Friday, April 28, 2006

blog feature beta testers wanted

I am testing out a number of blog add-ons, and I would really love your feedback on them. They are all free features (naturally, since I am cheap) that you can hack onto Blogger.

I'll be testing several new blog hacks over the next week or so. If you see anything you'd like to add to your own blog, just leave a comment here if you need a hand in setting them up on your own blog, or you want to compare notes.
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To hell with geniuses

We don't need no stinkin' geniuses.

What we need are T-shaped people.
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Thursday, April 27, 2006

EB Browning ain't got nothing on Rahm Emanuel

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

White House Shake-Up

letter from George Bush notifying his daughers he is replacing them with Chelsea Clinton

Click on the picture for larger version
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Vive le Sit In!

One of the most common reactions I have heard to this year's news stories about students in France striking for labour rights has been, "Why aren't there more activists on American university campuses? Why are we being shown-up by the French? What happened to our willingness to fight for equality?"

Well in Virginia at least, students are starting to protest again.

This weekend night, 17 students were arrested at the University of Virginia on the fourth day of their protest aginst the substandard wages of university support staff:
"Hundreds of workers at the University of Virginia, overwhelmingly women and people of color, are currently being paid less than a living wage. Many housekeepers, dining hall workers and other employees are forced to work a second full-time job after putting in a full day at the university," said Abby Bellows, a leading member of the "Living Wage Campaign."

University president John T. Casteen III, who has administrative offices in the Madison Hall where the students were protesting, denied access to the students by members of the faculty, parents, clergy and other supporters using the police to lock them out. Students were even denied food brought by supporters.

"If I were the president of the university, I would be proud that these students are speaking on behalf of the least of these in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.," said attorney-author, Mark Lane, a local observer who spoke at the university recently and who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement in the early 60's. "Forty percent of the homeless people in Charlottesville have full-time jobs," Lane added.

Julian Bond, a professor at the university and the national director of the NAACP, spoke in support of the protesting students on Wednesday and said, "We gather here today in support of others, who like earlier marchers this week and last, want to enjoy the most basic citizenship rights -- rights to life, rights to liberty, and rights to happiness' pursuit."

"It is morally reprehensible to pay poverty wages to the very employees who keep our university safe, clean, beautiful and functioning but that is the case. University president John Casteen III has refused to secure living wages for these employees despite the support of students, members of the faculty, unions, alumni donors members of the board of trustees and the community," Ms. Bellows concluded.
I have to agree with Mark Lane. In fact, all of Virginia should be proud of these students.

[Note: I started this post on Sunday, but I've been crazily busy (in a good way!) with work and I want to publish before the story is stale. I have more thoughts -- such as the fact that I'm shocked and horrified that 40% of homeless people in Charlottesville hold full time jobs -- but I'm pressing the "publish" button now, and I'll try to return to this later.]
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Write like an Egyptian

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Still kicking, even more than usual

I know we've established a pattern here where if I'm not around the blog, it is easy to assume I'm at death's door.

I'm not! I'm actually doing very well, so well that I'm really busy and fighting to find time to post. This is certainly a nice change.

My original contracting gig has evolved rapidly from part-time work for one client to full-time-plus for multiple clients -- and I love the work and clients both, so I do not begrudge the time in the least.

Plus, last week we moved. We are now house-sitting, for good friends of ours iwho are both on active National Guard duty right now (him, someplace sandy; her, stateside gig outside Virginia that looks to remove her from the overseas deployment queue). Literally overnight we've gone from our unfurnished apartment in Short Pump to a beautiful home in a lovely suburban neighborhood in Chesterfield (south of Richmond, for you non-Richmonders). It feels like "playing grown-up," and we keep waiting for someone to kick us out and give the house to a *real* married couple.

My husband has picked up a significantly longer drive (we used to live almost across the road from where he works), so all of my consulting earnings are ear-marked to save up and buy him a new motorcycle -- the best way to make him happy about the commute. Our old bike has been clinically dead for some time (we donated it to NPR when we moved), so this all works out really nicely.

Since he leaves earlier and comes home later, that gives me between 9 and 11 solo hours a day that I can work on contracting. A great deal all in all.

I am hoping that more regular blogging recommences once we get used to the new home / rhythms of our life.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Your chance to tell state parties what to do!

Grassroots Democrats (a 527, for those of you who speak FEC fluently) is working with a group of state parties to improve the effectiveness of their websites. They would love to hear your thoughts/opinions on how to make state party sites more powerful political tools.

This link will take you to a short, generic survey asking about website features:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=623591937800

Once you finish the survey you can register to evaluate three specific state party websites. The state parties being reviewed are aware of this action and are excited to hear your comments.

If you would like to see state parties do a better job of online outreach, now's your chance.
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Sunday, April 09, 2006

They must have known we're getting a new bike...

Your Theme Song is Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf

"I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under"

A total independent spirit, you can't be held down or fenced in.
You crave the feeling of wind on your face... and totally freedom.
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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Snazzy Laptop Bags FYI

I seem to recall reading over the past month or so several different women bloggers mentioning at random that they wished they could find more stylish bags for their laptops.

And then today, I stumble across Coquette, which happens to have a post on a new line of tech bags by ACME Made.

Can I remember who those women bloggers were? Maybe Miss Rogue from HorsePigCow? Maybe...a lot of other women? No idea. Hopefully you'll either find your way to this post, or else my belated memory will kick in.

Now I'm not in market for a laptop bag myself. (Why would I need one? I rarely leave the house.) And I tend to go for the utilitarian and functional over stylish in my purchasing decisions. (In grade 5 I horrified my teacher by submitting a design for my "dream house" as completely lined with stainless steel, along with built-in hoses, floor drains, and plastic covers for furniture--not quite the Barbie mansion she was expecting.)

But, I'm sharing the link as a geekgirl-to-geekgirl public service announcement. Hope it helps some fabulous sister blogger out.
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Heads up, Viginia: Mudcat's blogging

Dave "Mudcat" Saunders is now a guest contributor at Taegan Goddard's Political Wire. You can read Mudcat's first post here.

This should get interesting...
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BBC Music Cube

Doing some research on viral marketing and advergames today, I came across...

...the BBC Music Cube.

The idea is that you build your own "music dna," which generates code for your own Music Cube. You can then add the cube code to your blog or website, and click on it, to access music broadcasts from the BBC radio website (if you are set up with RealPlayer).

My verdict after playing with it briefly is: aesthetically brilliant and great concept. But, the viral power falls a little short in my books -- they could provide easier and more obvious ways to "email to a friend." I also regret their choice to go with RealPlayer, which we aren't particularly fond of in this household.

[My husband, the technical brains here, points out over my shoulder that one can download Real Alternative instead. I'll have to get organized and do that.]

In the meantime, I'm sharing the Music Cube here for you to have fun with.

*Please* don't take this as representative of my musical tastes--most of what I do listen do was not available (no Teresa Berganza or Diamanda Galas, for example, or Great Big Sea).

And if you come across any good viral marketing games or gizmos, drop me a line. I find them absolutely fascinating.
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

BOP's Stirling Newberry on Mark Warner

Heads up to my fellow Virginia political bloggers that Stirling Newberry of Blogging of the President has a post up assessing his first-hand impressions of Mark Warner (after, I believe, a recent appearance by Warner in Boston).

Stirling presents a very mixed review of Warner, with some strong positives as well as some questions, doubts, and negatives.

The most interesting part of Stirling's comments to me is he clearly describes a perception of Mark Warner that strongly contrasts the way Warner is regarded by many Virginians -- Republicans and Democrats alike.

Now, I know Stirling, as a blogging colleague and to a lesser extent offline. And, while I would not lay claim to "know" Mark Warner, as a Virginia Democrat and as someone working in VA state politics in 2003/2004, I've certainly seen Warner work a room on several occasions, as well as having the privilege of watching the 2004 state budget negotiations from a ring-side seat. Stirling is astute, Virginians love Warner, and what's left in the middle is the fact that right now Warner plays differently in Massachusetts than in the Old Dominion. The man is the same but the audience is different--and a presidential primary is about exporting the Virginia vision of Warner to 49 other states.

I hope the Warner campaign takes a look at Stirling's feedback, and analyzes how their internal image and narrative of Mark Warner maps or fails to map with the perception he may be creating outside the state--in other words, treat it as free focus group data. (Because I am confident that the Warner team's excellent online crew is monitoring blog chatter carefully.) In other words, don't bite the messenger; turn a bug into a feature instead. It doesn't matter who is "right" about Warner, it matters how voters *perceive* Warner, and this kind of data is a step towards closing that perception gap.

I also hope that Virginians who support Mark Warner for president recognize that our internal vision of Warner is not yet getting out into the broader national dialogue. This means that Warner supporters face an excellent opportunity, to participate in discussions like the comments following Stirling's post, and tell *our* story of Warner, and explain to Americans what we like about Mark Warner based on our first-hand experiences with him. If you support Warner, and if you seem him as more than a "nice guy technocrat," then go tell it from the mountain.

I realize that the concept of "Red State vs Blue State" is officially passé, but I predict we will see this dynamic resurface in the 2008 elections not so much in the partisan contests of the general election as inside the Democratic party's internal struggles with the presidential primary. The discussion around Stirling's post contains some pretty rough slams already against Virginia, southern states, and southern Democrats. Apparently the LBJ / Carter / Clinton legacy of winning southern Democrats is out of vogue in some circles. Expect more of the same between now and '08. [I hope the Warner campaign is thinking ahead on strategies to combat Southern Democrat Fatique--it would certainly make strategic sense for Hillary Clinton to fan these flames in the primary-- and I'm interested to see if the Warner campaign can frame and own this debate.]

Re-enacting the War Between the States inside the Democratic party however is not going to help take back the White House. And [not that Virginia bloggers would do this], showing up on national forums and taking cheap shots at "the north," or acting defensive about Warner, is more likely to convince the blog world that we are redneck hicks with no credibility in picking presidential winners than that we are sophisticated politicos. In other words, if Virginians want to support Warner effectively, we're going to have to take the high road in these discussions. (Catharsis and effectiveness rarely go hand in hand.)

I encourage members of the Virginia blog community to go and join in the discussion on BOP. And I'm very interested to hear your reaction to how "brand Warner" played in Boston.
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Sunday, April 02, 2006

My Veg Fu is Very Powerful

As my husband pointed out, these guys are copying my wire work techniques.



...and one day I, too, want to visit Linolium Province.

Links
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What I really miss about 1978



It starts slow...hang in there until there are three people on the screen at once.

Will pop culture ever be this great again? I think it's gonna be a long, long time.

Via Fouroboros.

Updated
I've had this on repeat ALL day. My marriage may lie in the balance. But...it's Shatner. I did the same thing when Suw Charman put up a clip of Shatner's cover of Pulp's Common People, too.
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Saving Big Pharma, Randomly

Via Niall Cook's Positive Impact, I discovered the Random Di$ease Generator, designed to help you "create your own disease, disorder, or syndrome" to help pharmaceutical companies come up with new ideas for diseases and drugs they can market.

All I can say is, a cure for "Schizoid Tom Cruise Insanity Disorder" would be worth absolutely any price.

Of course, disease-mongering by the Pharmaceutical Industry is no laughing matter, and the good folks at TheNetter.com (the geniuses behind the Random Disease Generator) also share the following article links:

Niall found the Random Di$ease Generator at The Generator Blog, a whole blog dedicated to software that generates software. I adore random engines, and look forward to reading through the Generator Blog's archives.
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The Blog-somniac Dillema

Dear Readers,

I realize that I have been somewhat neglectful lately. Of course, on a positive note, the delay between my posts has shortened from months down to just days, so I'd like to think I'm closing the gap.

But here's the thing: I am working from home, as a contractor, on some marvelously exciting projects. So when my brain kicks into gear, I work! (This used to be when I would blog.) And, when my brain is insomnia-addled, I lumber around the house in a zombie fog and neither work nor blog.

I keep coming across blog-worthy bits and pieces -- I save them up, not unlike a magpie (ooh! shiny things!) but they don't always make it onto the site as fast as I would like.

This afternoon, I'll be posting some shiny bits I've come across recently in the hopes of offering you some amusement.

And, I'll aim for some more substantial posts in the near future, but don't go all apneal on me, for goodness knows when I'll really manage to write them.

In the meantime, thank you to the loyal readers who keep coming back throughout my irregular posting periods. I have to say that one of the best parts of being a small blog is I can read my referral logs and recognize people. I look through the visitor paths and think to myself, "Oh, hello Jeanne! Oh look, Dru was reading my today. Oh, there's Doug." I hope you know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

Enjoy today's fluff.
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