Monday, April 30, 2007

Thoughts on Akron Issue 17

A week from tomorrow is Election Day. Here in Akron, pretty much the only thing on anyone’s radar screen is the city income tax hike proposed in Issue 17. The ABJ runs another preview story today.

A friend and reader asked today if I planned to write about the issue. Frankly yes, then other stuff took over. And really what I wanted to do was use the issue as a hook to rant about how state and federal budget cuts are putting cities between the rock of raising taxes so businesses and the middle class leave town and the hard place about cutting services so everything falls apart and businesses and the middle class leave town. Hmm. If I really need to go into more depth than that, it will be later.

In the meantime, we have a tax issue to contemplate. Frankly, I wish I could vote for half of it. I’m inclined to believe that Akron needs the money for basic services. This isn’t based on extensive research, so much as a look back at where we’ve been. Akron was the only major city that was not in the fiscal weeds during the last recession. In other words, the administration kept its house sufficiently in order during the relative boom that it didn’t bottom out when the bust hit. It did so despite cuts in Federal money to cities and creepingly slow growth in the Local Government Funds – Ohio’s program of state aid to municipalities.

Because Akron is pretty frugal with the taxpayer’s money, the administration should be given some credibility when it says we need the money. I’ve been asked whether the police are truly understaffed. First off, Akron certainly isn’t overflowing with police. We are experiencing a bit of a spike in violent crime (as is most of the rest of the nation.) While the Sudafed laws are having an effect, the proliferation of meth in the city is a real drain on resources. Also, recent events demonstrate the need for better community-police relations. Programs to encourage community relations are always the last to get funded.

Finally, it’s unlikely the Mayor would ask for more police if he didn’t think we really need them. The Mayor and the Police Department do not have a friendly relationship. Some tension between the two entitities is probably healthy in a democracy, though at times it goes beyond healthy. But the point is, Mayor Plusquellec doesn’t carry the water for the police. He’s not asking for more as a favor to the FOP. He doesn’t much like the FOP.

So, the city services half of the Issue I would vote for gladly. I’m less happy with the economic development half. I’m deeply tired of corporations bankrolling free-marketeer Republican politicians, then walking into Democratic cities with their hands out. I’m tired of my tax money going to businesses. Again, this is probably fodder for another post, or maybe part of the rant about the current screw-the-cities vogue. But to keep it simple, I’m not happy that part of the money will be going to business development.

Finally, let’s note the obvious strategy of the campaign. For being the only real issue on the ballot, this campaign has been practically non-existent. I’ve gotten three mailers. Period. No robo-calls, no door hangers, no canvass, no requests to put up a yard sign. In fact, the only signs out are on city property. The website is pretty good, but simply part of the city website.

All of which suggests that the strategy is to target any communications that remind people that there is an election tomorrow to those who will vote for it. I’m guessing the administration will have a boiler room somewhere aggressively calling likely voters and steering clear of everyone else.

We’ll see next week if it works.

Harassment Driving Out Female Bloggers.

From the Washington Post:

    A 2006 University of Maryland study on chat rooms found that female participants received 25 times as many sexually explicit and malicious messages as males. A 2005 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the proportion of Internet users who took part in chats and discussion groups plunged from 28 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2005, entirely because of the exodus of women. The study attributed the trend to "sensitivity to worrisome behavior in chat rooms."
I did a much-maligned post some time ago about the lack of high-profile professional women bloggers in the mold of Kevin Drum or Josh Marshall. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with that. In any event, it's a problem, and one that we should all take responsibility for. Guys, when see this kind of conduct being directed at women as women, it's not OK, and it's OK to say it's not OK.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Random Ten

1. “Readymade,” Beck
2. “I’m Waiting for the Man,” The Velvet Underground
3. “Flower Punk,” Mothers of Invention
4. “Lullabye,” Concrete Blonde
5. “Cretin Hop,” The Ramones
6. “I’m an Errand Girl for Rhythm,” Diana Krall
7. “I Want You so Bad,” B.B. King
8. “Day Tripper,” The Beatles
9. “The End of Everything,” Chris Issak
10. “Who Do U Worship,” De La Soul

Friday, April 27, 2007

Police Blotter

Vinson Case.

Wednesday Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason named the prosecutor and investigator who will conduct the independent investigation. He promises the investigation will be done by the middle of May. If you recall, the Mayor and Councilman Marco Sommerville called for an independent investigation when the aftermath of an unusual case became FUBAR.

Neither the ABJ story nor the Mayor's press release explains what is becoming of the investigation by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office. By law, the County Prosecutor investigates police shootings (I've participated tangentially in such an investigation.) Generally if the Prosecutor is looking to give the process an aura of independence by getting someone from the outside, she will appoint a Special Prosecutor. As far as I know that hasn't happened -- again nothing in the ABJ, nor has Prosecutor Walsh's office issued a statement to that effect.

So presumably we have two parallel investigations. Also, the city has invited DOJ investigators in as well. No word on that either.

Meanwhile, I'm hearing rumors that supporters of the Vinson family are passing the hat to hire an independent forensic investigator. More on that as it develops.

George Case.

To no one's surprise, the Court of Appeals declined to reconsider its decision vacating Cindy George's conviction for complicity to murder. Walsh's office promises to appeal to the Supreme Court, which is a tough road. The Supremes have discretion over whether to hear the appeal, and generally don't without a compelling legal issue on the table. The George appeal was a factual inquiry into the sufficiency of the evidence. It's hard to make that into a case the Supreme Court will be interested in.

Ohio Youth Voices' Exchange Program

Those Youth Agenga kids are still at it. One of the projects for Ohio Youth Voices is an exchange program between rural and urban schools. The Marietta Times ran a nice piece Wednesday about such an exchange earlier this week -- students from Columbus visiting a school in Washington County. I love the quotes from the kids:

  • “I felt out of place here,” said Smith. “It’s too quiet for me. And we really express ourselves with our clothing and hair. Here it’s more T-shirts and jeans. It’s more relaxed.”

  • “(They) live in a city and are exposed to so much,” said Warren senior Casey Arnold. “We’re exposed to ponds, ducks and cornfields. I can’t wait to be exposed to more and be somewhere where we’re not all the same. It’s why I’m so excited for college.”

  • “There is a lot to be proud of here,” said Prillerman. “I would love to go to school here. You can tell there is a lot of pride. There’s no graffiti; someone said earlier you could leave your purse somewhere and no one would take it..”
It's a good warm-and-fuzzy piece. What Biz calls "Positivity."

There was another exchange later this week as some Wash Co students visted Columbus. I'll post any press I find about that.

In addition to the usual disclosure that I work for Ohio Fair Schools, one of the partner organizations with Ohio Youth Voices, I drafted the press release sent to the Times. With this post I'm debuting a new topic label: "A Word from Our Sponsor," that I'll use anytime the post is about something I worked on for work.

Rush, Imus and What Passes for Conservatism

IN the aftermath of the Imus flap, the Meet the Press forum took up the issue with good boy conservative columnist David Brooks on the panel. Imus was most interesting to Brooks as an example of what he called a rise in cruelty as entertainment. Here's the best example of his argument:

    MR. BROOKS: But what I’m saying is there is a culture that has risen, risen, risen where this sort of stuff—and again, I think it’s more about cruelty and shockingness than about racial prejudice. So I don’t know Don Imus’ soul is any better than the others. But I think that culture has risen, and I think the blame that some of us have who appeared on the show was that we got acclimated to that culture. And this sort of exposed it. But it does merit a broader discussion about it, and it, it hit home to me that—I quoted a colleague of your’s, a Ruth Marcus...

    MR. ROBINSON: Mm-hmm.

    MR. BROOKS: ...a very fine columnist. And he savaged her. I thought it was a great column she’d written about John Edwards, and he savaged her. And that was a level of cruelty. It wasn’t about race, it wasn’t about anything, it was just about, boom, she doesn’t deserve to live. And, and there’s that element of the, of the culture that does build ratings because it fills the air. It’s exciting, and I think a lot of us, you know, have been, in some way, accomplices of that.
Upon which my first reaction was, "Who has contributed more to that cruelty than Rush Limbaugh, hero to righties everywhere? Yet no matter how far over the line Rush goes, no conservative will take him on."

It seemed that would make a decent post, but would take some work to dig up examples of Limbaugh outrageousness for which I had no time.

Well, one need only wait and Rush will bring it to you. "Barak the Magic Negro." Classy.

I remember when the conservatives I grew up reading -- Will, Buckley, Kilpatrick -- emphasized the importance of prudence, decorum and civility and to the core of conservative belief. That was the old, and I think true, conservatism, not the bastard child of Ted Nugent and The Church Lady that now passes for the right. Now we have conservatives whining that the government won't officially use the word "imbecile" anymore. The old, true conservatism may have been less entertaining, but it was more intellectually coherent and therefore harder to argue against.

Blog Transitions.

Sadly, Liberal_Dem at Politics in Mudville, with fair warning, snuffed out his bloglight last weekend. He will be missed.

Happily, Faggoty-Ass Faggot seems to be back in the blogging game. A few weeks ago he posted what look like a bunch of pics from an American Idol party and since, he's been back in full light-of-loafer-acid-of-tongue form.

Meanwhile JD Amer is leaving us hanging. He posted a goodbye, then a couple more posts and now is inviting us to Twitter with him. Time will tell.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Highland Theatre Discussion on GABB

I've been throwing a bunch of stuff up on the Greater Akron Bloggers Blog, partly to get stuff up and partly to guage the time commitment involved in a couple models I have in mind for reviving the blog. One was a post about the attempts to save the Highland Theatre and the takes of a couple of local bloggers. It turned into more than the quick hit I envisioned when starting it.

Anyway, despite the nearly non-existent traffic on GABB, the post got to the leader of Save the Highland within a couple of hours and I got a lengthy phone call. PeppermintLisa has chimed in with a comment. Head over and enjoy.

As to what I'm doing on GABB more generally, I'll try to get that up soon as well.

The State Board of Education Wants Your Opinions about Our Schools

The State Board of Ed is looking for public input regarding the Achieve, Inc. report on Ohio Schools. The Department of Ed is compiling a report that the Board will use in its June retreat to help determine the direction of Ohio education policy. They've been conducting a set of regional workshops that, unfortunately, I didn't get wind of until now when they are pretty much done (Akron's was last night.) Happily, they are also conducting an online survey and have tools to let people submit written comments online.

For a bit of background, the Board commissioned a pair of bipartisan policy consulting groups -- Achieve and McKinsey & Co. -- to conduct a comprehensive study of Ohio schools. Their report recommends fundamental changes that touch every area of public education policy -- curriculum, testing, school management, finance, it's all there. The subject ares considered are summarized in this slide from ODE's PowerPoint on the study.

You can read either the study or summaries on the Website. Also, the Plain Dealer ran a solidly reported story on the report when it came out.

ODE and the Board are serious about getting citizen input. Unfortunately, the effort has been publicized mainly through stakeholders. If you want them to hear citizen input, it's up to you. Get online and take the survey, or just submit comments.

I, of course, have my opinions which the Department heard at yesterday's meeting. I have a blogging punchlist for the next couple of days. If I get through it, I may post some thoughts on the report as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nanotech News

Unsurprisingly, the Nanotech Summit has seeded a small flurry of nanonews.

The biggest is that a Texas firm, Zyvex Corp., is spinning off it's nanomaterials division into a separate firm to be located in Ohio. They are choosing Ohio because of the resident expertise in polymers. According to General Manager Thomas Hughes:

    'Every year we try to recruit polymer engineers, and it seems like all the applications come from Ohio. Sometimes we weren't able to attract those people to Texas. Also, most our suppliers are in Ohio,' Hughes said.
As it happens, I was at Hughes' table for lunch yesterday and overheard him getting the interview request from event staff. I didn't realize what was happening at the time or I might have tried a question or two, despite the aura of general unfriendliness radiated by Team Zyvex.

In addition, the State Development Department hooked announcements of some new nano-oriented grants to the Summit.

Also, the ABJ published a pretty by-the-numbers Nano Summit preview and WKSU aired a story today on Your Way Home. The main takeaway is that Ohio is doing very well in nano. More on that later.

State Education Budget Update

After a brief lull, things are picking up again. Here's what I can tell you about the next month and a half:

The substitute House bill should be released tomorrow. At that point, we will know what the Committee is recommending be kept and what they are trying to change. At this point, we haven’t heard about an imminent compromise on the Governor’s proposed limits on charters and vouchers. We have heard that those limits are the key points of contention in the education budget.

Once the substitute bill is released, we will have a flurry of amendments, votes on those in committee, another flurry of amendments offered during the floor debate, more votes, then a vote on the House floor. All that is supposed to take place by the middle of next week,

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee has released its schedule (though they only post a week at a time online, so this is what has been reported to me.) They will hear from the Office of Budget and Management and the Legislative Service Commission on May 1. Then for the first three weeks or so of May, they will hear Department testimony. They have scheduled an education day of sorts for May 29. In the morning they will hear from “interest groups” in favor of traditional public schools. Then they have blocked off the afternoon to hear from parents and students of charter and voucher schools.

Gee, a paranoid person might suspect that they have deliberately structured the hearings to make it look like public education advocates are all part of a bureaucracy and charters are totally grassroots. Not that the education stakeholders make it all that difficult to generate such a perception, but the pretense that the charter schools movement doesn’t have its own entrenched and powerful establishment is a bit rich.

Anyway, the substitute bill is due to be submitted June 5, they have cleared the 6th and 7th for open testimony, and amendments are due by June 8. They are declaring their intention to hold the committee vote on June 12 or 13.

And yes! Posting my impressions of the House Committee hearings! Yes! Important! Working on it! Yes!

S.B. 117 to Be Rewired

First thing this morning I saw Jill's post celebrating an item on Openers saying that the Senate committee considering a state cable franchising bill is promising to rewrite some portions. I wasn't going to pop the cork until hearing from Bill.

Bill is underwhelmed, and listening to he and others talk about the issue on 90.3 this morning, it's easy understand why. The AT&T rep claims that the bill as proposed has perfectly fine and generous provisions regarding build-out and coverage. One of the cheif concerns about the bill is that it can be read to eliminate the current restrictions against red-lining. Nothing in the Openers piece indicates that those provisions are under discussion for rewrite.

Finally if you are wondering just how an identical law has been proposed in over twenty states, you can thank ALEC. No, not the host of Jeopardy, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a pro-corporate conservative advocacy group that, among other things, writes model legislation and takes a hand in pushing it, especially to ALEC members -- conservative state legislators. The organization are funded by a mix of right-wing foundations and corporations.

ALEC's Cable and Video Competition Act was the model for the Michigan law, which according to Bill is pretty much what Ohio is now considering. Learn more about ALEC from Common Cause and PFAW.

Hillary Clinton Coming to Cleveland

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones is the lead host for a fundraiser to benefit Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's White House campaign May 5. Tickets start at $100. Details.

This may well the beginning of an Ohio swing as Sen. Clinton is scheduled to give the keynote address at the ODP Annual Dinner on May 12. It may be, but I can't find any other events on her website.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Have Seen Heard About the Future and It Is Impossibly Small.

Let’s get this straight right off; nanotechnology is not about tiny robots. Currently it’s not about small machines at all. Even if, some decades hence, nano-machines come online, they will not be the tiny, vicious superintelligent nanobots of sci-fi/horror yarns.

I did indeed get press credentials to the Third Annual Nanotechnology Summit in town today and tomorrow. Fascinating. A conference like this is all rah-rah, of course. Tonight is the keynote speech which promises more rah-rah. Happily, the conference also offers answers to most of the questions I had about the field. As usual, I’ll try to get into more detail later on, but here are a few basics.

The morning featured a Nano 101 lecture by Dr. Alexis Abramson, a young professor at Case who is on a leave of absence to work as a Fellow in nanotechnology at NorTech. Giving the 101 lecture is a big part of her job and, as a borderline science illiterate, I can confidently say she does a good job.

Nanotechnology goes beyond simply making things smaller. The key principle in nanotech is that when materials are smaller in at least one dimension, they act differently. They may be more or less chemically reactive, they may react to light or electricity differently, or they may have different strength properties, to give a few examples.

Nanotechnology is about exploiting those differences. According to Dr. Abramson, practitioners bicker over the precise definition of nanotech, but essentially it involves the manipulation of materials that, in some dimension, are in a scale of 1-599 nanometers. Nanomaterials may include nanofilms (with a nano-dimension thickness), nanofilaments (nano-dimension diameter) and nanoparticles (just plain tiny all around.)

Nanotechnologies exist now, and commercial applications exist now. To take one mundane example, some of the super-stain resistant clothing on the market today is cloth treated with a nano-application. Indeed, much of the current focus is finding commercial application for the nanotechnologies that exist.

Much of the conference will be posted on the website. It’s all worth a look and worth keeping an eye on. There’s lots more information besides. This is just a small taste.

Monday, April 23, 2007

S.B. 117 Check-in

Senate 117 being the bill that would effectively eliminate local authority over cable franchising.

Tomorrow the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee is hearing supporter/opponent testimony in their third hearing. They’ve scheduled the hearing to start at 4:00 p.m., so it doesn’t sound like they intend to listen to a lot of witnesses.

The Senate Committee vote looks about as wired as a vote ever is. By my count, proponents have signed on as co-sponsors four of the six Republicans (Niehouse, Spada, vice-chair Buehrer and Jacobson who is lead sponsor) and two of three Democrats (Mason and Ray Miller.) Since lawmakers rarely vote against bills they sponsor, I think we can count on this one getting out of committee unscathed.

At this point, the House side is less certain. The House Public Utilities Committee has a couple obvious utility friends on the R side, but aside from that I can’t tell much. One artifact of the last election is that the House is more closely divided than the Senate – as are the committees. Whereas the Senate committee is 6-3 R’s to Dems, the House Public Utilities Committee is made up of 12 Republicans and 11 Dems. If opponents of the bill can keep a Dem coalition together and turn a couple Repubs, the bill may quietly die in committee.

If. Unfortunately, telecom and cable legislation tends to be awfully arcane to build a grassroots effort against. I am hearing a swell of grassroots cross-party opposition based mostly on the threat to PEG access. (That’s public/educational/governmental cable access. Public access in the vernacular.) I just don't know that there is enough time, energy or money to translate that into a lobbying force that can counter the campaign time largess the telecoms are capable of wink-nudge offering.

If you are unclear on what the bill would do, start by listening to the Meet the Bloggers podcast, then surf over to Bill Callahan’s blog where he has a new post on Senate 117 nearly every day. Meanwhile, check out the House Committee listing and, if you see your Rep. there, start emailing. Now.

Socrates Cafe in Fairlawn.

Some friends at church have organized a Socrates Cafe, that has been going for several months. They asked me to give a plug which, in this instance, I'm happy to do.

Socrates Cafes' emanate from the work of the Society for Philosophical inquiry. According to their website, the organization

    . . .is a grassroots nonprofit organization devoted to supporting philosophical inquirers of all ages and walks of life as they become more empathetic and autonomous thinkers who take active part in creating a more deliberative democracy. Its members strive to form and facilitate "democratic communities of philosophical inquiry". Their gatherings . . . bring together people from a wide array of walks of life and experiences. They take place in venues like parks, coffee houses, libraries, hospices, senior centers, nursing homes, prisons, plazas and other public spaces, bookstores, homeless shelters and community centers, libraries and schools.
So the info for the Akron/Fairlawn Cafe is as follows:

Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 and each 3rd Tuesday thereafter.
Time: 7-9 p..m
Place: Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, 3300 Morewood Road (Across from Summit Mall, Turn left at the intersection), Fairlawn, Ohio.

Incidently, people were running a Cafe in Highland Square some time ago in the storefront that is now Square Records. No one I talk to knows if this is the same group moved or a new one. In any case, the people I know who attend are good, smart people, at least one of whom you can read online. I'll probably be facilitating a session soon. I'd be there tomorrow night, but I have a little thing to catch up on instead, about which more anon.

And if you are outside the area, but the idea intrigues you, check out MeetUp for a group near you.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rep. Dyer to Speak on School Funding Tomorrow Night

Rep. Steve Dyer (D-Green) will be hosting a town hall meeting at Springfield High School tomorrow to talk about the upcoming school levy vote in the context of Ohio's school funding system. Joining him will be Tom Ash, Governmental Relations Director of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators.

Springfield is one of those districts that is cut to the bone, running out of money and can't get a school levy passed. In other words, the sort of district most adversely affected by the General Assembly shifting funding responsibility back onto local districts over the past few budget cycles.

Rep. Dyer ran on school funding and has some out-of-the-box ideas, so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

7 p.m.
Monday, April 23
Springfield H.S.
2966 Sanitarium Road, Akron

Friday, April 20, 2007

No Small Thing: Nanotech Summit Coming to Akron

Apparently, Ohio is doing nanotechnology fairly well. Well enough that Akron is hosting a Nanotechonology Summit for the second year, now. Looking over the program, it appears that the area is doing well in part because a component of nanotech is nanomaterials which meshes nicely with the materials science-based tech growth in our area. On the bill are presentations about nano and polymers (Akron's thing) and nano and liquid crystal (Kent's.)

Keynoting the event will be Jack Uldrich, President of Nanoveritas, blogger at NanoNovus and co-author of The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business.

The Summit is for practitioners, more than ordinary folk, so this isn't a Things to Do announcement. Rather, it's a heads-up about a potentially good news about the economic future of the region. BTW, I've asked for press credentials as a blogger. It's a long shot, but I'll let you know if anything comes of it.

The Bank: ParkRidge47 Mashes Up Wolfowitz

Phil de Vellis who infamously produced the Hillary/1984 Mac Ad mash-up under the nom de Tube ParkRidge47 returns with a new video. This time he works Paul Wolfowitz into The Office to create The Bank. It's not as tight as the Hillary ad, but it has some funny bits in it (which would probably be funnier to me if I watched The Office.) It also makes some salient points.

This comes from Phil who is working in conjunction with an organization called which is running a Fire Paul Wolfowitz petition.

Thoughts on Dr. John Green at Akron Roundtable

Dr. Green spoke on what he calls “The Faith Factor” – the interaction of religion and politics. Religion has always played a part in political choices, but the nature of the interaction has changed. Where once people made political decisions more based on group affinity with a particular party, now political decisions are more influenced by the level of religious orthodoxy. It’s all interesting and will be in the podcast on the Roundtable site.

The most interesting bit, from a strategic point of view, was Green’s discussion of religious moderates. In 2004, Bush overwhelmingly won among religious conservatives and Kerry won overwhelmingly among religious liberals and people with no religious affiliation. They just about evenly split religious moderates, with Bush doing just enough better to win. In 2006, Democrats did much better among religious moderates.

Among other things, this puts a recent flaplet about the DNC Easter message in perspective. I don’t know how deep it went, but Rothenberg got pretty lathered up about a message from Chair Howard Dean because it didn’t mention Jesus. The message, as quoted in the piece posted by Rothenberg (penned by Nathan Gonzalez) reads: "Easter Sunday is a joyful celebration. The holiday represents peace, redemption and renewal, a theme which brings hope to people of all faiths." Gonzalez quotes evangelical leader Richard Cizik about how offensive the message was because it talked only about the values celebrated by the holiday, not the Savior.

It’s true that such a message offends religious conservatives. It’s also true that Democrats can’t appeal to religious conservatives without becoming Religious moderates only want assurances that the party won’t be hostile to faith. I believe that part of the reason Strickland won so overwhelmingly was that Blackwell made people nervous. He once mentioned that he was OK with the idea of religious pluralism, but most of his campaign emphasized his highly conservative religious views and those of his immediate supporters.

Religious conservatives, particularly conservative evangelicals, seem to measure friendliness toward religion by a willingness to infuse all of public life with expressions of faith. Liberals and moderates take the opposite view – that religion is most essentially a matter of private conscience, so that friendliness toward faith means simply letting people be. By this measure, the message makes more sense. The best way for Democrats to reach out to the people of faith that can make a difference next November is to emphasize values informed by faith, and let each person hold particular beliefs in God in his or her heart.

This also avoids alienating non-Christians. And most important, it avoids troubling nonreligious people who, anecdotally anyway, appear most at risk of bolting the party for a third party candidate if there is one. (At the same time, the bloc of non-religious voters gives the Dems headaches because they can make the party look hostile to faith -- but that's another post.)

The Rothenberg/Gonzalez objection is basically that the Dems' Easter message wasn’t evangelical. Exactly.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tasty Links -- Catch Up Edition

Wow. So far behind I haven't even gotten the no-brainer links post up for three days.

If you only click through one, make it the Dahlia Lithwick piece on the Gonzalez decision.

John Green at the Akron Roundtable

Professor Green gave his speech at the Akron Roundtable today. It will be broadcast tonight at 7:00 on WKSU. In the past the Roundtable has also posted podcasts after a time.

I was able to attend and recommend the talk. His speech is pretty standard John Green fare – definitely familiar to those who know his work or paid attention to the two MTB sessions he did. He gave about a 20 minute talk, then opened for questions for at least as long. The Q&A was where things really got interesting. I’ll try to post some thoughts later tonight.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ohio Legislative Committees; Let the Sun Shine In [UPDATED].

Eric’s comment in the first post about the budget hearings re-raises a good point. Sadly, a citizen – even an engaged and tech-savvy citizen – can do little to keep track of how our General Assembly deliberates. Most of the real legislative work is done in committees. That’s where the body takes what testimony it will in support or opposition to a bill, it’s where most of the amendments are attached and it’s where the majority of bills whither and die.

Yet, for all their importance, committee hearings in Ohio generate little in the way of a permanent record. On the Federal level, every hearing of every committee is transcribed and, except for the few that get classified, the transcripts are available at your nearest Government Documents Repository. Not so in Ohio. Our committees record what witnesses they heard from and the results of any votes taken. That’s it. And if the hearing minutes are posted on line, I can’t find them.

So we have to rely on our friends in the media. That, needless to say, has limited utility. Committee hearings require a reporter to sit for a day, hoping something interesting happens. Last week’s hearings went well into the evening most nights. From what I heard, most of the best pro-public ed. speakers didn’t get to the stand until reporters had left to file stories.

If all this sounds fuzzily familiar, it’s because I posted a few weeks ago about a bill freshman proposed by Rep. Steve Dyer (D-Green). The bill is now posted – it’s H.B. 147. It would require, that “[t]he minutes shall, at a minimum, consist of a paraphrased summary of all testimony and exhibits presented, all discussion had, and each question asked and answer given during the meeting.” The bill also gives the committee the discretion to prepare a transcript of the hearing. Best of all, Rep. Dyer hasn’t forgotten his blogger friends:

    When the minutes are available for public inspection, the secretary shall file them with the clerk. The clerk shall post the minutes on the general assembly's web site in a manner that links each portion of the minutes that is relevant to a particular bill or resolution to the legislative history of that bill or resolution.
Unfortunately, no one I talk to gives Rep. Dyer’s bill much chance of getting a hearing. It hasn’t yet been assigned to a committee, so I can’t even tell you who to bitch to. On the other hand, Rep. Jennifer Garrison’s attempt last year to require the House to post floor votes in an online, searchable database did eventually result in something close, and better than what we had before. As long as we have some members who are interested in open government,

CORRECTED to add the last link, but see the discussion in comments -- the vote function appears to be buggy. And since it's a Java error, I tried it in both Firefox and IE -- still no dice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Budget 07: Report from the Front Lines

Sorry for the radio silence. Today I went to Columbus with the intention of testifying before the House Finance and Appropriations Committee regarding the education components in the budget bill. I did not get to testify, in part because the Statehouse was evacuated due to a small electrical fire. That happened as people were queuing up to get on the list to testify.

A half hour or so later, we got back into the building and again clamored to get signed up. I did so, sat down to hear almost five hours of testimony and did not get called before the Committee broke for the day at 5:30.

A few preliminary observations before I go pour myself into bed for the night. First off, it’s not at all clear why today happened at all. Last week, the Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education heard budget testimony. Generally the Committee only hears testimony after the Subcommittees have submitted reports, and then they hear comments from witnesses before the Subcommittee about that report. This was an “education day” scheduled last week after the Subcommittee hearings and as of now, the subcommittee hasn’t reported recommendations.

The charter and voucher people are out in force. They had parents, teachers and students testifying last week and turned them out in force again today.

By and large the panel was quiet. They were about getting witnesses on and off – something like thirty in the five hours. They also overall were pretty fair about who got on. The mix of traditional school folks and charter/voucher advocates was fairly balanced.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tasty Links -- Weekend Catch-up

As you may have guessed from the quiet, I had a busy weekend. I didn't even have that much surf time, but here's what I gleaned.

By the way, I did have time for a little blog maintenance -- namely putting the blogroll of Ohio placebloggers back up. Thanks to the regular who emailed to point out that it was still down. Two more lists to go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Betty Sutton Hears from Save the Internet

Save the Net NowThose Save the Internet/Free Press folks (click on the icon at left to visit them) contacted me about meeting with Betty Sutton this week about net neutrality. Four other folks and I met with Jerel Klue, District Office Director today.

(If you are new to the net neutrality debate, this post about last year's effort has some pretty good links for catching up.)

I've done both grassroots lobbying and professional lobbying. This was something of a hybrid. We had a couple of regular folks who just want the internet to remain as vital and accessible as it is now. They did the grassroots lobbying thing -- they told their stories and expressed their concerns about the issue in personal tersm.

We also had some semi-professional activist types like myself who were able to lead Mr. Klue into the more arcane and theorhetical areas of the issue.

Jerel Klue is an excellent staffer which means, with regard to a constituent lobbying call, he listened, he took notes, he looked interested and he promised to take the issue up the ladder, but nothing else. That's not good or bad. He may well have looked interested because he was interested and personally, I like the guy so hopefully that's the case. It's just that a good staffer gives that impression all the time, so you never know after that first meeting.

I write this for two reasons, then. First is to tip the hat to Save the Internet's organizing. They arranged the meeting in the district office and pulled five folks into it, all via email and phone calls. As it happens, a few of us knew each other from SCPD, but we could well have been five complete strangers brought together by organizers working in DC. Nifty piece of work, and apparently they are doing it all over.

Second, it doesn't hurt to mention that Rep. Sutton has received constituent calls on this issue. For that matter, if you are a resident of The Fighting Thirteenth, drop her a line.

Tasty Links -- Lucky Friday 13

Local Voice Ohio Organized to Oppose S.B. 117

Free Press, in today's news feed, noted the newly launched website of Local Voice Ohio, a coalition organized to oppose a bill that would sharply limit the authority of local governments to negotiate cable franchise agreement. Bill Callahan has been the lead voice on this issue in the blogosphere -- start with his post on the Ohio legislation, then work back through the links to get the gist and keep up on his site as he covers developments. I covered the initial legislation as best I could here. Also, Bill has a post up about the LVO website.

The Local Voice Ohio site is a work in progress -- they have a myths and facts page up which will tell you little if you don't already understand the issue. Meanwhile, the basic issue page is Coming Soon.

Still, if they fill in the content, it should be a good site. They have a newsletter sign-up, a donation page, and a list of current coalition partners. Bottom line is, when faced with an issue this obscure, the opposition often gets trampled before they can even begin to get organized. This coalition looks like the beginnings of an effective force. We will see where it leads.

Random Ten

1. “Like Eating Glass,” Bloc Party
2. “Sometimes I Do,” Social Distortion
3. “Bulldog Front,” Fugazi
4. “Cherokee,” Clifford Brown
5. “Dark Circles,” Bela Fleck
6. “Fu-Gee-La,” The Fugees
7. “Stable Song,” Death Cab for Cutie
8. “Only,” Anthrax
9. “Stuart,” Dead Milkmen
10. “Breathless,” Jerry Lee Lewis

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Programming Notes

On the sidebar, I finally added a link list of conservative bloggers to replace the one eaten in the Great Template Change Massacre. Conservative bloggers linking to me have been more than patient. I believe I got everyone, but if you link and I missed you, get in touch.

I also added Folk Alley to my Favorite Things list -- another effect of sitting at the KSU table at Press Club. I'll be adding Tough Sledding to the Akron Area roll soon. By the way, be sure to read Slednik's very warm and interesting comment to my post about his on writing and blogging.

I'm doing these things because it's what my brain can handle. I mentioned earlier that Kid Z hosted her first-ever slumber party this week. Happily, I got more sleep than the girls did. Unhappily, that's not saying much. Add in some work work and I pretty much hit a wall mentally today. I'd still like to get some posts up with reaction to Ben McConnell, Stephen Dubner and even a little more on AdNEO. Unfortunately, I wasn't up to it today.

Which is one reason why, if you scroll down, you will see a post about pickles.


Of late, I’ve thought a lot about pickles. It started when I picked up a jar of Bubbies kosher dill pickles at the Mustard Seed (the local natural foods market.) Bubbies are old-school, authentic, deli-style kosher dills which I’ve learned means two things: they aren’t made with vinegar and the pickling brine is cloudy. (It also means they are made kosher, but that's true of any pickle that calls itself kosher, whether authentic or not.)

Bubbies were a revelation. Each pickle is a miracle of flavors in a bumpy, green, wet package. You taste garlic, dill, salt and, in Bubbies case, a bite of hot pepper as well. Eat a true kosher dill and you’ll never go back. A standard American pickle seems like little more than a vinegar conveyance device by comparison.

A few weeks and a few jars of Bubbies later, I happened upon Hermann’s kosher dills, made the next county over by the Don Hermann and Sons Pickle Farm, Inc. of Garrettsville, Ohio (one county over in Portage.) Notice how the label proudly promises a cloudy brine. Sure enough, the ingredients panel lists no vinegar. The Advance Northeast Ohio folks say we should buy regional to grow our economy. With a burst of regional pride, I picked up a jar.

Hermann’s are very good kosher dills, though the regrettably miss the high bar set by Bubbies. They are crisp and garlicky and so fresh you can actually taste some cucumber amidst the brine. But the brine is a bit too salty so it fights against the garlic and spices, rather than harmonizing with them. Nontheless, good pickle.

Another day, another store, and I noticed a jar of Nathan’s Famous New York kosher dills. Immediately I knew we were in trouble – jiggle the jar and the brine remains clear. Sure enough, these are vinegar pickles, though made with healthy doses of garlic. But in looking at the ingredients panel, I noticed that these too are made by Hermann Pickle Farm, Inc., under license from Nathan’s Famous.

Now, I’m an unabashed fan of Hermann’s Pickle Farm, Inc. I’m enthralled with the sheer audacity of pushing an ostensibly authentic New York kosher dill under license from a national brand, then serving the pickle snob niche market with a true kosher dill under their own name. Add to that the art direction on the Hermann’s jar, with aerial B/W photo of the farm that must have seemed fresh back in the Thirties, and they’ve got me hooked.

Ben McConnell’s presentation was, in large part, about regular people who fall in love with a product and serve as the most important marketers. Well, at the very least I’ve got a mad crush on Hermann’s kosher dills. I am now on their -- wait for it -- email newsletter list. I get lots of blog post ideas from newsletters, but in this case, I'll try to restrain myself.

Hillary Keynoting ODP Dinner

I’m sure some blogger somewhere noted that Hillary would be the keynote speaker at the ODP dinner before today, but somehow I missed it. Whoever got this up first, apologies. I learned when the PD reported it today.

At this point it looks unlikely that I will be able to make this one. I have a family commitment so commanding that I can’t even ask directly about getting out of it. Which is a pity. Seeing Hillary give the keynote would be a fascinating study in contrasts after the pandemonium roused by Barack Obama’s speech last year.

Unlike many bloggers, I do not hate, or even intensely dislike Hillary. In fact, I quite liked Hillary the First Lady. Early on in Clinton’s Presidency, Mrs. Clinton had a tendency to be direct to the point of blunt. It pissed a lot of people off, but I loved it. Partly I loved it because she pissed off people who needed it, but mostly I loved it because I can relate. Don’t believe me? Go back and read a few archived posts.

I liked that Hillary. Hillary the politician, all smoothed over and consulted upon I like less. Depite that, I’m not against Hillary because I’m against her. I just don’t think she could possibly win a general election. A full explication of that is for another post.

I’m open to any evidence to the contrary, which is why I’d like to see her live. It seems just listening to buzz, that Hillary’s support is broad and thin. I know people who support her, but I know no one who is energized by her candidacy the way people are by Obama or Edwards or even the dreaded Koosh. She is a fairly flat, uninspiring speaker who generates commensurately tepid response.

Hopefully, someone with a blog will make it there and can take the temperature of the room. I don’t see a blogswarm for a comp table this year, though.

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut


Novelist and essayist Kurt Vonnegut has left those of us stuck in time, at 84.

Vonnegut was my first adult literary hero. While I have never been, and may never be, a well-read fiction fan, once I first discovered Vonnegut, I was hooked and read everything I could get my hands on. By happenstance I read his first novel, Player Piano, first. Most readers, I think, first encounter one of his better known works like Slaughter-House Five or Breakfast of Champions. For them, Player Piano, with its conventional narrative structure, must be a bit of a let down. I came closer to reading the evolving Vonnegut, which I highly recommend.

It's been a long time since I cracked one of his novels, which is regrettable. But probably I would have "gotten" David Foster Wallace and Michael Chabon if I hadn't started with Vonnegut. For the record, I think Breakfast of Champions is his funniest, Cat's Cradle his most heartbreaking, Mother Night the most thought provoking and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater my all-around favorite.

So here's to a life well lived and an admirable literary legacy.


Tasty Links 4/12/07

Damn. Change the way I put the post together and the links are embedded with minimal extra work. So enjoy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What Blogging Is Ruining Now, Pt. 2: Writing.

When I was at the Ben McConnell lecture, I was sitting with a bunch of KSU folks. The lunch discussion alone gave me ideas for three or four posts, which I look forward to writing if I ever find the time.

Among other things, I learned about Tough Sledding, a blog run by Bill Sledzik a PR prof at KSU and apparently quite popular in the PR community. I checked it out and will continue to do so. In addition to opening a window into a world about which I know little, the blog is well written, entertaining and hosts a community of smart commenters.

And as so often happens, I’m writing it up now because the author has said something with which I disagree. In post last week that has apparently lost him friends, Prof. Sledzik wonders if blogging is ruining good writing. He notes the abundance of grammatical and typographical errors in blogs written by his students as well as those posted online and frets about the demise of writing.

Because this argument touches the same nerve as mainstream media outlet complaining about losing traffic to online sites, I’m introducing the blog by arguing with it. And arguing with a week-old post to boot.

Admittedly, he’s right that blogging puts a premium on speed and volume. Want to be the first up with a post? Jump on the issue as soon as you get the press release. Want to increase traffic? Post more often.

Want to have a life besides blogging? Don’t spend too much time proofreading.

So he’s right that sometimes bloggers sacrifice formal correctness. He’s wrong to conclude that blogging dooms good writing. Blogs encourage good writing because they encourage writing.

Let’s step back a bit. The most important aspects of good writing are clarity and readability. Good writing accurately conveys the point the author actually wants to make and does so in a way that’s easy to read. Grammar is often, but not always, an important element in clarity and readability, but not always. Similarly, typos can hurt the readability and change the meaning of a sentence sometimes, but not always. In other words, the most important aspects of good writing are not excruciatingly correct grammar or perfect typing.

What’s more, because blogs are self-correcting, a successful blogger’s readers will constantly challenged him to improve his writing. When I look over a piece before hitting publish, I’m asking “Does this say what I mean? Will it be misinterpreted? Can I make the argument stronger? Does it read well? Can I shorten it?” (Frequent readers will be surprised by that last one, but yes, I really do ask it.)

When I make a point that’s not clear, I hear about it immediately. In the post previous, I mentioned how intensely I dislike my argument being misrepresented. At least half the time I am at least partly to blame for misinterpretation. But I’m getting better and am doing so because of the instant feedback I get when blogging.

So blogging strengthens a good writer’s skills. And with 62 million blogs and counting (according to McConnell) certainly, more people are writing now than would be without blogs. I certainly write more now than I ever did, and I’ve always written. Whether doing motion practice when I was a lawyer or writing newsletter articles as a volunteer, writing has always been an important part of my vocation and avocations. But nothing compares to running a blog for

Years ago the author Alex Haley spoke at my college. Among other things, he talked about being a writer. He was the first to tell me what others have said since – if you want to be a good writer, write. There are books and classes and such, but they all tell you the same thing – write. With all this writing happening

MSM types worrying about blogs make the same essential mistake that Prof. Sledzik makes. News consumption isn’t declining because of blogs, it’s declining because people don’t read – they watch TV, they play video games or they simply try to keep up with their increasingly demanding work lives. The same with writing. Life in the twenty-first century throws all manner of distractions at people that discourage them from honing writing skills. Blogs do the opposite. Typos and all.

What Blogging is Ruining Now. Pt.1: Civility.

The reverberations from the blog-based death threats aimed at Kathy Sierra continue. The New York Times ran a piece about Tim O’Reilly’s attempt to create a blog code of conduct. (h/t George who in turn tipped his to Jack/Zen)
Needless to say, Blogistan is not down. I found one good critique on Ars Technica. Surely more will follow.

Meanwhile, a nasty bit of trolling on Buckeye State (and spilling over to other blogs including this one) led to this debate about how to handle it. I thought, along with some other users, that Jerid should out the troll. He disagreed. I understand his position, though I would make a different choice.

Meanwhile, there is someone out there who we apparently know who is either utterly full of bile and vitriol directed toward me an a number of my closest online friends, or fakes that vitriol so effectively that it’s hard to believe it doesn’t actually exist on some level. I have a hard time describing how that makes me feel beyond “not good.” Not good will do for now.

UPDATE: A post identifying the troll is up. Whatever, Tim.

Back to the blog code of conduct. As I said when first posting the Sierra story, my problem with the proposed code of conduct is that what happened to Kathy Sierra should violate anyone’s code of conduct. The proposal goes farther than that, encouraging blog administrators to scrub comments that, among other things “misrepresent” someone else’s position. No one hates being misrepresented more than yours truly, but I’m a big boy and can set posters right myself.

The code of conduct simply goes too far, but that may be the point. One way to improve behavior is to set rules sufficiently stringent that the violations on the margins aren’t so bad. Kind of like speed limits. We all know that the cops won’t pull you over for 67 in a 65; what they are trying to do is keep you under seventy.

So understandable, but still I think wrongheaded. In the blog context rules like the more draconian ones proposed will most likely be applied with bias. And if not, surely when they are applied, the accused will claim bias.

Instead, what we need is a reaffirmation of some very basic rules. Don’t threaten physical harm, don’t lie and (this is mine, not universally accepted) don’t attack people not part of the discussion. The one thing the Buckeye State troll did that really got my goat was accusing me of scrubbing people for disagreeing with me. In fact, the only reasons I’ve contemplated deleting comments are those listed above, and I’ve only ever opened door number three.

Blogs will always be rough and tumble. Sure, there will be Shiny Happy blogs for people who want them, but the online world will always have its rough edges. At the same time, we can't pretend there are no limits whatsoever. We don't need to protect people from getting feelings hurt, but people need to feel safe online. Some very basic rules, and the collective will to enforce them, should be enough.

Carnival of Politics

Carnival number 66 is up. Paul says the next carnival will be posted April 25, with submissions due the night of the 24th.

Dispatch's Ann Fisher on Youth Voices

Ohio Youth Voices (a project that my employer, Ohio Fair Schools is collaborating on) met with legislators this week. Thanks to Progress Ohio for covering it. They are getting some mainstream press as well, starting with a nice piece today by Dispatch columnist Ann Fisher:

    The students gathered in February to consider obstacles to their educational and economic success. They learned immediately that they share similar struggles despite their differences in geography.

    Whether from the city or the country, they learned that they struggle with overflowing classrooms and too few textbooks. Their guidance counselors are spread too thin. The counselors are overwhelmed by the demands of state-mandated testing. They don't have time to guide their flocks to college, too.
You can catch up with my coverage of Youth Voices here and here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tasty Links, 4/10/07

Right now (around 1:30) hasn't fed my new links. You can visit my links page by clicking on the link to the right if they still aren't up.

We are hosting Kid Z's first slumber party tonight, so not a lot of time to blog. Hoping to get to a few things tonight. In the meantime, read and discuss:

  • Silent 'Holy War' Being Waged Among Christians, Says Commentator |

  • The Columbus Dispatch : Move would keep vouchers 'Most E-Mailed' List Tearing New York Times' Newsroom Apart | The Onion
  • Iraq: Why the media failed | Salon h/t Media Bistro

  • How Blogging Can Help You Get a New Job - h/t Media Bistro
  • Radar Online | Television Employer Without Pity h/t Media
  • Conservative activists fear war dwarfing social agenda - The Boston Globe H/t Faith in Public Life
  • The Revealer: The NYT Plays "Where's Sadr?" h/t Faith in Public Life
  • A new look at a holy text | Chicago Tribune h/t Faith in Public Life
  • PD - Controversial Blade photographer quits
  • PD - Ohio cyber school wins over critics
  • Plain Dealer Metro News: Strickland rejects contract recommendation

Monday, April 09, 2007

Tasty Links, 4/9/07

Today Kid Z starts her Spring Break. As usual when kids are about, blogging time is limited. I have been keeping up with the bookmarks on, however. As always, the clickable links are to the right. Hopefully something a little more original up tonight.

  • Housing Slump Pinches States in Pocketbook - New York Times
  • Writes Like She Talks: What gives with Dayton Politics blog?
  • Callahan’s Cleveland Diary » Blog Archive » Do you like pork? How about bacon?
  • CD | Joe Hallett: Strickland and his team have wasted no time going on offense
  • PD - Safeguard choice
  • -- Ohio lags, Michigan thrives in start-ups by immigrants
  • The Columbus Dispatch : Critics want reprieve for some charters
  • Bill seeks to cut school building costs
  • Beacon Journal | Towpath planning hits snag in Akron
  • Dover-New Phila. Times-Reporter | Downtown dreams: Wooster flourishing under Main Street Ohio program – Can Phila, Dover expect the same?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blogging For Religious Liberty

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
United States Constitution, Amendment I.

Def Con wants me to Blog Against Theocracy this weekend. Hmph. Generally I like Def Con, but I’m not loving the assignment.

For those who don’t know, Def Con is the Committee to Defend the Constitution. Generally they work for church/state separation, for science (pro-evolution, pro-stem cell research), and some right-to-privacy issues like abortion, birth control and end of life decisions. Mostly they are against the Religious Right.

For the most part they are fairly reasonable, but at times they are Tone-Def Con. This is one of those times.

Generally, movements against things do poorly compared to movements that are for something. The Right knows this. The anti-abortion movement is “pro-life.” The anti-gays movement is “pro-family.” The effort to ban gay marriage is “pro-marriage,” (because the best way to protect something is to make sure there is less of it.) For some reason, the left keeps tripping over this. Thus Blogging Against Theocracy.

I’m against theocracy and all, but more importantly I am for religious liberty. That’s something I can blog about, and at length. What’s more, blogging for religious liberty on Easter weekend seems more congruous than blogging against theocracy. Choosing this weekend to blog against theocracy seems to be picking a fight with the faithful generally, rather than just those who wish to erode church/state separation. Maybe Sam Harris wants to pick that fight, but most of us on the left do not.

Finally, the rubric of fighting against theocracy troubles me in that it implies that the Religious Right’s agenda is dangerous only insofar as its end goal is theocracy. That leads to all kinds of problems. We can get into arguments about what constitutes a theocracy, people on the right can claim they want this but not that and so not a theocracy, we have separate debates about how far down the road we get before we are in danger of theocracy, and in the end efforts to shore up separation between church and state become mush.

In contrast, when we talk about religious liberty, the discussion is about something that nearly everyone wants. And it’s something that the religion clauses in the Constitution – both of them – are designed to protect. The religion clauses do not work against each other, they work together. They explicitly state that the government does not have the authority to intrude into the sphere of personal faith, either by endorsing or restricting religion.

When conservatives work to dilute the protections of the establishment clause, they erode our religious liberty. It doesn’t matter whether they are ultimately working toward theocracy. What matters is that they are working against religious liberty.

In this Holy time my Christian friends celebrate the resurrection of their savior. My Jewish friends remember their freedom from bondage. My pagan friends are fresh of marking the Spring Equinox. And my non-religious friends are looking forward to this crappy weather breaking for good in a couple of days. This is a season for rebirth, renewal and boundless possibility.

And on this day, I celebrate religious liberty.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Akron Rally for National Climate Action Day

Next Saturay is National Climate Action Day. Rallies are scheduled all around the country, coordinated by a new (to me anyway) group called Step It Up.

Some folks in Akron, including some friends of mine, have organized an Akron rally that looks pretty interesting. They will show An Inconvenient Truth at the Main Library at 10. The meat of the rally happens on Buchtel Common at UA, starting at noon. Rally time includes music by Alex Bevan and Rachel Roberts, speakers including Rep. Betty Sutton and displays of emissions-cutting technologies.

If you are not in the Akron area, you can check out the event finder at Step It Up, which by the way is doing most of the state-of-the-art online organizing things. For instance, organizers can set up pages for local events, so we have a pretty good Akron page with details

They've also made code for banner ads available. For at least the week, I'll have the ad up on sidebar. I've tweaked the html so it takes you directly to the Akron action site.

Unfortunately, I'll be out of town for work that day so once again something cool is happening here and I'll miss it.

Tasty Links for 4/6/07

Latest links saved on Visit the list on the sidebar for actual linkage. In light of demgal's comment to the inaugural post, I should point out that the links don't mean that I agree with all or even part of the article. I just find the article interesting and worthy of an extra plug.

  • Even as Africa Hungers, Policy Slows Delivery of U.S. Food Aid - New York Times
  • TNR - Bet you can't report this story--the case against citizen journalism
  • The Evangelical Surprise - The New York Review of Books
  • Plain Dealer Metro News: AP teachers must also make the grade
  • - Ontario schools sued over Web link supporting education funding amendment
  • McClatchy's deal with Yahoo opens doors - Yahoo! News
  • Beacon Journal | 04/06/2007 | Charter school faces delay
  • Right Wing Watch: Blackwell Ignoring Ohio Voters’ 37 Percent Solution
  • Free Press : How to Become the 'King' of Hyper-Local News
  • Toledo Blade Ran Doctored Photo On Front Page

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Feature: Tasty Highlights

As you may have noted, I have a link list on my sidebar. I do this out of the frustration that there are so many stories out there deserving of a broad audience and commentary. These are generally the stories I don't have time to post about. is a nice tool because it allows me to post links with just a few clicks. For those of you haven't tried to do this sort of thing, embedding links is maddeningly time consuming and tedious.

In order to bump up the use of the link list, I'm going to try to feature the day's new links in a post around mid-day. I won't be embedding the links -- just look over to the sidebar to find your click-throughs. But I do want to offer a little tickle to anyone, like me, who doesn't always remember to look on the sidebar.

So here they are for today:

  • The Columbus Dispatch : Bill's aim is to ease big pain for docs

  • Beacon Journal | 04/06/2007 | State's school budget doesn't add up

  • PD - Brunner issues Ohio voter ID rules

  • Beacon Journal | Sen. Sherrod Brown hears farmers' woes

  • New Urgency in Debating Health Care - New York Times

Briefly on Ben McConnell, the Press Club and how OMW Rules the World

I attended the Akron Press Club luncheon with grassroots marketing guru Ben McConnell. Apparently I wasn't the only blogger there; Chris Brown at Branding and Marketing also attended and wrote up the event nicely.

If you want to see (and are on Time/Warner Akron) it will be on public access here, aired three times:

Sat. Apr. 7th 7:00 p.m.
Sun. Apr. 8th 4:00 p.m.
Thurs. Apr. 12th 7:00 p.m.

I hope to have time to write up some thoughts about McConnell, but you never can tell. Short version: very much worth watching, or at least reading Chris's post.

Meanwhile, I've joined the Press Club. I say this because 1) It's at least mildly cool that they rushed me because I'm a blogger and 2) It's a bit of disclosure since I have plugged their events and will continue to do so.

At the event I sat next to WKSU PR Director and Press Club immediate past President Bob Burford. He mentioned to me that Program Director Vincent Duffy is leaving for a Public Radio station in Michigan. He verified my impression that Ohio Media Watch got the story ahead of everyone else. OMW had the story and called Bob to confirm. And no, Bob doesn't have any better clue who runs the Big Blog of Fun than any of us MSM outsiders.

Random Ten

I've missed a couple of weeks because I've been working on one of those big R10 related posts that looks easier than it turns out to be. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's what shuffled up today:

1. "Jealous Again," The Black Crowes
2. "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)," The Decembrists
3. "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton," Flaming Lips
4. "Fall on Me," R.E.M.
5. "Take Me for Longing," Alison Krauss and Union Station
6. "On the Way Home," Buffalo Springfield
7. "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured," Arctic Monkeys
8. "I Feel Alright," Steve Earle
9. "Stop Leading Me On," B.B. King
10. "Telephone Conversation," Mothers of Invention

On Brunner's Son, Bennett's Phone Number and Where the Line Is

Of all the posts generated by Matt Naugle getting into John Brunner's Facebook, my favorite may be from Paul at Newshound. For a number of bloggers, both on- and offline, the incident was an opportunity to discuss where The Line is. Paul does the deepest thinking on that issue. Given that this occurred just after someone in the tech blogger community stepped waaaay over the line, it's a healthy debate to have.

Paul spotlights a journalistic standard that works to a point. Certainly, if information about a public official's home life has nothing to do with that person's job performance, it's not news. But the fact is, bloggers are a bit of a hybrid. They disseminate information like journalists. For many of us, we also attempt to persuade like op-ed writers. But often we also try to rally action on an issue or about a political candidate or office holder. This last requires some sharper definition of the line.

For me, the line lies at the threshold of one's home. And as such, when Jerid posted the home phone number of State Republican Chair and Cuy Co Board of Elections holdout Bob Bennett and urging people to call him at home and tell him to quit the board, I thought it was wrong.

I thought it was wrong at the time and expressed that in private conversations. In the spirit of self-policing, I should have said something at the time, but always had something more pressing to do. So I'll say it now. Allow a man or woman the sanctuary of the home. To do otherwise is over the line.

Since I'm also a badge-carrying member of the False Equivalency Police, I also note that there are degrees of badness here. Jerid posting the home phone number for Bennett was not the same as Naugle going after Brunner through her son, but each lies along the same scale of impropriety. For that matter, there is a difference between posting home info of a public figure like Bennett versus the Republicans doing the same to a citizen activist like Jerid. To be perfectly clear:

    Posting home contact information of a public official: Wrong.
    Posting home contact information of a blogger: Wronger.
    Attacking a public official you don't like by attacking her son: Wrongest.
And congratulations to Matt Naugle, The Wrongest Person in the Wooooooorld!