Thursday, March 30, 2006

I've been meaning to make a new post for a while.

Recently a rather large score of friends has contacted me via MySpace; two cousins, a high school friend, and my best friend. I had gotten out of the habit of checking MySpace.

I took the time to look up a few of my old friends, like they did. I found people who I have missed so much! I find it strange to suddenly see them at my fingertips. What do we say? Should we try to "hang out" on MySpace? MySpace fosters such a different community from a typical blog community. I think it would be a very real challenge to have any sort of meaningful contact. Let me explain what I mean.

MySpace is full of music files, pictures, "comments," kudos, and the ever-growing "friends" list. It's a high-school popularity contest all over again. Every blog you write will be seen by everyone else (or at least everyone who is on your friend's list). All their comments are seen by all your friends too. To get any privacy on MySpace, you have to send messages, which are sort of pseudo-emails.

It's easy to get graphicy with that site, so the tendancy is NOT to get intellectual. It's full of smilies and "kudos" and personality quizes.

A few of these people I used to be close with. We lost touch along the way. Picking it back up with emoticons just -- cheapens that relationship, I think. I could move the conversation to email; at least there I'd feel there was some legitamite effort to contact the real person. MySpace isn't real.

I can't really define why that is.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Because democracy matters

According to Penny Arcade, "This Is What Democracy Looks Like." Please click on the link; Tycho's opinion piece is pretty interesting.
I realize our age demographic typically doesn't vote. But if there were ONE banner you would stand under... if there were ONE group that could really get you fired up about voting, who would it be?

I'd have to go with the "lesser of two evils" campaign myself...

Speaking of democracy, I'd love to be this reporter:

REPORTER: "And the second question--can you promise a year from now that you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?"

BUSH W. : "Uhh, the second question is a trick question, so I won't answer it."
--Oct. 28, 2003 in the Rose Garden.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More brain pain

I'm masochistic, aren't I?

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table." --Good ol' G. W., Feb. 22, 2005 in Brussels, Belgium.

On the topic of contradictions, don't worry; we can't deny India the right to Nukes. Iran's a different story...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Late nights, coffee, deadlines, and Darth Vader

I'm running on three hours of sleep.

My beat is the Rancho Cordova city council. The city is friendly and young--it's like a lamb in the sunshine, really. Enthusiastic, almost bouncy. Helpful to the extreme. It wears a perfect white shiny coat, and it bounds all over the place.

But the city council members are too enthusiastic. I left that meeting last night at 1:40 a.m. and it still was not done! Their discussions are laboriously off-topic. They get bogged down in details that do not pertain to the city policy before them. Worst of all, they are unused to making decisions as a team! I can't tell you how many times last night two council members talked over each other purposely--for at least fifteen seconds--before having to repeat themselves because no one can hear anything when two mics are battling.

One of the councilmen was in Florida during this time. He had to stay up talking on the phone until 4 a.m. his time, then he had a meeting in three hours. (Anecdotally, he was hooked to a mic, and the whole time was Darth Vader-breathing onto the speakers. No one said anything to him, but everyone laughed about it.)

I sat next to Sac Bee reporter Molly Dugan, who has also been very helpful. She said not to give up on journalism because of this council. "I've covered fifteen other councils, and this one is the worst by far," she told me.

The poor lady had a deadline of 1 a.m. She had to call in to say the deadline wouldn't be made. Worse, she had to teach a class at 8 a.m. She was drinking coffee.

The council's late-night deliberations not only are rude and inconsiderate, they do NOT seem conductive to local democracy. The people are not all able to participate in such a long-winded discussion. Half the commenters left before they were able to speak on the issue they came to speak about!

As a result, my story smells worse than a field of cows. I couldn't get any reaction to their final decision... I don't fully understand what that decision means--and to be fair, they don't either. They left their decision vague on purpose! I did not even stay to see the complete final decision. And why should I have? I kid you not when I say they spent ten minutes debating whether or not to put the word "and" into their policy. I came home at 2 a.m., spent an hour on the story, only quoted people whose names I knew how to spell, got up three hours later and rushed to class. I'm in class now, typing this - if I didn't have class, I'd be on the phone getting reactions to the events of last night.

So there you have it. I feel more than a little like I've set myself up to fail this time around. I'm really hoping that all future deadlines are on Thursday, not Tuesday! And when it comes time for me to really be hired at a paper... I won't schedule anything for the morning after a meeting. I'll use stims and get that story right the first time. Until I'm paid to lose sleep, I'll leave the meetings early and just read about it in the Bee!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Buying gold for virtual worlds

This opinion piece discusses paying real-life currency for in-game gold. From the article:

Other critics claim that buying from companies like IGE supports "gold farming" sweatshop operations run primarily in China. IGE executives have denied such connections. Along those lines, popular game blog Joystiq ( reported recently that South Korean fans of the popular online role-playing game Lineage have engaged in a border war of sorts with Chinese players who they suspect are working for gold farmers. Roving vigilante groups of Korean players have been attacking characters who cannot respond to their online questions in the Korean language.

Really? Wow. (That's a feat of... well... cross-faction communication. Aside from that logistical problem? YIKES!)

I have to admit I've been tempted to buy gold before. Whooee, some of that 600-gold gear looks spicy! But no virtual possession is really worth my money... especially if it supports a sweatshop, or a gang.

Here's one of the sweet/fascinating things about the online world. Everyone starts out equal. There are no disadvantages to be born with, no class, no real social structure. As soon as players can pay real money for virtual wealth, all that inherant equality is taken away. Instantly, your rich players sit at the top in PVP ranks, and look cooler than the rest of us.

I understand not having the time nor desire to farm up gold. I'm totally there. I'm also a bit of a hardcore roleplayer. If your character wouldn't be down with spending the time... then she's not going to be rich!

There is definately a work aspect to gameplay in WoW. You do have to grind away at the levels and at your professions. That is crappy. It takes time which equals money. And for those of us who don't have the time, but have the money, it seems like a viable solution.

I'd totally go for it, if the money went to a player who was having fun. But sweatshops and farmers really do get on my nerves. That's not just. Especially for something as trivial as online goods! Outside of that ONE program, you realize, those possessions won't do me any good!

Human decency and respect FTW.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

OMG Scary Kill It!!!!11

He unleashed the beast on the people
When it hit no one cried or screamed

They all went about their business

Getting back to the front of the TV screen

Now the thing, he's part of you

He'll keep your pride alive

And who are they to accuse you?

I guess they think that thing's a lie!
The Thing in the Bass Amp, by the Aquabats

This song has always reminded me of the fear that comes with something or someone that is poorly understood. For example... MySpace!

In Poynter's look at what was over-covered in the media this week, it's mentioned that most major TV networks ran a bit about MySpace, throwing it in a scary light and warning parents to keep an eye on this social evil.

Scary predators are out there. Children online are targets. Kids can post hurtful comments about each other. You know, it IS scary. But it's nothing a little caution and dialogue can't control.

The hype about MySpace reminds me of a number of things my parents had irrational fears of when I was growing up, because they didn't take the time to really understand those things... Dungeons and Dragons, because roleplaying made kids kill themselves... Teen magazine, because it was playboy for girls... Hotmail, because it sounded BAD!

Parents need to stay aware of the new dangers that come with each new technology and use of technology. They need to be aware of "fads." But they need to understand these issues too, before they can judge them. Obviously hotmail wasn't any more dangerous than the family email host... Obviously, MySpace is as dangerous as ANY site online.

Internet responsibility everywhere means your kid will be safe anywhere. Dialogue between parents and kids will help both parties to truly understand what's happening. Us media junkies, we get to help that along by deciding what light to play something in.

As Poynter's Scott Libin said: I think we'll be talking for quite a while to come about, similar sites and the social trends they reflect. The question is not whether journalists should be covering them, but how.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Blond periodic table!

This slideshow makes fun of the many blond newscasters we see on TV. According to Slate's Jack Shafer, 20% of the adult female population is naturally blond, while 33% look the part. That number is thrown way out of proportion on the tele. We blonds rule the world, according to TV!

Tha part that really cracks me up is at the very end: Fox lips. I'm a natural blond, and discovered that no lip color other than pink looks good on me. Now that I'm associating that color with the conservative arm of American TV, I think I'll pass...

In typing this, I discovered a struggle within myself: how should I spell "blond" - with or without the e? Certain connotations come with being a "blonde." A blonde is romantic, exotic, and wears Greek sheets. A blond just has ... hair. In desiring not to oversex myself, I'll go with "blond."

And completely unrelatedly, 20 students have been arrested in the latest school crackdown of MySpace. One kid wrote up some threats; 20 classmates were suspended for VIEWING those threats. Poor Costa Mesa. Sorry, kids: do your surfing at home lest you click on a friend's web site and discover by accident that he likes to put babies on spikes.

Freedom of speach for minors is an issue that will explode! How much responsibility can minors truly take for publishing their thoughts, when they may not realize those thoughts are public? In the above case, the boy's blog was for registered friends only. You had to have permission to see it. Therefore the threats were not directed at the person. Does the school have any right to punish him for his private thoughts?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Once again, my brain is hurt.

And I must share that hurt with the world...

"I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily, or, you know, different color than white can self govern."
--G. W. Jan. 30, 2004 at the Oval Office.

On that note, I'm tired of voting for the lesser of two evils! No hidden agendas! Even if it means going with the Republican candidate.