Lets hear it for bad ideas

BetterBadNews has a new video online…or is that vidcast? Anyway, this one covers the new idea of Citizen Public Speakers, as a complement to Citizen Journalist. In this initial broadcast, Huffington Post and Jeff Jarvis are featured.

If the idea of twice chewed weblog posts appeals, then Citizen Public Speakers ought to ring your bells. As the Moderator explains:

…most good ideas fail…I lost everything I had on some very good ideas. I want to be sure it’s a bad idea next time. I have learned how to recognize a really promising bad idea by the lack of competitors. This helps provide a safe space for experimentation.

I want to see BBN take on Web 2.0, next. In the meantime, there’s a fresh market for developing a podcast extension to RSS2Blog. Get in on the ground floor.


The heart of the civil rights movement

Rosa Parks, the heart of the civil rights movement, died at her home Monday.

When the KKK tried to adopt part of the I-55 freeway outside of St. Louis under the highway cleanup adoption plan, which would force the state into acknowledging the group’s effort with a sign, the Highway Department responded by naming that stretch of the freeway the “Rosa Parks” freeway. Every time I head down south, I see that sign and I’m reminded that the civil rights movement didn’t stop when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

Fifty years ago, by quietly refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus, Mrs. Parks taught us that the fight for equality is just that: a fight. A struggle. True equality does not come about by compromise and complacency–something to remember, because the struggle still continues.


It isn’t always ideal

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Warning: this is yet another disconnected ramble.

I never publicly thanked Dorothea for her strong defense of me in my recent confrontation with a well known weblogger. I did privately, but didn’t want to publicly because, well, I wanted to let the whole thing just die out.

However, now is the time for me to thank Dorothea, not so much for speaking out for me, but for speaking out for, to paraphrase Dorothea, the kind of talk that makes you uncomfortable. Stripping away social politeness, dropping the niceties. Yelling fire in a room full of fireman.

A little digression: You know why Vietnam ended? I got into an argument once with someone in California about this. He said it was because people like him (and myself) protested it when we were younger. Thirty years ago, I would have believed him, and marveled at the power of my flowerchild-like fingertips. However, today, I know that the reason the war ended wasn’t because people like me got sick of the war. It was because people who were not like me got sick of the war. When almost every family in this country had received at least one body bag. When people at home, watching news on TV watched yet another film about the atrocities committed in Nam, by both sides. When middle America wearied of the blood and the cost and the horror, that’s when the war ended.

This all leads me to a thought: You want to change this country? Convince someone who is totally unlike yourself to want this change. Then you have a chance.

Tomorrow big anti-Iraqi invasion demonstrations throughout the world. I think it’s great that people are making a show of solidarity about this issue, and will be attending a rally here in St. Louis. However, I hope people remember that though great big group hugs among people of like mind might make us feel good, they won’t change minds. Calling President Bush “King George” or “Shrub” won’t change minds, either.

You want to change minds? Find your way into the kind of mind you want to change, and speak the language it can understand. That’ll change minds.

Well, bit of a ramble. Time for bed. Big rally day tomorrow.


Winning Elections

Steve Himmer talks about expressing his political viewpoints, especially after a gubernatorial debate:

It also makes me wonder, though, with all of the hegemonic masculinities and femininities and political opinions we encounter everyday, how many of us actually agree with the party line–with any party line–and how many of us are just too tired or too lazy or too inadvertantly threatened (or feel threatened based on past experience) to say so? If we could gauge the quiet minds of our neighbors, would they be so different from ourselves? Would we, in fact, all be the same in our difference, keeping our non-compliance to ourselves? Or am I really the only lefty in town? The Green Party is having a standout in the city center tomorrow… maybe I’ll go and find out.

Only lefty. In Massachusetts?!? I shouldn’t think there’s a problem on that one, Steve.

Tis the season: I watched a senate debate yesterday: Jean Carnahan (Democrat/Incumbant), Jim Talent (Republican), Tamara Millay (Libertarian), and Daniel “digger” Romano, Green Party. Before I give you my impression, I want to give you some second hand impressions that my roommate brought home from work today.


Jean Carnahan and Jim Talent — spent the entire time squabbling and pointing fingers at each other over patriotism and homeland security.

Tamara Millay — smart, good speaker, projected confidence. However, after a listing of party platforms and objectives the concensus was that a vote for Millay is a vote for anarchy. However, she was the most impressive speaker.

Daniel Romano — looked like a Berkely Professor. What’s with the hair? The clothes? Is he stoned?


Now for my viewpoint:

Carnahan and Talent have run the worst campaign I have ever been unfortunate to witness. Spiteful, petty, vicious, ugly. I can’t stand either of them, as neither seems to care a fig about the people of Missouri. An interesting thing in Carnahan’s favor though is the plane crash today of Senator Wellstone: Carnahan’s own husband, Mel Carnahan was himself killed in a plane crash two years ago as he ran against John Ashcroft, our current Attorney General of the United States. This might re-generate a sympathy vote for her this term.

Tamara Millay — The Libertarian Party picked a winner here. Smart, presentable, quick on her feet, and knows how to play the game. However, as with Steve, I also draw the line at arming airplane passengers, and removing all social structure and services.

Daniel Romano — What an absolute and unmitigated disaster. One has to ask if Mr. Romano and the Green Party truly want to win. When you’re in California, you can wear dreadlocks and “Berkely Professor” attire, and win. Not in the midwest, in the middle of the bible belt.

I respect the Green Party, and before today’s plane crash, had planned on voting Green Party, but not now, and for two reasons: I can’t stomach the fact of a Republican controlled Senate and House, and I have no patience for people who care about issues, but not to the point of getting a bloody haircut if it will make him more consumable to the voters.

Now before you jump all over my case for this ‘shallow’ viewpoint, hear me out. The Green Party has some important platform issues, such as total equality regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, and so on. And they have a very progressive viewpoint about the environment, as well as genetic experimentation. They’re also against unilateral action against Iraq (as are the Libertarians). They have good things to say, and are worth hearing.

All of which goes for naught because their candidate shows up for a mid-west, bible belt, relatively conservative debate with dreadlocks and dressed like a Berkeley professor, to borrow the popular impression. He then proceeds to look with seeming disdain on the whole affair as if he couldn’t quite figure out why he’s there wasting his time, when he should be at a peace rally somewhere.

Combine everything, and whatever Digger was going to say wasn’t heard.

Voting for a person’s attire and mannerisms is shallow, but it is also a major reason why many people get elected. People vote for people they’re comfortable with. Someone like Jean Carnahan, the Democratic candidate, wouldn’t have a chance in California, because she doesn’t fit in as a Californian. She wouldn’t be “bad”, but she would be different.

Digger is native Missouri, but he’s outside the bell curve, so to speak. This doesn’t make him “bad”, but it does make him different. And when people perceive you as too different, they’re not going to listen to what you have to say.

Hasn’t this mess in the world taught us that one by now?

Now I’m faced with two unhappy options: throwing away my vote on Digger, because I like many of the Green Party plaform ideas, but the man hasn’t a chance; or voting for Carnahan and hopefully keep Talent out of a Senate seat, and helping to prevent a Republican owned Congress.

People Political

We lost a good one

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife and daughter and three staff members and two pilots died in a plane crash today.

Their deaths are horribly tragic and my sympathies go out to their families and friends. But in these times, the loss is made doubly worse when you realize Senator Wellstone was one of few senators that opposed the resolution that gave President Bush what amounts to war powers:

Anti-war activists were conducting a three-day sit-in at his St. Paul office, even as his Republican challenger was pummeling him as wobbly on national security. For Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.), the Iraq war resolution before Congress presented a lose-lose proposition likely to anger voters he needs in his tight reelection bid.

But to Wellstone there was never really much of a choice.

The 58-year-old professor-turned-senator had built a political career on standing by his convictions, which included a decided preference for international cooperation and diplomacy over war. He was not about to abandon them now, he said on a recent morning, as he put the finishing touches on a speech he was about to deliver opposing the resolution that would authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq, with or without a United Nations mandate.

“Just putting it in self-interest terms, how would I have had the enthusiasm and the fight if I had actually cast a vote I didn’t believe in?” he asked. “I couldn’t do that.”

This man was a good one, and will be missed. As a person and as a senator.

From a purely political perspective, this tragedy puts the Democratic control of the Senate at risk. If the Republicans win control of the Senate, and they maintain control of the House, Bush will have unfettered access to as much power as he wants, to use as he wants. It will be next to impossible to control him and his cabinet at this point.

Serious, serious times.