I worked writing TV news today, came home, looked at some blogs. I think I need to get more serious about this blog thing. It has great potential and Iâ€™m getting excited. I have been aware of them for some time now, but my great passion in online interaction has been focused on chat and e-mail. I was involved with Usenet when I got my first Internet access via a UUCP bulletin board (some of my posts from there with my handle â€œvanillaâ€ got onto Web pages and became an early presence on search engines) but I quit that in 1997. I am an early adopter of geek tech, but not a pioneer.
Anyway, it appears that Amazon Pollyanna is joining the blogosphere at a good time, because there are people around who have been doing this for a while, and I can emulate ones that I admire. I see that the best advice to have a successful blog is to post frequently, and I havenâ€™t been doing that. I write every day on the Net, but itâ€™s normally chat and e-mail. I need to blog much more often.
The Blog Herald says there may be 70 million blogs. Vast numbers of these are on massive commercial hosting sites. Amazon Pollyanna is hosted by a couple who are personal friends of mine. Unknown numbers of blogs are inactive. Iâ€™m astonished to learn that there are millions of blogs in China, Japan, and South Korea. It is a recent development for me to be able to view such sites and see the languages. Previously, they loaded showing gibberish and question marks. I have no idea what technological or social advancement is occurring online to enable more consistent display of languages using other character sets on the Mac and PCs that I use here in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Iâ€™m really happy about it, though.
I love to look at unintelligible fonts. I once bought a book about how to read Chinese with no intention of learning Chinese. Did you know that spoken Chinese consists of many dialects so different that some scholars call it a language family? I got that off Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that I had been using for a while before I discovered it was multilingual and open-source. I became quite fascinated by that project, and started hanging out with the people and learning more about them. It is a wonderful project, but I canâ€™t rely on Wikipedia as an authoritative source of factual information. It is a constantly evolving multimedia project that involves international cultural development. I love it! Iâ€™m a big fan. It has entries on Internet troll wars. The online unabridged dictionary that I can use at the newsroom doesnâ€™t even have an entry for â€œblog.â€
I do have to say I love this new incarnation of Websterâ€™s Third. Many educated Americans rely on Websterâ€™s Third. Furniture built to hold the book is found in many offices in my first line of work, and of course it is in any good library. (Journalism is my first career, social work is my second career.) The new online edition has a fine interface with powerful search tools that allow you to cheat at crossword puzzles. More important, the entries seem longer, which online space allows, becuase they have more etymological quotes, and far more of them are from female authors now. The definitions remain conservative (I looked up some controversial terms including male, female, homosexuality, and race). God bless them, dictionaries conserve our languages, including the obsolete terms and definitions. The best are a treasury of culture as it has been represented in writing over the years. Some day, if all racial and religious and gender stereotypes are eliminated by liberals in a dream world, we will have to use the dictionary to make sense of what is being written now, just as we need footnotes for Shakespeare.
There are 147 blogs accounted for in Iraq, another place where blogging can get you thrown in jail,
according to Iraqi bloggers. They seem very Western to me and they are communicating in English. They are against the American occupation, it seems. Maybe some like it but I havenâ€™t noticed them yet. I need to read more. I never agreed with the Bush invasion, but I could understand why Congress approved it, because he convinced them that Saddam was an imminent national security threat with those WMDs and an intent to strike us. Oops, wrong. But anyway, that established the new Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. The publicly articulated rationale for having the USA in Iraq keeps changing, which is a huge problem for us internationally. The compelling rationale of self-defense cannot be argued. That was either a mistake or a lie. I truly hope it was an honest mistake because I prefer to believe our President is a decent man.
All the rhetoric from people in my political party and to the left of us (weâ€™re Democrats, theyâ€™re Greens and socialists and communists and independent progressives and radicals and Marxists and such) is very corrosive to the country right now. I donâ€™t think it is good to print T-shirts calling Bush a liar, Nazi, fascist, criminal, etc. I think all that talk, including what is coming from Howard Dean, helps enemies who want to kill us. I reported today on our network that the FBI is investigating a pair of Americans in Southern California who were arrested for robbery and one suspect was found to have material suggesting a Jihadist terror plot. It may turn out to be a false alarm, but such a prospect is completely plausible to me.
Uncivil rhetoric from people I used to admire is fermenting the basis for terror and assassination. Shut up, Howard Dean. That usually comes from the extremist right in this country. They kill our brightest liberal leaders, set off bombs to protest the federal government, and terrorize anyone involved with providing abortion. Our left is committed to the democratic process. The Reds here started the liberal ACLU to defend the Bill of Rights, for Godâ€™s sakeâ€”ignoring the Second Amendment, which provides for armed revolution, and is defended by the right-wing NRA. The only Reds Iâ€™ve seen this year were doing street theater calling for the impeachment of the President. Impeachment is all the Communists want? Let them demonstrate. Those in mainstream politics have an obligation to cool down the character attacks and cooperate to restore our national unity in a time of international crisis.
I would like my blog to be a voice for civility and the hope that people of different faiths and ideologies can survive together in peace. I have a liberal morality, and I recognize it is not universally shared, not in the world, not in my country, not in my state. It prevails in the places where I have chosen to spend my real life. It is a morality of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of self-determination, tolerance, compassion, and good works. Of valuing diversity, recognizing characteristics people emphasize about themselves and allowing them to be as they wish as long as they do not cause harm. Of taxation by representation and use of democratic government with civil rights to improve quality of life and stabilize society. Of freedom of thought and expression beyond common sense because freedom itself is so intoxicatingly powerful and precious a principle. Of human rights, including privacy and publicly obnoxious behavior.
As you see, I am an American patriot and I make no apology for favoring my country, because although it has been deeply flawed from the beginning and has done many bad things, it is a great nation based on great ideas that are better than the people who wrote them. I am also nostalgic for bipartisanship. I want it back. It will be back after this madness passes. My country is periodically seized with madness. Prohibition was an example. I donâ€™t know what the Republicans will do to the Constitution while they are running things, but we will all survive together as long as we are alive and donâ€™t emigrate or die. I believe that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned and abortion law will be decided again by the states. It will not be the end of legal abortion in the United States. I believe the situation for gay people will get worse, especially anything involving children, before it gets better again. I donâ€™t think felony sodomy laws will pass again, although the Supreme Court may be disposed to allow them once more.
The great era of the liberal federal courts is waning, and there is nothing I can do about it. They went too far for the conservatives and this is a democracy. I think that by far their greatest achievement, which will not be undone no matter how much it was activist legislating from the bench, is accomplishing the end of apartheid on this continent. Racial segregation by law is forever dead with a stake in its heart. The United States is not yet a truly integrated country, and I think we are going to have to keep working on that without affirmative action, because that is going to go soon. I am inspired by the NAACPâ€™s election of a former Verizon executive to become its next president. Thatâ€™s far more promising than a politician or a preacher, careers based on racially defined constituencies that have provided NAACP presidents in the past.
Corporate America has been more successful at beating racism here than any other social institution I can think of right now. Racism has become unprofitable, and the federal government has been tremendously helpful with changing conditions to make it so. I recently met a man in a chat room who shut down a factory and fired 95 workers rather than hire one black employee when the NAACP and EEOC came to see him. Most places hire the blacks. This guy now has a small business with a few white employees, which is legal. (The truly disgusting thing is that he works in health care in Africa. I keep meeting racists on IRC and there are far too many of them with consistent stories to all be trolls. And realize this: even if they are telling phony stories and spewing nastiness just to get a reaction, few people challenge them in their favorite rooms. There are places where the worst kind of racism continues to be acceptable. I will speak against them, and I get banned.)
I recognize that when I ramble on with my own genuine thoughts, as I have today after a day at work in broadcast journalism, most people find me boring or offensive. That is the case for any decent author, unfortunately. Literature bores students and offends the original critics. I began writing my private thoughts in journals at age 14 because it is most socially acceptable to keep quiet about the kind of ideas I have. The journalism that I have done since college has all been hack writingâ€”writing to please the boss or client to meet market demand. I can do it very well. I donâ€™t say what I think when I write at work. I am writing for people who donâ€™t want to hear what I think. What I think is inappropriate to express on the job.
My writing for work involves thinking, to be sure, and Iâ€™ve written some good stuff. I have an article being sold in Australia, though some kind of international copyright deal, and I was once invited to speak as a conference as an expert on neon lighting because I wrote one really good article about it. Iâ€™m a huge fan of neon lighting, by the way. I really do think neon is cool. I went on to write more articles about it. I also think the Mafia might be involved in it, but I canâ€™t prove it, and I never put that in a feature. If the Mafia saved neon from extinction itâ€™s a good thing, and I donâ€™t want to bother them. Did you know all neon is hand made? Itâ€™s a craft. It creates jobs. They are local jobs, too, except the beer signs. I have an IRC friend in Pakistan in the neon business. Almost all neon signs there are in English, not Urdu.
I canâ€™t think of anything about neon that is not to like except a small amount of mercury in the blue argon tubes. Iâ€™ve met people who go completely ballistic about mercury, usually because they have an autistic child and they believe mercury is what did it. Fluorescent lamps also have mercury in them and they are now classified as hazardous waste. Did you know that? They are a big problem for corporate America. Homeowners just put them in the trash.
I have the capacity to go on and on about just about anything. This should allow me to have plenty of material for the blog, but it isnâ€™t very helpful for focusing the content of Amazon Pollyanna. It makes it simply a platform for self-expression, which makes me a contemptible egotist in they eyes of many critics of the blogosphere. It makes me an author.
Hack writing on assignment does not typically expose a person to rejection and personal attack, although in the current political environment, conservatives are attacking mass-market journalism. (I should focus on my trade journal years with them. I spent three years, for example, writing for executives about how to get people to buy things. Unbelievably, right-wingers call me a Communist because I am a Democrat.) And I canâ€™t forget the Noam Chomsky fans who think I am manufacturing consent. Speaking of blogs, I found Chomskyâ€™s and he appears to be applying irrational ideology with that genius brain of his. OK, I admit that my own liberal ideology is irrational, because there is no reason to believe that all people deserve equal rights just because they were born. Some dreamer in a haze thought that one up. I like it and Iâ€™m sticking with it. I think mine is consistent with reporting facts and Chomskyâ€™s is not.
What are facts? Things you can air in anchor scripts on the news and not get consequences like retractions, lawsuits, and loss of employment. Things you can put in medical records. Judgments of the court. What is truth? Different for each person. Search me. Some people judged guilty are innocent. There is no mass market for my truth, but I am putting it in my blog and offering it to you for free.
That is enough for today. See you next time.