Building a Fantasy Party Platform

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , ,

An Article I wrote for Newsvine, you can also read it here.

First, by fantasy party I don’t mean Harry Potter for President, its sort of like fantasy football except that instead of drafting players I’m looking to build a platform for a party that doesn’t exist, but that I’d like to see some day.

First I’d like to see new avenues for raising government income explored. Basically a pay as you go system. I’d like planks legalizing and taxing marijuana and prostitution. Pot is roughly on a par with alcohol as far as what it can do to the human body, and if you licensed and taxed brothels and provided healthcare to the workers then you’d be taking a large step to clean up a clandestine industry that is squalid mainly because its underground. You’ll also lighten up the load in the legal system on both of these offenses, an additional savings. There’s a lot of money in sin and why are we only letting dirtbags profit from it? Especially if we’re looking to be a secular society.

Education is critical in any country and the goal should be to make it equal and accessible to all, so with that in mind I think its time to make higher education affordable to all. First, strip federal funding and property from any college that charges higher tuition than state colleges and doesn’t allow ROTC, then apply the money and student loans to schools that comply. This still allows private universities to exist but means that they will have to pay their own way. Why include ROTC? Well, how smart do you want the people giving orders to soldiers, sailors and airmen to be? If you can make a case for why undereducated officers would serve us better I’m all ears. I would also add scholarship penalties to party schools, I’m all for people having fun but binge drinking and sexual assaults are not on my fun list.

Continuing my education rant I’d recognize that the National Education Association isn’t an educational organization, it’s a teacher’s union and the largest union in the country. Secondly I’d recognize that we have a hodge-podge of a system right now with little to no universal standard of what is an education. Why not go to an actual national system? Schools revert to the Department of Education and we set standards for facilities that apply equally to Harlem as they do Beverly Hills. You can only have so many students per classroom, students in every class have the same access to the same computers, books and standards of teachers everywhere. Teachers are paid on a system that recognizes their proficiency not only through testing students, but by making teachers test for raises and promotions and they certify annually to prove that they are competent to teach.

We pay teachers well, but only if they earn it. A national pay standard with cost of living adjustments based on the expense of the area that they teach in, and paid transfer for those teachers moving to districts in problem areas. Emphasis on multiple curricula, including vocational studies for those that value work over academics, so you could graduate with a diploma in construction or mechanics as opposed to a standard academic diploma. Make security a part of the school environment as well, a good source of jobs for veterans for example, but instead of rent-a-cops, give them real badges. Teachers under suspicion of improper conduct with students shouldn’t be allowed to sit around soaking up pay while forbidden to interact with students, they should be place on paid administrative leave for as long as it takes for a police investigation to resolve the situation, or trial and verdict either way, whichever comes last.

For medical care I’d like to expand the number of doctors and nurses available, in part I would do this by assigning national guard and reserve doctors clinic duty for at least half of their commitment periods, we already send guard and reserve doctors to other countries to give free healthcare, why can’t the people that pay their taxes get some? A national guard field hospital moving into a high school gym for a few weeks every summer could do a lot of good. Government scholarships would be expanded with the condition that time spent assisting in clinics as a student and working in them as part of their residency would be requirements. We not only need to find a way to pay for people to get medical care, we need to increase the number of people giving that care, there are areas of the country with few doctors at all and others driven out of medicine because they can’t afford malpractice insurance, because lets face it our society will sue over anything in the hopes of making the big score, some claims are justified, but there’s others that aren’t.

Loser pays, if you sue someone and its deemed frivolous then you pay for the legal expenses and all awards are based on demonstrable losses, if courts wish to add punitive fines on top of settlements they should be applied to educational or medical programs. Thus a few million dollars for a spilled cup of coffee turns into a few thousand plus medical expenses to the victim and the rest paid to the government. Obviously if the injury kills a wage earner or renders them incapable of working then the offending company should be forced to pick up their salary and medical expenses.

Campaign donations limited to $100 per person, by candidate, no donations to political parties and all donations from taxpaying citizens by name. No ads except those paid for by candidates directly, union, church or tax free agency that directly takes part in, or pays donations toward any candidate, campaign or political cause loses tax-exempt status. Incumbents pay for all travel, up to and including all expenses for operating Air Force One including crew salaries.

All elected offices should be limited to two terms in the case of president and senate and 12 years for the house. Politics needs fresh blood or thinking stagnates into lockstep paradigms. Serve and leave, no pension required.

Simplify the tax codes, you make X, you pay Y. Why are we keeping H&R Block and a million or so lawyers in business because we’ve allowed elected officials to design a tax system so complicated that even the lawmakers that passed the tax laws need lawyers and accountants to tell them how the system that they designed works.

While we’re at it, our laws and legal documents including warranties and user agreements should be written in 8th grade English.

English as the official language, there’s no reason I should have to press 1 for English.

Lock down the borders, if we need people in to work jobs then grant visas based on jobs available after people that live here have a shot at them. Call me funny but I think people from here deserve first shot at work.

We don’t really need cars that travel at speeds approaching double the speed limit, so lets dial back speed, consumption, emission and noise.

Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it was gutless when it was passed, its ridiculous and gutless now, congress needs to pass a repeal of their stupid law and we need a president to sign it to undo this stupid mistake.

If you don’t think gay people should be married then don’t perform the ceremony, or don’t belong to a church that will. If the Federal government can recognize one relationship between two people it shouldn’t play favorites.
Prison should be about education and hard work, if you have time to tattoo yourself, spend hours on the playground, watching TV or continuing to be a criminal then you aren’t making the most of your prison experience. We need to add “at hard labor” back onto sentences and mean it. Prison farms and chain-gangs included. Maybe Joe Arpaio would serve as head of prisons.

For thousands of years the physical borders belonged to the armies of the world, including the US until about 1924. Border patrol can handle checkpoints and customs, but we should have the army patrolling the borders. Terrorism is one concern, but if the economy tanks just how many people should stand in line in front of citizens for the jobs that are left? If you think this is unfair to those coming up from Mexico, then we should have the same security on our southern border as they do on theirs.

Tariffs on imported goods should reflect not only the tariff laws of the trading partner in question, they should reflect the trade balance. Guess how many Japanese cars would be imported if we used the same rules for them as they do for us.

Lets go back to mass transportation, Amtrak for example. Much lower use of resources. Road trip across country? Why not add a car mover to Amtrak trains for those that want to have their own wheels when they get there, moving, put your u-haul on the train car and pick it up at the other end and drive it to the new place.

Social Security funds should be sacred and for no other function than paying out to those on Social Security. We can start repaying the shortfall by applying congressional pensions to it. Let congress live on Social Security rather than their self-approved golden safety nets and maybe they’ll have incentive to give a damn about people.

Can we just accept that Choice is here to stay? It’s a dirty little secret that everybody knows but nobody will shut up about it, so instead of chewing our nails about what the courts will do if President X appoints Justice Y what will their position be on this. Who gives a damn, grow a pair, set it in stone and move on so we can pick the best judges not just the ideologically pure ones.

No hidden taxes, we should see the amount we pay in taxes on gas, smokes and alcohol for a start.

This is just what I rattled off the top of my head, anything anyone would add or take away?

© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


(R) or (D) isn’t a choice, it’s a lack of options

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Categories: Politics, The WTF??? Files, Tags: , , , , , ,

An Article I wrote for Newsvine, you can also read it here.

Well, apparently we’ve survived another bout of the affliction that strikes this country on even numbered years, the election cycle. Elections are wonderful, democracy in action, exercise of free will. Well, in theory anyway. The partisan element added to it gives it a disturbing twist, like a disease that flares up regularly. Perhaps the best image for partisan politics is a poo fight in the monkey cage in the zoo.

Ok, maybe that’s offensive, but I’m sure the monkeys will survive the comparison.

One of my favorite things to do is wander bookshops, Boise is a college town so there are a lot of used book stores tucked away here and there and I’ve found some really interesting things in them over the years. I was on the lookout for a few books by Daniel V. Gallery, a retired admiral that writes some great old school military humor, Cap’n Fatso being one of them. In the process of looking I stumbled across their political book section, it was enough to make your hair bleed. There were easily a dozen different books dating back to the previous administration’s kerfluffle over encounters involving oral gratification.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of oral gratification and I think if there was a lot more of it the world would be a better place, but entire books written about the aforementioned incident some breaking down the nuances of the stories told in tedious detail was idiocy practiced at its highest form. I’m firmly convinced if you put an equal number of the people that wrote about this from each political perspective in a room together they’d irrelevant each other out of existence.

Among the many problems I have with partisan politics in this country is that they enable each other to ensure that we have no real diversity of thought in government. Think about it, George W. Bush is by no stretch of the imagination a great leader, like everyone else he has his moments because nobody can suck fulltime, but still, if you listen to the cons spoken of him then he’s a world class idiot. So my question is, if he’s such an idiot why has nothing seemed to stop his agenda? Look at the numbers, especially for the last 2 years, everything that’s considered a Bush agenda item was passed with votes from both parties.

We’re all familiar with the laundry list of complaints, Iraq, Patriot Act, FISA, loading the supreme court with politicized conservative justices, et cetera and so forth and so on ad nauseam. But look at the votes that made every single one of these things (and dozens of others possible) they all had votes from the (D) side of the aisle, and since 2006 they wouldn’t have even been voted on unless pushed by the (D) side of the aisle. They make a lot of noise about being two different entities, but the problem is that all of them feed at the same trough and are fed from the same feed sacks.

Personally I’m a registered (I), but how much good does that do when I’m continually stuck with one or the other side of the same coin? This isn’t choice, fish or chicken is a choice, fried or baked ham isn’t, especially if I’m just not in the mood for pork. I know there are some variances between who is filling the troughs, it comes out that about half feed equally and each party has dibs on contributors that fill the other half of their prospective side of the trough, but the main point being is that the interests represented by those filling the trough aren’t ours.

The two party system is a scam, we need at least two more parties to force the powers that be to actually cater to us, the nobodies that actually cast the votes. If there is no money in partisan politics then why are people willing to spend more than a hundred times the salary of an office to win it? Then once they’re elected who gets repaid? Its not the voters that register (R) or (D) or (I), we only voted and votes don’t spend, they have to pay back the people filling the troughs. So, until we add a few more parties we’re going to be stuck with the same spinning coin. Heads we build a bridge to nowhere for Stevens, tails its contracts for Murtha’s district, and its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all the way around, step right up! The payoff wheel spins round and round, as do the talking heads, the reporters, the professional apologists. The politicians all vote for the same things in this game, it’s all a matter of who’s turn it is to take the blame.

© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


My Kitchen the Brewery

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Categories: Brewing, Tags:

I like to word hiatus, it’s a nice highfalutin word meaning took a break, goofed off, or did something else and I’ve spent the last six months largely doing something else. The main reasons for the hiatus were twofold, first I spent a fair piece of it under the weather and its amazing how much being sick takes out of you. Secondly the gruelingly unpleasant political process, the depths that it reached and how it politicized every discussion ruined anything positive I could find on Newsvine. On the days that I did feel halfway decent I’d open up the Vines and by the time I was done reading my frustration and irritation factors sucked what energy I did have right out of me. I did seed a few things but by and large I didn’t miss it at all.

Sadly, it actually helped.

My first diversion was playing with the internet productively, I set up a site for a group my wife belongs to and another for a group of my daughter’s, then I moved a fantasy writing and gaming group from MSN to its own domain, beating MSN’s announcement that they were closing groups by a few months. Then I built my own site, so not only am I person I’m a domain now. Then I polished the first third of a book to final draft form and had a few friends critique the hell out of it for me, the second third will start the same process soon.

Among the many things I researched for accuracy was beer, ale and mead-making techniques. This led to what many of my friends think is an odd hobby for me, homebrewing. In a normal year it’s not uncommon for me to drink as many as four adult beverages a year. Yes, I said a year. There’s a few reasons for this, there’s usually a few reasons for everything with me it seems, but first I spent most of my adult life on call, I’ve been called in to work for all sorts of reasons at all hours of the day and night over my entire career and I couldn’t reconcile myself to telling people counting on me that I couldn’t report for duty because I’d been drinking and couldn’t drive. I have a firm policy, if I have a drink I do not get behind the wheel, period. Secondly, for many years I was on medications that wouldn’t allow me to drink because of risk to my liver if combined with alcohol. Despite the fact that I exercised my liver strong when I was younger I really don’t mean it any ill will. I don’t want to shock anyone, but my drinking has skyrocketed up to 2-3 beers a week now.

Growing up the beer of choice was of course Budweiser, because Bud was what everyone could agree on mostly, but over the years I discovered that I really didn’t like most of what people call “American Beers,” Bud, MDG, Miller, Coors, the usual suspects, and it was worse when you took Old Pissqawkie or Pissqawkie’s Beast (Old Milwaukee and Milwaukee’s Best) into consideration. I like heavy gravity dark ales, preferably with an emphasis of malt over hops. More beers and ales have come on the market over the years and I’ve discovered I like a few of the newer craft breweries, New Belgium, Pyramid, Laughing Dog and New Glarus to name just a few.

Part of the reason that I emphasized that I don’t dislike American beer above is that I don’t, a good American beer can compete with any beer made anywhere in the world. England and Canada are considered by many beer snobs as the home of “good beers” but considering that Canada’s #1 selling Beer is Labatt Blue and England’s best seller is Carling (yes, as in Carling Black Label), both beers that smell like they were used to wash skunk from a dog I maintain that bad beer is universal. For that matter, Budweiser is the biggest selling beer in the world, now what does that say for global taste?

(pausing to savor a sip of New Belgium 1554)

So, I started brewing. My first project was something indescribable, it was an experiment with mead that didn’t call for any special equipment, and since all of my brew gear was on order I tried it out for a start. Honey, orange slices, raisins and bread yeast. Quite frankly it reminded me of some swill that was made while I was enjoying the desert climate somewhere you don’t need to know about. Raisin Jack has livened up many locations in the world for unfortunate GI’s doing the world tour on the Uncle Sam plan. Club Med it ain’t. Well, sometimes it is, but I digress. That went down the drain. Ditto an experiment with a fermented lemonade.

Next came a cider, its potent as hell right now, with an alcohol in the 18% range because the (real) yeast sucked every drop of sugar from it. Natural sugars and a half pound of brown sugar to boot. But, its not bad at all, the fact I can drink it before aging is a good sign , I’m going to back sweeten it with apple concentrate because it’s too dry, for now its clarifying to get all of the cloudy elements out, but the color its turning is gorgeous.

Second on the list is another hard lemonade, it too went very dry and I added sugars back into it because though it was an interesting flavor lemon wine isn’t going to please Mrs B. She doesn’t care for wine in any form that I’ve found. Its now carbonating and I’ll be cold aging it for about a month to let the flavors mix and learn to play together.

My third project, that’ll be waiting for a few months before I consider bottling and aging, is a cyser. Yes, you read that correctly, cyser is a melomel, a marriage of cider and mead. It’s a mix of five pounds of honey, dark brown sugar and cider to make a two gallon batch. I sampled it after a few weeks and the flavors were already blending with a faint undertone of young alcohol. Wow! When this one ages out its going to be something else.

Finally is a braggot, which marries mead and ale. For a five gallon batch I mixed 12 pounds of honey, brown sugar, dark malt grains, and hops. When its all done it’ll hit about 13% alcohol and have complex mix of flavors combining maltiness, sweetness and bitterness. I sampled it when I racked it to the secondary fermenter and even now it has an interesting flavor.

My future projects are going to be homemade root beer, a heavy gravity root beer ale, and I’m thinking of a Scottish 80 shilling Ale. I’m not sure why, but everything I seem to put together, except the lemonade, has been high gravity, a fancified term that means it has a lot of fermentable sugars and malts in it. When you put a hydrometer in it the numbers come out high, water has a specific gravity of (SG) of 1.000, your “average” beers have an SG of 1.050, and most things I’ve put together have been in the 1.095 – 1.105 range. High SG = higher alcohol, depending on the final gravity reading. Which is why I’m looking at the 80 Shilling, a nice dark ale, malty with light hops and low gravity.

Anyway, I’ve beer-nerded enough for now and I have a beer to finish, with a turkey sandwich I think.

© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


An Insider’s Guide to Fibromyalgia

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Categories: Fibromyalgia, Tags:

Aside from having Fibromyalgia the three most irritating things associated with it, to me at least, are hearing people wonder if it’s a real illness or something dreamed up by doctors to shut up hypochondriacs, second would be the perception that it’s a disease found only in women, and finally the list of symptoms and associated conditions that reads either like a witch’s drew of unpleasantness, or a something that could only happen to a person through a really nasty voodoo doll.

Aside from having Fibromyalgia the three most irritating things associated with it, to me at least, are hearing people wonder if it’s a real illness or something dreamed up by doctors to shut up hypochondriacs, second would be the perception that it’s a disease found only in women, and finally the list of symptoms and associated conditions that reads either like a witch’s drew of unpleasantness, or a something that could only happen to a person through a really nasty voodoo doll.

Continue reading →

© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Don’t Mourn What’s Lost, Celebrate What’s Found

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Categories: Fibromyalgia, Tags:

Most of my good news submissions have been (hopefully) amusing reminiscences or things that make me happy, I don’t know that they necessarily fall into the news category, so if they don’t fit hold on to your socks, here we go again with a reflection upon being happy when some think you should be miserable. As some may know from reading past submissions on the subject I have a cross to bear called Fibromyalgia. Its an interesting condition of disease, depending upon how you look at it, in that there is a huge list of symptoms and associated conditions that accompany it. The main thing you need to know for this is that you’re always tired, you’re always in pain, and you spend a lot of time in the bathroom catching up on reading. Continue reading →

© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Movies: I want my 7 bucks back!

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Categories: Rant, Tags: , ,

I don’t see why people are worried about the writing strike, with all of the remakes out in Hollywood these days this may just push them to the next inevitable step, just use the original script to remake the original flick. In the very short-lived animate series, Clerks, Randal manages to get several famous directors on the stand, grill them for a while and demanded his 7 bucks back, and I’m here to piggyback on that!

  • Bedtime Story, made in 1962, remade in 1988 as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  • Birds of a Feather, made in 1978, remade in 1996 as the Birdcage
  • Cape Fear, made in 1962, remade in 1991
  • Dracula, made in 1931, remade in 1970, 1979, 1992
  • The Fly, made in 1958, remade in 1986
  • The Fog, made in 1979, remade in 2005
  • The front page, made in 1931, remade in 1940 as His Girl Friday, in 1971 as the Front Page, and in 1988 as Switching Channels
  • Get Carter, made in 1971, remade in 2000
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers, made in 1956, remade in 1978, in 1993 as Body Snatchers and 2007 as Invasion
  • King Kong, made in 1933 and remade in 1976 and 2005
  • The Ladykillers, made in 1955 and remade in 2004
  • The Manchurian Candidate made in 1962, remade in 2004
  • Manhunter, made in 1986, remade as red dragon in 2002
  • Oceans Eleven, made in 1960 and remade in 2001
  • The Pink Panther, made in 1963, remade in 2006
  • Planet of the Apes, made in 1968, remade in 2001
  • The Poseidon Adventure, made in 1972, remade in 2006
  • Psycho, made in 1960, remade in 1998
  • Shaft, made in 1971, remade in 2000
  • War of the Worlds, made in 1953, remade in 2005
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971, remade as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005.

This is just a short list, there are many more out there. Between that and making classic TV shows into movies movie pickings are getting lean. Studios are going with the safe bets, if a flick made money before it should again right? There are whole libraries full of books people would like to see as movies, why not try a few more of them? There are countless books and writers both being ignored by Hollywood, I think its about time they started looking around, before we get Oceans 14, or Rush Hour 4, or Gilligan: the Movie.

© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


How Presidential & Vice Presidential Succession REALLY Works

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , ,

An Article I wrote for Newsvine, you can also read it here.

Say that Vice President Cheney resigns due to his heart troubles, or say the unlikely happens and he is impeached by Congress, many think that the Speaker of the House would replace him, and they would be wrong, the President chooses the replacement.

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution clarifies some rather ambiguous translations that have been raised in the past, because through history the order of succession has been juggled a few times, coming close to what we have after the final legislative juggling in the order of succession in 1947, then the 25th Amendment finalized what we have today in 1965.

So when do the Speaker of the House and the President and the President pro tempore of the Senate come into play? Well, lets lay it out:

  • If the Presidency is vacated the Vice President becomes President and appoints a new Vice President who is voted upon by congress.
  • If the Vice Presidency is lost then the President names a replacement who is voted upon by congress.
  • If both the Presidency and Vice Presidency are vacated at the same time, the Speaker becomes president and appoints a Vice President who is voted upon by congress.
  • If the Presidency, Vice Presidency and Speakership are vacant at the same time, then the President pro tempore of the Senate becomes President and appoints a Vice President who is voted upon by congress.
  • The list keeps going downward through the order of succession if all posts in succession above them are simultaneously vacant.

By the way, there has been more than one occasion where we had no Vice President because Presidents never bothered to, or refused to appoint one, that would technically make the Speaker the Acting Vice President, while still performing the duties only of Speaker.

This rather short article was actually inspired by an argument over a Tom Clancy book titled Executive Orders when most of the government was lost when a fuel-laden 747 crashed into a joint session to appoint a new Vice President. It was written before 9-11 if anyone was curious.

© 2007, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Iron Skin and Asbestos Underwear

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Categories: Observations, Philosophy, Tags: , ,

In days of yore quests were raised by noble, and often not so noble, knights to find fonts of wisdom, holy grails, eternal youth, the sovereign specific, the philosopher’s stone and such oddities as a potion, philter or talisman of Iron Skin. Most of these items are fairly well known, books have been written, movies made, and endless stories told about all but that last one. Iron skin, now how cool would that be, no weapon could harm you, the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune remain Shakespeare’s problem. But there’s a downside to that, if you can’t be hurt you can’t feel discomfort, but you can’t feel anything else either.

What the…How did that become part of the bargain?

Small print.


You don’t need iron skin to avoid feeling the jabs, and you don’t need asbestos underwear to avoid getting your butt burned. You just need a modicum of an oxymoron called common sense. If common sense was all that common there’s a lot of news stories that would never need to be written, but then where would the fun be in that?

Newsvine is a great big community, it pretends to be small but bear with me on that. There are hundreds of users, and there are people that write and seed from sunrise to sunset and will never bump into each other. Just like high school people tend to congregate into cliques based upon the kind of stories they appreciate. Cliques can be a good thing or a bad thing, its all in how people interact within them, and to those that come in contact with it. To complete the school analogy, have you ever opened up the yearbook and noticed someone’s picture that you have no idea who they are? Same thing.

Example time: You like stories about science so you comment on those and share a lot of cool insights with some really interesting people. That is good. You like science and comment on a science story that touches a political issue and suddenly the shared insights are replaced with commentary about your intelligence and somebody implies you are the reason cousins aren’t allowed to fornicate.

“WTF?!?!??! I’ll show that razzen-blanker!” And then you unload with both barrels, and then you get a broadside in return and the fecal mater impacts the oscillating device and you skulk off bitter, or worse you raise enough hell that the Vine guys have to get involved and then its just silly. Long ago somebody said “laughter is the best form of birth control.” I maintain that’s only half true, laughing and pointing is far more devastating and good for more than shriveling… egos.

Careful, you almost let me digress again.

Think a minute. We shall open to the Book of Newsvine, Code of Honor, item one: Turn not the other check, for it too shall be smited… smitted… smitten…smacked! Instead turn ye to the little ! at the bottom of each comment and drop ye a dime upon them, where they will be dealt with by the staff, in their mercy. /Monty Python

Oh all right, it says: “Above all else, respect others. If you see disrespectful behavior, report it, rather than further inflaming the situation.” So, click the ! at the bottom of the offensive comment and it’ll be flagged, enough people flag it and it gets collapsed and enough comments get collapsed and somebody might find themselves in either the greenhouse or woodshed. If it is really bad the person writing or seeding might just delete that comment in an effort to police their own column and if that doesn’t happen or it doesn’t help the situation contact a Newsvine staff member. They get as busy as anyone else but they’ll do there best for you. Not too long after I got here somebody had posted a rather harsh comment to and about me and one of the Vine staffers, either Tom or Calvin I think had already killed the comment and the person that posted it eventually left.

The next sticky point is Headlines. There are headlines in the Vines that would put the National Enquirer to shame, others are long enough to be considered a chapter in a fairly thick book. Less is more. I’ve seen discussions for an article be half-filled with complaints about and defenses of a headline. Simplicity where possible. If you’re seeding the original headline is likely to be more than adequate, if it’s a headline to your own article look back at all of the bad headlines you can recall, and don’t do whatever irritated you about them.

The next best way to figure out if you’re wandering into a minefield is to look at the tags to an article. If a tag has more than three or at the most four words, beware. I can’t use a real example here, because somebody will try and track it back to who did it and that would be naughty of me, so I’ll make up an example:


If you see a tag remotely like this then proceed with caution, there are chips on shoulders the size of boulders here and likely somebody waiting to pillory anyone that doesn’t agree with them. Let caution be your watch word. If you came up on a body of water, you wouldn’t jump right in would you? Horror Movie 101 says check out the situation carefully. Is there a shark or gator in the water? Is the serial killer in the woods behind you? Do you hear unexplained ominous music? Is somebody whispering Jay-Jay-Jay-Son-Son-Son… well that’s probably me and that’s a completely different story that I’ve told elsewhere.

Anyway, take a little time and just look at tags people use, you can actually learn a lot by doing it, at least I did, your mileage may vary.

One thing I have noticed with a few newcomers or newbies (some say noobs or n00bz, feel free to make obscene gestures at the monitor if they do) is that they found somebody they agreed with and suddenly they are the doughty Sancho Panza to their Don Quixote and then after a week or two they suddenly realize that this person isn’t jousting at the same windmills that they’d like to see challenged.

By all means, find people from many diverse outlooks to fill your friends lists. Person A has a similar take on recycling as you, but you think they’re nuts about net neutrality. Person B drives you crazy because their chicken recipe has cinnamon, but they have a great view on gardening. Befriend them both, look for common ground when you can, or look at how somebody makes you defend your own principles and beliefs and recognize that they are strengthening your resolve, or maybe they’re giving you a perspective you never considered. If you find somebody that agrees with everything you say, and vice versa, you’re looking into a mirror, not a monitor.

A few people on my friends list have cussed me black, blue and bloody but when it appeared pointless we moved on to other things. It is possible to be in heated battle on one topic and singing koombiyah in perfect harmony on another. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

If you meet anger with anger you’re doomed to eventually burn out and lose any of the good that a community like Newsvine offers. Don’t be shy about defending your views, but make it your own personal challenge to stay on point and let the jackass in the conversation be somebody else.

A while back I’d made a comment about sit back and take a deep breath, a nudge from someone on my friend list, it was pretty short back then and would start to be a friends list later, but at this point it was pretty much a friend li…HEY! We’ll never get anywhere if you let me continually digress.

So the Deep Breath Principle. You read, you’re boiling and you hammer out a reply, written in blood on asbestos and by thunder you’ll show that misera…. WHOA!!!! Hold up, don’t skin that smoke-wagon! Take a deep breath, sit back, breathe a little more. Can you still feel your pulse hammering in your neck or temple? Then get up and walk around… without clicking the Post Comment button.

After you pace a little, and if you have a dog and it’ll come near you, and if you don’t have a dog I’ll give you a moment to put that furry intruder outside…. Ok, anyway, read it again. Think about what you said. Is it really necessary to call someone a blanken-fricker? Trim it out. Take a few seconds to make sure you aren’t posting something in wrath that you’ll regret later. Post-Posting Regret Syndrome (PPRS) is sort of like realizing in the heat of the moment you forgot the condom, and its too late to do anything about it now, either way it’s the not fun version of getting screwed.

Its not the quest perilous, but it involves a little bobbing, weaving, shucking and jiving. You really don’t need iron skin, because the aforementioned slings and arrows have no more effect than you let them, if you toughen your hide to spare yourself a few thorn sticks what happens when you miss feeling something good? The same with the asbestos, protecting yourself too diligently from feeling burned by scorn will also prevent you from feeling the warmth that so many here have to offer.

© 2007, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Net Nuts and (are) You

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Categories: Observations, Philosophy, Tags: , , ,

People need a sense of humor, seriously people take themselves too seriously, and to this I say learn to laugh at yourself, you might as well, we’re all laughing at you! I might be joking there, but does it really matter? But, thinking about this seriously for just a minute, is working yourself up into an white-knuckled, teeth-clenched fury over what somebody said on the internet why you turn on the computer? But they are out there, those people that gird their loins to do battle on the web, smiting the heathens and uninformed. My first observation about the whole loin girding thing, this is not a suitable subject for your webcam. Just trust me on this there are some things that people don’t want to know about you, and that image is in the top five at least.

People aren’t all that prone to changing their minds about things, and the best way to influence people is not to start by going for the jugular. If you put people on the defensive there is more of a chance of Linsdsay Lohan winning an Oscar as you have of shifting someone’s position. There are quite a few people that you’ll run into on a multitude of internet forums that specialize in this approach, they come charging in horns and hooves slashing and flashing and all anyone can see is the bull, not the point the person is trying to make.

Another interesting and fascinating way to shoot down any chance of being taken seriously takes a little bit of time to do, its called the Instant Expert. These are the people that you really wish you could take a good look at their resume, because from everything they have to share from their experiences they held every job from ticket taker on the Ark to manning the rudder on Washington’s boat as they crossed the Delaware to telling Neil Armstrong to land over there and hurry up before they ran out of fuel. Don’t get me wrong, experience is a wonderful thing, but not everyone has done everything but you’d never know that when you match wits with Joe or Joan Expert.

There is a time and a place for a good joke, every now and then a good one-liner is all we need to break up the tension, but after a while the zingers get old and just as there are some subjects that “everybody” knows you shouldn’t joke about you have the opposite of the Class Clown, and that the Minister of Offended. The CC and the MoO will always be at odds with each other, and they are both equally annoying. The CC doesn’t take things seriously and the if the MoO can’t find anything else to be offended about they will bounce around on other threads and criticize people for discussing such petty stuff when there is a deep discussion on [insert subject here] going on, usually in their own column.

The Elite Intellectual is always fun to deal with, these are people that you just know that they wear out their thesaurus trying to find a longer word to say the same thing that a simple short word will more than adequately accomplish. They also like to work in a few Latin phrases here and there. In reality these folks aren’t all that elite and ditto on the intellectual. These are the people that if you met them at an actual cocktail party they’d order an incredibly obscure drink and then stare imperiously down their nose at you when they explain exactly how they want it. There are alternate terms for the EI: windbag, twit, and “Your Royal Pomposity” seem to work.

These are pretty loose categories, because when you get right down to it there are as many kinds of people on the internet as there are people on the internet. You can’t even use good guy and bad guy, partly because there are more than guys on the ‘net, and because good and bad varies from person to person. You’ll often see people try and group everyone into convenient categories because lets face it, categories are easier to deal with that treating everyone as an individual. So just about the time that you lump somebody as a class clown they throw out a random thought that is deep and meaningful and you wind up in the conversational ditch wondering how you drove off the road to what you thought was a pretty obvious destination.

Mix things up now and then, predictable is boring. We all have a list of user names in the back of our minds that as soon as we see it we pretty much know the gist of what they’re about to say. Some people speak in obtuse formulas in a derivative of the Elite Intellectual. Some you know about three exchanged replies they’ll break out in Tourette’s Syndrome or the blue version of speaking in tongues. Every now and then you’ll see the Rainbow Child, spreading peace, love and granola. But you’re going to find all of these strange people, and many many more, and you’ll find them 2, 3, 4 or more at a time all in one user name. Who you find at any given time depends on how their day is going, what the topic is, and who they are seeing when you type at them. To some you may be deep and witty, to others a buffoon with delusions of adequacy.

So, don’t take yourself so seriously, after all you might just be the only one that does. We all come into this world, and we all leave it, and who exactly knows how long we have between those two key events? If you need drama study Shakespeare, if you want a fight learn to box. If you want an intelligent discussion, well that’s a crap shoot, roll the dice and see what you get.

© 2007, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

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