Saturday, February 14, 2004

Have Yourself A Very Merry

A very merry Valentine's Day to all!

Friday, February 13, 2004

Fly Boy

Go on, surprise someone in a distant city with a big heart-shaped box of chocolates. It's a risk, but maybe worth taking. Life is short.

Heart Sore

Bittersweet candy heart for those of you down ON love, instead of down with love.


A good word for today -- frisson -- a sexy shiver of anticipation.

Romance Redux

I suppose I could write something romantic and NEW, but maybe I'll just put some of my earlier stuff up for a warm-up and spend the day dreaming up some new stuff.

A recent one about fur.

An old one about a kiss.

A classic about ... well, you know, my favorite alpha males.

Too Much Trouble

On the day before Valentine's Day, Erosblog points to a very funny piece about why kinky sex is just too much trouble.

Since blogs are all about innovation, the writer is helpful enough to imagine a new service industry:

I think there should be a kinky sex van that roams around the neighborhood like an ice-cream truck - but instead of a white van that plays "Pop Goes The Weasel," it should be a jet-black limo with a stereo system blaring "Pull Up To The Bumper." The kinky sex van would cruise through the neighborhood as adults flocked out of the house and ran after it. Eventually - because the Kinky Sex Driver would be like all sadistic f***ing ice cream drivers, who would drive an extra fifty miles just to watch the kids collapse in exhaustion behind them like the Bataan Death March - it would pull over, and everyone would get their wish.

For a mere fifty dollars, the Kinky Sex Van Driver would walk into your home, chloroform your kids, tie your wife to the bed in a very professional manner, and walk out, leaving you to f*** with eagerness and joy. When you were done, he'd come in, gently untie all concerned, collect all of the chains, clean up the chocolate sauce and whipped cream - and leave, saving you all of the effort. If you wanted extra partners, there they'd be in a box in the back! Not prostitutes, mind you, but just happy-go-lucky folks who liked to have random sex with droopy middle-aged fat people.

Kerry -- Who Cares?!

I used to have a boyfriend who would blame me for everything. I could do no right by him. My mom told me how to combat this ridiculous guy (and to dump him). If it was a "you left the toothpaste cap off the toothpaste tube" allegation, she suggested going into the bathroom and leaving about 5 or 10 other lids, caps, tops off of any available bottles, tubes, jars, and tell him how right he was to accuse me, that I was guilty as charged and point out that my behavior was far more egregious than he even imagined. Whenever he wanted to play "You're so bad and I'm so righteous," she taught me wisely to play "Oh, yes, you're so right and I'm so much worse than you know." With her good advice, I drove this guy crazy and drove him out of my life.

The Kerry rumors, and all these political rumors remind me of my mom's good advice. It's time for all politicians to fall on their swords and say, "Oh, yes, yes, yes, we're so bad, bad, bad." It's time for us all to start flooding this silly system with so many ridiculous rumors that none of them matter at all anymore. Time to say, "who cares?!"

Time for America to grow up and remember the guy is running for President, not Altar Boy.

And remind me, are all Americans squeaky clean and above reproach in their private lives, and therefore can demand the same from a leader?

Why do we require an unstained boy scout to run our country?

And when (and if) there's any solid evidence that Kerry or anyone did anything wrong -- send me a telegram. Otherwise I'm hitting the snooze button -- the story's already a bore.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Hugs And Kisses

Always a good thing, right?

Eric Norlin

Just added Eric to my blogroll. He's in a good neighborhood -- better than Marvin Gardens and Ventnor Avenue -- right there between Ed Cone and Erosblog.

The Star You Are

David Weinberger and I were coming back from a meeting I'd set up for him, not that he couldn't have done it himself, but we had a conversation about why the folks were willing to meet with us and ended like this, "You're famous," he said to me. I hated the idea. "No, I'm not," I said, "if anyone is, you are. Not me!" I told him. "You are," he insisted. I still disagreed.

David and I met when he needed help editing the book he was writing two years ago, "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" and I was finishing up some projects helping people write, edit, shape book manuscripts. We became friends. We would meet in Chinese restaurants -- actually one Chinese restaurant in Brookline -- and I would give him my notes on his chapters. Were we famous? No. He was better known for sure than I was then, if we have to discuss degrees of alleged "fame" but I only thought of him as my friend. I thought of us as just two people having lunch in a Chinese restaurant -- one writer trying to help out another writer.

Is there an "A List" of Bloggers? Are they famous? Are they stars? This notion is swirling around the ETech Conference in San Diego this week -- that there is an elite set of bloggers and that they are an exclusive community, perhaps not receptive to less "famous" folks' desire to engage in conversation or discussion or dinner with them. It's really a complicated issue.

I think you must examine two things to begin with. First of all you have to define what blogging is as a medium. Then you have to open the larger conversation about what social software is and in particular the social network software of which Friendster, LINKEDIN and Orkut are examples.

As for what blogging is, you could say at one end of the spectrum, blogs are simply online journals. But you might go to the other extreme and agree with what Alan Webber of FastCompany Magazine once told me, "Blogging is performance art." It's not the definition everyone would use, but it points to something important about this "fame" discussion. It would be a lie to say we aren't trying to draw attention to our sites, our selves, our writing here on our blogs. I'll personally take Joi Ito to task on this point. When he posts pictures with him, his fiance and Steven Spielberg on his site -- come on, Joi, get real, you can't say this is to make you look like Joe Regular Guy or Mr. UnFamous, right? He and I have talked about this stuff. And I would say I'm guilty of the same name-dropping and "guess where I've been and what cool people I'm hanging out with" blogging. Still, when we are at a conference, we have our friends there and since we rarely get to all be in one place at one time, perhaps the time we spend with them can look exclusionary of others. I'm waffling here, unwilling to say we were snobby or we were justified in our behavior, but I can see it from both sides. It's hard to explain what it feels like when you just want to talk to 3 friends, but 30 strangers also want to talk to you. And you know those 30 might be equally fascinating, pleasant, and articulate but there are THIRTY of them.

There's another subtle level to it. Joi Ito the person and Joi Ito the blog are different. Halley (me in my skin here) and Halley's Comment Halley are different. When we take our bodies for a visit to a conference and we meet with our friends who we chat with, email with, blog and comment with, we are being ourselves mostly. But people are also reacting to us as our blog performance art persona. It messes with your mind.

I was at the Bloggercon event last October and at San Diego for ETech this first week of February. Something has changed in the world of bloggers since October. It may be the fact that blogging is getting much more attention in the national media and that many more blogs have been set up and there's a larger community now, but the effect Clay Shirky had forecast seems to be happening, i.e., due to power law distribution, many more bloggers makes a few very very famous.

A persistent theme among people writing about the social aspects of weblogging is to note (and usually lament) the rise of an A-list, a small set of webloggers who account for a majority of the traffic in the weblog world. This complaint follows a common pattern we've seen with MUDs, BBSes, and online communities like Echo and the WELL. A new social system starts, and seems delightfully free of the elitism and cliquishness of the existing systems. Then, as the new system grows, problems of scale set in. Not everyone can participate in every conversation. Not everyone gets to be heard. Some core group seems more connected than the rest of us, and so on.

Now, notice if I'd said "the effect Clay had forecast" instead of "the effect Clay Shirky had forecast" -- the former obviously makes it sound like Clay's my big buddy and we're in the same social circle, the latter merely a conventional attribution to an original source by the writer's name. This small omission makes all the difference. In fact, I have not met Clay, so it didn't seem appropriate to suggest that proximity.
It's not unimportant to note that the claims by some folks attending or hearing about the ETech Conference that there was an elitist and exclusive parading around of the so-called A-List bloggers, comes right on the heels of the big brou-ha-ha over Orkut, a new social software network.

To return to the format and intent of my essay mentioned above -- define blogs and then define social network software like Friendster, LINKEDIN and Orkut. At their best, these social networks, collections of people's names and profiles that supposedly facilitate community, give members the chance to make contacts for work, fun, family. At their worst, they are one more lame attempt to name and categorize who's cool and who's not. That "cool" game, and privacy issues, were the reasons I did not join Orkut. I don't like that kind of exclusive club. I haven't used Orkut so I have no right to criticize it, but it feels just like the local country club that won't invite jews, blacks or women, depending on the decade.

If there's any justified fame to be found here on blogs, it should be a "fame of talent." If you write well and people value your writing, that should be the beginning and the end of it. That people want to see, study, talk with, flirt with, drink with, point at, dance with our real live blogger selves is something else entirely.

The place I find interesting is where the two overlap and create disappointment -- where blogs and social networks create a false zone of "intimacy" -- making all parties feel they really "know" one another. Perhaps when we gather together in the real world, there's a sense that if we've played and chatted in Orkut or IRC, read the most personal details of a blogger's life and have had one another's email addresses in our address books for years, we should have equally intimate access to those same people in the lobby of the hotel. As many have written lately, social webs are just a lot more complicated than that and very hard to reduce into a flat software app, and as we stumble our way along, we'll have to watch social network software evolve and take on some of the complexity of real life relationships, or vanish from the scene.

Valentine's Day Movies

Sexy and romantic? Try some of these:

Under The Tuscan Sun


When Harry Met Sally

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Lost In Translation

Pride & Prejudice

Bridget Jones's Diary

Here's someone's Most Romantic Movies List from Amazon

Sheets For V-Day

Why doesn't anyone give bed sheets for Valentine's Day? Just too obvious I guess, but what a great gift. And why not spend the day in bed. Just too John Linen I guess, I mean John Lennon.

Tuxedo Junction

A tux is always nice. Like this one.

I Think He'll Get The Message

Try being subtle like this. If that doesn't work, maybe you need to go with the birthday suitt, I mean birthday suit.

2 Shopping Days Til V-Day!

Nothing wrong with flowers. Unless you need to take this with these.


L is for the way you look at me. O is for the only one I see. V is very very extraordinare. E is even more ...

What A Card!

You are such a card, you kidder!

Affairs Of The Tart

Good weekend to cook heart-shaped cakes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Don't Ask

I have some of the weirdest searches in my referrer log. And sometimes when I'm done cleaning house, giving my kid a bath, watching SpongeBob SquarePants and doing my other daily routines, I go take a peek at the weird crap that ends up in my log. And sometimes a most unusual search, like this one tonight in what looks to be a German Google, brings my site up and even better, puts me back-to-back with another site that I would never read if not for the weird search. So tonight, I ended up next to Margaret Cho's wiki and she has some of the most hilarious stuff there. So don't miss it.

Homework Wars Backgrounder

There's a lot already written on this subject. I come at it from a few directions. First as a former elementary school teacher who gave very minimal homework. Then from a perspective of a tired, hassled parent who has little to no time with my kid every night anyway -- but is forced to spend a good part of our precious time fighting about doing homework -- only straining our relationship and if you're not a parent, you don't have any idea how bad it can get. I also come at the issue as a former KID who had time to imagine, read, think, play outside and use my non-school time in much more free and productive ways.

Here's some thoughts from Harvard Grad School of Education.

Disney's got some of that reasonable, happy, upbeat, TOTALLY BOGUS ADVICE under their Family Fun site. You have to wonder about them -- just the idea of putting homework under the heading "Family Fun" ... hmmm ... I wonder if they have their advice on ROOT CANAL under "Family Fun" as well. They start by referring to a "project" -- the word most terrifying to parents. When ever overenthusiastic educators assign a project, we all want to run for cover. The expectations for a "project" these days are so over-the-top. Notice how the Disney advice pretty much assumes the existence of that charming imaginary character "At-Home-Cookie-Baking-Mom" available to spend endless hours with junior doing homework and challenging projects. Get a life. And it's not just about moms -- I know some terrific single dads who are spending WAY too much time they don't have, engaged in exhausting homework warfare.

Mocha Sofa is an interesting site and has this pleasant advice, obviously written by a single person with no children.

The Homework Wars

I am going to have to break down and finally really blog about the homework wars. It will be frightening. It will be shocking. It will be a story better left untold, but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and tell the tale of nightly parental torture known as THE HOMEWORK WARS.

Now Is The Time To Worship

There is this TV commercial about Christian rock n' roll that I find very strange. I guess there's no secret that I love God and write about it around here. And I love rock. But I totally don't get this stuff. I don't know anyone who listens to it. Maybe someone reading this does and they'll tell me why they like it.

I Just Don't Get It

How can anyone have this attitude? Apparently, Andrew Sullivan gets a lot of email about his website being "unreadable" because he is gay and writes about gay issues. Would anyone dare say this about blacks, jews or women ... wait a minute, actually, I guess, come to think of it, this does happen.

As a writer, you have to figure this is an audience you're more than willing to LOSE.

Candy Hearts





Democracy Door-To-Door

Doc points to Micah Sifry's insightful comments about how political blogging tools and political organizing are two very different animals and require very different levels of committment and I couldn't agree more. At our panel, I answered one question on that topic and said that taking whatever we've learned out into the real world, working with real people and really organizing is the way to go. Here's the link.

And thanks for the pointer to Joe Trippi's blog. This speaks right to the notion I blogged about here last year in my post "This Is Not A Political Campaign" at this link.

Catherine Zeta-Jones Too Hot

They ended up playing two movies yesterday on the flight home to Boston, both Chicago and Intolerable Cruelty, so as Jack slept, I got to experience a Catherine Zeta-Jones immersion process. She really is so hot. This morning the news is that she'll join the Ocean's 11 crew for the new Ocean's 12 -- which will be all the hotter now that she's in the mix. She's great. And she actually has a woman's body -- a lot of curves and none of this Calista Flockhart Auschwitz look.

Women Over 40 Playing Games Past Midnight

Wow, I guess I'm missing all the fun. I'm playing the wrong games after midnight -- I should be online!

More than a quarter of those women, the survey found, play their favorite games between midnight and 5 a.m. Women in the poll tended to favor word and puzzle games.


AOL also did research on gaming habits in major cities, finding that people who play games online in Los Angeles are far more likely (31 percent) to form off-line relationships than the national average (18 percent).

Atlanta and Boston were the most game-happy cities overall, at about 8 hours per capita per week, the survey said.
When, may I ask, are these women getting any sleep?!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Cough Cough Hack Hack

Had to make the big parental decision today -- stay at the O'Reilly Conference in San Deigo with a slightly sick kid, who could turn into a very sick kid -- or bail and head for home. I can hear Jack in the other room here in Boston coughing in his sleep, so I did the right thing, leaving early today. The conference sounds like it's going great guns. And my kid is better than he sounded last night.

Monday, February 09, 2004

A Whole Lotta Blogging Going On

Great conference today and lots of coverage in all these great places.

Ten Trends of Political Blogging

Here are some trends in political blogging and the politics of blogging that will really matter this year.

1. Political blogs are simply political. Regular-people-telling-the-truth-about-their-lives blogs are subversive and radical.

2. The blog swarm giveth, the blog swarm taketh away. (What bloggers write about -- jump all over -- swarm all over -- put at the top of the charts -- these issues can define the discussion, not because they are necessarily more correct, more fascinating or more important -- but because they are so FAST AND FRESH.)

3. FDR: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Bush: "We have nothing so profitable as fear and fear itself."

4. Cheney is not, and never has been the Vice President.

5. "It's the credit card economy, stupid."

6. There are no more Democrats. There are no more Republicans.

7. We should kiss Europe's ass for reminding us who we are as a nation and who we must be and who we can not be.

8. Remember the video of the LA Riots -- dads smashing store fronts, moms carrying away jumbo pack diapers.

9. The Diebold Riots will not be pretty.

10. Blogs opened our hearts, our minds, our lives. Dean opened our hopes. Meetup opened our homes. Can you spell C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y? There is no going back.

O'Reilly Schedule Today

Here's the agenda today. I'll update it if it changes.

Down from the Mountain: My Experience with the Dean Campaign

Joe Trippi
Time: 8:30am - 9:15am
Location: California Ballroom C

Q & A with Joe Trippi - Moderated by Ed Cone

Time: 9:15am - 10:00am
Location: California Ballroom C


Meetup and "On the Ground" Organizing
Scott Heiferman, CEO,
Jonah Seiger, Visiting Fellow, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University
Time: 10:30am - 11:15am
Location: California Ballroom C


Effective Political Blogging
Doc Searls, Senior Editor, Linux Journal
Cameron Barrett,
Mitch Ratcliffe, Editorial Director, InnovationWORLD LLC
Halley Suitt, Halley's Comment
Time: 11:15am - 12:30pm
Location: California Ballroom C


Gatekeepers No More? The Grassroots Challenges the Journalist Priesthood
Dan Gillmor, Columnist, San Jose Mercury News
Jeff Jarvis, President & Creative Director,
Jay Rosen, Associate Professor of Journalism, NYU
Time: 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Location: California Ballroom C


Electronic Voting and Transparency
Phillip J. Windley, Publisher & Editor, Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog
Gary Chapman, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas
Bill Stotesbury, Vice President of Marketing, Hart InterCivic
Time: 2:15pm - 3:00pm
Location: California Ballroom C


MoveOn: Bringing Ordinary People Back into Politics
Wes Boyd, Co-Founder,
Time: 3:30pm - 4:15pm
Location: California Ballroom C


Advocacy as Application
Jon Lebkowsky, President, EFF-Austin
William Greene, President, Founder and Director of
Adina Levin, EFF-Austin
Jonah Seiger, Visiting Fellow, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University
Time: 4:15pm - 5:00pm
Location: California Ballroom C


Emergent Democracy Worldwide
Joichi Ito, Founder and CEO, Neoteny
Ethan Zuckerman, Founder, Geekcorps
Time: 5:00pm - 5:45pm
Location: California Ballroom C

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Venice Beach

We drove north to LA yesterday on a super sunny day. With my new eyes (sans cataracts) the lush California landscape is so exquisite, I can't keep my eyes off it. The boats, the ocean, the shiny cars, the hills, the fruit trees, the Mexican paint colors of naranjas and lavendar -- this state is like a big candy-stuffed pinata I'm wacking open to see more and more sweets and treats inside. I've never seen a California like this.

At Venice Beach, we hooked up with my sister at her Dean booth on the beach. She's expertly positioned next to a sexy 4-man band playing salsa and jazz -- they sound so good I have to wonder if they were session musicians dressed down for the beach -- studio refugees. The ocean was wavy and wild, hosting three daring parasailors, their half moon shaped sails, blown full bore, nearly exploding full of a choppy hard wind, surfing at wreckless speeds, and doing fantastic flips a good 20 feet high into the air, crashing down into waves but landking lightly and skateboarding along, through water like it was a friendly sidewalk. On the boardwalk all the characters are there, rollergirls, rastamans, henna tatooists and insense vendors. The wind was blowing all our Dean brochures away, but we weighed them down with rocks. Rowdy teenagers skate by and yell "Vote Edwards!" at me as if this will un-Dean me. I yell back at them , "Hey, just VOTE!"

We ended a long day at the Reel Inn on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, sipping a sunset, then watching the diamondy coast show off a necklace of lights stretching to Palos Verdes, the Santa Monica pier ferris wheel pulsing and bright like a shiny button.


Heading out to Legoland. The weather here is so bright blue, the flowers so bright red, the sun so bright yellow, it feels like the whole town is made of shiny Legos!