I’m So Over the Republicans

Well, thankfully the Convention of Empty Promises is over, and none too soon. I’m disappointed, though, by the overall lack of showmanship. Smoke and lights and venomous ranting are what we all expected, so none of that was any surprise. I was really hoping they would end on a huge note of outrageously populist manipulation, like having a caged, raging Osama Bin Laden suddenly thrust forward at the apex of Bush’s speeach, just like in King Kong.

But the more I think about it, the more likely it seems they’re saving that for the last week of October.



Those wretched “Peaceful Political Activist” buttons aren’t the only alternative to making a ruckus in protest of the Really Nasty Convention next week. The first annual Imagine Festival, of Arts, Issues and Ideas is putting on a number of programs all over the city which may not be expressly partisan, are certainly leaning to the left quite a bit.

My event of choice, naturally, will be on Tuesday, August 31, at 7:00 p.m., when the WYSIWYG Talent Show gathers together an amazing braintrust of bloggers/pundits for what promises to be an incredible panel discussion on blogging and politics. Seriously, check out the details I think this is gonna be great.

Also in WYSIWYG news, I’ve finally responded to the numerous pleas to set up a blog http://www.wysiwygtalentshow.org/blog/) on the site for news and reviews about the shows, as well as news about other cool things being done by WYSIWYG alumni. In particular, you may want to peek at this entry for our preliminary list of show dates and topics for the next year. After all, we’re always looking for new talent

I Remember the Good Ol’ Days

It was quite a scene at the NY Bloggers event last night, what with the blogging and blog-curious hordes filling up the back of the Apple Store. (You can see me here hanging with Jeff and Matt.) Overall it was fun and interesting, but I left feeling pretty similar to what Chris describes conflicted, and a little bit nostalgic.

The publishers panel was fascinating, but it was definitely the part that seemed most surreal to me. My reasons for maintaining the site for all these years have been mercurial, but they’ve always been intensely personal. Listening to two entrepreneurs discuss which of them has the better way to make blogging its own profitable medium seemed awfully mercenary. To be honest, Nick Denton‘s approach seemes much less mercenary and much more realistic than that of Jason Calacanis, who is even more unctuous than I expected. Also, Nick has tapped the talents of good people in a way that seems a natural progression of things they’ve been doing all along.

Blogging as a business model just seems strange to me, because it’s been such a given for so long now. Maybe it’s a symptom of my lack of entrepreneurial zeal, but it seems so gimmicky, like basing a business model on water-cooler gossip. I guess my sympathies lie with the folks on the technology panel who are more interested in finding a way to sustain their interest in enabling social interaction, rather than making a fast buck by skimming off the top of what goes on out here.

The editors bantered lightheartedly in a way that was much more in tune with my experience of doing this stuff. They all seemed to share a sense of not taking any of their limited fame too seriously, despite the effort that goes into their sites, since they’re mostly just interested in writing interesting stuff about things that holds their interest. In the end, that’s the biggest challenge you face after doing this for a long time, even if your site has become less personal and more general interest. How do you still give a fuck?

But then again, this has always been a dot-org endeavor for me, not a dot-com.

My Fellow Subversionists

It’s hard to even start writing about the whole gay marriage controversy, because I feel so strongly about it and because I think it ties into so many different dynamics swirling around in modern society. I freely ‘fess up to my bias, of course: I’m gay and I wanna get married. To expand a teensy bit more: if I’m going to make the major effort (and endless mini-efforts) of committing to someone who I care about so deeply, then I want to enjoy the many benefits (and yes, even the responsibilities) that the law bestows on other couples in order to encourage stability for each of those couples and the society in which they live.

I don’t care if your religion approves or not: I’m not asking it to. But our government claims to function separately from religion, and it grants legal rights to married couples that have nothing whatsoever to do with the religious affiliations of married couples. If the law grants each individual the full rights of adult citizens I can’t see how a couple can be denied the full rights of any two other citizens who choose to pair up. that’s why I can’t accept the idea of any legislation that chooses to make a distinction between gay or straight couples: if there’s a precedent for restricting the rights of a gay couple, then it also sets a precedent for restricting the rights of the individuals involved.

But there I go ranting on and on when what I meant to say was: Look at how many people I care about and respect are taking a stand on this: Aaron and Keith, Mark and Rich, David and Mark, Nancy and Cynthia, and of course Phyllis and Del and all the other folks who’ve grabbed this opportunity. Look at the pictures and read the stories: these aren’t people doing this to rend the very fabric of society or make a mockery of what you hold dear. These are people who want to share their lives with someone they love, and want that effort to count for something.

Aaron and Keith

Precious Executive Power

Gollum for PrezSalon has a piece today called “Is Arwen pro-Life?” about how different ideological factions keep claiming a connection to Tolkien’s real motives. Toward the end, it mentions how Tolkien characters are always shown in terms of how much they seek power, which is seen as a corrupting influece. Conservatives, the author says, “are very much enamored of power”:

All of which should make Gollum, the river-dwelling hobbit who becomes entranced by the Ring of Power and pays for it with his soul, an ominous metaphor. He never hesitates to exploit a wedge issue, be it Frodo’s trust of Sam or the distribution of lembas bread, and is savage in combat until defeated, at which point he whines endlessly about how unfair it all is.

My New Hero

I’ve never paid much attention to Eliot Spitzer, New York State Attorney General, because he’s usually linked in the news with stories about efforts to clean up Wall Street, a subject that immediately sends me into a coma of boredom, no matter how much I think a little reform is a great thing. I was stunned and delighted, though, after reading this article that talks about all the work he’s done on the behalf of low-wage workers, especially the ones who’ve been getting really, really shafted without enough help from unions or the Department of Labor.

Naturally, he’s not a big hero some of the employers who’ve gotten the crackdown. One of the muckety-mucks at Gristede’s (a company where deliverymen working 70-hour weeks were making $175 a week, including tips from customers) whined about how Spitzer pressured the company to make a plea and settle for $3.2 million paid to its long-suffering employees, rather than shifting the burden to the subcontractor who hired the deliverymen (Golly, we had no idea why we didn’t have to pay anything for all that work!). He also whined about how the workers didn’t deserve the settlement because they were all illegal aliens.

Spitzer, who may now be my new hero, responds to that by discussing his obligation to help these workers: “On workers rights, New York State law does not distinguish between illegal immigrants and anybody else. We cannot permit employers who break the law to eat away at the rights of all workers by hiring illegal workers and paying them subminimum wages and getting an unfair competitive advantage.”

Spitz, you’ve already got my vote whenever you decide to run for governor.

Reasons to Vote for a New Administration

I don’t even have to look that hard for news that makes me wonder if we’re all just victims of an enormous prank. This can’t actually be the world we’re living in, can it? Here’s a little sprinkle of tidbits from Bizarro World (prepare yourself for a touch of sarcasm):