, frankly, I think most of us would like to hear such a plan. These things you mention–destroying al Qaeda, cleaning up Iraq and keeping the homeland secure–are the fondest wish of most of us out here. Or so I’ve been told by everyone I talk to.

This is why I continue to be frustrated by Two Party Politics. Howard claims to have a plan for Making Everything Okay Again. Will he share his plan with the rest of us? Ha! Like a TV preacher bent on building an amusement park, Howard holds out on us. If only we Send Money Now, Howard promises to use the overflowing coffers of the Democratic Party to defeat the Empire and re-establlish the Jedi Order get the Republicans out of office. Presumably once Howard’s team are in office they will then reveal to us their Master Plan For Making Everything Okay Again.

Right. Because solving our problems is a party thing, not a nation thing.

I want real ideas, not the promise of ideas to be revealed later.

I want real solutions, not the rumours of solutions that could be.

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I am not Van Gogh. That is obvious, since I’m sitting here contemplating the loss of time and gas money. Like that even approaches an ear.

The Writer’s Room workshops are once again being held at The Factory in Franklin. Every Thursday for six weeks. $35.00 a session. Part of me desperately wants to go. Being a writer in a room of writers is one of the few times I’m really relaxed.

But hasn’t anyone heard that being a writer is not a well-paying gig? In fact, most writers make more money conducting workshops and seminars than from their actual published works. Or so it seems, because I’m forever getting emails and flyers advertising A Fantastic Creative Opportunity For Only $175.00. That seems to be the tacitly agreed-upon amount. It sounds comfortably affordable without making the recipient feel like the workshop is just gonna tell them something they could read on the Internet for free.

Is it ironic that Steven King is basically giving away the same advice? Sure On Writing isn’t free, but at eight bucks it’s a darn sight more affordable. King, though, is a lot more financially successful with his writings than the majority of workshop hosts.

And yet, I crave writers’ workshops for the same reason that some people like to drink in bars. Yes, you can get the beer cheaper at Kroger and drink in front of your TV. But the bar–and the workshop–are social gatherings. You meet people with similar interests. If you can call “beer” an interest. Granted, $175 is a steep cover charge. (It’s also the discount cost if I pay for all six weeks of Writer’s Room Workshops. I’m telling you, someone out there loves that figure.)

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Imagine my surprise at firing up the Tivo last night, only to catch an infomercial for Cirque du Soliel. Neither mystery seemed to be really compelling–or really solved.

And what was the deal with Grissom and Sara? Help.

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