Monthly Archives: July 2009

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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…

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Canoe Canoe?

Anybody out there ever taken a canow trip down the Harpeth?  I’ve found three providers, I’m wondering if there are advantages to using one over another?  Any river people out there?  My choices are Canoe Music City, Foggy Bottom Canoe, and Tip A Canoe.

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

There Was That One Sheep…

But, in my defense, it was more of an innocent roll in the hay, not anything remotely contractual…

Brian Kilmeade has outed me.

Jesus, what a fucking moron.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Palin Principle

This really is a chapter of American history that I hope is mercifully brief.  I think that there are a couple of obvious explanations for Mrs. Palin’s decision to pack up and go home, and also for her  melt-down when announcing it.  But, like it or not, there is a HUGE segment of the American population that will not entertain any other explanations except the ones Mrs. Palin herself offers.  I’ve looked around on the web, and, predictably, I’ve seen people giving full throated support to this idea that some kind of orchestrated hit job finally took her down.  Because shes a woman.  Because shes a Christian.  Because shes a mother of a Downs Syndrome baby.  Because she hunts and fishes. And because, dammitall, shes a maverick.

Each victimological sub-set is a sizable demographic in itself.  (Its my blog, I’ll make up words if I damn well please)

There are others, of course.  Straight-shooters, or, relatedly, plain-speaking folks, are, as we know, prime targets for ridicule and scorn by the educated and other elites.  Simple country folk are an endangered species in her world, and she has long tried to emulate what she thinks they are about. She has a special gift that enables her to know what appeals to many Americans, and she cast herself as all things we tend to think we are, but sadly, haven’t been in several generations.  Self reliant.  Diligent.  Literate.

Many Americans watched her and hoped that, vicariously at least, they too could rise to power and fame or wealth without really having to be competent at something.  How much more American is it than to simply proclaim that you are this, and then blame everyone else when it turns out you are that.  If that reads as overly judgemental, bear in mind I consider myself as American as anyone.  It takes one to know one.

That said, I take some comfort knowing that even someone as shrewd and calculating as Mrs. Palin will eventually, publicly, reach her level of incompetence.  It took a perfect political storm to propel her from obscurity to national fame, a blip in the Matrix, maybe, but thankfully only that, a blip, and one that self-corrected pretty quickly.

Fortunately, for her, she came out from under the ether in time to cash in.  The McCain campaign’s selection of Mrs. Palin, coupled with her willingness to pose before the entire world as someone qualified to question Barack Obama’s experience and patriotism, ensured that she will make a tidy living as someone’s shill.  Fox.  The GOP.  There are a handful of families that will keep her gainfully employed.  She has a family to support, and I can’t fault her one bit.  Imagine the pull it must be to stand in front of a crowd that views you as larger than life.  Mrs. Palin will wow them in Tuscaloosa, in Muncie, and in Lubbock…for now.  In the midst of a National Republican Primary, her own party would likely put her through a Hell that would make the Dems seem polite and accommodating by comparison.  She may have asked John McCain about his experience in South Carolina a couple of years back. If she somehow managed to weather it all and win, she would then be expected to perform, and, shit, Obama has been in office half a year and he looks like hell.  (Ha, maybe I should pivot here to make a point about diminishing returns)  Nah.

As I said, the are a number of plausible explanations at the ready, believe it or not, Southern Beale has weighed in with her own take, but as complicated as it may seem, I think I believe Mrs. Palin simply became aware of her limitations, and there should be no shame in that.  I think she made a smart move.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

FGF- Dedicated To…Well, You Know Who You Are

H/T:  Rock Solid

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized