More To Love About Living In The United States

I love the anti-John Edwards post by Glen Dean.

Perhaps Edwards should promise to provide all “poor” households with Tivo or DVR. Maybe he could promise every poor family a $50 gift card to Applebees. It really must be difficult to be a poverty pimping populist these days.

I have to agree. This is the only country in the world where it is completely reasonable to expect that the day of a poor person can include all of the following activities:

1. Jumping into his car to go grab a pack of cigarettes and some cold beer
2. Stopping on the way home for a super value meal, complete with 32 ounces of sugar water (with free refills), a quarter pound (pre-cooked weight) of beef topped with fresh vegetables and a serving of potatoes that contains more calories than is needed for an entire day.
3. Placing the cold beer into his refrigerator so it will stay cold
4. Cracking open one of said cold beers and channel surfing three different football games on cable TV
5. Complaining between puffs on cigarettes that health care is too expensive and that the gov’ment should do something about it.

Let’s not forget this either:

Having said all of that, it is important to note that there are some people in this country who really are poor. Those are the ones we should all help out with our own private contributions and time spent volunteering.

Absolutely correct, and I think the average American would be much more likely to do so if they didn’t feel like they’d abdicated this responsibility (because that’s what it is) to the gov’ment by paying their taxes. Do I have too much faith in people?

He Plays, err, Blogs the Right Way

All the recent talk locally about proper link attribution prompted me to finish a post I started a while back about blogging and baseball. “Everything I need to know about blogging I learned from watching baseball”? Eh, don’t really like that title too much. Plus it sounds like link bait, and I’d never do that. 😉

But I do like the notion of “playing the game the right way”. To me, that’s just about the highest honor you can give a baseball player. In a lot of ways, the same things relate to blogging:

Persistence pays off–show up every day

Cal RipkenIf you go by the numbers, Cal Ripken Jr may not look like a Hall of Famer. His batting average isn’t spectacular(.276), he didn’t hit an incredible amount of home runs (431) given the number of games he played (3001). Ripken instead sealed his legacy by being a great shortstop and showing up to play every day for a very long time (2131 consecutive games). Some days it was miserably cold, and he played. Some days it was miserably hot, and he played. Some days he was injured, and he played. A lot of days he was just plain old, and he played. While Cal’s numbers may not be all that impressive, the fact that he was so reliable is.

Be consistent and reliable for your readers. Show up every day (or week, or whatever your posting frequency is), and bring the best game you’ve got. You may only be able to outsmart, outwrite, and out search engine optimize half of the bloggers out there. The other half you will have to outwork!

Try to be the best at what you do, and the rest will take care of itself

The Wizard of OzzieFor position players, Hall of Fame credentials are usually decided by offensive numbers. Ozzie Smith is a rare exception. Why? Because his defense (13 Gold Gloves) was exceptional. With his unreal abilities at the shortstop position, there’s no telling how many runs Ozzie was able to save for his team on defense. The fact that he wasn’t always an exceptional producer on offense is overshadowed by the fact that he is the all time best on defense.

Very few bloggers are good at all aspects of the game. Concentrate on what you do best. If you are a great writer, write. If you are a great layout designer, design. If you are a great programmer, program. If you are even average at your deficiencies you can be successful. If you are excellent at your strengths, you’ll have no problem finding experts in other fields who recognize your greatness and want to be associated with you.

Cheating may get you there, but there’s a price to pay in the long run

Bonds CheaterHe-who’s-name-will-not-be-mentioned-here hit an awful lot of home runs. Very few people I know think his record is legitimate. Even fewer think very highly of him as a person. He’s basically ruined his own legacy by cheating to create it.

Don’t cheat. Learn the ropes. Hell, even learn a few tricks. But don’t cheat. Any short term gains you get won’t be worth the price you’ll have to pay in the long run. As a blogger, you need to be trusted, even if “trusted” means that people know for certain they will find nothing at your blog but a hilarious curse word laced story. Don’t spam for links. Don’t promise something that you can’t deliver. And by all means don’t steal content.

When it’s not working out, you have options

Rick AnkielI can’t tell Rick Ankiel’s story better than John Hutcheson. Short story–Rick Ankiel was a big league pitcher. He lost his stuff. He tried to get it back. He failed. Repeatedly. He went back to the minors and learned to play the outfield. He returned to the big leagues in 2007 as a Cardinals outfielder.

When something isn’t working out for you as a blogger, don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll have to work at it, and you’ll have to learn something new. But since when are those bad things? And you’ll still be in the game.

By the way, Ankiel hit a three run homer in his first game as an outfielder.

When the someone comes after you, be ready!

In 1980, Dave Winfield charged the mound on Nolan Ryan and gave him a beat down. No one tested Ryan’s skills at the sweet science again until 1993. There was no reason to–the guy throws 100 mph. If he wanted to hurt you, you’d already be hurt. But in Nolan Ryan’s final season, he hit Robin Ventura in the arm, and Ventura came after him. This time, Ryan was ready, and the insuing butt-kicking Ventura received let everyone know that Nolan Ryan is not a guy you want to mess with.

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If you establish any kind of success as a blogger, someone is bound to come after you. While you can’t get them in a headlock and pummel them six times until Pudge Rodriguez comes out to rescue them, if you pay for hosting for you own domain, you need to make sure that your site is secure and your data is backed up from day one. Also, monitor your incoming links to make sure they are on the up and up. Don’t let someone else make you look spammy.

By the way, Ventura was ejected and Nolan Ryan completed the game without giving up another hit.

Conditions will change, and fame can come from anywhere

In 1922, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Cliff Heathcote to the Chicago Cubs in between games of a double header with the Cubs! If not for this fact, who would ever remember Heathcote?

Things change very quickly online. Who knew anything about social networking three years ago and the way it would change things? If you’ve produced quality content before the change, the same content will be just as valuable after the change. Keep doing what you do and continue to learn about how that fits in with the current environment. You’ll be surprised to find that some of what you consider to be your most unremarkable stuff is what people end up knowing you for.

By the way, Heathcote went 2-4 in the second game.

Last but not least…

Give credit to your teammates

In post game interviews with pitchers who have just thrown a perfect games or no-hitters, they generally thank two people–“God and my teammates”. This isn’t just lip service. These guys know they would not have been able to reach this achievement without a lot of support from other people (and elsewhere). The best even call out their teammates by name. Even that guy-who’s-name-I-won’t-type was big enough to thank the teammates he’d had throughout the years, and this was the closest he’s come to speaking to some of them.

Make sure you site your resources. Most of the time they will be people just like you scraping to get their blog seen and read. Know that you can help them most by giving them relevant anchor text in the link.

Can you tell I am was a Cardinals fan?

So We Can’t Have a Special Election

But Mark Siegel has an idea

Nothing, however, prevents County Commission from directing the Knox County Election Commission to have a non-binding election for the offices which were occupied by a term-limited incumbent, and then have its re-do following the election. Let’s see which Commissioners vote for anyone other than the winner of the non-binding election.

I really like the idea, but it has one fatal flaw–these guys have shown repeatedly that they really don’t give a flip what we think, and they aren’t too concerned with having to face the music when elections roll around. If they did, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.

David Lee Roth Touring With Van Halen Again

It was announced yesterday that the tour will start this fall.

The lastest twist is that founding bassist Michael Anthony has been given the boot, and Van Halen’s teenage son, Wolfgang, has replaced him.

Hmmm. I doubt that statement is entirely true. My guess is that because Eddie Van Halen is such a jerk, Sammy Hagar wouldn’t tour with them again. Sammy and Michael Anthony are still good friends, and Mike probably sees that Ed is a jerk now too and doesn’t want to deal with him.

That leaves Ed and Alex in a bind. They hate David Lee Roth, but they can’t make any money with any singers other than DLR or Sammy. Since Sammy won’t have anything to do with them, they have to put up with DLR, and since Mike won’t have anything to do with them, they have to have Wolfgang play bass.

Dave? He doesn’t care. It’s a chance for him to get on stage and say, “Look at all the people here tonight!” a few more times. He’s probably chomping at the bit to get out on the road and annoy Ed nightly, and I don’t blame him. If I were him, I’d do the same thing just out of spite.

Of all the guys who’ve been in this band, Sammy and Mike are the only ones I’d ever want to hang out with. Dave would be fun to hang out with for a weekend bender, but he’d get on your nerves so bad after a couple of days that you’d have to get away…kind of like being in Vegas for more than a few days. He has, however, done a great job building that reputation and marketing himself.

I’d be surprised if this tour lasts more than a few dates. Look for it to be cancelled because of Eddie’s health.

Fox News — Sensationalist?

I just went to our cafeteria here at work to get some coffee and saw this “headline” on Fox News…”Bloggers a Threat?”

To be fair, I (thankfully) couldn’t hear what they were saying, only see the alert they had scrolling across the bottom of the screen. But are these guys serious? I used to think that the whole blogosphere vs. mainstream media thing was sort of a ploy by bloggers to make themselves seem a little more important than they are. Now I’m not so sure.

Even locally and regionally, there have been incidents like this, that show the divide is very real, and the tension is building on both sides.

In general, I think local news outlets do a decent job at reporting. But there really isn’t much analysis of local news except in the blogosphere. True, there are editorials in the newspaper, but without competition from the blogosphere there would be no balance of opinions. In this sense, there is a real market (need?) for local blogging, and I think that may scare local media.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is national coverage, with several 24 hour stations and analysis of the news–infotainment. Large media outlets have a lot ($$$) on the line, and cannot afford to only report the news. They have to entertain their viewers to keep them glued and keep the ad dollars rolling in. It seems to me that they are afraid of the blogosphere because they are actually getting scooped on stories that matter and are losing journalistic credibility. Others **cough O’Reilly cough** just can’t seem to take the heat of competition.

But I could be wrong.

It Will Be Here Before We Know It

This Countdown to a Bush Free America site has great revenue producing potential.

I haven’t thought about this in years, but there was a band in Knoxville in the early 90s called The Used. They eventually changed their sound and morphed into Superdrag and became pretty successful.

The Used was my favorite local band for a while. They were pretty punk and had notoriously great parties at their house. I think one of their songs was “No Bush ’93”, but it could have been an Underwear Meatclock song.

I only remember a few lyrics to this song:

No Bush ninety-three!

No Bush ninety-three!

No Bush ninety-three!

What’s Clinton gonna do for me?

The Most Disappointing Movies of the 80s

I was born in the early 70s, and like a lot of my contemporaries, I spent a lot of time during my middle school years at the mall/movies. One of the worst memories I have from my childhood is being all amped up to see a movie, only for it to be a complete waste of time and money. Looking back as an adult and admitted movie snob, it’s pretty obvious that most of these films never had a chance at being worth $4 to see. At the time, however, I was excited about all of them.

With a couple of exceptions, these aren’t the worst movies of the 80s, just the most disappointing.

Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

Why I couldn’t wait to see it: Wasn’t everybody excited about this movie? I was too young to really understand the first Star Warsmovie, but I thought it was really “neat”, had the lunchbox, the action figures, and was Darth Vader for Halloween. With The Empire Strikes Back, I understood a lot more about what was happening and was sucked in by the story. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.

Why I was disappointed:Just as I was starting to like the Star Wars series for the story, not just because things were getting blown up in space, someone got wise to the fact that they could make more money on merchandise than box office. Consequently, we got cuddly little teddy bears that kids would love–Ewoks. This wasn’t a bad movie at all, but it wasn’t as good as it could have and should have been. I can’t help but think that some of the story was traded in for merchandising efforts.

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Why I couldn’t wait to see it:Unless you were living on another planet in 1985, you knew all about Madonna. Now, imagine you’re a 13 year old boy. You see my point.

Why I was disappointed:I was expecting to see basically an hour and a half of Madonna’s videos. Yeah, she looked hot in this movie, but this was our first clue that she can’t act. Remarkably, this didn’t stop her from starring in several movies later in her career. They were all pretty disappointing too.

Quicksilver (1986)

Why I Couldn’t Wait to See It: Badass BMX tricks–on TEN SPEEDS!!!

Why I was Disappointed:This one actually is one of the worst movies ever. Probably the only thing that keeps this from being the absolute worst I’ve ever seen is that my cousin and I were asked to leave before the end of the movie. From what I remember, we got bored watching Kevin Bacon working as a bicycle messenger and started throwing popcorn at people. Look, there were plenty of movies in the 80s that featured bad acting, no plot, and horrible writing. However, they delivered cool stuff like tons of skateboarding and breakdancing, so we were all okay with it. This movie had nothing.

The All Nighter (1987)

Why I Couldn’t Wait to See It:  Susanna Hoffs.  The previews for this movie made it look like it was going to be nothing but her and her hottie friends having a tickle fight that lasted into the wee hours of the morning and culminated in all of them going out the next day and looking for a redneck eighth grader (me) to hook up with.

Why I was Disappointed:  Maybe they should have hired the guys who edited and marketed the trailer to do the whole movie, because I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  All they did in this movie was talk!  Maybe if I’d known anything about girls at the time I would have paid enough attention to somehow gain some knowledge in picking up some chicks on my own.  Instead, I sat there and watched them talk about who knows what for the whole movie.  I honestly don’t remember anything about it except that there was no tickling.  Pam Grier was in it, but I didn’t know at the time how cool she is.

Light of Day (1987)

Why I Couldn’t Wait to See It:  Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett.  I love rock ‘n’ roll, and Teen Wolf and Back to the Future were cool too.  This seemed like it would be cool because Michael J. Fox actually was into playing guitar, and the idea of Joan Jett playing his sister and rocking out for an hour and a half was AWESOME.

Why I was Disappointed:  That’s not at all what this movie was about.  I was expecting something like what we see on Behind the Music…rock and roll craziness, drinking, drugs, boobs.  Instead it was about stuff like relationships, personal struggles, etc.  Instead of the cookie-cutter 80s rocker movie, this one had a real plot and was a unique story.  Sounds like something I’d really like now.  Now that I think about it, I should probably rent it and see if it’s really any good.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–Van Halen

Just watching it on VH1…I was a huge Van Halen fan back in the day.  It’s pretty crazy that the only two guys from the band who showed up were Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, especially after they were the two who refused to be part of the ill-fated reunion a few weeks ago.

I know that Ed is in rehab, but what about the other guys?  Where were they?  After seeing it, I can honestly say that it’s probably for the best that they didn’t show up.  Sammy and Michael played and actually sounded (and looked) good.  Now it makes sense that they don’t want anything to do with a reunion–they are the only two who still have it.

Ann Coulter-Rollins?

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“You will learn who your daddy is.” That’s funny.

I usually think Henry Rollins is a jackass, but I like this video much better than Coulter’s most recent, and I think he’s pegged her pretty accurately here–at least it’s more dignified.

Who the hell is she anyway? What Ann Coulter has done in political commentary recently parallels what has happened in country music in the last 15 years or so. Good looking women get signed by a record label and marketed as “country”, not because they are country, but because they are marketable there.

It seems like Coulter just showed up on the scene a few years ago, looked around and said, “hmm…all the other hot chicks are blabbing like idiots on behalf of the Democrats. I can be the only hot chick blabbing like an idiot on behalf of the Republicans and sell a lot of books–the market’s wide open!”

She’s not even hot. I mean, for a Republican maybe, but not in general.