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My son is a huge fan of Hillary Clinton and took it pretty hard when she lost to Barack Obama. He's even threatened to vote for John McCain. Well, Saturday the DNC and Howard Dean brought their cross-country "Register for Change" bus tour to Baton Rouge. So we attended.

On the way there Miss Julie had an idea.

"Wouldn't it be cool if you got Howard Dean to make a personal appeal to Michael to vote for Barack Obama?" I laughed at the thought. But she had something there. Below is the video of what happened next:

I emailed Michael the video.

"How did you get Howard Dean to do this?" he shouted, laughing, on the phone 3 minutes later. "At first I thought it was some sort of promotion," -- imagine Dean making a series of videos naming every single name in the book like those "personalized" coffee cups and key chains you see in souvenir shops -- "but then I heard your voice."

"So," I say, "is that enough or what? You gonna vote for Obama now?"

"I'm still thinking about it, but I'm getting closer. This helps."

There's still hope.

P.S. First Rove, now Dean. Who's got the mojo, baby?

...some day I'll look back on these times and will be unable to remember them.

Ever read Before the Storm by Rick Perlstein?


It's a brilliant look at how Goldwater founded the modern conservative movement.
The parallels to today are startling, a sort of Dean bizarro world stuck on opposite day -- a Republican Party that was trying to be "Democrat-lite" and an establishment hostile to "outsider" forces. With Goldwater railing against his party's establishment and the special interests that controlled it. Throw in innovative use of tactics and technology (Goldwater pioneered the use of direct mail) and a crushing defeat, and you've got the Dean phenomenon.

Of course, that would mean Ronald Reagan's Bizarro world counterpart would be (wait for it) Barack Obama. Hmmm. The book has been on my Amazon wish list for a while; I guess I'm going to have to actually, you know, read it now.

Henry Farrell:

The intellectual genesis of the netroots analysis lies in a book called Before the Storm by left-liberal historian (and TNR contributor) Rick Perlstein. He argues that the conventional narrative of the '60s pays far too much attention to left-wing activism. After all, he observes, the '60s ended with the left smashed by a rising conservative tide that has continued to this day. The real story is that of the grassroots countermobilization on the right, which took its most public form in the Barry Goldwater campaign. This movement built counterparts to the dominant liberal institutions, slowly took control of the Republican Party from the moderates who had been running it, and jerked the national agenda sharply to the right.

Reading history is now a good news/bad news experience. The good news is that some very sharp writers are providing us with some very enlightening insights. The bad news? Realizing that I'm old enough now that I actually remember these events from 40+ years ago.

For example, I picked up a second-hand copy of The Making of the President 1968 at a used book sale the same day that Hillary assassinated RFK again. I was 15 in 1968 and it was the first presidential campaign that I was emotionally invested in. It's an interesting feeling reading this stuff so much later. On one hand, I experienced those times first hand, so I have my own take on it. And/But it is enlightening to read a more studied take on it too.

Play this very loud.

Crank up your speakers.

  • So McCain's campaign is being run by agents of a foreign government -- including the Saudis. No, I'm not making this up.
  • Hillary Clinton wants you to know that Karl Rove thinks she'd be the toughest candidate vs. McCain in November. No, I'm not making this up.
  • No, seriously: Karl Rove said it and Hillary believed it.
  • Apparently the White House is mad that NBC somehow edited their interview with Bush in a way that made them unhappy. NBC responded that the unedited version has been available on the MSNBC website. Bush counsel Ed Gillespie responds: "It's simply absurd for people to have to log onto the Internet and stream video to get accurate information from NBC News." Yes! And I think everyone should receive a brand new TV remote from the government too. Those old ones that you and I own have waaaaay too many buttons.
  • Pistons vs. Celtics tonight, baby! And the Red Wings playing for the Stanley Cup again! How cool is that?
  • And, lastly, I've tweaked my blog's layout to eliminate some ads. It (may or) may not reduce the ad revenues and/but will make the blog easier to read. I've also increased the number of posts on the front page. Lastly, I'll be adding a "Favorite Videos" sidebar. If you have some suggestions please post them in the comments section. Thanks!

This blog has rarely, if ever, been plagued by trolls -- rude commenters who hang around insulting people. Honestly, I don't get that much traffic here (or comments) which is OK. I cross-post elsewhere in blogville where the traffic is higher and that works for me.

Anyway, I recently came across a good solution that stops rude people from spouting off in the comments section. It's a procedure called "disemvoweling:"

In the fields of Internet discussion and forum moderation, disemvoweling (also spelled disemvowelling), which appears to model the word disemboweling, is the removal of vowels from text either as a method of self-censorship, or as a technique by forum moderators to censor unwanted posting, such as spam, internet trolling or rudeness. The net effect of disemvoweling text is to render it illegible or legible only through significant cognitive effort, thus suppressing unwanted comments and discouraging such comments from being made in future.

Regarding the use of disemvoweling to police internet blog comment sections, Xeni Jardin, co-editor of Boing Boing, says of the practice, "the dialogue stays, but the misanthrope looks ridiculous, and the emotional sting is neutralized." Also, Boing Boing producers claim that disemvoweling sends a clear message to internet forums as to what behavior is unacceptable.

"...legible only through significant cognitive effort...A clear message...the misanthrope looks ridiculous...behavior is unacceptable." I like it.

So, for example, this...

It appears you didn't know what Dean did. So the correction was needed. As to the rest...I'm here talking to you while you fled with your tail between your legs. You can't take it, I can.

...becomes this:

t pprs y ddn't knw wht Dn dd. S th crrctn ws ndd. s t th rst...'m hr tlkng t y whl y fld wth yr tl btwn yr lgs. Y cn't tk t, cn.

Disemvoweling is attractive to me because nothing is hidden and everything is transparent -- no wholesale re-writing of comment content, no hidden hanky panky, etc. -- and no comments are deleted nor are any commenters banned.

There's even a simple web app that automates the process. Anyway, I'm seriously considering instituting this as a policy.

What do you think?

I Got Tagged by Ron Coleman

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My friend, Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Success, tagged me in the following exercise:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Here goes:

The book is Informal Learning, by Jay Cross, subtitled "Rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance." Jay Cross is the guy who coined the phrase "e-Learning," not that you should hold that against him or anything.

Anyway, here's the relevant passage:

The off-site workshop began with two days of PowerPoint presentations in a poorly lit, cavernous room. Then, when senior executives were on a coffee break, Sibbet and Wheeler taped the vision mural to a side wall, since there was no room up front. Because the room was very dark, Sibbet used an overhead projector to spotlight the mural.

Mission accomplished, Ron.

I tag (in alpha order):

Please post your stuff (or at least a link to it) in the comments.

Forever New Orleans

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I recently found this video produced by the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. It came with this message -- pass it along!

Hello all.

Hope all is well on your end. We're hoping to crack consciousness on YouTube as part of our ongoing efforts to promote the New Orleans renaissance. Tourism is fundamental to NOLA, encompassing pretty much everything we're about - from cultural preservation to necessary economics - responsible for about 35% of the city's operating budget and over 100,000 jobs. Tourism is at about 80% of pre-Katrina levels right now.

All is splendid right now with Festival Season in full swing, cool, breezy days, and azaleas, sweet olive, Japanese magnolia and jasmine painting the city with an explosion of color and scents. But summer's coming and things slow down a bit. We want to fully leverage the great spring activities to generate momentum through the year. Appreciate you forwarding this link along to one person. More is icing.

Don't forget to allow us to return the favor. We're good like that.


Pass it along! And gitcha' ass down ta New Orleans -- there's nothin like it, baby!



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