Saturday, January 31, 2004

Hey Bacchus!

Good Saturday stuff over at Erosblog. Let's throw the guy some traffic. I love his ongoing story of this woman he met via email and blog, finally getting to meet her in person a few weeks back. He posts some rather wild stuff over there, but his tale of his new love -- the "nymph in my net" as he calls her -- is the sweetest thing.

First a nice post about how much she loves to touch him and vice versa.

Then a post about ... how to describe it ... two views of marriage. Start with one from The Importance Of Making Myself Available:

It is wonderful when we have sex and I am on fire with passion or I pick up that passion during the act, and it is an important part of our marriage and sex life, but I think the other times are just as important and, in another way, wonderful. Those are the times when it didn't matter if I was in the mood or not, because he either needed so badly to have that pressure relieved or he just found me so adorable that he had to express it by taking me on the spot.

Those times I do not get any orgasm but I have the pleasure of having a husband who is happy and cheerful and humming. And sometimes he is even able to help decorating the table for a dinner party just because he has got it. To see him like that is a much more quiet and subtle satisfaction than an orgasm, but to me it is just as good.

Maybe I am more practical about it because I am the farm girl I am, but to me it is and always was a very natural thing that the male has different sexual needs than the female. To meet those needs and even enjoy it as much as I can ? in some way or another ? has always been a natural thing for me, because I believe that a wife has a duty to be supportive and loyal, to let her husband feel loved and appreciated, to please him and make him happy, and to comfort him and cheer him up and help him to regain his confidence and self-esteem when he needs it.
and a rather different take from Why Your Wife Won't Have Sex With You:
To me it seemed simple: he wanted me to be his sexual appliance, the handy-dandy love machine that could be switched on and off at his command. I felt no desire, and I didn't want to "submit" to being handled and penetrated when I wasn't in the mood. If he really loved me, this sex thing, this "merely physical" part of our lives, wouldn't be such a big freakin' issue. His pissy, furious responses to my refusals only made me more sure that he didn't really love me. He just wanted to use my vagina. He clearly thought I owed him sex.

Send Some Music Today

Send some music to someone today. I just sent this to a friend who loves to dance. And I'm sending this too.

Hilary Duff Is Very Sexy

She's really a cutie I think. Good actress and that video of her in the rain -- well, she is very sexy in that. Oh, yes, it's called Come Clean. She could do some seriously well-paid endorsements of waterproof mascara if she played her cards right.

Wish I Were A Nurse

Some girls have all the luck. Imagine showing up for the graveyard shift to spend the night with Russell Crowe. Wouldn't be the worst thing.

What To Do Today

Here's some things to do today in Boston. Thanks to Craig's List.

Good Enough For Instant Pudding

I suppose if Instapundit can put out the tip jar, so can I. Paypal's right there on the left. Feel free, however, if you are a really devoted Halley's Comment fan to send pretty pink boxes with black ribbons from Victoria's Secret full of pretty lingerie as a certain fan did this week.

Donations of $25.00 are fine if I ever made you laugh with anything I ever wrote. If you fell off your chair laughing, send more. If you peed in your pants, you are a Platinum Halley's Comment Supporter, just send the top limit for PayPal, $2000.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Levitra Proves Disappointing

I was so excited to see all the ads for this new drug called Levitra -- just what I needed. Especially with Super Bowl weekend coming up, I thought, I oughta get some of that stuff -- a drug that really improves your knowledge of football and will let you throw a football straight at a target, like the tire swing they feature in their ads.

They have football coaches endorsing it, the NFL endorsing it, all sorts of good looking older guys who can really throw footballs demonstrating it, I was thrilled to find a quick fix to my limited football skills. Honestly, I suck at football. They make you feel like anything's possible, when they mention on their website "STAY IN THE GAME!" I need that kind of encouragement to really appreciate football.

But it doesn't seem to be helping me at all. It made griping a football a lot more difficult -- seems to have made all my fingers swell up -- I just don't get it. It's harder than ever to toss the pigskin. I want my money back.

I Pledge Allegiance

I still like Dean. I'm still a Dean supporter. I just wanted to say it. I like what he DARED to talk about when no one else would. I'm not naive and I see he's stepped in shit more than a few times. I don't think it will be easy to clean off his shoes quickly, but I still think he is vastly different from the other Democratic nominees. I think most of the gaffes he's made, originate in his intention to be honest and tell the truth. You can damn him for that, but it seems preferable to the blow dryer stylings of John Kerry, who I just don't trust.

I'd like to stop trusting Dean will step in shit again. That's for sure. I'd like to trust that he will continue to tell us the truth and fight to get this country back from the aristocracy and return it to common working people. I think he tells such painful truth about what is really happening in America, many people would rather look away and see pretty ads on TV that play pretty music and make them feel warm and cozy.

Dean needs to stop being so shrill and scary. I know these are scary times the country is going through. I know he feels a moral responsibility to wake us up, but I'd rather wake to a warm cup of coffee than a siren going off.

One of the earliest themes of this election was all about how the Democrats got screwed in the last election in Florida. The guy in the middle of that insanity now runs Dean's campaign. There's something interesting about that. Maybe we need to remember how that felt. Maybe Roy Neel can remind us of what's at stake.

There are ten months to go. That's a lot of months. There are a pile of delegates to go. This many.

Dean has never disappointed me in how determined he is to run this race to the very end. And I don't intend to disappoint him by wavering in my support when he obviously needs it.

Full Court Press

I wrote this comment the other day on David Weinberger's excellent new column Loose Democracy at Corante as we were all talking about how the Dean Campaign's internet strategy helped or harmed him of late:

David = I think this is not about vague, sprawling "Internet Strategy" notions the Dean campaign was based upon, but specifically about the way Dean and Trippi embraced blogs and bloggers (who are nearly detested by most traditional journalists).

Underneath all the political noise and commotion of this election, there is a veritable Civil War going on between bloggers and journalists. Whatever wonderful things bloggers can do FOR a candidate, journalists (especially TV reporters) can work wonders AGAINST a candidate's image and just about destroy him. Despite the missteps Dean himself might have made, the press was out to crucify him IMHO.

I had a pleasant chat with a woman reporter from a very well-known newspaper at Dean NH HQ, all nicey-nice until I happened to mention I was a blogger and then she looked at me like I was a LEPER. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I think this is a big part of what was happening in the Dean campaign coverage.

And read this from Dan Gillmor -- I really like what he says:
If this is how things work, why did one candidate in 2000 not get this scrutiny? Why did George W. Bush get to announce that he'd been a bad boy before the age of 40, but that was ancient history and we should all forget about it -- and that's pretty much what happened. The press gave Bush a pass on things -- his failure to show up for some National Guard duty; questionable if not corrupt business dealings; the substance abuse; etc. -- that still smell to high heaven and would have been the topic of nonstop coverage had a Clinton or Gore or Dean been the one who'd done them.

There's a non-conspiratorial explanation for some of this. Bush, the candidate, coddled and flattered reporters. He cultivated an image of being shallow, if not stupid (he may be the former, but definitely not the latter), so that journalists would just laugh off his latest gaffe. In 2000 Gore was standoffish and didn't suffer fools. This time, Dean was the smart-guy front-runner who didn't have time for games with journalists. Who got treated better by the reporters? Guess.

Reporters are human. We are insecure by nature and susceptible to flattery, more than we should be. One of the most telling journalism images of this campaign was a news story (I can't find it offhand) in which one reporter complains that Dean didn't ask any personal questions about him, the reporter -- setting a new high (or low, depending on how you see it) in journalistic self-involvement and insecurity. Add Dean's thinking out loud and pandering, and he was bound to get pounded.

Anyway, Dean's still in this race. But I have to wonder if Bush would be in the White House at all had he been subjected to the same treatment. Somehow I doubt it.

Scream Revisited

This admission by ABC News is pretty incredible. Try turning the noise of the crowd down and only hearing the microphone of Dean shouting over the crowd -- and not even being heard there -- and then you've got a whole other story.

Publish And Perish

Fascinating blog piece by Prof. Michael Watkins at Harvard Busines School.

On Not Getting Tenure/Academic Parasitism at HBS

Well I'm back after a long hiatus.

The reasons why I took a break from blogging are twofold. Family was one big factor. In early November we had our third child, a beautiful little boy named Niall. He is now 2 months old, and we are just now emerging from the fog of childbirth.

Career developments, the main subject of this posting, were the second big factor. Just before Thanksgiving, I learned that I would not be getting tenure at the Harvard Business School. Tenure is an up-or-out system, and so I needed to regroup and start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life after the end of the academic year. (more on this later).

Perhaps I am flattering myself, but I think my case raises some issues about the future of HBS and of business schools in general. In particular, I have been wondering for some time:

* To what extent are business schools producing insights of use to practicing managers?
* Is the investment that they are making in research justified in terms of results? - a straightforward ROI assessment

I believe that the answers to these questions are, respectively, little and no. I further believe that this is the result of the "capture" of business schools (including unfortunately and increasingly HBS) by discipline-oriented academics who consume more value from their institutions than they create for them. This is the parasitism to which I refer in the heading for this posting.

First here is what happened, as well as some details about the way the tenure process works at HBS.

On Not Getting Tenure

Not getting tenure was of course a big disappointment. It also came as somewhat of a surprise. (see my info) (I'm not trying to brag here, just give an indication of why getting tenure was plausible,)

Since coming to HBS in 1996, I have authored or co-authored five books and numerous articles and cases. My work has been received very well by my primary audiences - business professionals and educators (I'm admittedly not a traditional academic). My two negotiation books, Breakthrough International Negotiation and Breakthrough Business Negotiation, won the major practitioner-awarded book prize (from the CPR Institute for Dipute Resolution) in the negotiation/dispute resolution field in 2001 and 2002 respectively. My first, co-authored, book on accelerating oneself into a new leadership role, Right From the Start, has sold over 30,000 copies since 1999 and helped spawn a consulting/coaching industry focusing on executive "on-boarding " and "assimilation."

My most recent book, The First 90 Days, also on the subject of transition acceleration, extends the work that I did previously. It has sold 30,000 copies in just four months since publication, and hit the Businessweek best seller list last month. The companion interactive performance support tool that I developed, called "Leadership Transitions" is HBS Publishing's second best selling e-learning product. It has grossed over $1 million in revenue and has been licensed by 40 major corporations. Here too, I have helped launch a new movement in the Human Resources and Leadership Development communities to focus on helping managers get up to speed in their new roles. This is work, incidentally, that I was strongly advised by the head of my unit at HBS not to do, advice that I fortunately ignored.

Beyond this, I had developed a two-section elective course at HBS, called Corporate Diplomacy, from scratch to the point where 160 or so second year students sign up for it each year; developed and led the executive program HBS does for the World Bank; helped prepare Harvard to better deal with crises, etc. etc.

So I had reason to hope that HBS would recognize and reward my contributions, and I was a bit surprised when they didn't. Which gets me to how my tenure case fits into broader trends at HBS.

Academic Parasitism at HBS

Essentially there is a war going on at HBS between believers in the importance of managerial relevance and upholders of academic orthodoxy, and the former is losing. This balance is a hard one to strike in professional schools, especially those situated in leading research universities. Go too far in the direction of practice and you become a consulting/training company. Go too far in the direction of academic respectability and you become irrelevant. The latter has been the fate of many of the business schools at leading universities - they rarely produce cutting-edge thinking that impacts business practice (take a look at the top 250 books on management at Barnes and Noble and note how few are written by business school academics.) Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, for example, was essentially fired by Stanford.

For a long time, the main exception to this has been HBS, which was defined at its founding as a "delicate experiment" in bridging theory and practice. Since its founding, HBS has been a source of innovative business thinking, and there are faculty who are continue to turn out good stuff - e.g. Jay Lorsch, Clay Christensen, Robert Kaplan, and Joe Badaracco.

But my sense is that the pipeline for ideas that impact business is going dry at the school. Also the school is confronting troubling trends - in terms of increasingly "academization," reductions in the quality of executive program participants, and declining involvement of faculty in developing cases studies - the school's bread and butter - that I believe point to deeper problems

From its founding until the late 1970's, HBS operated according to its own idiosyncratic knowledge creation model. It focused on the case method and strongly valued teaching and connection with practice. Critically, it encouraged interdisciplinary research and trained many of its own faculty (including people with a lot of business experience) in the HBS Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program to conduct such research.

But the practice of training your own faculty is anathema at most academic institutions. Instead, the academy is organized into "disciplines" (economics, psychology). Most academics have primary allegiance to their disciplines and associated reference communities, and not the particular institutions in which they reside. They seek to publish in their discipline's leading referred journals, attend its conferences, etc.

But this means that they are not incented to make investments in "institution-specific capital" like developing courses and writing case studies. One important way you gain status in the academic disciplines is by having your Ph.D graduates "seeded" into other institutions. (In fact, if you view academic training to be a form of asexual reproduction, you won't go far wrong).

Beginning in the 1980's HBS's traditional model came under increasing attack. As I understand it, soon after John McArthur was appointed Dean, then Harvard President Derek Bok began pushing very hard to increase the academic respectability of HBS, using the club of the President's control of the tenure process. Unlike the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Harvard, HBS had not been subject to Harvard's "ad hoc" process - in which the President appoints an independent committee to review all tenure appointments and to treat each tenure decision as an open search for the best candidate in the world for that position.

The result of the ad hoc process has been very few internal promotions within Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Science and the resulting "star" culture. (The standing joke is that young faculty are treated by their senior colleagues as if they were victims of a fatal childhood disease - kindly, but with the expectation that they will not be around for very long). This promotion system works reasonably well in the humanities and sciences, but is devastating in professional schools. (The Kennedy School, for example, is subject to the ad hoc process.)

The result of President Bok's pressure was that HBS began to hire more "outsiders," respected business scholars from leading research institutions. This set in motion a process of increasing "academization" of HBS that has continued through the administration of the current Dean, Kim Clark (himself an economist). It has accelerated recently because the school has reached a "tipping point" in terms of the declining influence of the old guard and the rise of the young academics.

The result has been increasing hiring of leading scholars into tenured positions from outside HBS, as well as much more hiring of newly minted Ph.D. from the disciplines (principally economics, psychology, and sociology) into tenure track positions rather than from inter-disciplinary business doctoral programs. [This also puts the young research faculty in the unenviable position of having to teach a very tough audience, HBS MBAs, without having accumulated much real-world experience.] The discipline-oriented academics also have "captured" HBS's doctoral programs, re-orienting them strongly to the training of young discipline-focused research stars.

The result is that HBS is looking more and more like all the other business schools with, I believe, associated negative results. The fundamental principle of business strategy, after all, is to cultivate and sustain distinctive competence. So it makes little sense to become like everyone else.

The academization trend is just one of several that I believe are taking HBS away from a sufficiently close connection to the practice of management. There also are issues concerning who comes to HBS's executive programs. In an HBS faculty meeting a year or so ago, the then Senior Associate Dean in charge of Executive Programs gave a sobering presentation on the state of HBS's open enrollment executive program offerings. The gist of the presentation, as I heard it, was that HBS was attracting fewer and fewer managers from leading US companies in growth industries and more from (1) non-leading companies in stagnant industries, and (2) international participants who continued to see the HBS brand as very attractive.

To me, this was a clear warning sign of creeping erosion of the HBS brand. I also think it has potentially dire consequences for innovation and knowledge creation at the school - if professors don't connect with the best practitioners, it becomes hard for them to learn, develop and test new ideas that influence practice.

The other primary way that HBS faculty has kept its faculty abreast of real-world practice is through the writing of case studies on companies. Here too I believe there are major problems. Many of the discipline-oriented tenure-track faculty don't appear to invest much time in writing cases. Why? Because it's an institution-specific investment (and a very time consuming one) that takes them away from their research and ability to publish in leading journals. Journal publishing is what they rightly care about, because it will get them promoted within their disciplines and give them options should things not work out at HBS.

The result is, I believe, a vicious cycle of increasing isolation of the school from practice. HBS has compensated, to some degree, by hiring professional case writers, allowing tenure track faculty to increasingly delegate the field research to others. But this simply enables the isolation of faculty from practice to continue and grow.

[These are concerns that I have had for some time, predating my tenure decision. For example, I wrote an article called The End of Executive Education as We Know it? that was published in BizEd, a trade magazine for the executive education industry. I posted an earlier version of that article just before posting this one.]

More recently, President Summers has, I think with the best of intentions, added to the pressure on the school to become more academic in its orientation.. I have it on good authority that he made it clear more than a year ago that he would no longer accept letters in support of tenure cases from faculty in non-first tier schools. This is a big problem for those at HBS who come up for tenure on the basis of interdisciplinary research, course development, and practitioner-oriented work. The people in other top-tier schools are essentially always discipline-centric research scholars. I also have it on good authority that President Summers convened the first "quasi-ad hoc" committee to look at the only tenure case that HBS put forward. [This year there were four people up for tenure at HBS myself, Stefan Thomke, Das Narayandas, and V.G. Narayanan. The other three made it.]

Certain species of birds practice what is known as "brood parasitism" by laying their eggs in the nests of birds of other species. As I see it, the academization of HBS is the equivalent of brood parastism - the academics feeding on the brand that the practitioner-oriented people in the school labored so hard to build. The HBS brand is very strong and it can be fed on for a long time before getting tarnished. The discipline-oriented academics who are hired at business schools probably benefit from the higher salaries and research support that they get compared to their colleagues in Economics and Psychology Departments. But I have to believe that the "capture" of HBS and other business schools is a negative development in terms of the creation of new knowledge about the theory and practice of management.

I also think there is an interesting governance story here, especially given that other major institutions, corporations and government, are confronting governance crises. The faculty is really not subject to much oversight concerning these major changes in direction. I suspect that HBS's alumni are unaware of the profound changes that are going on at the school. Yet they are currently the subject of a $500 million capital campaign. But my sense is that the alumni little more than superficial collective oversight or voice in the institution.

The Tenure Process at HBS

My tenure case occurred in the context of these changes. After doing my Ph.D at HBS, I went to the Kennedy School in 1991. I was hired back by HBS in 1996 into what was then a small Negotiation Unit that had developed an innovative new required course in negotiation. In 1999 this unit was merged with a larger unit, Organizations and Markets, led by Professor George Baker, one of the leading "young academics"at HBS. [Professor Baker also has led the charge to increase the academic respectability of HBS Doctoral programs. He is a fine economist who, I believe, belongs in a fine economics department, and not a business school. (see his info, click on "publications" to get a sense of his contributions)] This unit then hired two leading scholars in economics and psychology from the outside, focused on hiring young research stars, and the ascendency of discipline-oriented academics within the combined unit was complete. [The required negotiation course, incidentally, progressively fell in student ratings to very low levels, and I saw some of the young faculty in my unit suffer terribly by trying to teach it without the requisite training and experience.]

It was in this context that I came up for tenure.

The way the tenure process works is an important factor here. It works like this:

The candidate submits a personal statement outlining his or her accomplishments and plans, along with a supporting package of written materials. The Dean appoints a subcommittee of three tenured faculty to review the case and make recommendations to the tenured faculty as a whole. The candidate being evaluated does not get to know who is chosen for this subcommittee.

The subcommittee solicits written evaluations from (1) all the tenured faculty in the candidates unit (the unit's opinion is critical), (2) from others inside the school, and (3) from selected outsiders. The candidate can make recommendations about who should evaluate their case, but the decision is up to the subcommittee. The subcommittee also decides which pieces of the candidates written materials are sent to reviewers. The candidate does not get to know who wrote letters, what materials they evaluated, or what their criticisms were.

The subcommittee reviews the letters and comes to a conclusion about the candidate. If positive, it goes on to the full tenured faculty for debate and ratification, and then to the Dean who has the final say over who gets recommended to the President to be granted tenure. If negative, the candidate is informed, and advised to withdraw..

In my case, most of the senior faculty in my unit, the discipline-oriented academics, were not supportive of my case. My understanding is that my work on negotiation was sent to several leading research scholars in the field outside of HBS. In the field of negotiation, the leading scholars are psychologists who study negotiation by doing experiments with highly simplified situations. My work in negotiation, which focuses on a systems view, is a critique of theirs, so unsurprisingly they hated it.

Within HBS, select tenured faculty from outside my unit were also asked to evaluate aspects of my case. But I was told by one tenured faculty member that the choice of who was asked to read my material in their unit was "not an obvious one," the implication being that the person was not the best equipped to evaluate my case.

This is an example of how the tenure process is subject to a great deal discretion on the part of members of the subcommittee (who are themselves selected by the Dean). The process also is influenced by factional politics within the school. I've concluded that you have to have a very strong patron in your unit supporting your case, or you are fighting an uphill battle. And I wonder if this is a system that truly fosters excellence.

I also know that the letters that came back from non-psychologists in the field of negotiation and from practitioners and educators were outstandingly supportive. But my case was finished.

At this point, I was told by the Senior Associate Dean who manages the promotions process, Srikant Datar that the subcommittee had recommended that my case not go forward. He also sketched out the main criticisms of my case. Candidates in this situation are offered the chance to withdraw their case, in part to save them the embarrassment of being formally denied tenure (although many outside Harvard would consider such a denial a badge of honor) but, I think more importantly, so the school can avoid having to take contentious cases to the full tenured faculty.

Concluding I had little to lose, I did something I'm sure they haven't seen done before. Not only did I not withdraw (candidates have a right to a hearing before the full tenured faculty), I wrote a detailed rebuttal and asked that it be appended to the report that the subcommittee would send to the full tenured faculty. This request was denied by Professor Datar, and I was told by another tenured faculty member that the subcommittee would now write a "brief" that would highlight the negative aspects of my case to support their recommendation to the full tenured faculty.

I of course have no idea what actually went on the full faculty meeting concerning my case, but just before Thanksgiving, I got the call from the Dean indicating that he would not recommend me to President Summers. And that was that.

Moving Forward

Having been at Harvard since 1985, first as a doctoral student, then as faculty, it is of course quite wrenching to be leaving Harvard. But I also increasingly see it as a opportunity for some self renewal. Fortunately there is a lot of interest in my leadership transitions work (and also in my next book, Predictable Surprises, which will be published by HBS Press next year) and so I've got interesting options. I'm quite glad that I decided to push on with this work, which I think will help a lot of practicing managers. I'm probably not going to look for a full time academic appointment for now. But I will certainly seek a part-time affiliation with a good school - I would miss the students too much.

What I will not miss is the culture of management-by-and-for-insecurity that pervades Harvard. The sad truth is that few people at Harvard are allowed, or allow themselves, to enjoy their accomplishments. The institution attracts driven, insecure people who then tend to reinforce each other. The result is productivity, albeit of a narrow form. I was able to isolate myself from its effects to a large degree, but I'm certainly not going to miss it.

Orkut Virgin

If one more friendly person sends me one more invitation to join Orkut -- I'll scream. Don't mean to be rude, but if you do the math of the time I've spent on Friendster and then LINKEDIN and then how fast people are jumping to Orkut, it begins to feel like going from 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records to CD's to MP3's (all compressed into 6 months) -- I don't want to keep replacing my collection. If you take the social software adoption hockey stick curve and project out in time, I'll be joining new friendly networks every 3 days pretty soon.

There is most decidedly a diminishing rate of return, if you consider how fast these things are coming at us and I envision a scenario where I spend NO TIME WHATSOEVER WITH ACTUAL FRIENDS but instead, spend all my time joining FRIEND NETWORKS.

So, I am not joining Orkut and if you want to hang out with me -- I'm still in both Friendster and LINKEDIN.

If someone can give me a convincing argument for getting me into bed with Orkut, feel free to try, but I haven't seen any yet.

Suffering From Hypergraphia?

As Rod explains in his interesting post, hypergraphia is the opposite of writer's block. Maybe bloggers are afflicted with this post-it note jotting, blog posting, diary inscribing, note taking, essay writing, novel scribbling madness?

Work/Life Balance Or Bust!

There's a great post over at Misbehaving.Net that my misbehaving co-blogger, Caterina Fake put up the other day. It's about women and work, but I think one of the male commenters really hit the nail on the head. Read this:

As the husband that Alex mentions, I can testify that women are changing the workplace, because if it wasn't for my wife kicking my ass to give me some perspective, I'd still be working 24/7 for my company simply because that's what I'm supposed to do. As men, we are raised to base most of our self-esteem on how productive we are in the workplace, on how much money we can make, on the glory of surmounting impossible obstacles to achieve great things... funny thing is, 6 months later, I don't even remember what I was doing, I just remember that it was all I did. And nobody else remembers either, except my wife remembers that I wasn't there for her. --Dten

For whatever reason, men are finally driving a lot of the change that women have been begging for in the workplace for a long time. I don't think it's that men are being taken more seriously in this work/life balance question, but rather, that once men joined women in questioning the pointless dedication to a job where no loyalty is reciprocated, the combination of ALL workers saying "Hey, wait a minute" has started a powerful cultural movement.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Invite Al Franken To Your Next Event

Surely someone other than little old me noticed this "sponsored link" advertising the following "Invite Al Franken To Your Next Event" with a link to the speaker's bureau that handles his booking on the same page as the New York Post story with the headline:


He sure knows how to keep the party rocking.

[Unfortunately, as sponsored links rotate, you may not get a chance to see the one I mention above.]

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Trippi Leaving Dean Campaign

Wow. Double Wow.

Who's Winning This Horse Race?

Britt Blaser points out that the current delegate totals are as follows:

Dean 116
Kerry 94
Edwards 36
Clark 30

CNN explains the numbers here and will keep a running tally for all of us.

Fat Lady Sings July 29, 2004

And if it weren't confusing enough, check out this CNN backgrounder on how the Democratic nominee will actually be nominated.

If you think federal income tax forms are complex, try understanding the presidential delegate selection process.

The precise manner in which the Democrats will choose their 2004 presidential nominee will be a logistical maze, with many twists and turns.

To better understand the primary and caucus results, it is helpful to first look ahead to the Democratic National Convention, set for July 26-29, 2004, in Boston, Massachusetts.

While elected officials, party leaders and dignitaries will converge on the Fleet Center, the real power rests with the convention delegates. A Democratic hopeful's many months pressing the flesh on the campaign trail aside, it is these delegates who actually choose the party's nominee.

The system operates much like the Electoral College, in which vote-mandated "Electors" ultimately select the U.S. president every four years. Each Democratic state party is allocated a number of delegates based on a complicated formula that takes into account the state's electoral votes and the strength of support for Democratic presidential candidates in the last three general elections.

Each individual convention delegate casts one vote for a Democratic candidate. The first candidate to receive a majority of the convention floor's votes (2,161 in 2004) becomes the nominee.

"Alternates" will also be on-hand for the convention, ostensibly to replace delegates who do not or cannot show up, as will thousands of Democratic officials, leaders and regular citizens, plus the usual horde of journalists

Read More ---------->

Soft Snow

There's a soft snow like baby powder falling here and it seems to be perfect for resting up, healing, taking it easy and just calming down a bit. Seems like everything was going at a hellish pace the last few days. It feels lovely and simple and forgiving. I like it.


Steve Garfield points me to a piece in Slate where Chris Suellentrop wonders if Dean will sleep it off and then wait for Kerry to defeat Kerry. In a tone similar to my post below, Chris wonders:

Will the voters who dated Dean, then married Kerry get bored enough that they start to fantasize again about sleeping with Dean?

Interesting Story

David Plotz wrote this piece about being a short-term New Hampshire resident, and being bombarded by presidential hopefuls trying to win his vote, here. But even more interesting, is the book he's working on about The Genius Sperm Bank here.

Date Dean, Marry Kerry

I heard a Kerry supporter talking about this now legendary bumpersticker, DATE DEAN MARRY KERRY, on a radio program yesterday. If the slogan means Dean is too hot to handle and Kerry is the more serious long-term choice, may I remind you that one in two marriages end in divorce.

There is one thing I like about the phrase -- the subliminal suggestion that this nominating process is a lot like that year of engagement before marriage -- in that respect, the notion is actually not too far off. A lot can happen during that year. I still think a lot can happen here.

As for marrying Kerry, are we still marrying someone our parents think we should marry? An inside-the-beltway kinda guy? Is it politics as usual? Can he satisfy us at the breakfast table AND in the bedroom? Or is it time to admit we need all the passion and fire a suitor can summon to help us play house in the White House?

I am reminded of Dustin Hoffman at the back of the church in The Graduate. Maybe we'll all be SHRIEKING by the time we hear the wedding march play.

I worry if we date Dean and marry Kerry, we'll all be longing for that passionate patriot on our wedding night.

Dean Will Endure

Mysteriously, I keep finding Andrew Sullivan -- that well-known conservative blogger -- keeps my Democratic hope alive on a continuing basis. Don't miss this from his site today:

DEAN WILL ENDURE: Most of the day, I thought that Edwards was going to be the un-Kerry from now on. Dean was too damaged after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire. But Edwards' disappointing fourth place showing - behind the nutcase Clark - after such a big win in Iowa has to make his candidacy more suspect. Dean did a little worse than the exit polls suggested. But his concession speech was easily the best of the night. It was authentic, uplifting, and red meat to the Democrats. It actually rang true to me as Dean's real view of the world. It isn't one I entirely share, to say the least, but it is genuine, represents a lot of people in this country and deserves a hearing. He seemed more affable than recently as well. He smiled more. He spoke more calmly but not ineffectively. He's real. Kerry is so fake, in contrast, I cannot believe that Democratic primary voters will continue to support him in such numbers. Dean gave arguments. Kerry spoke in packaged Shrumisms. Dean has a vision. Kerry has ambition. If I were a Democrat, I'd vote for Dean over Kerry in a heartbeat. To my mind, this is a battle between the Democratic party's soul and its fear. The exit polls showed how Kerry won by seeming more electable - thus trashing an old golden rule of American politics. But the more you see of Kerry the less appealing he is. I'm not sure he really is less electable than the dreary Kerry. Maybe Dean needed this early drubbing to make him more tolerable as a candidate. Maybe it's too late and Kerry is way too far ahead to be caught. I don't know. All I know is that what I saw in Dean's speech - and the extraordinary crowd that accompanied it - was more authentic than anything I have ever seen Kerry say or do. That must count for something.

It only gets more interesting from here, because I do think when all is said and done and the Democrats make good on their promise to stand behind one candidate, there will be a juggernaut of democracy heading straight for Bush and The White House. On Kos, he mentioned the shocker in the Republican numbers -- a large number of write-ins against Bush by Republicans in New Hampshire.

Finals on New Hampshire Primary

AP reports this:

With nearly all the precincts reporting in New Hampshire, Kerry had 39 percent and Dean 26 percent. Clark and John Edwards (news - web sites) were locked in a tight battle for third — each under the 15 percent threshold for claiming delegates. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (news - web sites) was fifth, with 9 percent

I'm a betting man and I now owe a good friend at Harvard lunch at Legal Seafoods at The Charles Hotel. Not the worst thing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Bush Passes Blogger Full Employment Act

President Bush signed new legislation into law today, heralding a new era in media freedom with the BLOGGER FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT (The "BFEA"). This legislation ensures that all bloggers must now report to McDonald's to man the counters during the dinner and graveyard shifts immediately or if they resist employment, be sent directly to Guantanamo Bay. Bush mentioned in a speech today at The Heritage Foundation that, "An employed blogger is happy blogger -- but even better, a blogger too busy to blog is the best blogger." President Bush graciously took the first question from favorite in the press corps, Helen Thomas of AP, who asked "Is there a correlation between McDonald's being the only authorized employer of bloggers in the new BFEA and Mrs. Kroc's donation to National Public Radio?" President Bush declined to answer but did offer Ms. Thomas a happy meal.

"The BLOGGER FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT was spawned in the heartland of this big, beautiful bi-partisan nation. There were calls for reform from all sides of the political community, especially journalists," the President explained. "My friend Karl Rove, and I were sharing a Big Mac at the McDonalds in Crawford when we got talking about some guy named Andrew Sullivan." Apparently Mr. Rove finally got the president's attention when he explained how dangerous bloggers with a lot of time on their hands could be, certainly beyond Level Red in terms of security risks and that fully employed bloggers posed far less of a threat as weapons of mass media destruction, than unemployed bloggers might. Rove reasoned astutely that "an employed blogger quickly becomes the employer's problem, not ours."

I Made Sure To Send Along My Pin Number To These Folks Since This Was Donne For My Poeterection

--- Citibank-Online wrote:
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> You must ctpmoele this porescs by clicking
> on_the_link
> beelow and enteering in the little winndow your
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> _Debit Card Number and _PIN that you_use in_the
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> To veerify your_ E_Mail adderss and accees _your
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Boston Globe On Who Will Win New Hampshire

I guess they need your help before they'll say.

And So It Begins

Wish I could be in New Hampshire today. I'm still recovering from surgery so I really have to take it easy.

How Long Has This Been Going On?

Don't you love that song -- and what a fine lyric.

After Neil Bush severed his 23-year marriage to Sharon in May, he proposed last month in France to Maria Andrews, a former volunteer for former first lady Barbara Bush.

Monday, January 26, 2004

This Isn't A Political Campaign

[This is a blog post I wrote in early December when I was volunteering at Dean HQ in Burlington, VT. I found unexpected people -- not all geeks, not all young, not all hotheaded -- but some serious, down-to-earth Vermonters who repeatedly told me they were so proud of their governor and so thankful for what he'd done for them, that they wanted all 50 states to get a chance to know him as the president. As I mentioned in the post below, Laurie Hammond was one of the people I met. Her story and many others I heard there were amazingly powerful.]

This is not a political campaign, I keep muttering this to myself as I spend more and more time at Howard Dean Headquarters in Burlington, VT. It's something else and I haven't yet figured it out. At Britt Blaser's urging I've come up from Boston to volunteer and learn more about Dean and his supporters. Britt is a stealthy technologist, long on wisdom and experience, short on making drawn-out decisions, preferring to jump in fast and furious when it comes to building new tools to help connect people. A number of blogger friends of mine are doing amazing stuff at the Dean Campaign. I'm just beginning to see how Jim Moore is also turning things around up here, making internet history.

But I see a lot of regular folks too. I get a volunteer gig helping prepare materials for the next MeetUp where other volunteers and supporters will write hand-written letters.

You see about eight old, middle-aged and young folks sitting and standing around a big rectangular table and chatting as they put two envelopes 2 stamps and 2 peices of ivory letter paper in a sleeve that explains how to write a letter to a voter. The pamphlet is short on political propaganda and long on sincere, solid Vermont good common sense with suggestions like ""personal letters are the most effective" and "use your own voice."

As we're working, we're talking about how nice it is to get a real letter in the mail. All of them admit they use email almost all the time to contact friends, but we agree there's something great about real letters from real people.

It's something about Dean HQ you might not expect because so much has been written about how savvy they are in terms of the internet and technology. That's true. but they're also smart about when to use technology and when NOT to use technology. They understand that the point is how to get up close and personal. That connection might happen in email, it might happen on their weblog, it might happen with pen and ink and it might happen with a few zillion volunteers going door-to-door. They don't seem wedded to the Web as the only method. They are flexible and resourceful in the way they use all methods -- their goal is connecting and that doesn't necessarily mean the web is always the medium of of choice.

As we talk about letters, we start to swap stories, and several tell amazingly heart-wrenching stories about how Dean has literally changed their lives as citizens of Vermont. These are NOT the stories of sunshine patriots or people who are excited about Dean now that Dean is cool. These are life-altering recountings of life-changing benefits the governor made happen in their lives as Vermonters living here during his 5 terms of the "gov". Their loyalty is unshakeable. Their zealous desire to "share" their great governor with the rest of the country and their desire to have great things happen for those other Americans not lucky enough to live in Vermont, is formidable.

I return to the thought, "this is not a political campaign." I've seen some of those. This isn't one. The way person after person explains their deep appreciation of Dean and the Dean campaign makes me understand something else is going on. Ironically, I'm visiting from my hometown of Boston, where somewhere around the 1750's the same thing happened. People started thinking about their lives in a completely different way. They started to take responsibility for a new political destiny and a new way of thinking and living.

They did that radical thing. They thought and then said to one another, "we don't have to live like this anymore."

This is Ghandhi's walk to the sea for salt. And his "You must be the change you wish to see in the world.'

Dean, as the hype about the campaign grows, the magazine covers, the record fundraising successes, has every reason to let it all go to his head. In fact, the most fascinating thing to my mind, is the way Dean is the farthest thing from grandiose.

It's hard to explain this. He writes about it in his campaign literature, but to be here is to see it up close. It's a bit of a Zen manoeuvre. If this movement is about anything, it's about each person in his network being more empowered than him. He has somehow managed -- and this is no small feat for a person who holds two of the most egotistical credentials any man can have -- doctor and politician -- to step back and let the power he could be revelling in belong to those in his organization. He understands this is NOT about him.

The Dean supporters as a group are each more empowered and awake to a new set of political choices and political responsibilities and power in their daily lives than he as one man could ever be.

And the campaign headquarters people never seem to lose sight of this being about others, not Dean. Just listen to the language of their now celebrated weblog. When they talk about hitting a fundraiser goal, they NEVER say "We raised $1 million." they say, "Look what you did! You raised $1 million!" The site is full of "You did this," and "You did that," and "You are winning ..."

And it's not a PR trick. It's not empty jargon or rah-rah political baloney. It's the essence of what is going on here -- and I still don't know what to call it -- but it's a collective, community effort based on caring about your neighbors.

Something is embedded in Dean's network here in Vermont that I didn't expect to find. They are practicing a new and old religion. They are respectful and kind to one another, smart and funny, helpful and trustworthy. Trust. They remind you you can trust your neighbor. They remind you of the happy comfort and optimism of a pre-9/11 world.

They aren't about the "new normal." They are about the old normal.

They are about taking back the America we knew. It was a good one.

They are about reminding us what a good one it was and can be again.

They are shape-changers to be sure -- every time you think you've got them pinned down, they defy description. If you think they are simply liberal Democrats, you are caught up short to realize there are some solid, conservative American values at work here. They can feel very strick and conservative, these down-to-earth Vermonters. Almost like the good Republicans I grew up around in Connecticut a long time ago.

They make you feel you can return to that simple honest pre-9/11 world of trusted neighbors. Driving up from Boston, you cover beautiful country, especially the last hour from Montpelier through to Burlington. The terrain really begins to climb. The mountains of Vermont, hold us in an embrace, but they are solid and cold, rather stern, suggesting deep straight American values of trust and reliability. You can count on them. It feels like an opportunity to reset your whole life, this strange campaign, to leave the "don't trust your neighbor" life behind and get back to a hopeful life of mutual trust.

Plain hills in winter, grey and stark, some snow-peaked, still suggest the hidden animals in their barns, waiting to be those happy black and white cows of summer grazing on bright green grass of Ben and Jerry's homeland. You can depend on the snowy sober winter eventually ushering in a bright summer and you know you can trust your neighbors to be there to help you through both.

Should we feel embarrassed longing for that America we knew and loved and the rest of the world used to think of when they thought of us?

Are we wrong to practice it -- as we stand there stuffing envelopes working together respectfully, young and old -- showing younger citizens how it felt to have good neighbors and live honestly and cooperatively. It's a practice, like yoga or some other martial art, we need to remind ourselves how to be Americans again, to keep going through the motions so the knowledge is not lost.

After working for a while, we go downtown to eat dinner and get back around 10:00PM. Britt is going back into the Dean HQ to work and I kid him that there will be nobody there this late on a Friday night. "Wanna bet?" he asks and makes me go in to count how many people are still here this late. We make the rounds -- nearly 45 people are still here.

This thing is being built on the energy of people taking back their lives and their communities. In many ways there is a feeling of post-election activity in these offices, as if learning how to live in this new return to democracy and new country of political participation is the real task at hand, not a political campaign. Convincing others it is the way to live seems obvious and simple. Why would anyone want to live any other way?

I finally happen on a word -- barn-raising. This is a barn-raising. Young and old making noise with hammers, saws, everyone pitching in, trading sweat and stories, passing on the knowledge of how to build a life, build a country. They are determined to build this thing up from the ground, from the grassroots and not go home until it is done. It may be late when they finish, but the barn will stand solidly, ready to shelter a new family and welcome old neighbors, building a strong community around them, able to withstand all storms for many years to come.

Thank You Laurie

So much for my moratorium on political postings. When I was up at Dean HQ for the first time ever in early December, at the invitation of Britt Blaser and at the urging of several bloggers I know who were so keen on Dean and I met a lovely woman named Laurie who told me why she was a Dean supporter. Her story was so powerful and raw, later that night I told Britt about it and about many of the other stories I had heard there that were so strong that I finally was beginning to understand how this one person, Howard Dean, had become so important to so many people. They were not internet smarties or radical nuts, they were very ordinary, nice people.

I told Britt as much as I wished I could write about Laurie's story, I wouldn't blog it because it was so personal. It made me know back in December that Dean supporters were not CASUAL about their support of Dean. They would do anything for this guy. They would go the distance. They would hang on and on and on.

Tonight Britt just let me know that Laurie decided to go public with iher story and it's on the BlogForAmerican site. I'm so glad she did. Here it is:

Guest Blogger: Laurie Hammond

In Vermont, Dean showed his commitment to women, families, and small businesses by pushing through legislation and programs that delivered real results. Here, Laurie from Colchester Vermont shares her story.

I should probably start by just saying who I am.

My name is Laurie Hammond. I own a small business in Colchester, VT. It’s a retail store selling figure skating and dance wear.

Last Thursday I traveled to New Hampshire to attend Howard Dean rallies in Lebanon and Claremont. I was especially moved when he spoke about the woman with bone cancer he met eight years ago in Brandon, VT. He helped enable the surgery she needed to survive her disease.

I, too, met Howard Dean eight years ago in Brandon. We were at the Fourth of July parade. What he didn’t know was I was a victim of domestic abuse. In 1996, when I finally found the courage to change the lives of myself and my three daughters, I did not expect what happened next.

At a time when my self-esteem was at an all-time low, and I was numb to emotion, I was enveloped by Vermont agencies that joined to form a step-ladder I could climb.

The first step on the ladder was the Vermont state police. Under the Dean administration, the Vermont state police had been carefully trained in the area of domestic abuse.

The state police had been trained to take you seriously, to educate you. They give you information on what the possibilities are to get away from the situation.

Then, after I followed through and pressed charges, I got a letter in the mail that I totally didn’t expect. The Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services -- an agency I had no idea even existed -- not only apologized to me because I had been abused in the state of Vermont, but gave my three daughters and me a ten thousand dollar grant for counseling.

It not only what we needed most -- counseling on how to climb ourselves out of an abusive situation -- and we’re still using that grant today.

A few months later, I turned to the Vermont Department of Social Welfare for assistance. They put me into the Reach Up Program, a career-oriented agency. I said I wanted to start my own business.

My Reach Up counselor suggested the micro business entrepreneurial training program, which I believe is federally and state funded. (George Bush is trying to cut funds to this program.) It cost six or seven hundred dollars that I didn't have, but the Vermont Department of Employment and Training gave me a full grant to take the course. You’re forced to research your market, your demographic, everything you need to know to really form a stable business plan with financial projections, everything you need to start and maintain a successful business. And that’s what I ended up doing.

I had to start over with nothing -- I had this aging Buick Park Avenue, and that’s all I had for collateral. I was turned to Vermont Job Start, which became a program in 1993 as mandated in Governor Howard Dean's Economic Progress Act.

Where I am today: I’m running a successful retail and manufacturing business. I have two full-time employees beside myself who are making a livable wage. I also have two part-time people working for me. I am contributing to supporting my family -- I have a husband who has a job as well. I’m on the Vermont Job Start board. I am an active Victim’s Advocate. I’ve lobbied in Washington, DC for trying to help funding for all these programs that I benefited from. I also volunteer in the Burlington office for the Dean for America campaign, and I'll do anything I can to see him elected!

-- Laurie Hammond

Men's Grooming Tips

I know you'll find it shocking, but on this day full of political news, I've decided to post almost anything BUT politics. Here's something I just ran into on the Louis of Boston website -- a men's fine clothing store -- about how to look good. You guys are sure to send me a pile of email on this one. Come on, guys, don't you want to go get a manicure with me?

You probably spend hours detailing your car-- so how about spending a few minutes on those nails.

by Pia Schachter

Twenty years ago, grooming meant a fifteen minute visit to the corner barbershop and a splash of Aqua Velva. Today, men realize how much they get from taking better care of themselves, and they are willing to pay for the grooming that suits their lifestyle and their looks. As this trend takes hold, higher-priced hair salons are replacing shave-and-a-haircut barber shops, and cosmetics and grooming manufacturers are flooding the department stores with what can be a bewildering horde of products.

Faced by the onslaught, too many gentlemen have felt turned off by the whole grooming game. Here are a few tips to guide you through the maze of marketing to the goal: expressing yourself while making the most of your looks.

The most important part of a man's appearance is the hair. Your hair expresses your personal style, be it a short-cropped, somewhat fashion forward look, or the more traditional side part that shows the wearer to be a man of style and substance.

According to Mario Russo, owner of Mario Russo Salon and The Salon at Louis,Boston, "A stylist not only cuts the hair, but also teaches you the many different options of styling, be it with a mousse or gel or a different way to part the hair. A stylist is where you go with all your hair questions and problems, knowing that they will give you the right advice."

The price difference you pay at a high-quality hair salon is for the time and attention lavished on you. A good stylist makes sure to understand you and what you are all about before picking up the scissors. A top-notch stylist examines your scalp, your cowlicks and the texture of your hair and asks you questions about your career and hobbies- not to be nosy but to know what you need.

Mario Russo says: "When I meet someone for the first time I always talk with them first, to see what their hair looks like before it gets washed. I talk with them about what the future of their hair will be-- if they need a total reshaping that requires certain areas to grow in the future."

A top trend in men's hair care: subtle color. "Men who are starting to grey have found an upper edge with having their hair colored," says Mr. Russo. "Not an overall color, but something more subtle called lowlights- completely undetectable- where your grey hair is integrated with your pre-greying color, giving a more youthful appearance without the obviousness of roots growing in. The upkeep is very low- twice a year."

Being masculine doesn't mean having a dry face. Central air conditioning, winter weather and shaving all dehydrate your skin , and moisturizer really makes a difference. Hydrated skin looks much smoother, any facial lines are less noticeable, and you look less ashy, tired and lifeless if your skin isn't dry. Clinique, Prescriptives and Kiehl's offer excellent, unscented facial moisturizers for the man who wants his sense of humor to be the driest thing in his life.

In your kitchen cabinet is probably one of the most powerful grooming aids available: baking soda. Don't laugh: this innocent white powder is an ingredient in just about every bodycare product these days, from shampoos to foot scrubs. Baking soda can be used in the shower mixed with your soap or alone to clean and exfoliate your skin to an unprecedented smoothness. It is also a natural deodorizer. Massage about half a cup of baking soda into your scalp while it still has shampoo on it and notice an improvement in the over all texture of your hair and scalp and how much better your conditioner, gel or other hair products work afterwards.

The secret weapons for the closest shave: a Gillette Sensor Excel Razor and Kiehl's Close Shavers brushless shave cream. Nothing makes a chin hair snap to attention like this soothing mentholated spread.

Try not to overpower with your chosen scent. Spray colognes work best when you spray the air, and then walk through the mist of musk, as opposed to drenching your skin with smell.

Leaving a cotton ball sprinkled with cologne in your socks-and-briefs drawer adds a subtle scent that will gently permeate the air around you as your body heat warms your clothes.

One simple step to a perfectly presentable manicure: after shampooing, push back the cuticles of one hand with the clean fingernails of the other. Then rub your hands with a clean towel. Pushing back your cuticles allows the nail to grow with fewer ridges and less scraggly splitting; dead skin is easily sloughed away by the towel.

It is neither affected nor conceited to care about the impression you make. Taking pride in your appearance is a sign of confidence that inspires the respect of others. And good grooming is the key.

Pia Schachter is a beauty columnist in Boston


Great to see Bill Murray win a Golden Globe.

You Can Get Anything You Want

Read about Alice's here and read about Atkins here.

Chilly Morning Pour The Coffee

What a morning. It's never one given day of 10 degree weather that gets you down here in Siberia. It's one after another after another after another after another. I am so sick of wearing my long johns under my pants.


We're doing an experiment with waffles -- trying to decide if toaster waffles are better made in the toaster oven or equally good (maybe better) in microwave. Back soon with results.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Head Of College Republicans Never Graduated From College

This guy is just so interesting.

Gobs of Chinese Food

We're eating steamy hot Chinese food tonight on this freezing evening. What a treat. I've been eating like crazy this weekend. I think it's due to this relentless cold weather, or at least, it's a good excuse. Spicy green beans with minced pork, dumplings, sesame chicken, steamed vegetables. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Guess Which Bunk I Snagged

About 55 cub scouts and me and my son and all their dads -- wait there was my friend Heidi, another cubscout mom, and -- about 3 other moms there, spent the night in a WWII battleship last night. Did I mention it was -20 wind chill last night?

Here's a good description of the accommodations:

"There stood rows of cots five high, and stacked so closely that a person lying in one of them could find his face only inches from the canvas cot above him.

"The soldiers learned that the top bunk was the one to have, if you could get to it first," said Lou Rizzo, one of the many volunteers aboard the Brown on Veterans Day who served aboard similar ships in the Merchant Marine during the war.

"You had better light for reading, you didn't bump your head on the person above you, and most importantly, when the sergeant came by to assign KP duty, he might not notice you, and he'd grab someone else."

I Slept On A Battleship Last Night

I'm looking for a picture to show you what the bed looked like. The word bed is way, way, way too comfortable a thing to describe the canvas trampoline I slept on last night.

Dennis Miller To Give Bush A Pass

Okay, and how many shall give Dennis Miller a pass? To say "I'm just a comedian" is ridiculous. Last I checked he was just a political comedian.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Dean's Critics

Dean is subversive by being honest and direct, emotional and passionate. His critics are quick to point this out. Just as they destroyed other men for crying, they seem to attack him for being vulnerable and human. But the results are paradoxical. Every put-down seems to help him come back stronger.

There is another group of people constantly underestimated, criticized for being too emotional, too passionate, disrespected for telling the simple truth. Those people are women. I think Dean's stance resonates with many women. His love and support of his wife is nothing short of revolutionary. This campaign only gets more and more interesting.


I'm heading out for a cub scout trip to see a battleship.

Take It Easy Scoble

Glad to see he's taking the weekend off! The man is a blog machine. Have a great weekend.

America As A One-Party State

Amazing piece by Robert Kuttner. Do read. Thanks to Doc for the link.
America has had periods of single-party dominance before. It happened under FDR's New Deal, in the Republican 1920s and in the early 19th-century "Era of Good Feeling." But if President Bush is re-elected, we will be close to a tipping point of fundamental change in the political system itself. The United States could become a nation in which the dominant party rules for a prolonged period, marginalizes a token opposition and is extremely difficult to dislodge because democracy itself is rigged. This would be unprecedented in U.S. history.
In past single-party eras, the majority party earned its preeminence with broad popular support. Today the electorate remains closely divided, and actually prefers more Democratic policy positions than Republican ones. Yet the drift toward an engineered one-party Republican state has aroused little press scrutiny or widespread popular protest.

We are at risk of becoming an autocracy in three key respects. First, Republican parliamentary gimmickry has emasculated legislative opposition in the House of Representatives (the Senate has other problems). House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas has both intimidated moderate Republicans and reduced the minority party to window dressing, rather like the token opposition parties in Mexico during the six-decade dominance of the PRI.

Second, electoral rules have been rigged to make it increasingly difficult for the incumbent party to be ejected by the voters, absent a Depression-scale disaster, Watergate-class scandal or Teddy Roosevelt-style ruling party split. After two decades of bipartisan collusion in the creation of safe House seats, there are now perhaps just 25 truly contestable House seats in any given election year (and that's before the recent Republican super gerrymandering). What once was a slender and precarious majority -- 229 Republicans to 205 Democrats (including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who votes with Democrats) -- now looks like a Republican lock. In the Senate, the dynamics are different but equally daunting for Democrats. As the Florida debacle of 2000 showed, the Republicans are also able to hold down the number of opposition votes, with complicity from Republican courts. Reform legislation, the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA), may actually facilitate Republican intimidation of minority voters and reduce Democratic turnout. And the latest money-and-politics regime, nominally a reform, may give the right more of a financial advantage than ever.

Third, the federal courts, which have slowed some executive-branch efforts to destroy liberties, will be a complete rubber stamp if the right wins one more presidential election.

Taken together, these several forces could well enable the Republicans to become the permanent party of autocratic government for at least a generation. Am I exaggerating? Take a close look at the particulars.

Keep Reading --->

Political Blogs Allegedly Exist

Another report for non-bloggers about political bloggers. I don't mean to be so critical, but this kind of news isn't exactly news to us bloggers, eh?

Interesting that they picked up on bloggers scrutinizing business-as-usual political journalists and keeping them in line.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Numbers Numbers Numbers?

I'm sorry, but is this more NUMBNUTS non-story reporting, or what? This AP story is allegedly about the polling numbers and in the first paragraph mentions the word numbers a number of times. Read it. Did you notice there are NO NUMBERS OR CURRENT POLL RESULTS reported here? Is it me, or is the political media completely losing their grip?!? Is this news?

I'll put all numbers in bold -- you tell me, are there any actual polling result numbers here? Don't the American people deserve some real information -- a few facts -- instead of this fast food smear job disguised as news? It's what we're talking about over here.

N.H. Polls Show Dean Support Eroding
Fri Jan 23, 7:37 AM ET

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Numbers have been Howard Dean (news - web sites)'s friend. Numbers of campaign dollars raised. Numbers of supporters drawn to his candidacy through the Internet. Numbers of backers crammed into schools and auditoriums.

But the latest poll numbers in New Hampshire could only create a sense of foreboding in the Dean camp just days ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. The overall totals show rival John Kerry (news - web sites), winner of the Iowa caucuses, erasing Dean's once commanding lead and surging to the front of the Democratic presidential pack.

And these signs of distress for the former Vermont governor go beyond the top line.

One-time front-runner Dean has been losing support among several demographic groups, especially middle-age and older women, pollsters say. His supporters have been dwindling, leaving largely his original core of younger, liberal adults who helped launch his campaign last spring.

Dean has even lost support in the rural counties in western New Hampshire bordering Vermont that have been his stronghold. Whereas seven in 10 New Hampshire voters saw Dean favorably late last year, a third now see him favorably, a third unfavorably and a third remain undecided, according to the ARG poll.

Earlier this year, Dean seemed a sure bet to win New Hampshire. His lead of 25 percentage points or more started to fade after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) was captured Dec. 14 and Democratic voters focused on other issues, such as electability, pollsters say.

"Dean's slide started before Iowa, Iowa compounded it, and the (concession) speech in Iowa raised serious questions, even in the minds of people who were with him," said pollster Gerry Chervinsky of KRC Communications and Research in Newton, Mass.

Dean finished a disappointing third Monday in Iowa behind Kerry and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (news - web sites). Then Dean tried to cheer his supporters with a bellowing concession speech that is fast becoming a cult classic on the Internet and late-night comedy shows.

Aware of the need to stop Dean's slide, the candidate adopted a more subdued approach, tried to explain his outburst as his no-holds-barred style and tried to soften his image with an interview with his wife with ABC News' Diane Sawyer and an all-in-fun appearance on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

"I was having a great time, look at me. I was," Dean told Sawyer as he watched a tape of the Monday night rally. "I am not a perfect person, believe me, I have all kinds of warts. I wear ... cheap suits sometimes, I say things that I probably ought not to say, but I lead with my heart, and that's what I was doing right there, leading with my heart."

Judy Dean, in her first television interview, told Sawyer, "We've been married 23 years, and he is very easy to get along with. ... I can't remember the last time (he got angry)."

On the Letterman show Thursday night, Dean announced the "top 10 ways I, Howard Dean, can turn things around," ending with No. 1, "Oh, I don't know — maybe fewer crazy, red-faced rants?"

Dean aides, meanwhile, dismissed the pollsters' gloomy take on his prospects.

"People in New Hampshire will have their say in five days and that's what important," said Dean campaign spokesman Jay Carson. "I think everyone has seen how much can change in five days."

And Carson was quick to remind that the Dean campaign has a financial and organizational advantage built through a very successful 2003 when Dean raised roughly $40 million and amassed a formidable grass-roots network with the help of the Internet.

"We're the only campaign that's built a 50-state operation to compete with and beat President Bush (news - web sites)," Carson said. "That kind of operation can certainly handle the competition from these guys."

The intense level of public and private polling in New Hampshire suggests that's not the direction things are going in the days leading to Tuesday's primary.

The results in Iowa changed the dynamic of the New Hampshire campaign where Dean was already facing a close race.

Wesley Clark (news - web sites) skipped Iowa and was gaining on Dean in New Hampshire, eager to challenge him head-to-head on the issue of national security. After Kerry's victory, Clark's plan of being the main opponent to Dean in New Hampshire was foiled and he has stalled in the polls.

Now, an energized Kerry brings his strong credentials on foreign policy, domestic policy and electability to New Hampshire, said pollster Kelly Myers of RKM in Portsmouth, N.H. Kerry is a decorated Vietnam veteran who is serving his fourth term in the Senate.

"Coming out of Iowa, Kerry got an enormous bounce," Myers said. "Suddenly voters here were thinking Kerry was a better alternative to Dean than Clark."


EDITOR'S NOTE — Will Lester covers polling and politics for The Associated Press.

Women In Technology -- Body At Work

Just posted a piece at Misbehaving.Net about women and technology and of course, about Victoria's Secret. Can't help myself.

Jarvis on Conches

Interesting post from Jeff Jarvis about group blogs. Got that conch shell ready?
There is no more special privilege or power given to the guy with the conch because now everybody has a conch.

Dave Is Right

Winer has wise words this morning. Don't miss them. Listen to what he reminds us about Dean, the man:

He's not an actor, he's not a commercial, he's not a deodorant, he's not a product, and I'm glad we have a chance to have this discussion. I'm not a Dean supporter (yet, but I'm getting there) and they didn't ask me to say this, but please, it's time for the press to let us have an election, or maybe it's time for us to have an election without them.
To be fair, I AM A BIG SUPPORTER OF DEAN, and I am partisan, but I'm partisan for all the same reasons he lists here and also because I've been inside the campaign too. It's a campaign about letting citizens vote -- not media people, not other pundits, not other candidates -- it's not JUST about taking back the country, it's about taking back the political process.

Tom Payne.Com

Jay Rosen is writing great stuff (no surprise) over at the new blog Tom Read this:
The answer involves an open secret in political journalism that has been recognized for at least 20 years. But it is never dealt with, probably because the costs of facing it head on seem larger than the light tax on honesty any open secret demands. The secret is this: pssst... the press is a player in the campaign. And even though it knows this, as everyone knows it, the professional code of the journalist contains no instructions in what the press could or should be playing for. So while the press likes being a player, it does not like being asked: what are you for?

In fact, the instructions are not to think about it too much, because to know what you are playing for would be to have a kind of agenda. And by all mainstream definition the political reporter must have no kind of agenda. The Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN, Newsweek, The Des Moines Register, and all similar competitors, are officially (and rhetorically) committed to "no agenda" journalism, also known as the view from nowhere. So while it might be recognized that the press is a player, journalists also see an unsolvable problem if they take one more intellectual step. So they dare not.

Great example of non-issue political horse race reporting this morning from AP writing about the notion that the Democratic debates were all about who can beat Bush.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Virtual Watergate?

From the Globe, don't miss it:

Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary
Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year,
monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on
copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the
GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them
to access restricted Democratic communications without a
password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to
read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing
which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already
launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic
memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning
newspapers and were posted to a website last November.

With the help of forensic computer experts from General Dynamics
and the US Secret Service, his office has interviewed about 120
people to date and seized more than half a dozen computers --
including four Judiciary servers, one server from the office of
Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and several
desktop hard drives.

But the scope of both the intrusions and the likely disclosures
is now known to have been far more extensive than the November
incident, staffers and others familiar with the investigation

The revelation comes as the battle of judicial nominees is
reaching a new level of intensity. Last week, President Bush used
his recess power to appoint Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals, bypassing a Democratic filibuster that
blocked a vote on his nomination for a year because of concerns
over his civil rights record.

Democrats now claim their private memos formed the basis for a
February 2003 column by conservative pundit Robert Novak that
revealed plans pushed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of
Massachusetts, to filibuster certain judicial nominees. Novak is
also at the center of an investigation into who leaked the
identity of a CIA agent whose husband contradicted a Bush
administration claim about Iraqi nuclear programs.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Joe Trippi from the Dean Blog says something I suspected:

I’ve been around campaigns for a long time. On most campaigns, if you come in third in Iowa with 18% and you go to the after party, you’re lucky to find 4 people there. Most every one by the time it’s over has left to find another party and another campaign.

But on Monday night Howard Dean walked in to the ballroom in Des Moines and there were 3500 people there. And the energy was higher than most victory parties I’ve been to.

The Governor looked out at the room and saw 3500 people who had come from all across the country because they believed in changing their country and he wanted them to know how proud he was of them and their efforts. And he wanted them to know that we’re going on no matter what.

He wasn’t thinking about the cameras. It was the people right in front of him who had done so much because they believe in a better America that he was speaking to.

I Wish Andrew Sullivan Would Run For President

I find I agree more and more with him. Maybe we can talk him into becoming the third party BLOGGERS PARTY leader!?

This line gets my vote: Why can't a grown-up have a complicated position? Elect that man!

Remember When Kerry Was Shit On Toast?

Remember When Kerry Was Shit On Toast? Like LAST WEEK?!?!

Honestly, people sure have a short memory. I still love Dean. I still think Dean can win. I think Dean's message was co-opted by Kerry and Edwards -- and prettied up. So yes, you can put lipstick on a pig (the pig being the blatant anti-Bush message) -- at least in Iowa. Read some of the rhetoric of the other campaigns. Kerry and Edwards won by taking "Take Back The Country" and making it a little more candy-coated.

But there are a lot of voters who don't want any candy-coating.


I am really bad at receiving help from others. I'm almost an Alpha Male in that respect -- not wanting to show my neediness or vulnerability -- but I'm learning it's completely silly to be that way. People really want to help others. And many people really want to help me and I am learning how to LET THEM do that. (Thanks Annie for opening this conversation with me.)

As I'm healing my eye, I feel a great healing of my stubborn pride -- as if it had been removed surgically -- and a new thankfulness and ability to receive care from others suddenly growing in its place.

First I want to thank Betsy Devine for taking me to my surgery appointment and being there with me, after my sister wasn't able to do it, as she was sick. It was really kind of you. And Matthew, you were a total doll to get me over to Betsy's to start this whole trek. Asking nightowls to do early bird driving stunts is terribly rude I know, but let me just send a big big thanks, for doing this early Monday am duty, especially after a very busy weekend for you. A bunch of folks from my church wanted to help me out after my surgery and did just that, but I wanted to thank Annie and Lisa in particular for nice things they did for me this week. Also my friend Adam brought me soup and movies on DVD's and took me to the doctor the day after surgery. And so many people called and emailed to check up on me. And flowers from AKMA and Margaret were a terrific treat.

Thank you everyone and I hope I can reciprocate soon, just ask.

Itchy Eye

I'm healing up, now it's Thursday after I had cataract surgery Monday, but my eye is itchy and I keep wanting to touch it and I'm not really supposed to and it's




Memory Lane: January 2002

A year ago, I was saying nutty stuff like Larry Lessig reminded me of Betty Grable, the pin-up babe and beginning to write the Alpha Male stuff and also, I hit a dog!

Memory Lane: January 2001

I was reading back in my archives and remembered that winter. My dad was still alive, but not doing well, and I was pontificating -- pundification? -- about weblogs which were so new then, or maybe just new to me. Here's a link.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


I was talking to a friend about worrying. We all worry about so many things. So today I propose you make a list of everything you WORRY about and then a list of everything you consider FUN.



Look at the WORRY LIST. Write down everything you worry about. Number it. Put a big red circle around the things that you are able to improve by worrying about them. Things you have control over. Things that you're busy fixing by getting upset about. Lot of red circles? Or none?

Look at the FUN LIST. First of all, make sure you have twice as many numbered entries on the Fun List as on the Worry List. Number them. If you have 10 worries, for instance, give yourself 20 numbered (even blank at this point) slots on the Fun List. If you can't think of anything fun to fill up the 20 slots, get to work imagining some or ask others, friends, family, co-workers to give you ideas.

Something To Look Forward To

Hi Valerie, glad to hear you're planning a vacation to Florida for you and your family. My sis tells me you're terrific --- I already knew that (since you read my blog) -- but you're a real genius at the ART OF LIVING. You juggle so many things, helping your husband get over a heart attack, doing seriously excellent grandmother duty, being wonderfully creative and getting my award for just plain knowing how to live. It's a high high art. Most people don't get it.

And now you're so smart as to plan a trip to Florida to give you all something to look forward to as we battle this cold weather. Who wouldn't look forward to a trip to Florida? It sounds wonderful. Have a great day -- which I know you will, because YOU'RE GREAT!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


AKMA and Margaret you are both so sweet -- THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE FLOWERS! What a treat for my new eyes. Love, Grace, Peace -- H

Marilyn Was Fat

A Guardian biography of Marilyn Monroe, with Elizabeth Hurley's famous comment:

She is still today one of the world's most instantly recognisable faces, with no shortage of modern day imitators. Her status as one of the world's sexiest women is undisputed, although by modern standards her vital statistics - somewhere around 35-22-35 - would make her fat. Skinny British actress-cum-model Liz Hurley remarked recently "I'd kill myself if I was as fat as Marilyn Monroe." American actress Claudia Shear retaliated: "Most of us would kill ourselves if we were as talent-free as Elizabeth Hurley."

Swinging Chick Supreme

Marilyn. That's all I need to say, right?

January 20, 1961

Not at all sure this is true, but I like it. I'll go check on it and be back to correct it if it isn't true:
On this date in 1961, after four-and-a-half years of marriage, Marilyn Monroe is granted a divorce from writer Arthur Miller in a Mexican courtroom. Also on this date in 1961, JFK delivers his inaugural speech that includes the line, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Just Call Me Agent 99

Now I understand what Betsy was talking about yesterday with her Feedster Top 100 feeds listing. I love being 99. I thought I had dreamed it up under anesthesia.

Not A Dry Eye In The House

After eye surgery you have to keep your eye from getting wet. It must not get liquid in it. This sounds easy until you've tried it for a week or two. Try washing your hair without getting water or shampoo in your eye.

After my surgery yesterday, I was feeling a little emotional. Why? Well, honestly when DON'T I FEEL EMOTIONAL? As a writer, I've learned over a lifetime that I'm very emotional. I can be very very emotional. Only recently have I really understood this and also understood when it's good to let those emotions rip and when to hold back and keep things balanced. When the emotions end up on the page, in my writing, the results are good. When I'm just trying to go about my life, pay bills, do my taxes, paint a room, not so good sometimes. [Though I must say, rare is the policeman who can give me a ticket after the torrent of real tears I can make.]

So, I called the nurse to ask "Is it okay to cry?"

She found this funny for some reason. I didn't go into why I felt like crying. It was complicated.

I'd seen a red red red red red red ... did I mention red? ... cardinal on the white snow outside my kitchen window. Just a little red bird looking for little yellow and brown seeds in the snow on a winter day. It was shockingly beautiful. I was worried about this new eye. I knew with the improvement I experienced with one eye, getting two eyes fixed would be a little overwhelming.

I haven't written about this yet because I've been crying a bit -- good crying with joy, some sad crying too. Just a lot to get used to these eyes.

I can't help feeling these eyes and all this beauty they see are just about the most awesome gift from God anyone could receive. How the hell'd I get so lucky?!?

Then I got it. We've made a deal, me and God, I've finally figured it out. This is the beginning of something brand new for me. A born-again experience, but not that kind that holy roller type-thing crazy religious freaks talk about. More like he's got some work for me to do. And with this awesome set of eyes, it's got to be some awesome work.

I think he wants me to look at things. And then he wants me to tell you what I see. Write it down. And then he wants me to do that again and again and again. And then when I'm done doing that work, I'll die. It's such a simple job and I am so honored to have it.

I have to look at red birds. I have to look at kids bending over sand pails at the shore on a cornflower blue sky day. I have to look at big round pink babies' bottoms. I have to look at old people having a lot of trouble walking down a sidewalk as kids skateboard past in death-defying manoeuvres. I have to look at my lover's jawline, lips, kiss them, then neck, chest, watch his arms encircle me, wrapping me safely and softly like a most comfortable blanket. I have to look at the boy in school everyone is laughing at and tell you how his body slumps in sadness and embarrassment, his shoe scuffing a black mark on the linoleum beneath his seat. I have to tell you about a spring morning with everything blooming beautifully, giving everyone the wonderful feeling of a new start as they stride by the hospital, but a new mom in a window of that building, in a bed that morning crying her eyes out over a baby she just lost. I just have to go look and tell you what I see. It's a wonderful thing to be called to do. I can do that.

So when I asked the nurse "Can I cry?' The nurse said, "Yes, you can cry, just don't rub your eyes. That's the only thing. Can you do that?"

Yes. I can do that.