Bashing the Blogosphere

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by Whymrhymer

In Sunday’s “Between the Lines” column on ZDNet, bloggers had the opportunity to preview some of the thoughts of Andrew Keen, the author of a soon to be released (June 5th) book titled “The Cult of the Amateur.” The subtitle of Keen’s book is very telling: “how the democratization of the digital world is assaulting our economy, our culture, and our values;” the democratization of the digital world is, of course, a reference to bloggers, specifically non-professional bloggers.

Add to that title/subtitle pairing the following quote from Keen’s book and you’ll begin to get the feeling that Keen is no more than an intellectual snob; an elitist who, one might surmise, would love to see restrictions placed on who is allowed to publish a blog and perhaps even what they would be allowed to say.

Here’s the ‘money quote’ from Keen’s new book:

“. . . instead of creating masterpieces, these millions and millions of exuberant monkeys [Internet users] — many with no more talent in the creative arts than our primate cousins — are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity.”

If you don’t feel sufficiently insulted and/or diminished from that small quote, I encourage you ‘no talent monkeys’ to run out and pre-purchase your copy of Keen’s book — let him finish the job.

The ZDNet columnist who provides us with this review, as well as his own thoughts on non-professional bloggers, is Dan Farber and while he does not appear to be totally in sync with Mr. Keen’s negative assessment of the blogosphere, he apparently does agree that there is a lot of “noise” out here. Here’s a quote from Mr. Farber:

“Along with the millions of voices churning out blog posts and the long tail of conversations spawned by them comes the noise, and the noise to signal ratio is way out of whack.

The assessment of non-professional bloggers as nothing more than noisemakers certainly broke this camel’s back — that might even be worse than being considered an exuberant, untalented monkey inhabiting a “digital forest of mediocrity.”

In my view, the professionals such as Mr Keene and Mr. Farber are not as worried about the quality of life in the blogosphere as they are about their jobs — jobs that to a major extent rely on that same blogosphere; if I made my living as they do I’d probably be worried too. I’m sure they both realize that any problems there are with the blogosphere will resolve themselves over time; cream will always rise to the top and the majority of readers of blogs will continue to be smart enough to know when facts are being twisted to make a point. And while misinformation may prevail in some (or many) cases in the blogosphere that is also certainly no less true of the main-stream media . . . and it is especially true of columnists and commentators, many of whom have an abundance of opinions, an overabundance of hidden agendas and, consequently, little obeisance to the straightforward reporting of unbiased fact.

Links:

ZDNet’s Between the Lines: Reflections on the first decade of blogging

The Blog Herald: Blogging Making Publications Bans Impossible To Enforce?

From the blogosphere:

Squash: 10 things I learnt about blogging in a year

Webomatica: I Don’t Read Newspapers, But I’d Read Your Blog

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

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Abduction: Another American Community Has Changed

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by: Whymrhymer

On Friday (2/23/07) morning in Parrish, Florida’s Kingsfield Lakes subdivision, in southwest Florida’s Manatee County, the students of the Manatee School for the Arts were just getting to their bus stop and, as he usually was, 13-year old Clay Moore was zooming around on his skateboard to kill time until the bus arrived. It was a normal, beautiful morning but then it turned bad.

A red extended cab pickup pulled up alongside Clay, a man with a gun got out, forced Clay into the pickup and, amidst the screams and shouts of Clay’s schoolmates, he drove away with their friend. The man drove Clay directly to a wooded area where he used duct tape to tie Clay hand and foot to a tree and shoved a sock in his mouth to prevent him from calling for help — he then just drove away, leaving Clay bound and gagged. As far as we know at this stage there was very little conversation between the man and Clay and the man’s intentions can only be guessed at (your most vile guess, however, is probably your best guess).

Fortunately, Clay had a safety pin attached to his shirt sleeve; he managed to get the pin open and use it to tear the duct tape — in a short time he was free and running for help. Thanks to a farmer in a field on his tractor and the farmer’s willingness to let Clay use his cell phone to call home, the police who were at Clay’s home talking to his parents were soon on their way to pick him up.

We are left once again to ask ourselves: what sort of madness has invaded our society and what is it doing to us? An abduction in front of witnesses by a man who makes no attempt to cover his face, hide his gun or otherwise mask his intentions either tells a tale of extreme arrogance or extreme desperation driven by some force we (if we are lucky) will never understand firsthand.

Clay is home now but another American community has changed permanently. Kids in Manatee County and well beyond will no longer be free to go ‘wherever’ and do ‘whatever’ or generally enjoy life as a kid should be able to enjoy life. Their parent’s fears and, indeed, their own fears of what might happen to them if they meet some “stranger” has a far greater effect on them than they may now realize. Many opportunities to meet many wonderful people will be lost; curiosity, which is natural in every child, will be dampened by caution and, as a result, knowledge will be lost; trust and openness will be concepts that become more and more foreign every day until no ‘new face’ will be welcome in the community.

One unstable individual, interrupting the normal flow of life on one sunny morning in southwestern Florida, can do (and has done) all that.

Links:

HeraldTribune.Com: Boy escapes bonds; gunman sought

Bradenton Herald: Wait agonizing for missing boy’s family

From the blogosphere:

Bonnie’s Blog of Crime: Amber Alert: Clay Moore found; suspect still at large

Giggidy: Missing Children on CNN

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Supreme Court Sends Wrong Message to Smokers

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The Supreme court today (Tuesday), even as it did the right thing by throwing out a $79.5 million punitive damages against Philip Morris, sent the wrong message to smokers and to business in general.

The large sum of money, awarded by an Oregon jury and later validated by the Oregon Supreme Court, was awarded to the widow of a long-time smoker. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to negate the Oregon court ruling against the tobacco giant was based on their view that the jury in this case was not told that they could only assess damages that they felt were done by Phillip Morris to this one smoker — not to smokers in general. They obviously felt that $79 million was excessive award for an individual plaintiff.

What the Supreme Court did not say but should have said and what every cigarette smoker should realize is obvious (at least to me): any damage done to an individual by smoking cigarettes is the fault of no one except that individual. One penny awarded to an individual would be an excessive award!

I’ve smoked cigarettes for about 45 years, I smoke cigarettes because I’m addicted to them and, of course, because I enjoy smoking cigarettes. No one forced me to begin smoking — like almost everyone else, I saw people around me smoking, I tried it, I liked it and I continued doing it. If it kills me someday I have no one but myself to blame, will blame no one but myself and will not allow any law suits to be filed in my name.

Beyond all that we have the larger issue of freedom. Freedom means more than the right to speak your mind and to pursue your own ‘brand’ of happiness; freedom means you have the right to do whatever you want as long as what you choose to do does not have an adverse effect on anyone else, against their will. Unfortunately, the government feels that it has some God given right to protect us from ourselves — this type of lawsuit is an extension of that irrational thinking.

If, for example, I choose to drive my car recklessly, I’m endangering others and should be stopped and punished; if, however, I choose to drive my car without seat belts on or drive my motorcycle without a helmet on, etc., etc., it should be no one’s business but my own. If, as an extreme example, I choose to inject, inhale or otherwise consume some chemical or toxic waste in an attempt to end my life, I should have that right. My life is my life — it does not belong to the government, it does not belong to you! If there is an “after life” and if there is a price to be paid for my behavior, guess who’s paying that price (hint: not the government or you)?

I leave you with a quote from an essay by Jacob G. Hornberger. In this quote Hornberger explains the principles of Libertarianism as he learned then from the works of Ayn Rand and from the founder of The Foundation for Economic Education, Leonard Read. It should be a motto for all our lives:

“It is morally wrong to take what doesn’t belong to you. It is morally wrong to coercively interfere with the peaceful choices that people make in their lives. It is morally right that people be free to make whatever choices they wish so long as their conduct is peaceful, even if (or especially if) their choices are ‘considered’ irresponsible or immoral.”

Links:

Reuters: Court sets aside award in Philip Morris case

Business Week: Court nixes award against Philip Morris

About Libertarianism: Libertarianism.Com

From the blogosphere on “smoker’s rights”:

Its Just Stuff: Workers’ Rights Vs. Smokers’ Rights

Utah County Real Estate Blog: Smoker’s Rights in South Salt Lake?

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The Creeping Socialism of Barack Obama

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Barack Obama is a powerful, eloquent, talented orator and he proved that today when, in front of the old state capital building in Springfield, IL, he announced his candidacy for president.

If you watched the speech or if you see it replayed you’ll note that he not only spoke eloquently, he spoke extemporaneously. You’ll also notice as you listen to his speech or read the transcript that he did not enter this race calling his opponents names, nor did he enter the race trumpeting the superiority of his Democratic Party over the Republican Party; he entered the race by rallying the crowd around the concept of a failing America that can, under his leadership, be made great again.

It is his chosen path for greatness that concerns me.

Ignoring, for the purpose of this post, Obama’s stance on the “War against terrorism” (and, specifically, his confused call for our immediate withdrawal from Iraq as the definitive answer to successfully fighting terrorism); Barack Obama has two especially dangeous ideas that relate to our day-to-day American life; ideas that tell all you need to know about Barack Obama.

Obama feels that stronger labor unions are essential to returning America to greatness.

Obama is so strongly pro-union that his call for stronger labor unions was one of the first important points he made in his speech. What he did not say, or even conceive of saying, is that unions have traditionally taken the role of adversary to American business and in that adversarial role they have hurt business and have done immeasurable damage to the American worker.

Labor unions have done many things that most Americans perceive as ‘good things’:they’ve forced increased wages, they’ve forced improved benefits and they have forced improved working conditions but while doing that they drove many companies to the brink of bankruptcy, have closed the doors of many more businesses and unwittingly gave birth to the concept of outsourcing, causing millions of American jobs to be lost to foreign countries.

When labor unions start being a force for positive change for both parties, for both the worker and the company, they will begin to be a force for good, but that is not likely to happen until our economy is so disastrously crippled that the workers themselves rebel against and disband the unions that created the disaster. (This is, in fact, already happening and that is why labor unions will, no doubt, pour money into Obama’s warchest; to regain the power that many American workers are now denying them.)

Obama feels that Universal Health Care is the answer to America’s health care problem.

He used the term “Universal Health Care” only once but the crowd heard it and the world heard it; and those around the world who now live under a system of universal healthcare are, no doubt, shaking their heads at our flirtation with the idea. Universal health care in Canada, for example, has those who can afford it flocking across the border on a daily basis to receive their health care in the United States. Why? Because under Universal Health Care they receive medical care that they consider substandard.

Consider this: Every country that has adopted universal health care has a “back door” for those who can afford to use it – it may be, like Canada, travel to a place where they can get healthcare that is tailored to their particular illness or, like England, it may be a private healthcare policy that allows them to see a doctor of their choice when they need to.

Also, if you think about it logically you’ll see that the United States already HAS a system that comes very close to the concept of Universal health care. We have private/premium healthcare for those who can afford the premium, we have HMOs and other health plans that provide excellent care for others who make a good income but aren’t rich and we have hospital emergency rooms and clinics that provide care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. If there are “holes” in the system (I’m not saying there are no problems) let’s patch the holes without destroying the system and let’s NOT turn health care into another government program. Let’s always bear in mind that the proper role of government is to protect our rights and freedoms, not to control our health care or any of our social institutions.

The United States achieved its greatness through the sweat and tears of individuals — individuals who worked hard to build better lives for themselves and their families. It is the private citizen, driven by the profit motive, that made this country great and who will help this country stay great. These two ideas that Obama introduced today as essential parts of his campaign for the presidency: more powerful, government-supported labor unions and universal health care are both ideas that reject individual freedom and Capitalism (individual rights), the two foundations of American life.

I can not and will never support a Socialist for President and Barack Obama, beneath the flowery prose and eloquent presentation, has announced his position as a creature with two too many socialist ideas.

Links:

The Kansas City Star: Obama invokes Lincoln in bid to be first black elected to White House

The Boston Globe: Obama announces ’08 campaign, talks of leading new generation

From the blogosphere:

American Reality: Reviewing Barack Obama’s Big Announcement

Democratic Edge: Commentary: Obama’s running

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

St. Petersburg – The Sunshine City

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St. Petersburg’s claim to 360 days of sunshine each year has earned it it’s nickname of “The Sunshine City.” For that reason, the city is a popular tourist destination, not only for millions of travelers from the United States but for people from around the world. In 2005, for example, almost 200,000 visitors arrived in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area on international flights — 73,000 of them were from England but Canada and Brazil weren’t far behind in the numbers.

Were they all there for the sunshine? Doubtful! St. Petersburg has many other attractions. For example St. Pete has the largest city marina in the United States, with 234 miles of waterfront property, 35 miles of beachfront and hundreds of resorts, motels, hotels and, of course condos; property in Florida is a very sensible investment if you plan on making it a regular vacation spot.

No slouch on intellectual opportunities either, St. Petersburg is the home of the Salvador Dali Museum; the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts; and the Florida International Museum. Another educational opportunity is taking an Art Gallery Walk sponsored by the Downtown Arts Association (DAA); over 20 galleries participate and they feature receptions and special events.

“The Pier” in St. Petersburg is a whole world unto itself. The Pier juts out a mile from the waterfront and is the center of shopping, dining and recreation in St. Petersburg. Inside you’ll find the Aquarium along with a winery, shops, restaurants, a food court, live music and plenty of fun events for the whole family. The Pier is also the jumping-off point for excursions such as Duck Tours and catamaran trips. You may also find the HMS Bounty (the one used in the 1962 MGM movie starring Marlon Brando) docked at The Pier.

Warning: St. Petersburg family vacations are highly addictive!

This post was generously sponsored by: Florida Adventure

Hidden Legislation

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The following is the first sentence in an AP story that made some papers Wednesday morning:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats may try to override a decision by President Bush to leave stopgap children’s health insurance money out of his 2007 emergency war spending proposal.”

What’s wrong with this picture? (Aside, that is, from the usual smear you can expect from the AP, in this case an unfounded innuendo that implies that President Bush doesn’t care about children’s health care?) The problem, as I see it, is the assumption that an ’emergency war spending proposal” should have a ‘rider’ on it that provides funding for something other than emergency war spending.

It’s an all too common practice among the thieves, liars and cowards that populate Capital Hill (thieves, liars and cowards on both sides of the isle) to “attach” legislation onto other legislation. There are two reasons for using riders:

1) Some lawmakers have a piece of legislation that is so weak and inappropriate that they know it will never pass on its own, so they attach it to a piece of legislation that is almost certain to pass.

2) A popular piece of legislation is opposed by certain lawmakers so they attach a clearly inappropriate piece of legislation to it (known as a “poison pill”) — if the original legislation passes and is presented to the President to sign, their hope is that he will veto the bill because of the attached “poison pill.”

There is an obvious way around this problem of attached legislation and, in fact, the problem was solved, for a far too short time, in 1996.

In April of 1996 President Clinton signed “The Line Item Veto Act” into law. This law allowed the president to strike out any items he opposed, as long as he didn’t change the intent of the primary legislation, and then sign the approved legislation into law. The unapproved part is then returned to congress where they can resubmit it as a separate bill which the president can then either sign or veto.

Almost immediately after President Clinton signed this bill into law, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd and five other senators (all of whom fit in the thieves, liars and cowards category) filed a Federal Law Suit to have the law declared unconstitutional. The first lawsuit didn’t quite do the job but eventually (about two years later), in a case called Clinton vs. New York the Supreme court declared that the president must either sign or veto any legislation in its entirety. The court, in a decision that showed that convoluted logic sometimes rules the day, decided that because the Constitution did not give the president express permission to modify legislation it must mean that the practice is expressly prohibited by the Constitution.

President Bush has also, many times, called for a line item veto but the legislation is heavily opposed by those thieves, liars and cowards who want to continue to feather their political nests with “pork barrel” projects that benefit their states and buy them votes.

As ingenious and prophetic as the framers of our Constitution were, they apparently did not see the day coming when the public would elect (and continuously re-elect) Senators and Congressmen who would so blatantly misuse their powers to subvert the system of government they created.

Links:

Arizona Star Democrat: Democrats may try to override Bush on funding for children’s insurance

CNN All Politics (From 6/25/98): Supreme Court Deletes Line-Item Veto

Wikipedia: Rider (legislation)

From the blogosphere:

Drudge Retort: Dems Sour on Line-Item Veto

The Hill’s Congress Blog: A Limited Line Item Veto

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Paradise for Cell Phone Crazies

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Cell phone crazies! That’s what we’ve all become, I know that and you know that but is that a bad thing? It can be but it doesn’t have to be!

We have some nearly unbelievable convenience and technology right there, literally, in the palm of our hand. We have the ability to communicate in so many different ways with our friends, family, associates and with places where we do business. What’s wrong with that? Not a thing . . . except that there are:

Too Many Choices!

Are there too many cell phone service providers, too many cell phone service plans, too many options and too many phone to choose from, or does it just seem that way?

Well if it seems that way to you its because you haven’t found the one place that shows you all of your choices and lets you pick what’s right for you. Right there at your keyboard and while you’re still in your PJs.

Paradise for cell phone crazies is at: WIREFLY.COM. Wirefly is an authorized Internet retailer for ALL of the major providers and they make it super easy to choose the right provider, plan and equipment for you, wherever you live.

Look over at the left side of the screen and you will see that you have three ways to shop:

Shop by Carrier: Enter your Zip Code and the next screen will show you every carrier that services your area, select your favorite carrier and the next screen shows you every service plan they offer in your area.

Shop by Phone: Enter your Zip Code, pick your phone on the next screen and you’ll be shown who offers that phone and all the details.

Shop by Service Plan: This one is the BEST for those of us who are just plain confused by all the offerings. Enter your Zip Code and you’ll have a comprehensive list of all the major carriers and their plans for your location.

If that isn’t enough to drive you to WIREFLY.COM, how about free cell phones. There are several Free Phone offers if you sign up for service with a provider and all of them are there when you click on the link! Just scroll down the page.

Other things you should know about WIREFLY.COM: They have unbeatable prices, free shipping (via FedEx) and a satisfaction guarantee; that means FREE return shipping if you are not satisfied.

Need I say more? Yes!

Use Your Cell Phone Responsibly

When I referred to us (always including myself) as “Cell Phone Crazies” it was a light-hearted reference to what we CAN become if we let the fun and convenience turn into an obsession.

Two things to remember:

  • Be considerate: Cell phones allow you to talk to anyone wherever they are whenever you feel like talking to them so its easy to forget that there are real people on the other side of that cell phone connection; and there are times when a casual phone conversations may be in inconvenience. If you think the person you are calling may be involved in something that would make your call inconvenient, text before you talk! A simple text message “call me whn U can” will be welcome anytime!
  • Using a cell phone can make driving a car dangerous: Yea, I know we all do it but we all know we shouldn’t be doing it as often as we do. Drivers talking on cell phones have caused too many accidents and while an accident is always inconvenient it can sometimes be far more serious than an inconvenience.


This post, if you haven’t guessed it yet, was generously sponsored by Wirefly, run by Inphonic,