Do or Do Not.

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Raising Them Right… er, Left

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The following conversation took place this afternoon between Kelsey and Brandon, both six years old, while riding home from apple picking:

KELSEY:  We’re gonna vote for Obama.

BRANDON:  John McCain wants to make it so kids won’t have any money when they grow up.

KELSEY:  Yeah, that’s why we’re gonna vote for Obama.

BRANDON:  Me too, I’m voting for Obama.

A pause.

BRANDON:  John McCain sucks.

Written by Allen

October 11th, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Posted in Kids,Politics

Tagged with

Why I Don’t Often Write About Politics

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I don’t get into discussing politics very much, especially in public forums like this site. Sure, I’ve occasionally posted a pro-Obama video or link, but I stay away from the details of exactly what it is I believe, or why I believe it, or why I support the issues or politicians I do.

And I’m not going to do so in this post, either, though maybe I will do so before election day next month. What I want to talk about instead is why I don’t like to talk about politics, in hopes that I can work something out in my head, and in so doing, be more able to have these conversations in the future.

(As an aside, I’d like to preface the following discussion with the fact that you could probably replace every instance of the word “politics” with “religion” and it would still stand true.)

It’s not that I don’t think I can defend my views or should have to; it’s not that I think I’m so right that I’m afraid of having my worldview or political opinions or ideologies shaken; it’s not that I’m not open to listening to other ideas and viewpoints. I’m always open to being convinced that I’m wrong, even when I firmly believe I’m right. It’s possible that my mind can be changed with an argument persuasive enough, compelling enough, and factual enough.

But the thing is… those sorts of discussions almost by definition are arguments, and I don’t like to argue. At all. And here I mean “argue” in the debate sense more than the fight sense, though I don’t like to do that, either. I have plenty of friends and relatives who love to argue (in both senses of the word), who take pride in their ability to verbally take apart someone’s views, and that’s not an attitude I can fathom in the least for myself.

A lot of my distaste for arguing comes from a lack of confidence in my verbal jousting ability — while my brain works quickly, I have a lot of trouble getting what I’m trying to say to work its way out of my mouth coherently. But even when I’m dealing with dissenting opinions via the written word, my heart pounds and my vision goes all swimmy — fight or flight kicks in, and most of the time I’d much, much rather fly than fight. So I usually try to stay away from situations where arguments are likely to occur (i.e., talking about politics with The Other Side). Also, there’s the fact that I could be far more versed in the details of the issues than I am. A lot of my opinions are high-level and gut-level — I believe the way I do because not to do so feels wrong. Some of what I believe, I believe because these things just make sense to me, regardless of political ideology. But when debates or arguments comes down to a point-by-point back-and-forth on minutiae… well, right now I can’t really hang with that. I can argue up to a point, but then I begin to feel insecure — not in my beliefs but rather in my ability to defend them well. I have friends who can get into discussion particular Supreme Court cases, particular nuances of different areas of law or policy, and rather than risk feeling like an idiot, I tend to clam up and listen (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Yet I notice that I seem to Twitter a lot about politics. Most of my last couple of weeks’ worth of tweets (lord, do I hate that name) have been about politics in some fashion or another, and I think it’s likely a) because the format of Twitter, while it does allow back-and-forth conversation, doesn’t really much encourage it; and b) because of the nature of Twitter, I don’t have to think much about what I’m putting out there. I can make quick observations or snarky, off-the-cuff comments and just kinda throw it into the wild without too much fear of negative repercussions.

And really, as far as repercussions go, what I’m most afraid of is alienating people — especially my family, most of whom are very Republican. I still cling to this middle-school-notion that I want everyone to like me, even though I know that’s impractical, impossible and, honestly, undesirable. But that adolescent need still hangs around in my head, and talking about politics pretty much guarantees pissing off someone. Hell, just my writing these words, admitting I have an opinion and that it’s pro-Obama, is probably going to piss off someone. Or a whole lot of someones. Quite possibly someones in my extended family. So part of my reluctance to talk about these issues is simply a matter of trying to minimize drama in my life, I suppose.

But now that I have all of those reasons/excuses out there, aren’t I really saying… that I’m a coward? I just admitted that I’m afraid to admit to or back up my opinions. Whatever I claim the reasons to be, it all simply boils down to cowardice, pure and simple. And I don’t want to think of myself as a coward.

So… no more. I’m not going to be afraid to state my opinion, and I’ll back it up as best I can, if need be. If you feel that you can respectfully tell me I’m wrong and think you can convince me of your points, preferably using verifiable facts to back up your position, bring it on. As I said, I’m always open to learning and having my mind changed. But I’m not going to get into any comment-thread flame wars with anyone.

As a liberal, I’m a big proponent of free speech. I firmly believe that you’re entitled to your own opinion, no matter how backwards, asinine, hypocritical or short-sighted I think it may be. The flip side is that I’m also entitled to my opinion, and this site is my venue for expressing it. If you don’t like my political opinions (or my opinions about anything else, for that matter), you’re under no obligation to read them and can either come back when I blather on about something innocuous (which will surely be soon) or, if I’ve bugged you that badly, not at all.

Just don’t hate me because my opinion is different from yours, and I’ll try to do the same.

Written by Allen

October 10th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

There has never been anything false about hope.

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Written by Allen

February 5th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Politics

The Day the Music Died

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We now break with this nice stream of blogging silence we’ve actively cultivated for the following emergency message:

Next Monday, July 15, new royalty rates go into effect for Internet radio stations which will effectively kill the entire ‘net radio market. These new rates are upwards of ten times higher than any other type of radio broadcaster must pay (and are retroactive to January of ’06), and most ‘net radio stations would end up having to pay amounts far, far greater than their profits would allow. The new rates say that stations have to pay 33 cents per hour per listener, so a station with only 5000 listeners would have to pay royalty fees of almost $1.2 million per month to continue broadcasting. And that’s a fairly small station. The RIAA got this legislation passed so they could kill ‘net radio and make more money for themselves via record sales and larger broadcasters; it looks like their strategy is going to work if something isn’t done.

(EDIT:  I got my math wrong, or rather, my figures:  it’s not 33 cents per hour, it’s .33 cents per hour.  Still, that figure represents far more than the profits most stations make.  A station with only 5000 listeners having to pay $12K month in royalty fees is still excessive.  But man, doesn’t $1.2 million for 5000 listeners sound more terrible and impressive?)

If you ever listen to any ‘net radio — whether that’s Radio Paradise or Pandora or AOL Radio or anything in between — please visit SaveNetRadio.org to see what you can do. Really, at this point “what you can do” means “call your Congressional representative(s) and tell ‘em to support the Internet Radio Equality Act.”

SaveNetRadio.org

Light up those phones, people! Save Internet radio! Give those asshats at the RIAA what-for!

Written by Allen

July 12th, 2007 at 9:50 am

Posted in Music,Politics

An Open Letter to CNN.com

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Dear CNN.com:

Fuck you.

Maybe you think that what your viewers want to see when they come to your site in search of news is “Girl gang-raped at three years old.” Maybe you’ve got oodles of statistics saying that, yes, what your audience really, really wants to read about is some whackjob mother who put her toddler in the oven. Maybe you’ve held focus group tests which tell you that yeah, what people want is more news stories about little kids getting their heads eaten by bears.

But I don’t.

If it was only occasionally that I had to confront these Awful Horridness Happens to Children stories, I think I could likely deal with it, just ignore the stories, but the fact is: every time I visit your site, there’s an article from that category in your Top Stories list. You might as well have a Childhood Tragedy section linked in your navigation menu at the top of the page.

(As I was writing this letter, I went to your home page to see what kind of Awful Horridness Happens to Children article you’re featuring now, and currently it’s “Police: Man says he killed 4 kids.” Lovely, thanks.)

I have two little girls, and I worry enough about them, about the random unspeakable tragedies which could strike them, without having to be presented with “news” of the horrible things happening to other children each time I click that CNN.com link. Those stories don’t make me feel better about or more grateful for my own healthy kids, they don’t make me appreciate them any more than I already do; they only sicken me with grief for the parents and families of those poor kids.

So I’m done. I’ve deleted your site from my bookmarks and I’ve unsubscribed from the CNN Breaking News email I’ve been getting for the last five years. No more for me.

When the House and Senate passed that disgusting Torture OK! bill which fundamentally altered our values as a nation and pushed us that much closer to the fascist police state Bush & Co. have been working so hard to institute for the last few years, I had to dig to find any coverage of that event — I had to go into your Politics section, and it wasn’t even the top story there when I found it.

When a little girl died after a dental procedure? Top story, front page, baby.

Look, I understand, I do. It’s all about the ratings, the page views — you’ve got to deliver those numbers to the advertisers who pay your bills, just like most every other form of entertainment. (Make no mistake: you are an entertainment organization, not a news organization.) And it’s easier for your audience to digest tragedy befalls child than it is Constitution buggered, especially in bite-sized chunks.

But that’s not what I want out of my news. That tragedy doesn’t personally affect me or my family or my friends; the tragedies regularly occuring in Washington do. I want to be informed, to be educated, to be made to think about what’s going on in my country and my world… not to be bludgeoned with the Hammer of Isn’t It Horrible. Count me out.

Sincerely,
A Disgusted and Disgruntled Ex-Viewer


Written by Allen

October 6th, 2006 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Media,Politics