Friday, January 30, 2009

Higher and Higher on The Finally Friday Freakout

I grumped home with groceries and thoughts in my mind. I'm incubating a new project and I'm looking at old and new ways of presenting information. I sometimes go over to Turner Movie Classics and watch old movie trailers.

It is a kind of reverse engineering project I do from time to time. I look at how the trailer was created. I look at the use of images, text and audio to understand the technique of persuasion. TMC also has clips of actors talking about their favorite actors or films.

Not sure if I saw this on TMC or YouTube but there was an interview with actor Michael Caine. I love that guy, great actor. Anyway, he was saying that he loves his life and his career. He wanted people to know that life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the real thing and to stop hesitating about living. In good times and bad live. In essence stop worrying  and  use the “good china.”

I wanted to do that in 2008 but things happened. I learned from my experiences but became skittish about stepping past the known to the unknown. Now I had no idea that crooks in white collars would sink the economy. So a little caution is not a bad thing. I'm glad that I had to hold back a bit, I have new ideas that might be better than the old ones.

I was giving my annual Love Scrooge pronouncements. Yeah, I don't like that day. Being told all damned day that I should be a two-fer instead of one and only is not fun.

One of the things that I said was that I was going to wrap myself in music that hugs me and doesn't put me in a bad place. So first up is Mr. Jackie Wilson. When you watch the video count the number of performers that seemed to be influenced by this man. This is a speeded up version of Higher and Higher but dig that feet action.



Great songs get re-interpreted. This is a nice version by Michael McDonald:


And because I need to make amends to those that can love with their hearts first and brains second this is Michael McDonald with India.Arie working on a little something called Your All I Need To Get By


Since I am the Love Scrooge, I would rather dance my way out of my funk than draw up more negativity. Cuz really it is foolish to fight love and those that insist upon on doing so.

On a karmic level it is not a good thing to do. So let us return to the teachings of master entertainer Jackie Wilson with help from Shindig with a grand version of Baby Work Out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Medical Ethics, Bloggers and The Ethics of Integrity

I was in the doctor’s office. There was no nurse or attendant to act as a witness. The doctor spent a great deal of time examining my breasts. I wasn’t sure it was necessary but he had a white coat, a stethoscope and a degree on the wall. He kept going over my areolas and examining my nipples. The room was cold. I was uncomfortable.

Finally he told me to put my blouse back on and wait in the next room.  I was confused, did something just happen or is it my imagination?

As I sat in the waiting room, I felt ickier by the second. I grabbed my handbag and ran out of the place.  I kept searching my mind to find out what I had said or indicated to him that he could do that kind of thing. Worse, I didn’t feel I had the right to tell him he was way out of line.

The reality of course is that I had done nothing wrong. I was programmed to trust the situation. I had been told that doctors can do no wrong. He was a man with a medical license AND he was a creep. These days I bring my distrust through the door with me, ask questions and have primarily female physicians, if possible.

Why Do We Need Medical Ethics?

We need a common ground of acceptable and responsible behavior, particularly in a setting where humans may be required to expose themselves physically or emotionally. There has to be an understood foundation of trust, communication and respect.

Some people are having trouble with the concept. Denise Tanton in her post on Blogging for Choice briefly mentioned and provided a link to a story about a court case concerning a Nurse Practitioner who is charged with removed a patient IUD without consent. From the Courthouse News Service this is a little more of the story:

A clinic nurse first removed her intrauterine birth-control device without permission, the patient claims in a federal action, then told her that "having the IUD come out was a good thing," because "I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don't know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them."

Invasion of a person’s body autonomy, decision making abilities and disrespect for individual belief systems will have me searching for my invisible baseball bat. As I viewed the American Nursing Association Code of Ethics what this woman has allegedly done was a violation of the nursing ethics code, particularly section 2.2 where it talks about nurses dealing with conflicts of interests, both personal and professional.

If there was just one core ethical standard for the practice of medicine and providing heath care maybe our decisions would be easier. I regret to inform you that there isn’t one clear standard or code. There are dozen of them. For example, there is the World Medical Association’s International Code of Medical Ethics. This is a selection:

A PHYSICIAN SHALL always exercise his/her independent professional judgment and maintain the highest standards of professional conduct.

A PHYSICIAN SHALL respect a competent patient's right to accept or refuse treatment.

A PHYSICIAN SHALL not allow his/her judgment to be influenced by personal profit or unfair discrimination.

A PHYSICIAN SHALL be dedicated to providing competent medical service in full professional and moral independence, with compassion and respect for human dignity.

I like the Australian Medical Association Code of Ethics because they leave nothing to the imagination. Particularly these sections:

Ensure that doctors and other health professionals upon whom you call to assist in the care of your patients are appropriately qualified.
Make sure that you do not exploit your patient for any reason.
Avoid engaging in sexual activity with your patient.
Refrain from denying treatment to your patient because of a judgement based on discrimination.
Respect your patient's right to choose their doctor freely, to accept or reject advice and to make their own decisions about treatment or procedures.

A stated code of practices or medical ethics reminds medical professionals that trust is given because of education, skills and the nature of the work. It is more of a goal . You want those medical professional to know the Hippocratic oath or their respective ethics code but it isn’t binding. Laws concerning medical licensing are more explicit and legally effective.

Certainly the various medical professions work very hard to remove the blighters. Medical journalists and science writers do help to keep an eye on the lower forms of life. Medical Ethics bloggers also contribute to protecting the community as well.

Medical Ethics Bloggers

It is not just medical professionals that we need to keep an eye on. There are ethical issues about the intersections of medicine, technology and religion. There is also an increasing vocal population of providers who are invoking their faith based right to deny services. Medical Ethics Bloggers covers a wide topic area but these are folks you should know.

Maggie Mahar at The Health Beat Blog and a contributor to

Maggie writes about medical industry practices and asks thoughtful questions about living wills, media incorrectly identifying and reporting health care reform issues (remember CNN firing all their science reporters?) and the important things like the necessity of doctor – patient communications. Her post on Do Non-Profit Hospitals Deserve Their Tax Breaks? talks about the legacy names of formerly religious and charitable hospitals that are shielded from taxation. Some are located in areas that provide little or no charitable healthcare services to low income populations. There are additional issues of non-profit hospitals circumventing their tax status and questions who is providing the bulk of low and non-income health care.

Jessica Arons at RH Reality Check

In December 2008 Former President GW Bush President Bush issued an order known as The Right of Conscious Rule. It allows medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers to refuse to participate in any way in morally "objectionable procedures." Jessica Arons post on HHS Provider Conscious Rule Puts Public Health In Danger has an extensive write up on the potential effects of such an order can have on the medical profession.

Nancy Walton, Ph.D at The Research Ethics Blog

Nancy and co-blogger Chris MacDonald look at the ethical aspects of using human subjects to test new medicines, procedures and the process of controlling the level of risk for those participants. Nancy wrote a clarification update about a misrepresented article by the Associated Press. The article stated that there was a research project on Autism in young children in which some of the children would receive treatment and some would not.  The report was inaccurate:

Dr. Greenspan wrote to me this week and indicated that, although the AP report is out there, it is completely inaccurate. He is not conducting (nor would he ever conduct) studies on children at risk of or diagnosed with autism in which no treatment was offered.

Nancy also has a post on an infamous research experiment conducted in the 1960s.

For most of us who work or teach in the area of research ethics, when we talk about experiments like Milgram's, typically to initiate a classroom discussion on whether or not "bad ethics" necessarily implies "bad science", we usually end by saying something definitive like, "But most ethics review boards would never allow Milgram's work to be done today.

Well someone has replicated the research with “modern controls” to prevent abuse. Those of us old enough to remember seeing it on 60 Minutes had the shivers for days. You can read more and watch for her review of the article when it is published in American Psychologist.

For every medical decision there is an opinion. Medical Ethics bloggers can give you are perspective that your local TV news reader can’t begin to wrap their mouths around.  As always I invite your comments.

For More Information:

You can compare the classic version of the Hippocratic Oath with the modern one created by by Louis Lasagna, Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University.

If you would like to know the exact language of the Right of Conscious Rule you can read a copy from U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. It is a 42 page document.

Download an information sheet on what a Nurse Practitioner is and the level of her responsibilities from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Borders On Being Silly - I Can Read & Count

It has been a long time since I walked into a book store. I love books. I have an addiction to computer magazines, the UK ones but I'll read a US computer magazine in a pinch. I hadn't been in a bookstore in three months. Probably explains why I have more money in my account.

I just happened to walk in today. Got my computer mags that I buy with the CD of free software. Mass quantities of Linux distributions to explore. (When? I'm time challenged as it is?)

Anyway, I walked by this table with a big honking banner that said buy 1 book and get the other for 1/2 price. I look up at the banner and look down on a bunch of neatly stacked books. Julie Cameron's new writing book and a book about clean eating.

I study the other contenders and head for the counter. Young lady rings me up. $65 and some change. The addition in my head is banging the gong. "Excuse me, but aren't these books a part of the promotion?" She said "no, they don't have a sticker on them."

I point to the seven foot banner hanging from the ceiling. " But the banner said that you buy one and get the other for half." She sighs and ask for register back-up.

I can read her face and tell her to please remove the books from my purchase. The young lady ask a co-worker who confirms if they don't have a sticker they are full price.

This is known as the old okie-doke. Customer has books in hand. There is a slight bond or relationship between me and the book. If you are well off you might say ok, ring them up.

I, on the other hand, am a very frugal shopper. My love runs hot and cold.

Every book in my home is invited. With the except of a book by Gore Vidal where I did pay full price cuz he cracks me up, I buy on sale. I would have bought one of the books if I was told the honest price. It is on the back of the book. I know cuz I flipped it over to figure out the discounted amount of two books.

I am telling you true. None of the books on either side of that table had any sticker on them. The table ahead with no banner had a few books with stickers but I only saw them as I was leaving the store.

I do not like being manipulated. I really don't like being told that what I see is not the truth. Yeah, I know times are rough, a merchant got to do what they got to do but running the old flim flam is what is closing Circuit City's stores right now.

How do I get store managers to understand that if I can't trust you to indicate clearly which books are on sale and those that are not then why should I come in your store? Blaming a mythical customer for placing a non-sales book on the table is bull. All of the books were stacked, untouched. There was no stray book.

I do shop Amazon, Powell's and Sounds True. I don't have to put up with limited coupons on receipts that I never can use. Or e-mail promotions I can't see because I've blocked the images in my e-mail program.

I know every used bookstore in a five mile radius so really I don't need the hassle of looking for a red sticker or a green sticker or walking through an obstacle course to get to checkout.

"Please remove the books." I asked. Well she didn't know how to do that so she canceled the purchase and rang me up all over again. I was cool. It wasn't her fault.

It was business. The way business is currently being performed. Newspapers heading south, retailers shutting their doors, like the one across the street and the one in back of your store? Take a hint why don't you? It is not too late.

Well, good luck to you. I'm done. Maybe in six months I will have forgotten. Probably not. I'm kinda steamed and I have a long memory about these things. If you are still operating and a friend wants to go in sure, I'll follow. That is if I can't talk him out of it first.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Aretha Franklin on the Finally Friday Freakout

There is a comedy bit that a certain DJ likes to say about Aretha, "She is your Queen, she is your only Queen." He would brook no disrespect about her weight, husbands or anything not supporting or embrasing Ms. Franklin. I'm not too far away from that myself. Each generation certainly has the right to define who is their musical focal point and bearer of the torch.

This was one of my favorite songs of Aretha's. I think I was mooning over a boy that in no way shape of form I was gonna be able to talk to. It was the lie of him being so cute that I could not had have a chance in hell. This is Don't Play That Song For Me.

The wall of sound is attributed to Phil Spector. In reality in certain neighborhoods that I lived in there was a wall of musical influences that were not being constricted by the record companies. You heard everything.

Yeah, there was payola but there was such a range of music before things got locked down and formulated. Homogenized. The prevention of one-hit wonders which was a feeder system to let folks get a taste for something new. Perhaps with the Internet it will be possible to infuse new forms of music and have that diversity again.

In the meantime, this is from the show Shingdig with Ray Johnson on the keyboards with Aretha version of Mockingbird.

Major props to my Queen on her inaugural performance and serious props on that hat. My maternal grandmother would have loved it and I think would have set to work trying to make a copy of it. Grams would have loved that hat and that gentle woman would be flooding up with more tears of joy seeing Aretha in Washington, DC as she would have had for the day itself.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Wish I Was There But I'm Glad I'm Here - Inauguration Memory

I'm wanted to make sure that some of my friends in other countries that can't view U.S. Video hosting sites could see the day as it happens. I'm sure international television and CNN International has got this covered but I wanted to make sure no viewer was left behind. I had originally had a link for Ustream TV.

You might also be able to still check out C-Span's coverage for a non-yackety yack version and Hulu is sharing FoxNews Feed. You might want to keep the sound down until the oath if you have to go that way.

How Shall I See You Through My Tears: Standing At The Inaugural Crossroads

I'm standing in the crossroads. It is a joyous hurt indeed. This past week I bounced from idea to idea until I landed on a book called The American Women’s Almanac: An Inspiring and Irreverent Women’s History by Louise Berntrow.  Hmm,  what historical women could I invite to watch the ceremony along with a group of history bloggers?

Ann Hutchinson, who in 1634, believed that women could comprehend words of faith as well as men could.  She committed the crime of sharing her faith with other women and dare assert that she could talk to God without the assistance of a man.  The Puritans banished her from the town. Ann might like to converse with Heather of Not A DIY Life to learn how some contemporary women who are free to publically express their faith and demonstrate how women now have multiple ways of expressing faith that is incorporated into everyday life.

Certainly I’d have to invite both Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth but I would expect that Harriet wouldn’t like to be confined in a room when she could roam in a new land but I’d take a chance on it just the same. Viola Liuzzo, was a housewife killed as she was bringing marchers back to Selma, Alabama. I’d have them meet with SO Katie who would get them caught up on progress and how there is still a struggle with civil rights for members of the GLBT community.

I could have Jenny from the American President’s Blog speak with Mary Todd Lincoln, free from her addiction and pain to witness the country united as one of her husband’s Emancipation Proclamation speech. I need to make room for Eleanor Roosevelt for her perspective of being an activist First Lady. Mrs. Lincoln did not believe in women’s suffrage (early feminism) and I’m thinking Mrs. Roosevelt with her actions in and out the White House might give her the vapors. I may need Jenny to sit between them as a buffer.

The crossroad in our lives are not paved only to look at the lessons of the past but to look ahead and nurture our future. Standing in the middle point of the road I can look back and a little bit forward. Part of our job is to inform the children born of this time of our history so that they can visualize what will be possible in their lives.

Chicago Grade School Students From Share My Inauguration Interview Robin Roberts

Thanks to the McCormick Foundation Share My Inauguration project 24 students from Chicago’s Frazier Preparatory Academy have the opportunity to witness the swearing in of the 44th President of the U.S.  From the web site:

During their four-day journey to Washington, D.C., the students will visit landmarks such as the Capitol Building and the Smithsonian and attend the inauguration and an inaugural ball. When they return to Chicago, the DC 24 will publish a newspaper describing their experience and deliver a presentation about their trip to parents, faculty and peers.

There was an unexpected added bonus. The students had an opportunity to interview ABC News reporter Robin Roberts at the Smithsonian Museum. This is a digital age so the kids came ready with Flip camcorders,digital cameras and questions.

In this first segment, Robin Roberts answers questions on why she is visiting the Smithsonian Museum: 


In this next clip, Kierra and the DC24 students ask what does she think the President will do? After the interview Kierra explains how she felt about meeting Ms. Roberts.


Well, there is much to do. After I finished getting gooey-eyed I have to figure out the direction I want to take. I struggle with it every day but the correct answer is forward.

More Resources:

  • You can find out more about Ann Hutchinson by reading  a narrative of her activities in the collection “The Story of New England Pilgrims 1620 and of 1624 via Google Books.
  • For more on Sojourner Truth the University of Pennsylvania has and electronic copy of her book “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth”, dictated by the author and edited by Olive Gilbert.
  • For more info on Eleanor Roosevelt you can visit her biography page from the FDR Library and Museum site.
  • You can view actual FBI documentation on Viola’s case and the people responsible for her death. 
This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

In Search of Blogging Ethics – Starting Points

Low life scumbags have been stealing blog posts for a long time. I remember finding one of my videos surrounded by ads for a violent movie. Thing was I think I had recorded a peace march. You think that advertiser got his money’s worth?

When I e-mailed the person asking him to take down my video he replied that since he was outside of the U.S. American laws didn’t apply to him. It was on the Internet and it was free so why should I be upset? Since he had ripped off a number of people eventually he was convinced of the error of his ways.

By the way, if you are reading this entire post inside of another blog that isn’t on BlogHer or Out On The Stoop and there are advertisements around the post you should know that it is straight up theft.  What got me started on this post was that I can’t stop thinking about J.D.’s post over at Get Rich Slowly on How Much Money Would It Take for You to Compromise Your Principles? What is fascinating to me is that there were people who honestly did not see a problem of posting without disclosure of a post being an advertorial. They would have taken the money and not blinked an eye.

When I use a term like low life scumbags it is because some foul lump of meat is ripping off post from the blog Mother’s with Cancer and presenting it as their own work. There are other words I would like to use. 

Ethics, people! We have to have ethics or as Crosby Stills & Nash taught us, “You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by. And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a goodbye.” If you don’t want you visitors leave you in the dust you need to brush up on matter of ethics.

What Are Ethics?

I started out looking for a definition of ethics. There isn’t just one. It does depend on who you ask. I started with Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

The field of ethics, also called moral philosophy, involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior.

I tried the dictionary approach: the philosophical study of moral values and rules. Ok so ethics is the study of morals? What are morals? Motivation based on ideas of right and wrong. I swing back over to another philosophy encyclopedia at Stanford University and they have over 601 sub-sections on every kind of ethics imaginable.

Thank goodness for the BBC. They actually have a very clear understandable seven page section on What Is Ethics? for their Region and Ethics portal site:

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that covers a whole family of things that have a real importance in everyday life.

  • Ethics is about right and wrong
  • Ethics is about rights and duties
  • Ethics is about good and bad
  • Ethics is about what goodness itself is…

My understanding of ethics is the instructional code that is placed inside of you by your parents, culture, environment and dozens of other societal reference points that help you make good or bad decisions. As an added bonus your emotions, wants and needs play a substantial part in creating your code.

As we get older and join different communities and cultures, that code of right and wrong gets tested, altered and sometimes quietly smashed for the sake of a greater payoff/reward. However if there is core foundation of “ethics” of what is or isn’t the right thing to do then you might not be swayed so quickly to the dark side.

Ethics in Blogging Past and Present

In 2002 Rebecca Blood of Rebecca’s Pocket wrote one of the first posts on blogger ethics. Although others certainly have written about blogging ethics and have attempted to set up a blogging code of honor this was a thoughtful attempt to help bloggers do the right thing.

Later in 2003 also tried to quantify ethical blogging behavior:

Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Bloggers should:
• Never plagiarize.
• Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
• Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

I am not a journalist, I am a writer and blogger. But there is some overlap in terms of being responsible, honest and transparent. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has its own Code of Ethics that I learned about in a seminar held by the SPJ in June of 2008. It was a bridge and an opportunity for journalists to share what works and what bloggers should be aware of when blogging in public:

Never plagiarize. (You really can’t say that one enough, don’t steal other people’s work.)
— Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
— Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

Kate Trgovac at My Name is Kate clearly states what she will do and what she expects from visitors. Kate does tell you that she is a marketer and understands the needs of both sides but that does not mean you get to run a game on her:

This is my blog.  I write about stuff that interests me.  Sometimes that includes my clients.  And sometimes that includes stuff that has been sent to me for free as a review or evaluation copy. 

I will ALWAYS disclose if I am blogging about a client.
I will ALWAYS disclose if I have received a product for free.

Some bloggers like Karen at Good Dog Owners vs. Bad Dog Laws keeps her ethics simple, she will not disrespect people, period.

So, in conclusion, I would suggest that you start thinking about what you would and would not do in regards to your blog. There is no one answer but there are things that are flat out wrong. If you have questions drop them in the comment section.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Janis Joplin on the Finally Friday Freakout

Yeah, I know. Some days are longer than others. I'm waiting for something and I don't know what it is I am waiting for. I was talking to someone yesterday. Really talking, not surface bullshit and it had been a while since I've been able to do that.

Many people want to be talked to but in reality they want someone to listen to their stuff and not be open to what you have to say or the questions you may ask. That is okay. Sometimes it is necessary to be heard without judgment or editorial comment. In a demented sort of way that I don't really mean I wish we could communicate like Janice did on stage. This is Take Another Piece of My Heart.

I learned how not to be a raw as Janis Joplin. Meaning you can't give it up every time somebody wants something from you. You will become depleted if you do and then you try to fill up on smoke and piles of pills. To be clear I don't smoke and drugs don't do it for me. It is not people or shoes or...

But that is not to say that I haven't felt like putting it all out there and the world be damn. That is what I liked about Janice's performances. She could be chemically high, and probably, was but the girl aimed for the rafters with her voice. This is Try from the Woodstock Festival.

It isn't about change. It is about transformation and that is a whole lot harder to do. I hope we make it. I hope I make it. I am waiting for something. I hope it gets here soon otherwise I'm gonna have to start looking for it myself.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Memories of Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner

I just heard that Mr. McGoohan has made his transition to the other realm. I have memories of watching Secret Agent Man (Danger Man in the UK) with my paternal grandfather. It was more like I would annoy him with questions as he tried to watch TV.

It was a very different time. In the summer it could be so hot that you didn't want to go out or necessarily stay inside. There wasn't air conditioning. There were open windows or a fan or if you were really lucky two fans.

Wet T-shirts had nothing to do with displaying your sex appeal. It was functional use with the fan blowing on you so you could sleep. You could hear the fight down the street or if it was really hot people would just exhausted. It could be so quiet you could hear the trolley from two blocks up.

There was nothing to do but read or watch TV. There were only three channels. Three and a half if you counted National Education Television, which was the precursor to PBS. That only came on air after 4:30/5pm if we were lucky.

Anyway, The Prisoner was a summer replacement for the Jackie Gleason program. I was really young when I saw The Prisoner on CBS. I don't want to give the impression that I was a sophisticated kid. It was a matter of my kinda recognizing the actor and something about being chased by a giant balloon.

So I watched. I can tell you that I did understand that this was a guy who quit his job and was about to get out of town when he woke up in a strange place. I understood he wanted to escape and did everything in his power to do so. Every week he was right back where he started.

And that big-A balloon did scare me a bit. I didn't care for the things in the first place but to be hunted by one. Freaky.

The Prisoner is a long lasting gift. Kind of like Rocky and Bullwinkle. As I grew older, I got the inside jokes and the hidden and not so hidden messages. The fears changed from balloons to conformity. Or maybe understanding the illusions of security. How safe do you want to be and what would you give up. What defines your integrity and can it be stripped from you?

It was visually clean and I hope the cinematographer got an Emmy or something. 40 years on the thing still looks beautiful.

AMC is doing a 2009 remake of the program.. If they must so be it but I don't see why. It was designed as a limited series with a beginning, middle and end. It is perfect just as it is. They better do it right because this is an anchor point for many lovers of good television.

It is great to catch up on the series and learn my next set of lessons. American Movie Channel is showing all 17 episodes of the original series online or you can watch one minute summaries of the episodes.

Really, don't do that, you will be cheating yourself and you are gonna turn around and watch the whole thing anyway.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Words and The Paths Of Desire - Lexographical and Grammatical Musings

I was in bed Sunday night, listening to Latino USA on NPR. I heard an interview with Reverend Ignacio Castuera speaking about tolerance and how words, concepts and perceptions change over time. You can listen to an mp3 recording of the interview.

Toward the end he explained that when the founding fathers said “We hold these truths to be self evident” it was only intended for wealthy male land owners and their sons. However, the words and the concepts behind them grew greater than any man in that room could have imagined.

The words found their path of desire. It is an architecture term used to describe when humans collectively or instinctively create a walking path to a destination. What was impossible is now visible. For example: You have a building. You have a cement walkway pointing toward the building. Yet there is often a diagonal line found in a path of trampled grass that people have created to find their way to the building.

Bingo, that is a path of desire. Building planners can anticipate it but they don’t always get it right. We also build paths of desire with words, concepts and meanings. So here are a few bloggers that, in their own ways, are building language paths of desire.

Prescriptive, Descriptive and How Folks Talk Around Here

If you want to start a fight among word junkies, scientists and historians just ask about what function a dictionary should serve. To tell you literally what a word means or gives you the context to understand the meaning?

Darling Nikki at Grown Up Girl Lost shares her pre-teen confusion on her mom’s insistence on “looking it up in the dictionary.”

Something I never understood was the constant referring to the dictionary. It was like the 70s parents bible to half assed parenting! “Muuuum, how do you spell complicated?” Response? “Look it up in the dictionary!” Are you freakin’ serious? What is it, a state secret?

Erin McKean blogs  at Dictionary Evangelista. She is also an lexicographer and editor of the Oxford American Dictionary. In 2007 at the TED Conference she gave a wonderful presentation about words, dictionaries and the living force of meaning. The presentation is 18 minutes. You won’t be sorry.


Heather at Single Multilingual is an Au Pair in Italy and an observer of languages. Her two young charges insisted that her dark brown hair was blonde:

In Italian, there exist the colours blonde, brown and black, but the cut off line between what is actually defined as blonde or brown is different to that in English. Anyone who has seen the colour of my hair will agree that it is a medium to dark shade of brown in English terms. However, when I attempted to explain this to dark haired Marta, I was met with rigid opposition. "Absolutely not,” cried Marta, “There’s no way. I have brown hair! Yours is "biondo scuro" (dark blonde)." "She's right," added Ludovica, "in Italy, anyone with your shade of hair would choose to dye it blonde. It is light enough to be possible. As for us, we have true brown hair."

Yes, location, location, location. I can tell you from my experience, if the locals call it “Water Ice” do not refer to it a “Shaved Ice” unless the is someone shaving a block of ice in your presence and putting flavor syrup around the cone. It is not the same thing, although conceptually, it is. But it isn’t. Honest, trust me on this one. It is not just what the words say they mean but their location and context in the environment used play a huge role in understanding.

There Are Rules and Then There Are Rules to Be Broken

Yes, there are rules about the spoken form of language and the written form of language. And they are necessary.

I try my best but I sense there is a Grammarian out there who would love to put me on typographical lock down. In my defense, and it is a limited one, I type as I speak and revise later. If I forget to shift language modes it can be disconcerting. And I’m not supposed to end a sentence like I just did huh? Dang.

I may not have time to read as much as I want to but I certainly can download a podcast or two. Mignon Fogarty at Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing might be helpful where five different books on grammar and usage have failed me. Not that they didn’t have the answers that I needed I just can’t find the books when I do need help.

If you don’t have a media player, no worries, there are transcripts available at the web site. Merrilee Faber at Not Enough words has a helpful post at Stop! Grammar Time offering aid and assistance to those of us that mix up “passed” and “past.”

A Way With Word with Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett kind of takes us back on the multiple paths of desire that the English language can take you. English is a living language and it gets adapted, changed and reinvented all of the time. This is a podcast that can help you find your paths to all of those luscious words that are just waiting for someone to use.

Language is to be used and loved and snarled. Don’t hate the Grammarians but don’t live in fear of them either. They are nice people, except for the posers. Communicate and take your rightful place on the path of desire, Linguistically speaking.

This post appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I'm Only Human on The Finally Friday Freakout

I felt human all this week. It was a crappy week. I am very glad this week is almost over. No, I did not cheat on my mate. For one thing, you have to have a mate to cheat on in the first place.

Second, you have to expend effort to find the person you are gonna cheat with and somehow that strikes me as being bone greedy. If I got a good 98.6 warming up in the bed why do I need to shop around and split my energy? Now if things are not working out then words would have to be exchanged and a relocation project started; but that is another story.

Third, you have to also perform all sorts of moral and practical calculations to convince yourself that it is the right thing to do. It is not, let The Human League break it down for you.

Then again, if the dude was wearing as much make-up as this chap is I'm not so sure I'd fault him for giving into his nature as I would rip him a new one for stealing my lipstick. Dude, my lash curler too?

At the end of a tough week all I can tell you is one, recalled your gratitudes, find your tunes or surround yourself with your books. Or whatever sustains you spirit. It will get better. For the time being I'm going with one foot in front of the other. And slow deep breathing. And forgiveness for not being perfect. And this too shall pass

Monday, January 05, 2009

Caretakers of the National Narrative – National Memory

In a prior post I tried to demonstrate that personal narratives can have an educational and even a healing effect; not just for the storyteller but the recipient of the story as well. That led to the next question. How does a country express the narratives of its people? Who gets to share that story and how is it held in trust for the future? 

I struggled with finding a way to explain this and I happened to land on the Deep Muck Big Rake blog where the writer noticed something interesting between a passage from a Peggy Noonan book and one from a book by Studs Terkle. The short version is if we don’t know our history or the foundation for our beliefs we lose the vision and the purpose of our society.

How do we carry the past forward and incorporate it into our daily narratives?  We make use of existing institutions called universities, libraries, museums and archives. We keep writing and recording.

I am going to try to restrain myself by picking just three narratives that I felt were dominant in 2008 and match them with a “memory keeper” and a blogger or two that represents potential source material for the libraries, museum and archivists of the future. This is purely subjective attempt. I am looking at this from a collection/acquiring perspective.

A Business/Economy Narrative

A few of alumni of Harvard Business School have gotten themselves in trouble on Wall Street this year. I think these were the folks that slid into class just in time to turn in the paper bought from an entrepreneurial student. Unfortunately some of the former alumni got the wrong set of crib notes on the ethics of business class.

I do not wish to cast aspersions on Harvard or the Harvard Business School.  Any university that can have the foresight to create the Baker Business Historical Library is jake with me. The founders of the Harvard Business School understood that business is not just about making money but it is a vital connection point in our society. It is a necessary anchor. Harvard University also had women attending the business school starting in 1937. The library was created to collect books, pamphlets and, yes business stories and business leader profiles to understand trends, concept and long term good business practices. That mission continues today. The library has a public online photo retrospective of its history that anyone can view to witness the higher goals of what good business practices can revel about how we intended to do business.

So who might the future librarians and acquisition staff look for in 2108? They might take a look at Milena Thomas at Quiet the Thunder. She is a libertarian blogger that would like the country to understand the difference between deregulation; government sponsored support of anything and well, check out what she has to say:

The now-soured phrase “unfettered markets” does little to reveal the sources of unfettered-ness. Government deregulation coupled with private profit-seeking are the Bonnie and Clyde of this crisis – but few bother to mention neither of these activities are laissez-faire pursuits in and of themselves. Quality matters. Therefore, not all deregulation and profit-seeking is created equal. Similarly, neither is all regulation created equal. Furthermore, when any of the above activities enables fraud – those involved deserve punishment, not taxpayer support or continued public service as legislators.

They also might want to document the rise and dominance of women in business by reviewing a post by Amy Blais from the Women On Business  site. Amy lists a few steps that will help ethical entrepreneurs to move forward in 2009. Other possible selections could be from Lauren Bloom at the Business Ethics blog or check out Country Parson who did indeed teach a MBA class on ethics.  I think I know where some of his former students ended up. At least you tried Parson but if they walked in the door crooked, well...

Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Queer Narratives

What do you do when people try to tell you who you are does not exist? How are you supposed to react when other people cite text from their book of beliefs that invalidates your humanity? Or introduce laws that define the limits of your participation in the society?

Well, first you seek others with similar narratives. Then at some point there is a collection or a centralized place to store those narratives. Perhaps viewing a GLBTQ Encyclopedia  or you might decide to build your own museum. At the Gay Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered and Queer Historical Society website is the first stage in the process of building a GLBTQ museum in San Francisco.

You can learn about the origins of the society, watch videos on the GLBTQ YouTube channel, I confess, I got a little distracted in the video section because they had Sylvester singing with Two Tons O’ Fun.

So when the museum is finally built what will be a part of the collection? Certainly some mention of California Proposition 8. Well maybe they will take a look at Moosh In Indy and her perspective:

…Cody is well versed in the laws that are in question as far as the church being a not for profit organization, and a religion’s legal right to get involved in politics. Also an individual’s legal right to be involved in politics. And I’ll let him explain that at a later date if needs be.

As much as I want to scream and yell about this, I’m not going to because I know it’s gut reaction to all the hate that is floating out there in the news and on the internet. I can see both sides. Really, I can. I’m writing this from the dining room of my cousin who has been with his partner for over 10 years.

I have seen plenty of GLBT families who have their crap together WAY more than hetero married couples.  If I had it my way, no one, gay or straight would be allowed to get married unless they were going to take their vows seriously.

I realize a lot of my readers look to me as the token Mormon in situations like this.

Cacilda Jethá and Christopher Ryan counter Pastor Rick Warren’s assertion that marriage has been the same for 5,000 years.

Proposition 8 and similar ballot measures motivated a lot of people. There were million of dollars spent in support of “traditional families.” There is the other side that is represented by California Crusader is an elementary teacher and Proposition 8 grassroots supporter. Jennifer Roback Morse is from Maine and mentions local actions to prevent gay marriages in that state. 

I hope they build the museum with a zettabyte capacity for digital memory. The museum will not lack for subject matter.

Political Women’s Narratives

The mainstream media, both news and entertainment, certainly had an interesting take on women running for political office this year. Either a woman was a nut cracker or a nut cozy. First time in my life that I heard any man say he’d want to do the candidate for the Vice-President of the United States.

According to the National Women’s History Museum there have been 37 other women who have run for the office. You can see photos of the women and learn of paths each of them paved for the next woman to follow. There has been a long term diversity of women in state legislatures.  On the museum’s Women Wielding Power page you can click on a section of the map to find out the pioneering women in your state and their effects on the community and the country.

Anyway, the surface narrative that I heard was of identity or gender representation; especially from conservative women bloggers. They felt that the Republican vice presidential candidate reflected their values, lifestyle and stood solid on their ideology of what they want from the country.

There are more conservative women bloggers, and there is a spectrum of women who consider themselves conservative.  Smart Girl Politics who ask the lyrical question “Do You Travel to the Dark Side and Why?” The dark side being liberal publications and blogs.

I do not, however, go to individual left leaning or liberal websites. What's the point? It's not about their beliefs, it's about mine. I definitely do not go there and try to debate them on their vision of the world. Do you go to the dark side? If you are conservative, do you go to liberal websites and leave comments berating their point of view? Do you go there and call them names, tell them how stupid they are, and they should go back where they came from?

The comments section was very educational. I had no idea I was such a despicable person. Well, you live and you learn. There is also Mom’s on the Right and there are other conservative blogs but I don’t think I’m welcome to do more than lurk. Not sure that they want me to do that, being so close to being evil and despicable.

For the left side you can check out Alicia at  Last Left Before Hooterville or for the centrist among you the Moderate Voice.

Well I guess I want to make sure that Peggy and Studs are resting a little easier no matter which side of the veil they are writing on. I think that if we as a community use and support our institutional memory keepers, the real ones as well as the virtual ones, we will be in good shape.

A version of this post appeared on BlogHer. I made grammatical changes and fixed a sentence or two.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Gnarls Barkley on the Finally Friday Freakout

Before I left for work today I was messing around and some how I got to this video by Gnarls Barkley. I think there was text before the link that said something that the album released in the summer didn't do well. I'm thinking, what?

These men have more talent than two years of contestants on all reality show. When I saw the video I understood why it wasn't in heavy rotation on MTV.

I checked it out the video. I think it is a deep on many levels but let me warn you that it is rough. If you have a broken heart it is rough. If you are tender hearted it is rough.

 If you pass out on the sight of blood do not watch, ok? Having a bout of depression cuz you main squeeze said "See ya?"

Let this one alone.


This is Gnarls Barkley and Who Is Gonna Save My Soul?"

Me, I'm laying low. Not sure what my words mean on a Friday night when I am defending folks right to read a book as opposed to having bad sex. Some days I think we are only three steps ways from the cave.

So much work to do but on whom? It does make me crazy but then I remembered I was born nuts so it is ok.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A 1988 Template Into The Future – Educational Trends

I was about 10 years old. I had just finished a science fiction story that had flying cars,food everywhere and dome housing. I wanted to know if I had a chance to see it in person.  I added my current age decade by decade until I hit 2008. I couldn’t get that old, could I?

Would the world really be like it was in the book or on Star Trek? I wasn’t the only person thinking about the future. The World Future Society has been looking at the current conditions the society is in and tries to project the paths that could change our society in the years to come. I have a copy of the 1988 report with some interesting predictions about the 21st Century.  I’ve selected a few predictions from the 1988 Education related section. Let’s see how well they did guessing our futures.


Educational institutions will be more concerned with ways to assess outcomes and effectiveness of educational programs.

When I thought of this statement No Child Left Behind popped into my head. The intent was fine but the implementation and funding? If you really want to get a handle on what the program is and where does the money go then read this report from George Mason University.

Allison Ohle, gained experience working for Teach for America has an opinion on the program. Yoga Mom looks at NCLB from a parent’s eyes. Joanne Jacobs has a post on Proficiency Promotions that might better serve young students instead of age progressive promotions.

What kind of adults do we want to create anyway? Do we want them to fit a certain kind of mold that is impossible to live up to? Do we want generations of kids that learn or do enough just to pass a very limited hoop? The word “Automatons” comes to mind.

Hannah at makes her case for just being who you are, not what a college application wants her to be. There seems to be a lot of pressure to mold young people into perfect college students and adults. Hannah shouldn’t have to “save the world” in order to improve her chances of going to college.

Mass Media Gets Personal

Mass media will be more personalized as consumers use pa-to-view television to select their entertainment. Viewers will download their choices from a tele-delivery service, paying for the program when they want to see it.

Educational programming on broadcast television has all but disappeared or morphed into edu-tainment.  There are a few educational programs that are delivered on cable television but the Internet has broadened the scope and reach of education. Many of the resources are free or low cost to anyone that wants them.

Part of my challenge in 2009 is to find more goodies out there but to get you started:

Maria Miller’s Homeschool Math Blog helps homeschooling parents find tools and techniques to teach math. Denise at Let’s Play Math has a list of free and low cost math resources for homeschoolers or anyone else in need of brushing up on the skill set.

One of my favorites learning shows is the chemistry Periodic Table of Videos. You can also visit the Periodic Table of Videos on their YouTube channel. Those rascals are constantly causing chemicals to react in very visible ways. Plus I dig the Professor’s hair. You should also be aware of TeacherTube.

Sometimes you want to learn or improve upon a hobby or skill. Candi Cane Canncel on Expert Village has a series of videos that basically teach you how to sew. Or you could visit Craft Gossip for more inspirational stitching ideas.  For general interest type tutorials you can watch

No time to read the software manual? Maybe a video tutorial would work for you. There is also a great graphics and software tutorial web site at for all sorts of graphic software tutorials. Maybe you need access free help such as this page from Smashing Magazine that list 80 Photoshop video tutorials

The Economy and Keeping Up Educationally

Because of fundamental changes in the economy, there will be fewer and fewer well-paying jobs not requiring advanced training. and Education cost will continue to rise; Heavy pressure to control cost will emerge. Loans rather than grants will constitute the main source of financial aid.

Right again, but there would be no way in 1988 to factor in other causes such as war, corporate fraud and the cost of fuel. And there is a block of college students that are in heavy debt due to their educational loans.  So what do you do when you can’t afford to go back to school or take time off work in order to obtain those advanced skills? There is always a way. is a series of six week online classes. You can learn a language, becomes a romance writer, get parenting advice, find professional development skills and more. I have taken a few classes with Ed2Go and it was a good experience. There is an instructor and you get to interact with your classmates in your pajamas. These not for credit classes are inexpensive compared to tuition at some local colleges.

If you do want to attend college or want a head start you should visit iTunesU. You don’t need an iPod player or an iPhone. There are a number of colleges and universities that have posted audio or video lectures online. This is a great opportunity to sample a subject to see if you would be interested in it before you plunk down money for the class.

Don’t want to use iTunesU? Not a problem. Check out your local college or university web site. Many schools have podcasts or videos on academic subjects for example the University of California Channel, all academia, all the time. And yes, you can use YouTube to find other colleges and university academic content.

Well the World Future Society did pretty good with these educational predictions. So what about 2009? Only time and careful observations will tell.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.