Jun 08

Bill Moyers: A Patriot’s Dream

I can’t recall a speech that seemed more urgent for anyone who cares about democracy to hear. This is one to listen to when you have the time to really think about what he’s saying.

I often get lazy with my blogging. It’s hard to make time for it, I’m sometimes afraid of posting what I’d like to say, I worry about posting too much or too narrowly. But with Web 2.0 and the social networks and the online communities, it seems that we’re all now responsible for telling the truth. We have no excuses for not doing it. Those who are not online, who don’t read blogs and twitter and have 51 million accounts and passwords and 1000 emails a day, are without the tools to find the information we can find, can’t share what we can share, can’t tell their truth.

Bill inspires me to be flowery, with that really magnificent oratory style that I rarely hear these days. He makes me feel ashamed for being so timid and passive. He reminds me that in the run-up to Iraq, I did a lot of objecting to my friends and family, I argued with the folks my grandpa eats breakfast with on the weekend, and I voted for the candidates that offered the most anti-war stances allowable at the time – but it wasn’t enough. Six years later, I wish I’d done more. A lot more. I don’t know what, exactly, I don’t have campaign contribution money to give and that seems to be all that the political system really cares about. But I wish I’d taken the time to figure it out.

And if being a good teacher means being a good example, I don’t think my use of this site has been very exemplary as I talk every day about online tools for teaching, learning, community building, and making positive change for us personally, and for society at large. I believe in it, my Second Life work is all inspired by that belief, but I shy away from blogging about the things that hit most close to home, that I actually care about very deeply. Things like democracy, and government, and the woeful state that we’re in. Things like, how I see these policies playing out in my own family, in my own life, in my own personal experiences. Part of the problem is that this site has become so entwined with my work life, it seems inappropriate, somehow, to mix work and politics, to mix work and personal.

I don’t know how to navigate this confusion, and indeed all the confusion that social media has brought to my life in the last couple years, but I hope I can remember this speech the next time I write a draft but don’t hit publish because I worry about how it might be perceived. It’s easy to think, sometimes, that the sense of urgency I feel is just my own personal paranoia or neuroticism of some sort, but when something manages to pierce the busy day-to-day trying to keep up fog, like this speech did, and reminds me of our higher purpose, and the message is that this urgency is real, it’s not just me, it’s not just my family…

I’ve admired and respected Bill Moyers for as long as I’ve been watching PBS, and certainly this speech is one of the reasons why. I’m glad I found it, and it came from Crabby Old Lady’s site, which I highly recommend. She also inspires me to use blogging as a tool to inform, to share, and to tell the truth, and her writing about elder issues reminds me that good citizens listen to their elders. I’m glad I had the time to listen to them both this morning. I hope you make the time, too. – Fleep

Zemanta Pixie

May 08

Favorite Quote of the Day: Water Buckets

Though I don’t agree with everything on the site, I came across this quote on Salon and it just fits:

Some days it feels like I’m watching a house on fire. And one idiot wants to put it out with a machine gun. The other one wants to use grenades. And I’m standing there with a bucket of water and they look at me like I’m crazy.

This was posted in the context of a series of quotes about the insanity of the “War on Drugs” in the US, but it applies to any number of current issues. I’m reminded of it again after watching some post-election coverage following the Kentucky and Oregon primaries with some talking heads on MSNBC discussing the electoral math, the pledged and super delegate counts, and the big question about whether or not Michigan and Florida’s delegates will count and by which proportion for which candidate, and which proportion of pledges versus super delegates.

By the time the segment was over, I understood less than I did when I started watching, and I was left wondering if this was any way to pick a leader in a time when the world seems like an awfully complex and worrisome place, and at a time when I know in my bones that we’re facing global challenges beyond anything we’ve ever faced before.

At this point, I’m not sure if the Democratic party is holding water buckets or grenades, but it sure seems to me like Barack Obama is leading the bucket brigade. I hope this contest between the Democratic candidates is over soon so we can get on with the business of putting out the fires.

May 08

Ohio Edu: Gov. Strickland’s Education Reform Plans

Courtesy of the Ohio Fair Schools Campaign comes a summary of recent news articles with information about Gov. Strickland’s plans for reforming education in the State of Ohio.

There has been a flurry of news reports about Gov. Ted Strickland’s education reform plan. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, the governor said he would spend much of the last half of the year working on his school reform plan. He plans to host regional summit meetings across the state to build support for his plan that will go to legislators in early 2009. Strickland also remains committed to his proposal to appoint a director of education to oversee primary and secondary schools.

To read related articles, visit:
4/28 Akron Beacon Journal
Failure is not an option: Ted Strickland sounds serious about repairing school-funding

4/21 Akron Beacon Journal
Digging Ohio out of an education rut

4/21 Dayton Daily News
Our view: State school board has duty to bow to governor

4/19 Plain Dealer
Plan for new director of education inches forward

4/18 Plain Dealer
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland vows education reform

4/18 Columbus Dispatch
Strickland plans push for school-funding change

If you’re involved in education in Ohio, this may be an indication of what’s coming down the pike, and if you’re in another state, I’d love to hear what your state administration is doing to address budget shortfalls and challenges with the current systems in place.

Update: Oops some of those links were ugly, reformatted to make it readable!

Apr 08

IBM’s Sandra Kearney on 3D Internet & Virtual Business for…

On the third day of the vBusiness Expo in Second Life, IBM’s Sandra Kearney, Global Director for 3D Internet & Virtual Business, speaks about the evolution of internet technology and the potential of virtual worlds for work and collaboration. She sees an ecosystem of technology tools, platforms, and services that are springing up around this 3D Internet concept, from machinima and broadcasting tools, to fully immersive 3D platforms like Second Life. “We are closing the gap between static and real time information, interaction and experience in a cost effective manner,” she said. She also raised questions about developing good governance mechanisms for these environments.
posted by Fleep Tuque on Clever Zebra 3 using a blogHUD : [blogHUD permalink]

Apr 08

Learning & Mopping: Naomi Wolf – The End of America

Haven’t read the book, but listening to this video while mopping:

Apr 08

Unedited notes from Congressional Subcommittee hearing on Virtual Worlds (updated)

Rep. Ed Markey presides over the virtual hearing in Second Life

Representative Ed Markey presides over the virtual hearing in Second Life. Photo courtesy Rik Riel.

Update: Alan Levine at the New Media Consortium’s site just posted an audio link of the hearing. Thanks Alan!


Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Hearing
9:30 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

Witness List

Larry Johnson (SL: Larry Pixel) of the New Media Consortium’s statement: Mr. Pixel Goes to Washington

Rik Riel watches the virtual hearing in Second Life

Rik Riel watches Philip Rosedale testifying before Congress at the virtual reproduction of the hearing in Second Life. Photo courtesy Rik Riel.

Unedited notes (also un-spellchecked!):

Stearns, FL

– Will be highly regulated, highly competitive worlds
– Some believe will be the future of the internet
– Will be used in innovative ways, can be used as a storefront for real or virtual goods
– SL must protect its users without over regulation

Harman, CA

– Can be used for language training,
– Downside, mention crime and terrorism, press reports say that terrorists are using for online communities
– Should NOT cause us to advocate censorship, but a clear understanding of the potential of virtual worlds is essential for helping us understanding trends in terrorism

Missed this fellow’s name

– Have two teenage sons, they play in a virtual reality game called Runescape
– Word comes from Hindu word for gods, don’t think we’re gods

Eshoo, CA

– Can’t help but think of the phrase “Get a Life” and now we have a Second Life
– The possibilities seem to be endless, transformative nature of the tech allows individuals to connect in new ways, universities creating new ways for students to collaborate and create new environments, businesses using to
– Memorial created for Virginia Tech, created a place for anyone to leave a candle
– Taps into human beings need to connect, there are fun and serious applications


– Universities and business
– How is the industry ensuring children are protected online? In 2006 held 9 days of hearings on online child safety, nearly 1 in 5 children reported a sexual solicitation on the internet, the anonymity provided by the net and the lightning pace they can change identities to elude law enforcement
– Concerns about addictive nature of these applications

Green (?)

– Philanthropic, universities, etc. Today dozens of elected officials use virtual worlds, in the area of education, University of Houston created entrepreneurial classes to create virtual shops and practice virtual shopkeepers,
– None of these uses are possible without high speed broadband, encourage to continue supporting infrastructure to foster continued innovation

Doyle, PA

– SL isn’t the only virtual world, not the only one with avatars. We have lots of lives
– Autistics.org using online platforms to connect, ability for autism and aspergers

Rosedale, Linden Lab

– Virtual worlds fundamentally altering the way people and organizations are using the internet and changing the nature of communication itself.
– We believe we’re creating a part of the evolution of the internet as a new platform with vast scientific, educational, and commercial potential.
– About 900k used SL in the last month, at any one time 50-60k logged in together
– Servers support 390 square miles of virtual land, 6x the area of DC
– Why does this all matter? Virtual worlds hold great promise for america and our ability to compete globally, as well as how we can work despite geographical distance. Can work together as if you are together. (Voice, IM, chat)
– By making this kind of environment widely accessible, reduce communication cost, increase personal productivity tend to occur exponentially, think it is vital to American interests to lead the charge

Susan Tenby, TechSoup

– Non profits in SL – Second Life helps non-profits engage their communities, revolutionize the way people connect, work, and create.. allows users
– Philanthropic organizations leading the charge
– The Non-Profit commons, mixed reality events, feeding live audio and video into and out of virtual world, connecting the virtual world and

Colum Paris, IBM

– Entered a new era of internet technology, what we call the 3D internet, increase individual and team capacity
– Working with enterprise and government to unlock the business potential of these environments
– Emerging applications can be grouped into commerce, collaboration, training, and product and service management
– Enhanced pre-sale activities such as modeling a kitchen renovation can increase customer satisfaction
– Allow remotely distributed teams to develop and better communicate their needs and reduce speed to market
– The learning effectiveness of simulated environments and shared space

– Widespead adoption hinges on – improving the experience, improving infrastructure, and creating interoperability
– Avoid undue restrictions, allowing private innovation to continue with minimal regulation

Larry Johnson, NMC

[Phone call, missed parts of this]

Question to Rosedale: 70% of the users are outside the US, is there a correlation between the availability of high speed access overseas and its high growth overseas?

Rosedale: Yes, as you suggest the rate of growth of those users within dif marketplaces related to the pervasiveness of broadband and the kind of computers required to run SL, for example in Japan where broadband is universal in urban areas, broadband and 3D computing and social virtual worlds to be used.

What sorts of transactions raise red flags?

A: When users wish to convert SL currency to local currency, anything over $10, patterns of use that are relatively easy with appropriate software and systems, what looks like routine transactions. relatively easy to spot larger transactions, fraud rate on the billing systems a fraction of a percentage.02% thinkw e can act as a model of the type of fraud systems to keep virtual world transactions legitimate

Fraud protection for consumers?

[Had another phone call, missed the rest, sorry! Hope the archive will be available somewhere, will post when I find it.]

Mar 08

Metanomics, Richard Bartle, Prokofy, Economics, Politics, & Virtual Worlds

I am cross-posting a comment I just made on a 400+ thread at the broken toys blog because I think buried in a bunch of really ugly muck is an extremely interesting question, and I’d rather participate in a conversation that is moderated.

The background of this very extensive conversation can be found here:

* Professor Robert Bloomfield‘s interview of game legend Richard Bartle on the weekly Metanomics show in Second Life on March 10, 2008.

* Prokofy Neva’s initial response to the interview, “Busting the Backchat” on the Second Thoughts blog.

* The 400+ comment thread that occurred as a result of broken toy’s response to Prokofy.

My cross-posted comment:

Scott Jennings: You are not an idiot, but you have most certainly done a terrible job of moderating this thread.

Prokofy: This is the key for me, “..ponder what it means for the poor Chinese boys of the world to be game-golding in WOW and being punishment (sic), even with threat of real-life prosecution, and the transfer of wealth this indicates, and the turfing out of games everywhere of poor people who grab at the big online economy to try to advance themselves.”

This is where my previous experience as a “geek gamer grrrl” begins to look like what it was – child’s play. And there are many more playing, and that play can be very beneficial and can and should be, for want of a better word, protected. The social activity occurring in many game worlds is all about learning to socialize, learning to lead, learning to cooperate, learning to think and strategize – and by being bound by the rules of the game, there is a structure enforced upon this play that I believe helps guide it. Having centralized goals, “kill the dragon, get the sword,” enables and drives the building of real community (admittedly a word that I think means different things to you and I, but bear with me here) because without a common purpose there would be none and for many players (not residents, or citizens, or consumers, or workers, or gold-farmers) it is their first experience with having a real influence on a real community. I think of many guilds and many other online communities as a social good, in political terms, they’re beginning to replace some parts of the civic culture that is so crucial to democracy, a civic culture that at least in American society is dying out – think bowling leagues and card party circles and even church circles.

Now to your greater point, yes, it is certainly true that the privilege to play a game is one not shared by all. The hypothetical “Chinese boys” that I imagine in the context of your statement do not have the luxury to play any other game than the Game of Life, eat or be eaten, do what one must or can to fill the belly. Poverty and extreme deprivation are very, very real and at the crux of whatever else I may disagree with you about, I do agree with you on this point – when the “game” enjoyed by “players” in developed nations starts enforcing the “game” rules with real world imprisonment (because it hurts their bottom line), then it is no longer just a “game” at all. It is something else, no matter how badly the “players” wish it were just a safe game to play. It is a business, it is an economic force, it is or can be a society. It can be many things but it cannot be “just” a game. You don’t go to jail for breaking the rules of a football game, you go to jail for breaking the rules of a state. When selling your sword on ebay might land you in jail, and when the sword, or more accurately the labor to get the sword is worth more than the labor to do something else, we’re not talking about _games_ any more.

I don’t know the answer to this question you raised, but it is a terribly important one and I do sincerely laud you for asking it. I’ll be thinking about it perhaps for the rest of my life, both real and virtual.

To Richard Bartle and the other posters of this forum: Diatribes and invectives and hurled insults aside, you should have a conscience that is offended by at least parts of the paradigm you’re engaged in. I mudded, I played MMO(RPGs), I experienced the wonder, the joy, the pure unadulterated _fun_ that is perhaps uniquely to be found in game worlds. I even fell in love with all the exuberance of every dumb game wedding you’ve ever heard about, crashed, or took part in (I was 19, after all, and found my soul mate, what’s a girl to do but marry the guy on Mahn Tor where we met, whether it exists “for real” or not? And I only mention this as proof of my street cred and/or youthful immersion, as it were).

It was fun and I loved it. But I’m also very aware that it was a privilege, and one that I can still enjoy from time to time, but when I’m not playing in it, I’m learning and working in the real world to make it so that others can have that privilege to play. Your sword is not worth more than another person’s ability to feed herself, is it? You can ignore the larger questions, you can have your fun, but if you have a social conscience, you really should be thinking about the larger questions, and seeking answers to them.

It is NOT just a question of whether RMT suits your “playstyle” or not, it’s that RMT in an economy as large as that of WOW’s, that Neil cites as a “fast forward to get over the boring parts”, can also be a fast forward to “making a better living than my geopolitical location otherwise allows me”. The latter is what “gold farming” is for some, or MOST IMPORTANTLY – WHAT IT MAY POTENTIALLY BE as virtual worlds AND game worlds continue to evolve – and you simply cannot trivialize and dismiss that.

For the tl;dr crowd, my final point: If you’re really a gamer, like really? Then you’ve done your share of grinding and in your heart of hearts, some of it felt like _work_. Like real world boring ass work. Like this sucks work. Now ask yourself how you could be better spending that time. In real space or virtual. Time is short, life is short, and grinding is for the birds. There are better things to do with your life.

I am cross-posting this to my own blog and I _will_ be doing a better job of moderating any comments that may come in, so be forewarned. If you’d like to carry on a conversation and exploration of this topic, feel free to join me there.

Mar 08

ODCE2008 – Chancellor Eric Fingerhut Addresses ODCE2008

Remarks below are liveblogged/paraphrased from the event, all mistakes in translation are mine!

– We know that education is not a key priority, it is THE priority. We know that the single greatest determininant for a young student’s economic success is their educational attainment.

– Our political leaders are making higher education a priority. The governor and General Assembly have increased educational funding. The governor froze tuition at every public univerisity and community college for two full years, we’ve increased financial aid for over 100k students to make college more affordable. General Assembly created Choose Ohio First, scholarship programs, and dynamic programs in the sciences to keep students in the state. We’ve partnered with the Dept of Dev 150 million research scholars program, that can then attract research support. We need to recognize the level of committment that’s been made and the support received.

– If we take this additional support and step back, of course that’s what we should be doing, this additional support that the elected leaders of this state have been able to provide, its more than a statement of priority, it’s also a vote of confidence – we have the capability to do what the state needs, but also creates a responsibility, we have to live up to that responsibility. It’s my responsibility to lead us with a system that ranks with any in the world, in us has been places a responsibility to lead the resurgance of Ohio as a leader in a world economy.

– My hope is that we won’t need a separate conference to talk to faculty about usinng technology in educationm, my hope is that ever faculty member, every administrator, will be aware of and part of the technology revolution that is sweeping the world. I hope you will take this back to your institution.. our entire system needs to be built around technological innovation. This truly is changing the way we do education.

– Couple things we think are important: We know that the single greatest indicator of how much a student will earn is their level of education, and single greatest indicator of the state’s growth and progress is the over all educational attaianment of is citizen, so our committement to the people of the stateof ohio, we are going to increase the educational attainment level of the state continually. But that’s not enough, if everyone isgoing faster thn we are then we’refalling behind, we also have to close the gap between the states and natons that ae ahead of us. We rank 38th out of 50 states. If you look out across the world, we’re not raising our educational attainment as quickly as states and nations around the world.

– Need to do three things 1) graduate more people 2) keep them here 3) attract more talent.

When we talk about increasing graduation rates, lots of people have ideas about how to do that, but when I talk to people about keeping them here or attracting more talent, people say I’m not sure if that’s my job. But we are involved with internships and coops, we create new businessnes with research advances, we can help create livable communities around our campuses that no one wants to leave when they graduate.. Schools of renown attract talen, to want to teach, do research, so what we’re saying is that we will be held accountable, not just for graduating more students, but by helping keeping them here and attracting more talent.

Two major areas – 1) extensive network of public universities and community colleges (some stats, wow more schools than I realized!) 2) also have impressive private institutions .. so strtategy number 1 -build out of these institutions a collaborative system that enables all of our citizens to identify and find a high quality education opportunity. University System of Ohio. The states that have succesfuly built collaborative systems out of their individual parts, so they aren’t competing against each other but collaborating to compete with the world, so we are working together to build a system inn which we have 4 year unis that are building programs of national and international renown. Education Within 30 Miles of Every Ohioan. Also working with High schools to better prepare students to enter college and begin to experience hgih school their senior year, Seniors to Sophomores program.

One of the things we have not done well, every one of our public institutions is OUR public institutions, not just your local, we have institutions across this state, great programs, we want everyone to know all of the schools in ohio belong to us.

Second strategy – work with the private institutions to identify what the state needs, and create incentives to help us meet those needs. Private institutions are private for a reason, they can do what they want to do, pursue their religious or community missions, but where our goals overlap, we should work together.

– In closing, none of this works if we dont have an integrated technology infrastructure to support. No reason why a new community college course at Owens isnt immediately available to students across the whole state. Integrated network of innovation and rapidly spread it across the system. How do we make sure we have all of our students have access to the same level of education, we CAN do that today, the technology exists. (Does he mean greater articulation agreements?) We believe information technology is a core of .. we need a single core technology infrastructure to support this mission.

Question: Everyone in this room knows that information technology literacy is a core competency in today’s global market, yet we don’t see information literacy classes as core components of our degree programs.

Q: I’ve heard 230k enrollments as the goal for new enrollments, what proportion online? Do we know?

A: No, don’t think we can separate out who is an online student and who is a traditional student, instead we’re seeing blended courses.. How do we expand our capacity without expanding our facilities? That’s the question we’re looking at.. Think it will take merging technologies.

Q: The folly of expecting A when we’re doing B.. What do you plan to do systematically to address competition between instititions? What’s the reward system..

A: Dont really like the word Master Plan, but that’s what it’s called, this plan is to be delivered to governor and gen assembly on nMarch 31st, no big secret. Once we clearly set our goals and we determine the metrics to measure our progress, then we must align our funding system to those goals and to those metrics. Where the rubber meets the road is where we talk about money, so we have folks looking at what changes in our system will support these goals.

Some examples – We know for example that the most of the money that goes is based on enrollment numbers so it makes sense for a school in Cincinnati to compete with a school in Columbus then you are in competition for the same students,. but competing over numbers doesn’t get us where we want to go, sop we want quality programs that will attract quality students to both programs.. the idea that both schools will create identical programs of high quality, so differentiating their programs and we will reward the quality advancements.. as opposed to just measuring enrollments. At the same time our community colleges in particular will neeed to be funded for increasing enrollments. We want to reward collaboration, we want to focus on how institutions can collaborate as well.

Q: STEM programs that HSs and unis can work together?

A: The general assembly created .. new STEM schools, partnerships between high schools and universities, we’re sorting through proposals, have two so far. At the same time that we awarded those HSs, we also awarded funding to programs of excellence, HSs apply for these funds to allow them to expand excellent programs, and then those become models to spread them across the state. We have funding from Battell (or partnered with? missed that).. In the Choose Ohio First scholarships, a number of them focused on STEM teachers, and also if we increase the number of students who study STEM, we want them to be more successful when they get to college.

Q: Read about a program in Kentucky that targets adults who already have SOME college but never finished their degree, would that be something that would work in Ohio?

A: Yes to some extent, we really want to comprehensively reach all adults. What KY is on to, applied to Ohio, we are national average for HS students going on to college, but we’re 38th over all because we have a low education level among adults in Ohio, that’s the history of the state, heavy industrial and agricultural state, so how do we turn that around? We can go after those who have some education, but we want to be open to all adult learners.

Schools need to be aware of best practices, so those ideas spread quickly. That’s something a unified system will provide. We’re going to report on our school’s progress in a very transparent way, too.

Q: If higher education is really the priority, when is the state going to reward students for attending college and attending state schools? In GA, the HOPE program pays students if they maintain a B average.

A: Hope we can make a compelling case that going to college IS the payment. We want to make it affordable, accessible, and possible, but not pay people to go to school (paraphrased). Think Georgia’s goal was to keep their top students in the state, we can do that by having affordable programs and quality, best possible quality at affordable price. We’re focused on raising the overall quality.. Any student addmitted to one of our schools will be able to go, based on demonstration of family need. We are also trying to expand educational opportunities because we know ppl aren’t choosing between UC and Harvard, trying to decide if they can go at all.

Q: Talking a lot about sharing resources and networking in higher education, what efforts are happening for use on the high school level?

A: We created little silos around technology (E-Tech, SchoolNet, Ohio Learning Network, OhioLINK) which made sense at the time, in todays moment we have to recognize that we’re all really doing the same thing, the governor’s Seniors to Sophomores, Ohio is one of hte lowest states in the nation to make it possible fo rhigh school students to get college credit, clearly these barriers are breaking down and need to break then down between high schools and college, we talk about the silos but don’t do anything about it. Whatever we create should be seamless between the two.

Q: How are we going to increase access and affordable when we’re not even prepping students for college?

A: I’ve been Chancellor for a year, and here’s what’s gnawing a my but, we at higher ed point our fingers at K-12 and complain about students coming in the pipeline, so I can promise you that a cornerstone of higher edi in this sate, we’re goibng to roll up our sleeves and make sure that every student knows what it means to do college level work and is ready to do it.

Q: What is the state doing to break down the barriers between Ohio and other organizations and agenencies?

A: When we spend time competing with each other we’re not telling the story of our excellence..

(Will come back and fix typos and mistakes later!)

Feb 08

The Mashup Video That Swayed My Vote

As the Ohio primary draws near and now that John Edwards has dropped out of the race, I’ve been trying to pay a little more attention to the political process going on all around me. I ignored Super Tuesday completely, I’ve been purposely avoiding as much of the “horse race” coverage as possible, and I’ve been ferreting out little bits of information about boring things like voting records, position statements before they were national candidates, and ties to industry and previous administrations. I’m nerdy that way.

And as the pack has thinned over time (I swear I never heard anything about Fred Thompson after his anti-climactic announcement – talk about a lesson in bad timing) and the choices are narrowed to three, I’ve been thinking more seriously about how I intend to vote, and barring something unforeseen, an online video made up my mind.

My biggest fears are that Barack Obama is not who he says he is, that he will be marginalized and ineffective, that he is too inexperienced, that he has not developed the tough hide and cynicism of a seasoned politician, that he is, and his rhetoric is, simply too damned naive. Sustainable change is not easy, it’s not quick, and it can’t be won with pretty words. I wavered for some time because Hillary Clinton is a known quantity, her history has been largely public, and I think as much as any of us plebes can, I have a sense of what she can accomplish, what her weaknesses are, and just how seasoned and cynical she is. She has a thick hide and she knows what she’s getting into because she was married to it. Barack Obama, who knows.

But in the end, I need a leader to encourage me, to stop smirking at me and scaring me and lying to me and hiding from me things that are my own business. I want a president who articulates ideas and ideals that mean something to me, that speak to my own vision of what the future could be. If I vote my conscience and not my inner strategist, I have to go with a message of hope, a message of empowerment.

I’ll be voting for Barack Obama in the primary. And I’ll hope that he has more than just hope in his arsenal.

Jan 08

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore

Thanks @fireton for this old protest song gem:

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore
© John Prine

While digesting Reader’s Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I’d tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
“If you join the Christmas club
We’ll give you ten of them flags for free.”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife’s forehead.

Repeat Chorus:

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn’t see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I’ll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said…

“But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
We’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.”