Monthly Archives: July 2009

I’m Taking Them Public

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Paging Lucy Parsons

I’m at a total loss as to why this idea hasn’t been embraced everywhere.  Besides the obvious benefits for working families, the environment, and  especially workers themselves, I’m wondering if travel and leisure companies wouldn’t see a significant uptick, given that every weekend would be 3 days long, and allow people to take longer trips together.  Sure, the school year might prevent such travel, but there are plenty of scheduled breaks there as well.

I’m also struck by the notion that workers must stayed moored to the 40 hr week.  Why not 36?  32?  I mean, most of us don’t perform jobs that, if left undone, would dramatically alter someones life, right?  We manage to take two days off a week, why is three impossible?

Maybe, we stagger the day attached to the weekend.  Certain services would remain open on Fridays, like, say, the DMV, so people could take care of important errands on one day off.  Give those workers Monday off.  Or, stick a day off in the middle of the week.  We manage to do this for religious reasons…I remember when I first moved to the South, I was floored that my bank was closed on Wednesday afternoons.  I was informed that this was because most churches offered a Wednesday service.  Fine.  It took me some time to acclimate, but, eventually, I learned to do my banking on the other 4 days available to me.

The Adamson Act is almost 100 yrs old.  It was considered radical at the time.  It was also the first time the Federal Govt mandated what a private company could demand of it’s employees, and, it Act was considered Constitutional by the Supreme Court.   So, there is precedent.  I’m not necessarily advocating for a Govt mandated change in the legal workweek, but there seems to be ample evidence that it is beneficial to almost everyone.  The Ford Motor Company realized that a happy workforce was a more productive workforce almost a century ago, has that lesson been lost?

We are not a Nation that depends on manufacturing anymore.  I really don’t see a downside.  Am I missing something?

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Has To Be Said

Not so long ago, I opined on the behavior of a certain young speechwriter who works for Obama.  It cost me dearly.  People I had known for quite some time felt completely comfortable calling me a misogynist, among other things.  I do not intend to rehash that whole ridiculous argument, but once again, I feel compelled to ask this question to the various online and print pundits breathlessly uncovering every sordid detail of the relationship between Sen Paul Stanley and  Mckensie Morrison:

Why is any of this our business?  Affairs are quite common.  I’ll admit, affairs that result in clumsy blackmail schemes are not that common, but I have seen precious little info reported about  that actual criminal activity.

I was heartsick by way the Steve McNair murder was rationalized by some, because he was “stepping out.”  Or, because he had taken advantage of an otherwise wholesome young woman.  It was murder, for crying out loud.  There is never an excuse for murder.

I do not respect Stanley’s politics.  I think he has shown he is willing to vilify certain fellow Americans for political gain.  I think, legislatively speaking, he is a coward and a bully.  It turns out, he is an adulterer.  I could care less.  The man could sleep with every woman in Nashville (and even every man, as long as it excludes me) and I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, provided he didn’t actively use his position to coerce someone into sleeping with him.  Did he?  I don’t know.  Neither does anyone else, save for him, Ms. Morrison, and possibly the TBI.  Yet, I keep seeing articles and opinions calling for this man’s resignation, when there isn’t yet evidence of a crime.  As a Democrat, I want to see this guy gone, and fast.  As a human being, I find no joy in his failings as a husband.  I posted this comment in a thread over at Post Politics:

Not every interaction between older, powerful man, and younger, “powerless” woman, is a result of predatory behavior by one person or the other. None of us knows the basis for this relationship. I, for one, am uncomfortable with the speculation for sport aspect of the coverage, and of the endless, ill-informed opinions on the matter.

Sometimes, men react irresponsibly when dealing with attractive women. Maybe, in their whole life, they never dealt with the attention of a fawning, beautiful young woman. Some handle it badly. But it isn’t always predatory.

I find Stanley sleazy for other reasons. But,if it turns out this man pursued this woman and in any way used his position to further that goal…he needs to go.

If this was instigated by her, for love or money, I don’t think he has to resign over it. He will have to deal with the repercussions from family. It is a private matter, best handled without the sensationalism from a lazy, voyeuristic press.

The truth is, there are women predators out there too.  I’m not willing to hang that label on Ms. Morrison, because I see no evidence that she had something in mind other than a covert sexual relationship.  Fairness demands that I extend the same courtesy to Mr. Stanley, does it not?  The thing is, I just don’t find the subject matter all that fascinating.  I think too many people are using this, and countless other “scandals”, to point at and judge others, and I find it all so Springer-like.

Boring.

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Downright Apocalyptic For America Indeed

I finally side with the majority in a poll!  Seems Jon Stewart is widely regarded as the most trusted news anchor in America.  Of the people nominated, I agree, wholeheartedly.  There are a few others I feel are better journalists, but Stewart is not beholden to a particular interest group, like, say, a defense contractor, or a megalomaniacal capitalist freak.  Bravo, America.

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Memo To Nashville: How To Tell Jon Meacham And John Lamb Apart

Position:  Editor                                                                         Position: Editor

Born in Tenn                                                                               Born in Tenn

Faith:  Christian                                                                         Faith:  Christian

Married, two kids                                                                      Married, two kids

OK, never mind, you can’t tell them apart.

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Good Riddance To Bad Shoes

I hated Crocs.  It was okay, I guess, for little kids to wear them.  I wouldn’t recommend them for growing feet, but I understand the appeal of the brightly colored Crocs for children.  Even the less gaudy colors were, though, made of plastic, and while I’ll admit to being a bit of a shoe snob…plastic shoes have no place in a man’s closet.  I used to work with a very accomplished guy, who insisted on wearing them to business meetings.  I just couldn’t handle it.

They always looked like something you’d get in a Happy Meal.  A big part of your overall health can be traced back to your footwear, believe it or not.  I never trusted these trashy shoes.  I won’t miss them a bit.

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Just Do It *

I am absolutely done reading another article, post, or subsequent comment on the issue of guns in bars, parks, restaurants, dry-cleaners, etc.

The issue has nothing to do with gun rights, or safety.  There hasn’t been anything new written about it in years.  Not a single fresh perspective.

If, by some miracle, the whole bill is struck down, and the State does not allow concealed weapons in these places, or, cities or counties or individual merchants opt out en masse, I have a solution for those of you truly concerned for your family’s safety:  DO IT ANYWAY.

I have a Walther PPK.  It is a nice gun.  Small enough to tuck in my pocket, but fires a slug that should stop anyone not under the influence of PCP.  If I am going somewhere I feel remotely threatened, I carry it.  I don’t tell the  Concierge at the hotel I’m staying in, nor do I feel compelled to slip my waitress a note informing her I’m packing heat.  I don’t brandish it, I don’t talk about it, it is just there, like my cell phone or car keys.

You know what?  If I feel the need to draw it and fire, I’ll take my chances with a jury.  I seriously don’t foresee an scenario wherein I am busted for carrying it, except in a life threatening situation.  I’ve never been frisked in a restaurant, or a park.  When I used to commute regularly, I kept it in the car.  I still do when I travel.  I have been doing this for over 30 years without incident.

Please don’t tell me about obeying the law.  That, IMO, is a black/white position.  You either obey ALL State laws, or you have no credible argument.  And nobody does.

* Apologies to Nike.

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Dignitas

This story is a couple of days old, but it made mem kinda happy.  Of course, there is no cause for celebration in the fact that these two people were facing dibilitating illnesses, but as someone who has lost both parents, in vastly different ways, I found some joy that these two people were able to leave this world on their own terms.

I remember the flap over Kevorkian, but I never understood it. What we did to that man was shameful.  He didn’t stalk parking lots looking for victims, he came when he was contacted by those desperate enough to want to die.  He was a victim of our collective fear of death, and politicians that lacked the least bit of courage.

There isn’t much info out there on this Swiss Company, other than a Wikipedia page.  It seems to have had a rocky, contentious start, but has since upgraded its methods and facility.

It is easy to find fault in this type of service.  But is what Dignitas does more exploitative than those telemarketing firms that wish to sell you a final resting place?

The way we handle death in this country seems a little dated, at least.  With the exception of multi-media presentations, funerals look the same today as when I was a kid.  Drive to a church, (whether or not the deceased ever set foot in one) listen to a preacher attempt to find an applicable bible verse to accompany his notes on the guest of honor,followed by one or more tearful speakers, followed by yet another car trip, this time in formation, to a prepared burial site.  Maybe this approach has withstood the test of time, but I still find all so….lacking.

Maybe there should be pyrotechnics.  Confetti.  Bon Voyage banners?  Personally, I don’t think we Americans have really let our creativity flourish in this area. Maybe, one day, there will be brightly colored “exit portals” in every strip mall.

Anyway, it seems that the bulk of business for Dignitas comes from Germany, with a handful of Brits choosing this service to help them ease on out.  I’m pretty sure Americans can go to Oregon if they choose to exercise their right to die, but I’m not sure what that entails.

I’m just glad these two people, after 54 years of marriage, were able to do this together if they so chose.

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The Case For Moderation

I want to state in no uncertain terms that the following post is not aimed at any single individual, any specific group of people, or any one particular web-blog.  I will reference one or two of them only because I am familiar enough to make a credible observation, and because I need to do so to make my case. /Disclaimer .

For quite some time, I have been mulling over the practice of allowing  un-moderated comments on certain types of web- blogs.  This isn’t some knee jerk response to some slight, I really have been trying to think this through.  Here is where I came out…

I think that the act of turning a personal web-blog into an open forum should carry with it some responsibilities, beyond those related to content and applicable laws.  What I mean is, ultimately, I feel that once you seek out regular readers and invite them into your virtual space, you should create an environment that encourages civility and respect for other opinions.  Were I to have a group of acquaintances gather in my living room, I think I would feel obligated to enforce boundaries if I observe an infringement of some sort.  Obviously, the obnoxious drunk guy at the party should be dealt with by the host, if possible, right?  What if you knew that he would be there on your next visit, and that he was obnoxious every time?  You would eventually stop going, right?  Sometimes, in fact,, all too often, certain web-blogs are like parties where at least half of the guests are obnoxious drunk guys.

If I may extend the clumsy metaphor I chose, (sigh) I actually prefer parties where the guests are a bit spirited.  I certainly don’t want to hang where uptight rules the day, where the pithy, well placed jab isn’t appreciated, and I get that sometimes you have to put up with people who talk loud and/or stand too close. Here, I think, is where the host is key.  The smart host finds a good mix of people, and sets the rules by example. Because I want to make another case here today, let me cut to the chase:  I think web-blogs that allow comments should moderate comments, and delete those that derail the discussion thread, or that seek only to belittle other commenter’s.  Set the guidelines whereever you like, but set them and enforce them.  Allowing comments means the author wants input on what he has shared, whether for validation or clarification, and a comment thread full of off-topic ad hominems doesn’t offer either.

If you are in the business of blogging, that is, you are trying to drive traffic to your site for money, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t strictly moderate your comment area.  Lets, for example, take one of the last remaining local aggregators here in Nashville, Post Politics.  Kleinheider looks for posts that stir the pot, and will often editorialize by crafting just the right headline.  He is good at it, and I believe he works hard to develop credible tipsters.  It is a political site, so, right off the bat, the readers are split around 50/50 on any given issue.  I began hanging out over at ACK’s place recently, long enough to pretty accurately guess which posts will attract comments, and by whom.  Often, I am deeply saddened that certain posts receive no comments, because though I may not feel strongly enough about the subject to comment, I am still keen to know what other people think.  There isn’t much one can do about that.  Or, is there?

I’m of the opinion that there are is a significant number of Readers up for grabs out there.  Not just drive bys…, or those looking for a fight, but I mean people looking to establish connections locally, and people who like and appreciate lively debate.  I believe both Nashville is Talking and Music City Bloggers had pretty decent numbers, hit wise, but I think both sites suffered when the same group of “regulars” began to dominate every thread.  Accusations of clique-y-ness were made, and were not always unfounded.  Again, not much one can do about that, and maybe the existence of cliques isn’t bad in itself, but, if you’re looking to expand your stable of regulars, moderation seems like an invaluable tool.

I saw a television show once that mentioned the existence of “power-buyers.”  Or Mega-Consumers.  I forget which.  But the executive making the case for smarter content bolstered her argument by pointing out the demographic that wanted it….those with disposal income to spend, and a propensity to do so.  Conspicuous consumption is their thing.    Now, I’m extrapolating here…I assume, armed with this info, the executive intended, then, to aim for niche brand advertisers, think Yazoo not Anheuser Busch.  Or perhaps more accurately, think Michelob, not Bud.    Patron, not Jose Cuervo.  (I’m suddenly troubled that each of my examples are related to alcohol consumption.)

I mean, I’m no marketer, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Amazon and Google and some others Internet giants seek to do, isn’t it?   Don’t they use keywords and search terms to tailor ads to web surfers, based upon their surfing habits?  Don’t the trendy restaurants advertise locally in The Scene, not the Tennessean?  Sure, part of that is cost, but, why would would an upscale joint on West End want to pay rates that included coverage in Robertson County?

I know I’m pointing out the obvious….but I submit that since there are real costs associated with attracting Readers, it seems myopic to forget about them once they click over.  Yes, I am aware that I may  be projecting a little.  Maybe the constant noise  isn’t driving away readers. Maybe, in the end, an entity may spend more time defending against charges of censorship than is reasonable.   I’m not sure how to field-test this theory, but I am truly interested in what others think about this.

The only absolute in all of this for me?  Newspapers, under no circumstances, should allow unmoderated comments.  I have never seen a healthy discussion even get started in any newspapers’s comments area.  I think they should publish the well thought out LTE, and any subsequent well thought out rebuttals.

Of course, a polite, well informed reader/commenter could get me to change my position…

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FGF- Just An Ordinary Guy

I love this guy.  When you have time, check out his other stuff on YouTube.

“I’m the Pauly Shore of everyday life, muthafucker.”  God thats funny.

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