Monday, September 29, 2008

Not About the Topic at Hand but Crazy Interesting

The Power of Political Misinformation
By Shankar VedantamMonday, September 15, 2008; A06

Have you seen the photo of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin brandishing a rifle while wearing a U.S. flag bikini? Have you read the e-mail saying Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was sworn into the U.S. Senate with his hand placed on the Koran? Both are fabricated -- and are among the hottest pieces of misinformation in circulation.
As the presidential campaign heats up, intense efforts are underway to debunk rumors and misinformation. Nearly all these efforts rest on the assumption that good information is the antidote to misinformation.
But a series of new experiments show that misinformation can exercise a ghostly influence on people's minds after it has been debunked -- even among people who recognize it as misinformation. In some cases, correcting misinformation serves to increase the power of bad information.

In experiments conducted by political scientist John Bullock at Yale University, volunteers were given various items of political misinformation from real life. One group of volunteers was shown a transcript of an ad created by NARAL Pro-Choice America that accused John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court at the time, of "supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber."

A variety of psychological experiments have shown that political misinformation primarily works by feeding into people's preexisting views. People who did not like Roberts to begin with, then, ought to have been most receptive to the damaging allegation, and this is exactly what Bullock found. Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to disapprove of Roberts after hearing the allegation.

Bullock then showed volunteers a refutation of the ad by abortion-rights supporters. He also told the volunteers that the advocacy group had withdrawn the ad. Although 56 percent of Democrats had originally disapproved of Roberts before hearing the misinformation, 80 percent of Democrats disapproved of the Supreme Court nominee afterward. Upon hearing the refutation, Democratic disapproval of Roberts dropped only to 72 percent.
Republican disapproval of Roberts rose after hearing the misinformation but vanished upon hearing the correct information. The damaging charge, in other words, continued to have an effect even after it was debunked among precisely those people predisposed to buy the bad information in the first place.

Bullock found a similar effect when it came to misinformation about abuses at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Volunteers were shown a Newsweek report that suggested a Koran had been flushed down a toilet, followed by a retraction by the magazine. Where 56 percent of Democrats had disapproved of detainee treatment before they were misinformed about the Koran incident, 78 percent disapproved afterward. Upon hearing the refutation, Democratic disapproval dropped back only to 68 percent -- showing that misinformation continued to affect the attitudes of Democrats even after they knew the information was false.
Bullock and others have also shown that some refutations can strengthen misinformation, especially among conservatives.

Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration's prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation -- the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration's claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.

A similar "backfire effect" also influenced conservatives told about Bush administration assertions that tax cuts increase federal revenue. One group was offered a refutation by prominent economists that included current and former Bush administration officials. About 35 percent of conservatives told about the Bush claim believed it; 67 percent of those provided with both assertion and refutation believed that tax cuts increase revenue.

In a paper approaching publication, Nyhan, a PhD student at Duke University, and Reifler, at Georgia State University, suggest that Republicans might be especially prone to the backfire effect because conservatives may have more rigid views than liberals: Upon hearing a refutation, conservatives might "argue back" against the refutation in their minds, thereby strengthening their belief in the misinformation. Nyhan and Reifler did not see the same "backfire effect" when liberals were given misinformation and a refutation about the Bush administration's stance on stem cell research.

Bullock, Nyhan and Reifler are all Democrats.

Reifler questioned attempts to debunk rumors and misinformation on the campaign trail, especially among conservatives: "Sarah Palin says she was against the Bridge to Nowhere," he said, referring to the pork-barrel project Palin once supported before she reversed herself. "Sending those corrections to committed Republicans is not going to be effective, and they in fact may come to believe even more strongly that she was always against the Bridge to Nowhere."

October's Blue Moon Meeting

Tuesday Oct 7. 7:30 at El Guapo in Denton, a few blocks south of the Square. (if anyone needs directions please email me.)

Topic(s) (?'s): How did we get to such a point of disconnect between the ultra wealthy and the rest of America? Are we witnessing the legacy of "trickle down economics?" Will the "buy back" (if it passes) be more of the same, will members of congress be voted out of office if they vote for it? Has anyone gauged the depth of disgust and anger that the populace have for the ultra wealthy and members of congress, and will this adversly affect the democrats or the republicans or both come Nov?Even top economists are disagreeing about how we got into this financial mess, what we should do about the mess, and the possibility that the house of cards is simply to fragile to save. Some feel if we had addressed the housing problem when "real" people began having trouble paying their mortgages, instead of banks turning their backs on the trouble, then the "asset" so many of these holdings are based on would not have lost its value and we wouldn't be tumbling so quickly. But that of course would have been "socialism".Within 2 weeks WAMU lost 16 billion dollars simply because people withdrew their money...does this show people do still have the power to send a message? (no matter how misguided) How does a politician get the populace behind them like that?--The Bush administration has used FEAR successfully...but now it seems even the Republicans don't want to play in the fear playground anymore.Hope all saw the debate. My finance bro has explained a lot to me and I have asked him for any articles he thinks would be important to read. Will send them on. The Biden/Palin debate? Not sure when it happens. Stock market lost 500 points this morning as the vote in the House happened....this is an incredible story in the history of the U.S.Sorry for bit muddled thoughts...trying to get all q's out there for us to think about and read about.Looking forward to seeing everyone.Justine

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

GOP analysts on Palin...oops, mic on...

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/212920.php

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Suggested Reading :)

This blog is awesome - it is Slate's XX factor and it is a plolitical blog for women written by women. I heard about it on NPR this afternoon and I can't get enough of it!

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/xxfactor/

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Governing" mag. backgrounder on Palin

August 29, 2008

Who Is Sarah Palin?

posted by Josh Goodman

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is John McCain's running mate. Who is she?

As surprising as this pick is, it makes sense in a way. Palin's persona is very similar to John McCain's -- that is, if McCain were a 44-year-old woman from Alaska.

Palin made her name as a somewhat iconoclastic reformer in the Alaska Republican Party. Even before she ran for governor, Palin was a key figure in securing a $12,000 ethics fine against Randy Ruedrich, the chairman of the state Republican Party. Ruedrich, despite Palin's best efforts to get rid of him, still leads the party to this day. Palin also filed ethics complaints against a Republican state attorney general.

It was that background that made her the perfect candidate to challenge Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski in a primary in 2006. To many Alaskans, Murkowski's ethics had been in doubt from the first days of his governorship, when he appointed his daughter to fill his U.S. Senate seat. Palin won the Republican primary relatively easily (Murkowski finished third), then beat former Gov. Tony Knowles by a surprisingly comfortable margin.

As governor, she immediately endeared herself to the public by focusing on ethics reform. Palin also has a record as a fiscal conservative and, like all Alaska governors, has spent a lot of time focused on issues related to the oil and gas industries.

She's a big proponent of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which McCain opposes. She has also fought against the listing of polar bears as a threatened species.

Like McCain, she's conservative on social issues, but seems to prefer talking about other topics. She was put into an awkward spot in the very first weeks of her term, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the same-sex partners of state employees couldn't be denied certain benefits. The legislature tried to reverse that decision but Palin, advised that the bill was unconstitutional, vetoed it.

All in all, Palin is a daring choice and a risky choice. In one move, McCain is making a play for women and for young voters. No one would call her an elitist. She may prove to be a strong voice on economic issues, which is something McCain desperately needs.

But, she has served for less than two years as the chief executive of a state with a smaller population than Austin, Texas. It will be difficult for the Obama campaign to play the inexperience card, but, after this pick, it will also be difficult for McCain to use that issue against Obama. Plus, voters may not need any prodding from Democrats to wonder whether she is ready for the job.

As my colleague Alan Greenblatt points out, she's also facing a $100,000 independent investigation into her own ethics. And, Palin has fairly close ties to indicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

One factor that can't be ignored: Palin is the mother of five children, including a four-month-old with Down syndrome. Inevitably, some people will say that running for vice president or being vice president will take too much time away from her kids. Yet, many people will find those criticisms sexist and unfair and may be even more drawn to Palin because of them.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Commentary on Phelps Sports Illustrated Pic

he Man With All the Medals Blows a Golden Opportunity

Sports Illustrated should have let Michael Phelps be his own man, instead of having him mimic Mark Spitz's iconic '70s pose.
Sports Illustrated should have let Michael Phelps be his own man, instead of having him mimic Mark Spitz's iconic '70s pose. (Ho - Reuters)

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By Robin Givhan
Sunday, August 24, 2008; Page M01

Before assessing the supremely unflattering Sports Illustrated cover that celebrates Olympian Michael Phelps's eight gold medals in Beijing, one thing must be made clear: Phelps is an extraordinary athlete. He is an amphibious marvel. The man set an unprecedented goal for himself and then made accomplishing it look easy. He will undoubtedly serve as inspiration for generations of swimmers to come. All hail, Michael Phelps.

But Sports Illustrated did him an injustice with its Aug. 25 cover. The photograph treats Phelps like a pinup, like beefcake, like a babe. And he is none of that. He epitomizes athleticism, but he is not swoon-inducing in the manner of Tom Brady, Rafael Nadal or Michael Jordan. He does not have the golden boy grin of Tiger Woods. Nor does he have the kind of boy-band appeal that would make people who don't know diddly about swimming go ga-ga over his very presence.

The cover echoes the famous poster of swimmer Mark Spitz, whose record of seven gold medals at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 was surpassed by Phelps. Clearly, it was a visual reference too tempting to ignore.

In the Spitz photo, the swimmer is posed in his swim trunks with his hands on his hips and his medals draped around his neck. Spitz's medals are hanging from thin metal chains, a detail that gives the photo a kind of 1970s cool. You could imagine him in some fern bar wearing those medals with a pair of bell-bottoms and a polyester shirt with a collar the size of elephant ears. The photograph captures a particular '70s sexy aesthetic a la Burt Reynolds in the Playgirl centerfold. It was perfect for its time. Even today the photo maintains an air of macho magnificence, although that bushy mustache is now a grooming flourish only American Apparel CEO Dov Charney and porn stars can carry off.

Phelps's photograph has him striking the same pose: hands on hips, medals spread out and forming a Mr. T lei around his neck. But Phelps's medals are hung on wide red ribbons. All those ribbons combine to form a thick V-shaped sash around his neck. And when you first look at the image, it appears as though he is wearing some sort of "Project Runway" midriff-bearing Olympic halter with a gold-spangled hem.

Phelps's torso is otherwise naked. He has the lean physique of elite swimmers. But it is not the kind of pumped up, six-pack Hollywood torso typically found on the cover of Men's Fitness and that has come to define today's sexy man. Aesthetically, it's a 1970s torso, not a 2008 one. To understand its power, it needs to be seen in action barreling through the water like a torpedo.

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There's no hint of swim briefs -- not even if you squint. Phelps's exceptionally long and hairless torso seems to go on and on until the photo is abruptly, thankfully cropped. Instinctively, you know your eyes shouldn't slide any lower, but all warning signs have been waxed away.

The cover disappoints because Phelps has looked so spectacular on Sports Illustrated in the past. Other photographs have captured him in the water. That is his realm, and he looks most comfortable there. The Aug. 18 cover has him swimming directly into the camera's lens. His iridescent goggles are pressed tight to his face; his swim caps -- he wears more than one at a time -- are vacuum-sealed to his head. His mouth is open as he comes up for air. His body is in motion and he looks invincible. He is a superhero.

On the July 28 cover, he's in the pool again. This time, he's come up for a break. His wet hair is pushed back off his face and his goggles are perched on his forehead. He's not smiling. He's staring down the camera. Phelps exudes square-jawed intensity. His championship energy practically leaps from the page.

In previous images, Phelps looks elegant and self-assured because he has been captured in the midst of athletic endeavor. He comes across as incomparable. And ultimately that's what's so frustrating about the eight-medal photograph. That image isn't about the uniqueness of this swimmer. It's about someone else's greatness and his relationship to it.

Spitz owns that pose. Phelps deserves his own cultural iconography, an image that will help to embed him in the minds of non-sports fans, those who don't watch the Olympics and those who find it hard to get excited about swimming. Sports Illustrated is part of the machinery that makes such a thing happen. That's why this cover photo matters.

But the photo is so busy celebrating the shattering of a record that it fails to take into account the man who accomplished the feat. Phelps has talked about wanting to do for swimming what Woods has done for golf or Jordan for basketball. Part of their success has been because they were so utterly of their time and because they signify something off the green, away from the court and without their stats.

Phelps is pure magic in the pool, a blur in a ripple of water. But what does he represent on dry land? He is an iPod-obsessed, hip-hop-listening, bulldog-loving champion. He is, he has said, a mama's boy. His Sports Illustrated victory cover tells us he's one gold medal richer than Spitz. But in terms of cultural resonance, Spitz still comes out ahead.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Was Ludacris Angling for an Ambassadorship?

Obama campaign rejects rapper Ludacris' rhymes


Here is a link to the song - you do not want to listen to this if your children are in the room with you :)



CHICAGO July 31, 2008, 08:27 am ET from The Associated Press


Barack Obama's presidential campaign says a new rhyme by supporter and rapper Ludacris is "outrageously offensive" to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Republican Sen. John McCain and President Bush.

The song brags about an Obama presidency being destiny. It uses an expletive to describe Clinton, calls Bush "mentally handicapped" and says McCain doesn't belong in "any chair unless he's paralyzed."

The lyrics don't spare the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who recently apologized for making crude comments about Obama. "If you said it then you meant it," intones the rapper.

Obama's campaign blasted "Politics as Usual," which is on the "Gangsta Grillz: The Preview" mixtape with Atlanta spinner DJ Drama.

"As Barack Obama has said many, many times in the past, rap lyrics today too often perpetuate misogyny, materialism, and degrading images that he doesn't want his daughters or any children exposed to," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in an e-mail statement Wednesday. "This song is not only outrageously offensive to Sen. Clinton, Rev. Jackson, Sen. McCain and President Bush, it is offensive to all of us who are trying to raise our children with the values we hold dear. While Ludacris is a talented individual he should be ashamed of these lyrics."

Ludacris' publicist and manager did not immediately return calls Wednesday for comment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Happens When Ignorant City Leaders Comission Public Art?


When El Paso wanted to boost its lagging economy its business and elected city leaders decided to finance the XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest - twelve sculptures commemorating the history of the American southwest. This was supposed to attract tourists and give the city the kind of 'we love creative types' attitude that attracts creative types. Not knowing much about Juan de Onate other than he helped to colonize and Christianize Texas, they commissioned a statue of the famous Spanish conquistador. They hired renowned sculptor John Houser (the son of Ivan Houser, assistant sculptor in the early years of the carving of Mount Rushmore). He worked for ten years in order to sculpt the world's largest bronze equestrian statue ever created in human history (it's gorgeous and stands 36' tall!). During this time, the sad and violent history of Juan de Onate came to light.

Juan came to the upper Rio Grande in 1595 ordered by King Phillip II of Spain to spread Roman Catholicism and to search for gold and silver. The summer of 1598 his party encamped in present day New Mexico among the Pueblo Indians. In October of 1598 Onate's men demanded winter supplies from the Acoma tribe. The Acoma were unable to provide the supplies without endangering their own survival and resisted. Thirteen Spaniards were killed, among them Juan's nephew. He retaliated by ordering an attack on the tribe - 800 villagers were killed and 500 women and children were rounded up and shipped back to Europe to be sold as slaves. Juan had the left foot of the remaining 80 Acoman men amputated. Nice guy - the kind of guy you would want to pay tribute to with history's largest bronze equestrian statue, no?


In 1606 Spain tried and convicted Onate of cruelty to Indians and colonists. He was banished from New Mexico but was eventually cleared of all charges. He is sometimes referred to as the Last Conquistador.

This is such a sad story as the statue is just breath-taking but it cost the city of El Paso $2 million dollars, and is offensive to almost everyone living in El Paso. The artist has apologized for the pain he has caused the Native American population, but city leaders have not publicly expressed any regrets. They have renamed the statue The Equestrian - I guess that is something.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Conservative Point of View

Philistines at the gate - controversy over National Endowment for the Arts funding of art with erotic content - editorial

National Review, June 11, 1990 by John O'Sullivan

We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the arts establishment in one of its periodic fits of immorality. It sets out boldly to shock the bourgeoisie, but when the bourgeoisie is shocked, it starts back nervously and babbles about Babbitry. See the controversy over the National Endowment for the Arts passim.

For years now the arts establishment has repeated mantra-like that the purpose of art is to shock, to disturb, to challenge. This view has achieved such dominance that it is mouthed even by the NEA'S critics, such as William Safire, who duly wrote last week that art's central purpose was "to outrage the placid." The problem is that the placid are increasingly hard to outrage. Once it was possible to stimulate their newspaper-letter-writing glands with a painting like Manet's Olympia, a nude demi-mondaine with a hard sly smile. Today, more extreme measures are required: blasphemy, explicit depiction of homosexual sado-masochism, women wrestling in chocolate, etc. And when the placid eventually saunter to the barricades, the existence of the NEA gives them a better argument than the old Comstockite cry for censorship. They simply ask to be excused from paying to be outraged.


This is such a reasonable demand that a Harvard law professor, Kathleen M. Sullivan, had to call upon her full reserves of confusion to oppose it in the New York Tymes. Her essential argument is that the denial of a subsidy has a chilling effect amounting to suppression of the activity unsubsidized. "Bribing Warhol to copy Wyeth," she writes, "would have had the same effect as outlawing pop art." That would be the case, of course, only if Warhol distorted his art to get the subsidy. This is a vision of the Artist as Economic Wimp. Such grasping timidity is not unknown in Bohemia (see Browning on Wordsworth), but it applies to the giving of a subsidy just as much as to its denial. Artists may well seek to please the presumed tastes of NEA panels. (Outrage the placid-and be quick about it!) Professor Sullivan buttresses this argument for subsidy with what she imagines to be parallel cases. You cannot be denied a concert permit for controversial songs, she argues, merely because the taxpayer finances the police and litter collectors who patrol the event. The First Amendment, which ensures this, thus guarantees subsidies without strings. This is rather like arguing that British police protection for Salman Rushdie is a subsidy to The Satanic Verses. Neither example involves a subsidy. They are cases of people benefiting from general public services, and the principle involved is that such services should not be denied because the beneficiaries are engaged in controversy. But argument may be beside the point. Something more elemental is going on. A delicious thrill of horror is doing the rhumba up and down the spine of the art establishment: The Philistines are at the gate. Remember the Impressionists. If opponents of Serrano and Mapplethorpe are indeed philistines, that does not rob them of civil rights. Philistia may be condescended to, but it will not be taxed to finance a kind of sweetness and light that Matthew Arnold never dreamt of. As the NEA seems belatedly to realize, a decent respect for its opinions must be shown if the subsidies are to continue flowing. But are the philistines on only one side? The Impressionists, it will be recalled, got their famously dusty reception not from some nineteenth-century French Jesse Helms, but from the academic art establishment of the day. Today's art establishment is as much a social as an artistic phenomenon, built more around ladies who lunch than girls who pose. So the dispute is often between philistines who are uninterested in art and philistines who are interested in art. We favor the taxpayers.
COPYRIGHT 1990 National Review, Inc.COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's Get Political

Photos and Text lifted from:
"For more than twenty years, Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese have used art to address political and social issues. In Line Up, present and former high-ranking government officials, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, and Karl Rove (Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz are not on view here), appear in a series of fake mug shots. They hold slates inscribed with numbers that refer to specific dates when the “suspects” made “incriminatory” statements about Iraq. President Bush in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, reported, “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa…. He clearly has much to hide.” On January 25, 2002, Alberto Gonzales reported to President Bush, “[t]his new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.” In an accompanying DVD, these and other officials are heard making their assertions; the pop of a flashbulb is then followed by the mug shot of the speaker, growing progressively larger until it more than fills the screen. The screen goes dark, and a metallic clunk, presumably the sound of a prison door slamming shut, ends each sequence."
I guess I am left wondering what effect this type of political art has on the policies of our government. What is the artist trying to accomplish? What is actually accomplished? Any thoughts?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Painting for Peace


Quoted from Wikipedia:
"Guernica is a monumental painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-eight bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The attack killed between 250 and 1,600 people, and many more were injured.

The Spanish government commissioned Pablo Picasso to paint a large mural for the Spanish display at the
Paris International Exposition (the 1937 World's Fair in Paris). The Guernica bombing inspired Picasso. Within 15 days of the attack, Pablo Picasso began painting this mural. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour brought the Spanish civil war to the world's attention. Guernica epitomizes the tragedies of war and the suffering war inflicts upon individuals. This monumental work has eclipsed the bounds of a single time and place, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace."
For more information on this painting check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica_%28painting%29

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Justice Department Covers Partially Nude Statues

This story made me laugh when it broke in 2002 - I was just reminded of it and it fits well with our topic this month...



After some searching I found the photo of former Attorney General Edwin Meese mentioned in the hyper-link article.

New Month - New Topic!

Happy July! I just love July - I love the fourth. What other holiday encourages you to both drink heavily and blow things up? At least that is the way we did things in Wyoming :)
Ashlei was scheduled to host this month, but sadly she has retired from the group. I have what I humbly believe is a great topic so I eagerly asked to host on August 5th. I hope that you will all agree...
I had the great fortune of meeting the highly acclaimed artist Justine Wollaston a couple of weeks ago and was immediately impressed with both her talent as an artist and her engaging and compelling personality. You may recall the firestorm in 2003 over a mural depicting a nude Eve being offered an apple not by Satan but by the hand of God painted on a Pilot Point, TX art gallery. This was the work of Justine, and the story of the mural and the controversy that it provoked is a fascinating tale.
Gracious Justine has agreed to meet with us August 5th to discuss art and politics. I hope that she will recount this event as well as inform us what drives an artist to create controversial art. I know nothing about this topic, but would love to learn more about art and politics.
Here are a couple of links to get us started:
1. To read all about Justine and Eve check out this article written by a member of the Texas Green Party (I don't know why the Green Party is writing about Justine, but it is a good article) http://lists.gp-us.org/pipermail/texgreen/2005-December/000749.html
2. An article about Justine from Art on Trial: The Arts, the First Amendment, and The Courts http://www.tjcenter.org/ArtOnTrial/harmful.html
3. Justine's web site http://www.houseofjustine.com/
See you in August!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

awed, inspired...and a little hungover

Thanks to our Fairy Blogmother Holly for a truly illuminating discussion of the world of blogging last night. (Ooh, am I sounding too formal...too OLD MEDIA? Clearly, I need to let goooo of my neeeed for punctuation and grammatical order... I knead to gitwitit... Must admit, it is hard to do with haunting memories of Prof. Martha Dunsky still present... She put me on probation at Medill School of Journalism in '97 for my ineptness in her Syntax course and I've still not recovered... Actually, the history goes farther back: There's my third grade teacher Mrs. Anderson who nearly held me back a year and put me in the LOWEST READING GROUP at Ballard Elementary because I didn't "use the dictionary enough." See? THIS is why I feel like a cat being dragged into a swimming pool with this whole blogging bit. My inclination has always been to LET GO but nooo, the confining powers that be would not allow it and thus I was warped... I digress. Oh, did I digress? Maybe that's a SIGN that I'm gitinwitit. Seems there is hope after all for me in this world of New Media...) Ah-hem. But back to last night. I am just amazed, Holly, at all you've accomplished in six months... So impressive. And the possibilities of self publishing! (I'd think more about the possibilities but the glare of their shiny newness makes my head hurt after one stupid Mike's Hard Lemonade... Am pounding Diet Cokes to counteract its effect. Or is it affect? Martha would know. I will let gooo and ignore my impulse to grab my AP style guide and just push "post" now... " Thanks, H...and K. and L. and J. for the intrigue last night... I'll look forward to seeing you all at Liza's in July...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

WITNM (part gazillion posted today): Web community and what that means...

I just clicked over to Megan's site, The Velveteen Mind because there is a link (below) that I wanted to include as a reference and this is what she has posted today. It shows the community that is being built one blog at a time and the interaction that it creates. LOVE IT.

So the link that I went over there she references as one of her most popular:
MommyBloggers: The reference

And
How to be a Popular Mommyblogger

These are amazing resources if any of you would like to join the mommy blogging realm.

If you are interested in trying it out, I would glad to be of assistance.

OK, I promise that is the last post for today. I am going to play RockBand now...goodbye.

WITNM (next part, I can't keep up): Starting to pull things together...

Ron Davison again appears in our discussion after writing this yesterday:

A New Kind of Conversation: A New Kind of Democracy

(Hi Ron...how is it you keep popping up in my WOMEN in the new media series?)

I would love to get your ideas on this on Tuesday...

Another thing we will be discussing is how I know Ron will see this...

That will include tons of the information about how traffic flows on the internet, how I know if anyone mentions me, my name, my blog, my blog address and how anyone can become a "Big Brother" of sorts. It is information that just may change how you navigate the www.

WITNM (part next): How this topic got started...

This is a Nightline show segment that will introduce you toHeather Armstrong. Heather writes Dooce. She is one of a few (very few) MEGA mommy bloggers...she is BIG. VERY BIG.



This appearance of Heather Armstrong earlier this month on the Today show was the catalyst for my topic this month:



One of the topics we will discuss on Tuesday is how much information is too much. I have a very different perspective on this then I did 6 months ago when blogless. I will be interested to hear what you have to say.

Monday, May 26, 2008

WITNM (part next): Published authors who blog...

"If you are just about to publish a book or have just published a book, you need a blog."--wise woman who helps authors publish books

A blog is a way to get the word out. A way to make connections with others. A way to create buzz. A way to get grassroots support.

I really was clueless about all of this until I was contacted by someone who regularly read my blog who was also a friend of Jenny Gardiner. She wrote that Jenny had just written the book, "Sleeping with Ward Cleaver" whose title reminded her of my June Cleaver Nirvana title. She put the two of us in touch.

Jenny suggested that we could do a book give away on my blog for her new book. I read the book. Fell in love. Said yes. And it was done.

In the process, I started really liking Jenny. She is funny and has a bunch of kids. So I started stalking following her writing. She posts weekly on two blogs and does guest spots on others. The main one is The Debutante Ball which is a blog for women authors. It is a fun read.

We email back and forth on a regular basis. I have made a friend that I never would have met otherwise. We are trying to figure out how to convince her publisher into a Texas book signing...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

WINM (part four): Writers who blog...

As I was introduced to more and more blogs I began noticing that many of my favorite bloggers were amazing writers. Blogging is an obvious outlet for writing. It is a forum for brain storming, testing the waters and receiving instant feedback from readers. I feel priveleged to be on the frontline of reading these women's initial thoughts, drafts and storylines. Sometimes they will repost the same story later from a different viewpoint or with more detail. Sometimes they mention projects they are working on. Sometimes they write to encourage others. Sometimes they write in need of the encouragement.

I am more reader then writer. I hope to be support. I hope to someday be first in line at one of their book signings.

I have linked to specific posts of three amazing writers who blog. Just browsing their websites is a treat:
Angela at Reality Testing
Jennifer at Thursday Drive and
CCE at MadMarriage

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

WITNM (part three): Random fun...

I have placed my GoogleReader share widget in the sidebar to the right in the pink box. Don't you love how I can sound all technical? Let me break that down into normal speak...

GoogleReader: I read a lot of blogs. To keep track of them all in one place I use a reader. There are several ones out there to chose from, but I use my Google account's reader function. All the blogs I read have a "feed" that sends whatever is written in the body of that blog to one page. This allows me to read a ton of stuff without clicking on each site.

Share: In my reader I can click on a "share" button if I find something I really like.

Widget: This is a gadget that will send information from another source to a cute little box. The pink one now displays all my "shared" posts from the reader.

If you want a laugh today (or anyday) just click on one of the titles in the pink box and it will take you to something funny. I have one of these widgets on my blog too.

One of the easiest ways to get into social networking is to Twitter. Twitter is a way to instant message the world by simply answering the question, "what are you doing?". The instant messages of an ever widening group surrounding you can create some interesting conversation or just give you a peek into the lives of others.

I have placed a Twitter widget (see, you already know what that is now) on the sidebar as well so you can follow my ever-evolving solution to world peace. Actually you are more likely to hear how my laundry turned out...details, details.

Monday, May 19, 2008

WITNM (part two): The Mommyblogger...

Mommyblogger. It is a title that actually makes me cringe a little, but in effect that is what I am. I am not alone in my status. The internet is literally crawling with us.

I love this article written by Ron Davison: Are They Reinventing Motherhood (or just giving us a sneak peek into previously private journals)

Ron links to four blogs that I read regularly (I also read Ron's regularly but he doesn't qualify as a woman in the new media). All amazing accounts from completely different viewpoints. Amazing women writers who grant us a peek into their lives, marriages and families.

When I think of mommies in the trenches who beautifully balance the awe of motherhood with the often less glamorous tasks of the job, I can't help but mention
JCK at Motherscribe and Fullheartsandhands mama at Yes and so my heart. I think these two blogs are classic examples of what many of us are trying to portray. The tightrope that moms walk. The sheer amazement at our situation. The sheer chaos that it often creates.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Women in the new media (part one)...

I am going to start at the very beginning. I am going to begin with how I began.

Six months ago I had no idea the land we are about to visit even existed. Six months ago I had not seen the sights, visited with its people or fallen in love with its diversity. Six months ago I didn't have a blog.

Urban Dictionary defines blog:

blog

n. Short for weblog.
A meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life. Consists of such riveting entries as "homework sucks" and "I slept until noon today."

v. intr.
The act of posting to a weblog.


I started my blog to keep in contact with a dear friend who lived in another state. I hadn't seen her since college (over 18 years), but our lives as mothers were running parallel tracks and we had started emailing each other on a regular basis. We exchanged stories, advice, sympathy and encouragement. She started a blog. I started a blog.

I started a blog before I had ever read a blog.

Within minutes of setting up my account at Blogger, I was officially a blogger. I had a blog.

What am I going to do with a blog?

I started recording what what was going on in my life. I posted pictures. I wrote about the kids, the TV I watched, the electrician that over-charged me. It was a natural extension of the scrapbooking that I was 3 1/2 years behind on.

It was instant. I took a picture. Downloaded. Posted.

I started reading Heather's blog that chronicled a lot of the events we both attended. I started reading another blog written by a girl who had married one of my childhood friends. I started venturing out of my circle of people who I knew in real life...

And then I received the first comment on my blog from someone I was not related to or knew. Soon I was reading her blog. And that is how it starts.

It became a game of networking. Finding new people who made me laugh, cry or shared my views. New people link to new people. New links to explore. New stories to share.

It soon became apparent that there are many reasons people blog. I was not alone in my daily life report. Many people blog to record.

Many people blog to network.

Many people blog to vent.

Many people blog to sway opinion.

Many people blog to teach.

Many people blog to earn a living.

Many people blog for no reason.

Many people start on one path and end up on another.

Many people switch gears daily.


What I would like to do over the next week is to explore a few of these reasons. The internet has been dubbed the new media. A large portion of that new media are women just like you and me who express their opinions on a daily basis through their blog.

How are these women changing the way women interact?

How are these women changing the way advertisers relate to this demographic?

How are these women changing politics?

How are these women changing the path of their families lives?

This subject is limitless. I would love for everyone to have read everything I have over the last 6 months. Since that is impossible, I am going to try to pick out a little tiny portion of a little teeny corner of this subject to share.

I am going to try to sprinkle throughout my entries links to blogs I love to read. Even if you just visit a few you will get a feeling of the world that is out there. And please try and visit my blog over the next week. It will be helpful for perspective and I could use the traffic...