Thursday, November 25, 2010

E-mails and talking post

Turkeys are prepped and ready to go in the ovens. I actually do a lot of -- not all -- the cooking myself on Thanksgiving. Though Christmas is also celebrated, this is the big holiday each year with the house overflowing with family and friends. Including Elaine -- we've celebrated all but a handful -- literally less than five -- Thanksgivings since we started freshman year in college. (The bulk of the missed ones due to pregnancies.)

Beth suggested if I did a talking post today it should grab a number of questions for new and old alike. I'll start with one Beth passed on.

Question: Why is it that everyone takes the holidays off except TCI?

First off, today Wally, Cedric and Ann will post. They will post today due to this type of questions which pops up all the time. Mike will most likely post today. Mike usually posts every holiday for that reason -- the question of why.

At The Common Ills, we started in November right before Thanksgiving. I didn't know what I was doing -- and pride myself on still not knowing -- but due to the cooking and prep work I do -- again, I don't do all the cooking, a great deal of it will be catered and brought in later today -- as well as checking all the tables to make sure they're set properly, et al, I am up very early on Thanksgiving Day. I have gaps of time in the schedule and I've already worked out before I start cooking. So the first Thanksgiving (2004) here, I didn't think twice when I had a thirty minute spot of getting online and doing an entry.

Christmas is celebrated but I do very little cooking myself at Christmas and have less down time between dishes. I planned to take Christmas off (in 2004) and had noted that I would be. Krista (of gina & krista round-robin -- and noted with her permission, she's written of that in the newsletter and here and talked about it at Third) e-mailed after I noted that plan. She didn't ask that there be something new up on Christmas Day. She just shared her story about having just finished college, just started her first "adult job" and it requiring her to move hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home to Florida. Her parents wanted her to come home for Christmas and she wanted to as well. But she couldn't afford it. And she knew if she told them that, they would buy her a ticket that they couldn't afford because she had a sibling about to start college. So she lied (they know this story -- and again she's shared it herself) and told them she had to work. She didn't have to work and she really didn't know anyone who wasn't leaving town. So Christmas for her was going to be a frozen turkey dinner, whatever was on the TV and what she describes as "a pity party."

It wasn't a pity party. It can be awful to be alone for the holidays -- it can also be wonderful depending upon your situation.

But in her e-mail, she wrote about how everyone took off on Christmas online. And I didn't know from that. I read Danny Schechter and Bob Somerby regularly and I don't remember Danny taking off ever at that time. (I could be remembering wrong.) Somerby did take off. He took off for 'winter' as well as for 'holidays.' Media Whores Online -- a great site that is sorely missed -- also had taken time off with an "out to pasture" note and then that note hung around forever and the site was no more.

So I thought about her e-mail and thought about what it would be like to be in that situation and it didn't take me but a little bit to write something so, yes, I could write a few things on Christmas Day. I worked overnight pulling from e-mails for a Year-in-Review. And I did three other entries that day. (The Year-in-Review has December 24th date but that's when it was started, not when it was published.)

Krista's e-mail was just the perfect thing to write and, honestly, reminded me of Thanksgiving in college when I was thinking about heading home and then realized Elaine had no where to go. Her brother was overseas and her parents had passed away. Her brother raised her and did so over objections from distant relatives and that was still a source of tension so Elaine wasn't about to spend it with them. (For those who are very late to the soap opera, I 'dated' Elaine's brother. I slept with him many times, I'm not sure we ever dated. He's a great guy. And he is how I met Elaine and he is why we ended up going to college together. He's in banking and his dream was international banking -- which became a dream come true for him which allowed him to retire very early -- but he wasn't doing that until Elaine was in college.) So when that hit me, I decided I'd skip the family holiday and we'd have our own. So Elaine and I did that and invited everyone else who wasn't going home for the holidays. And Krista's e-mail reminded me of that.

In the years since, I've also wondered why people take off to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I'd love a day off where I don't even have to look at the computer. But, let's take handicapping the political races. We don't do that here. I'm not interested. It's full on gas-baggery and if you know anything about elections, most of the 'knowledge' shared -- this is as true online as it is on TV or radio -- I'm not attacking bloggers here -- is crap. So many of these 'experts' don't even know how to read a poll and should be required a research & methodology graduate course (at least one) before weighing in again.

But there are sites that make it their entire lives -- more and more The Nation has made that its entire scope -- and why not, it's cheap to do, it doesn't require research because you just bluster and pretend you know something and most readers won't have a political science background so they'll never know. So if that's what you do -- as so many do -- why do you need a day off on Christmas?

You've reduced everything to wins, stripped issues and the people out of the process. You've turned it all into a psuedo-sport. And, not a big sports fan, but you can find ball games all over TV on the holidays -- they're not taking the day off, why are you?

You mean to tell me that ____ [fill in male blustering blogger's name] is actually making gravy from scratch? Giblet gravy? He's basting the turkey as well? I'm supposed to believe that?

I'm sure there are male bloggers who will be cooking on Christmas Day but I seriously doubt the worthless sort of gas bag is among them.

So I've never understood that need to have the day off since Krista pointed it out. I've also never understood why Pacifica Radio needs to basically shut down for Christmas. And not to be too cruel, but there are a lot of non-Christians doing 'independent' radio and TV and I'm confused as to why they need days off each year for Christmas? Amy Goodman's Jewish. I could understand her needing time off for Jewish holidays. But with her well known hostility towards Christianity, it's always amazed me that she needs several days off each year to 'celebrate.'

Krista's e-mail raised many issues and I couldn't control what everyone did but I could control my own actions. So I made the point to not take the day off. And since then, that's been the policy here. (Which is why, since the first day up to the present, there has been something up here every day. No day off. And that's part of why I am more than willing to pack it in. I've extended for six more months so we're good through July. I'm announcing that early and announcing it here.) Equally true is some people need weeks off online for the holidays. Again, I have no idea what they think they're doing. But we did make a point, in 2005, to do an entry between Christmas and New Year's Eve noting all the sites that were still putting up new content to read. It was really amazing that so many thought they'd so strained themselves that they needed a break of two weeks.

So that's what happens here, at this site, and that's why.

I do not run community sites. I'm a part of The Third Estate Sunday Review but I'm one part -- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and I make up Third, so I'm one-sixth. At Third, we've been late, but we've never missed a week. (One time in DC covering the protests, we had computer problems and we ended up posting part of an article on Sunday with the promise that we'd have it up in full shortly. We had it up in full by six a.m. EST Monday morning and worked all night on it. All the other content had gone up on Sunday.) Other people in the community have their sites and they do what they want and that's up to them.

Any day a snapshot's done, everyone posts. They don't have to, that's what they've decided. Which is why I don't want a snapshot today. But events of the day will determine whether or not there's a snapshot. In 2008, I was furious when the SOFA passed on Thanksgiving Day because it was predicted to pass the next day -- there was a great deal of stalling that had taken place that week -- and when I found it it was late and I knew everyone was going to feel they had to post and post (and they all did). And I felt awful because I knew if I didn't do a snapshot, they could have a pleasant evening. But the SOFA passing (the Iraqi Parliament) was news.

The above just covered 12 e-mails Beth slid over.

What's going on with the backup site?

There's two ways to answer that.

Let's start with the hope answer which may be false hopes.

The backup site is now at Word Press.

I haven't changed it on the links yet but we have noted that here several times.

The backup site is now the backup site for The Common Ills, for Cedric's site and for Rebecca's site. In addition, anyone else can use it. Cedric's posted at least one of Ann's posts there. It's one site for all the community sites that want it.


If this site continued in any form, that's really what I'd like it to be. It would be a group site with multiple things up daily. (Continued in any form beyond the next six months. In June I'll decide post-July.) That's what Corrente does (and Corrente doesn't vanish on holidays, FYI.)

Now for the other answer to the backup site issue.

Ann's married to Cedric, she can write whatever she wants on this issue. The rest of us don't share his bed and have to be more circumspect. Translation, read Ann's "Racist Blogdrive" for the main issues here. But I can note that Cedric received -- and passed on to me -- several e-mails supposedly from Blogdrive over a period of two weeks. They were racist in nature and blustering and threatening to pull his account. Due to racist aspect, he didn't take them seriously and thought they were someone posing as Blogdrive. That's why he passed them off, thinking, 'Ha, ha, look at the idiots.'

Then Cedric was shut out of his account at Blogdrive. He couldn't log in and it was no longer visible. He e-mailed to ask what was going on and to ask if the e-mails he'd been receiving -- which he'd dismissed as fakes -- were genuine. He got no response. He again e-mailed them and he got a lecture that racism -- according to an unsigned responded at Blogdrive -- wasn't even a real issue. He got attacked in the e-mail. He got everything but a denial that they'd been sending those e-mails.

Ann and I discussed that e-mail at length and were of the same opinion, if the e-mails had been false, the first thing we would have done -- if we were Blogdrive -- would have been to state they were false. There was no denial of those e-mails.

The minute Cedric was locked out, he e-mailed Blogdrive. He cross-posted -- When we all had sites, we'd take turns doing the cross-posting. For example, I'm cross-posting Rebecca at the new backup site this morning. That way she didn't have to do it. Thursday nights, I'm normally online late (due to "I Hate The War"), so I generally cross-post Cedric and Rebecca's and Cedric usually grabbed the cross-posting of "Iraq snapshot" at the old backup site because he was also cross-posting it at his backup site. So that Friday, he cross-posted the snapshot at the TCI blogdrive site even though he couldn't get into his site. Rebecca posted a 'I'm probably out of here' post at her Blogdrive site. And I spent that Friday night sampling various sites to figure out where to move the backup site.

Cedric's hope was that it wasn't Blogdrive sending those racist e-mails. When that appeared to not be the case, his hope was that they would reinstate him and everyone could look the other way. That was his hope, not our hope. Rebecca made it clear that she was gone before he ever heard back from Blogdrive. Cedric knew that the backup sites had been going on forever and he didn't want to be responsible for stopping those.

He's not responsible.

Blogdrive's responsible.

They're racists and their racism is what's responsible for the changes.

So when you go looking for Cedric's site at Blogdrive, that's why you can't find it. You can find TCI and Rebecca's but they're not updated and haven't been for some time. (I believe the start of November.)

Some who are aware of the new backup site are having problems because they could sign up at Blogdrive for an automatic update and they can't do that at Word Press. Meaning they got e-mailed everytime something new was posted at Blogdrive.

Well now you know the story and I think anyone would agree that racism outweighs the plus of any e-mail heads up.

Per Cedric, I wasn't going into it. I still haven't really weighed in. I'd love to let it rip on Blogdrive. But I'm respecting his wishes. I'd told him when I did get around to addressing e-mails in a talking post, I'd have to address this issue due to all the questions coming in on why we changed. One of the problems at Third -- we've now been way too late two weeks in a row -- has been Jim wanting Cedric to talk about this or do a piece on this or take part in a piece on this at Third. Cedric doesn't want to. His attitude is that Ann and Rebecca have written of it so it's known. It's not being hidden. He just wants to get on with his life.

Two things on that. First off, is anyone not aware that Cedric started on Blogdrive? It wasn't his backup site, it was his site. Three Cool Old Guys? Back then they were four. One of Cedric's very dear friends passed away. Cedric knew the four from church but wasn't close to them. After he started his site (and started it on Blogdrive), he did stuff for his church that took him to the retirement home. He got to know the four and became great friends with them. And one of them passed away. And he wrote all of that in real time. It is very hurtful for him that all of that is gone and that it was taken down with no heads up where he could have saved it.

Second, this was done for any number of reasons including political. But at the heart of it, he was targeted due to racism. If it was just not liking what he wrote -- not agreeing with it -- Rebecca and I write the same sort of opinions. We weren't targeted. He was. He was targeted due to racism. He's allowed that to be known and what I told Jim he (Jim) may not be getting is that Cedric's had to endure the first point and now Jim's wanting him to rip himself apart to talk about the whole thing? Cedric's attitude (appears to me) to be, "I'm moving on from all of this." And that's how he's dealing with it and that's how he was raised to deal with racism. I don't think it's anyone's right to judge his response. He's not avoiding it, he's not covering it up. It's been acknowledged and he's doing what his grandparents raised him to do which is speak out and don't let it consume you.

Some would have that same response, others would have different ones but each victim of racism will determine for themselves what's the appropriate response, no one else. (Please understand, I am not saying Jim was trying to determine Cedric's response. He was attempting no such thing. Jim was trying to go after what he thought was a strong story. I understand that. But Jim was focused on the story and missing the personal aspect of it, what Cedric was going through.) (Not because Jim is a bad person but because, as everyone should know by now about Jim, everything's material for/to Jim. He's all for letting all hang out.)

Iraq? I'm hurrying now. Why the focus on Iraq?

The focus was determined by the community. This site was started in protest of Bully Boy Bush and the Iraq War and all the sell outs that had allowed both to take place, all the silences.

Iraq was always at the forefront. As media interest tapered off in the topic, we focused more and more on it due to the desire of the community. ('Independent' media walked away from Iraq before MSM did.)

We are opposed to the Afghanistan War. However, a number of outlets jumped on the Afghan bandwagon. We're not doing that. We can't do that. I wouldn't be comfortable doing it and I would also hear from friends in the MSM press -- including a few who will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at my tables today -- that I had to walk away from the issue because the coverage vanished. I can't personally rag on friends -- as I do in private -- for their outlets' lack of coverage and also ignore the topic myself.

It's equally true that we can't cover everything. You have to have a focus. Our focus was Iraq from the start and it remains it.

Those who dumped Iraq and now chase after Afghanistan? They look very silly in my opinion. They look like, as a friend was wrongly called many years ago, hitchhikers on the highway of causes. Meaning they make themselves appear to flit from issue to issue.

I had no illusion that the Iraq War would end quickly. In the summer of 2005, there's a piece at Third where I'm noting that this site would go dark in 2008 after the election and that the Iraq War would still be going on at that time. For various reasons, this site has continued (mainly because Stan wanted to start a site and felt that now he couldn't because everyone was about to go dark). That does surprise me, thinking back to 2005. I'm not at all surprised that the illegal war drags on.

I wish that it didn't. But it does. I'm very troubled by the fact that so many have walked away from the topic. That's news outlets and that's individuals who are writers or bloggers or however they self-describe.

I think, more than anything else, it's an indictment both of our US press and our society in decay that an ongoing war is just 'too much' for the press and the governing to cope with. It says a great deal that the government is more than willing to continue to deploy Americans to Iraq but the press has not a damn bit of interest.

There are a few exceptions but that is the overwhelming reality. A friend on the CPB was sharing an e-mail received last week. It was a complaint that had been made to NPR repeatedly and to their ombudsperson (Alicia Shepard). On the latter, my friend couldn't believe that Shephard had brushed off and ignored the e-mail. 'This is exactly why NPR has' someone in that role.

But the e-mail was from a man who had a son who died serving in Iraq. And that was about 24 or 26 months ago. And he was pointing out that he could listen to all the NPR programs his local NPR aired and he would never hear about Iraq. From the e-mail, you didn't know if he was pro or anti or no opinion of the war. What he was was genuinely concerned that Americans remained in Iraq and that the press didn't give a damn.

Which will take us to the last e-mail I've got time to note here. What am I happy about this site for?

Let's say "thankful" to keep with the spirit of the day. I'm thankful that -- thus far -- we've continued to focus on Iraq and prove that that's possible. I'm thankful that bad writing hasn't prevented a community from building up over the last few years. I'm thankful that the community is even more determined than I am that the focus be on Iraq. I'm thankful for all the community sites that have sprung up and I'm going to list them all:

Between them and the community newsletters, you've got a wealth of voices and a wide range of opinions. I'm very thankful to be a part of that. I'm thankful that I will get fifty dollars today on a bet made last year with a TV network friend who stated I would have to move the focus over to Afghanistan because so many US outlets had pulled out of Iraq in 2009 so there would not be enough material to build a snapshot around. I will greatly enjoy asking him to pay up on his bet.

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