Monday, April 28, 2008

The point of this social networking thing

Social networking sites obviously have been a bit of a thread in the last couple of entries. I came across an interesting post today at Internet Evolution. It's from Andrew Keen, who has been analyzing the Net for a long time (relatively, anyway).

Keen is questioning the worth of facebook. Microsoft paid Mark Zuckerberg -- who's about the age of most of these bloggers -- $15 billion to own just a little bit of the site. Part of Keen's rant seems to be a bit jealous, and, heck, who's not? Don't you wish you would've come up with an idea like facebook or myspace?

But another major point of his blog is the importance of the Internet today. After the dot-com bust, it started reshaping as a way for people to connect. Gannett, and by extension, The Times, have bought into this. And there obviously is something to say about the popularity of Web relationships. Before the paper's Web site redesign, people would write anonymous comments on articles for hours on end. Literally. That is still happeneing to an extent, but users still are getting used to it.

So Keen says social networking sites basically have to figure out how to really make money off of advertising without alienating the folks who need to connect. The money-making part is something newspapers including this one deal with constantly. How do yout think all these sites will progress?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Makes me wanna holler

Right now, I’m supposed to be enjoying my vacation and I am. However, there’s a cloud of sadness and disgust hanging over me.

It all started when I got the text message from a friend Friday morning informing me that the three police officers charged in the murder of Sean Bell were acquitted.

Acquitted?

For murdering an unarmed man leaving a bachelor party with friends the night before his wedding day?

How can that be?

The news instantly sparked within me feelings of disappointment, outrage, hopelessness, fear, nausea. And it brought back memories of other such police murders of unarmed men, like Amadou Diallo, Marquise Hudspeth.

One emotion I didn’t feel was surprise.

I know some of you don’t see it this way. Some of you may say Bell and all these other men got what they deserved. Others may say there are no winners.

But that’s just not enough for me. I cannot mentally reconcile the justice of this verdict. I can’t understand how the law says shooting and killing an innocent, unarmed man 50 times is justifiable. I can’t understand how the law seems to always protect murderers who wear badges.

I keep trying, but I just can’t see how this is fair.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The new shreveporttimes.com

We're talking about it, and folks are starting discussion groups. So we want to know what you think about the new shreveporttimes.com.

A lot of work has gone into the redesign, and the Web guys still are tweaking it. What do you like? Dislike? Miss? How can it be improved?

The Link 222 staff may not have the power to make upgrades ourselves, but we know the guys in the basement who can.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

MySpace - good for the kids?

Just like hip hop, I’ve always felt that MySpace is often misunderstood, usually by people who know very little about it.

YES, I have a MySpace page and I love using it as another way to reconnect with some of my friends.

And YES, on the flip side, I’ve often said MySpace is the “ruination of relationships” – married or otherwise. But I don’t blame MySpace for that.
I blame dumb people (usually guys) or na├»ve people (usually girls) who use MySpace for those purposes. (I’m ONLY joking with the gender inferences!)

Anyway, I do tend to think kids and MySpace are about as bad a combination as kids and liquor, gambling or anything else bad.
And Lord knows there’s plenty of stories out there to back my claim.

However, I ran across this interesting MSNBC story that suggests otherwise. In fact, it actually said a recent survey proved quite the opposite: That MySpace can actually be good for teenagers. Well, shy teenagers, to be more specific.

I’m not sure if I’m buying it 100 percent, but what do you think? Do you think MySpace can be good for the kids? Or should it be just for adults?
Do YOU MySpace? Or are you one of those folks who think social networking is just weird, period?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

When will it end?

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama may have to arm wrestle to determine who will be the Democratic nominee for the presidency.

I was looking forward to some closure after the Pennsylvania primary. I thought if Hillary lost this one, she'd bow out. Or, if Hillary won by some ginormous margin, then Barack would've exited the race.

I knew it was a long shot, but when will this madness be over?

I don't know about you, but the Democratic battle has gotten old for me. The appeal of electing the first woman or the first black for president is not as exciting as it once was (DISCLAIMER: That last sentence does not mean I will/did vote for either of the two candidates).

After her win, the former first lady said:

"Some counted me out and said to drop out. But the American people don't quit. And they deserve a president who doesn't quit, either. Because of you, the tide is turning."

Yikes.

It's never going to end.

Who do you think will win the arm wrestling match?

Discuss.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Green is the new black

Lately I've been looking to different sources for news on global warming, what's going on with the environment and how we can help.

What have I learned? To go green is to be cool and trendy.

The "green" theme was all over my magazines this month.
Vanity Fair - the third annual Green Issue (and Madonna)
Elle - Green Issue (and Madonna) with online components like the Eco Chick blog
Both Time and Newsweek have also been encouraging folks to "go green" with ads on recycling, stories with "10 fixes for the planet" and of course, where the presidential nominees stand on the issue.

I guess my concern is that helping the environment is treated like a trend, a fad, instead of a life change we all may need to make to preserve the Earth...and ourselves. And with it being treated like a fad, I'm worried that, like most trends, being eco-friendly has the potential to go out of style.

Environmental issues are not new. They existed way before Vanity Fair decided to publish its first Green Issue. (Side note: In an interesting post, blogger Frank Locantore pointed out how Vanity Fair's issue was a lot of talk with no substance. He points out that the magazine never mentions their own efforts to be eco-friendly and doesn't even use recycled paper for their mag.)
Maybe now, it's only becoming "cool" because celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio and Camron Diaz have jumped on the bandwagon?

I think straight talk is the best medicine for the problems facing our environment. Valid information and facts help me more than where I can buy "My White T is Green" shirt or other paraphernalia. Other than magazines, I'm not too sure if news broadcasts or other informational outlets are too helpful either. (On the Today Show this morning, First Lady Laura Bush spoke about changes they've made to their home to become eco friendly. Helpful?)

And I'd like to hear more options than just recycling and using LED light bulbs. I'm sure there's more we can do, but we rarely hear about it. And more importantly, people need to know the WHY. I wonder if your regular Joe Smith knows exactly what's going on in the environment and why we should change our consumption habits, etc.

But what do you think? Have you decided to "go green?" Do you think you ever will?

And what's the best way to get the message out to the masses?

Monday, April 21, 2008

From Idahoan to Louisianan

So I think I'm now officially a Louisianan. I have been filing taxes in Louisiana for quite a few years now but still held my Idaho residency as a military wife. (I got divorced about a month ago.)

So now that I'm a resident, I should learn about Louisiana. When I grew up, the strongest affiliation I had with Louisiana was the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark exploration of it.

Here is some information that would be good for me to know. Did you know ...

  • Louisiana's motto is the "Sportsman's Paradise." Idaho is the Gem State. I remember back in elementary school, we would have some parent bring in star garnets, which are their official gem. Louisiana's official gem is Agate, found in Louisiana gravel.
  • Here's another interesting fact, for me, at least: In Louisiana, the uplands and hills the elevations rise to Driskill Mountain, the highest point in the state at only 535 feet above sea level. Only two other states in the union, Florida and Delaware, are geographically lower than Louisiana, though several other states, such as Kansas and Nebraska, are geographically flatter. In Idaho, the lowest point is Idaho's lowest point, 745 ft above sea level, in Lewiston. This was one of the first comparative facts that I learned about the two states where I've held residency.
Okay. That's enough learning for today. Now tell me about your home state. Where all have you lived? What crazy or interesting facts do you know about your state?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A ballsy move in Florida

This just in out of Tallahassee:

"A discussion in the Senate on Thursday turned a bit, um, testy, over an issue that this usually august body rarely has occasion to discuss: replica bull testicles hanging from vehicles."

Now you know the Sunshine State is not the only place you can see these things. I've noticed quite a few knocking around here on some of my fellow truck drivers' road toys. I even remember seeing a pair when I spent a semester of college in California.

My truck is not bejeweled with fake reproductive parts, and I don't think it ever will be. But does that mean a state legislative body should keep other folks from letting them hang freely?

And I really must give AP Writer David Royse some credit for making a story about a bill and bulls read so well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The day after

Link 222 wants to know how the tax filing process went for folks out there. Did everyone do his own or get an accountant to help? Did you e-file?

And are your state returns finished along with federal? Did anyone actually file taxes early?

Since it's the day after April 15, did anyone celebrate? Or at least relax a little?

Let us know what's on your mind!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The politics of religion

I’m a Christian. In fact, I’m the daughter of a Baptist pastor and have gone to church my entire life, but I’ve always felt my religion was something personal. In fact, I only mention it here to make a point.

I mean, my faith and spirituality is about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I believe it manifests itself through my actions, reactions and behavior, particularly toward my fellow man.

In other words, I’ve never felt the need to broadcast my religion to the world on the regular. I’d rather show you. Just like the song goes
“This little light of mine…” well, I rather let it shine than force it down your throat.

So, I cringed when I began watching CNN’s “Compassion Forum” with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Sunday night. (Republican presidential nominee John McCain was also invited, but did not attend.)

As the moderators and selected people from the audience asked Clinton and Obama in separate segments, to share their favorite Bible stories, describe a moment when they caught the Holy Spirit, or describe how they were led to Christ, my family and I were sitting there like “WHAT?! Why are they asking this kind of stuff? Why are they even having a forum like this?”

I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. I think it’s a very dangerous thing when you try to mix the two, because you stand a chance of some fanatic just taking it too far and then you got a raging tyrant, or something scary like that, running the country.

Religious freedom is one of the principles this country was founded on. And presidential candidates shouldn’t have to explain it or wear it like a badge. If it’s the essence of who they are, it shows. Besides, I’m not voting for a minister, I’m voting for a president.

Anyway, overall I felt like both candidates handled the questions about as best as they could. And it actually turned out to be pretty interesting and provide some insight into their spiritual lives.

But it wasn’t enough for me to change my vote one way or the other. (Now, you don’t really think I’m going to tell you which candidate I favor do you? Lol.) Overall, I was just uncomfortable with the whole thing. I mean I’ll admit it’s cool to know if someone shares the same faith as me. It’s a good thing to know, but a political candidate’s religion is just not at the top of my list when it comes to who I’ll choose for the commander in chief. I feel like the record of that person's works will bear that out.

I guess I feel this way because I’ve seen hypocrisy at all levels, from local to national folks, black, white, yellow, whoever, who claim to be this or that and 9 times out of 10, when they’re touting the claim, it’s coming from a place of phoniness or self-righteousness. What’s even more disgusting to me is when candidates exploit religion, namely Christianity, for personal gain or use it to distract people from issues that actually affect them. I mean if Jesus is love, how can you hate or kill people just because they don’t look or act like you, you know? Or how can you propose, legislate or approve bills that actually leave the masses of folks in financial despair, jobless or even homeless, just flat broke and struggling?

I could go on and on, but I’ll get off my soapbox now. I want to know what y’all think? Did anybody see it? Even if you didn’t see the CNN forum, what do you think about the subject in general?

Monday, April 14, 2008

That's what it's all about ....

No, I'm not talking about the hokie pokie. I'm talking about journalism. To my Link 222 peers, what does journalism mean to you? What drives you to do your job?

I rented All the President's Men with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman over the weekend. I wanted to feel their hunger for getting the story of Watergate even before they knew it was such a vast story with a huge impact. I watched it in front of my friends to share with them a little bit about what journalism is all about -- how we can help give people a window into what they need to see.

I mistakenly watched Resurrecting the Champ last night. I say that because I thought it was a boxing movie and didn't pay much attention to the box in the movie store. I'm totally buying it now and I will probably add this to the same collection of insightful journalism stories such as the previous movie. I don't want to give anything away about the story but it definitely shows the full spectrum of experiences a journalist can have, about wanting to share a story that should be told, yet not finding any takers. I also like how the main character dabs at the broadcast lifestyle and realizes he doesn't want to change his passion towards that direction. I absolutely recommend it for my journalist peers.

Even before I watched these movies, I had been recently reminded of what journalism is all about -- for me. It's about sharing stories of those whose stories need to be told. I was able to do a story in a round-about way of a similar situation that one of my family members has experienced. I felt honored to be able to tell two people's stories even though only one was mentioned in the story.

One of my proudest moments as a journalist happened early in my career when I wrote about a local event for an organization that supports those who are mentally ill. They gave us a news release and I decided to attend the event and write a story. After it was over, I wrote the story and moved forward. The gentleman who originally gave us the press release stopped by the office later and told me that he carried the article around in his pocket and pulls it out when he is having a bad day because it reminds him that people actually care about him and his cause.

For me, THAT's what it's all about.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Prioritizing freedoms

Images of authorities forcefully entering a polygamist compound this week have been disturbing on many levels. Obviously the accusations of sexual abuse are the most significant.

What makes this situation murky for some is the religious freedom factor. (That, of course, is besides the track record in Texas for authorities killing members of non-mainstream religious groups). I don't think many people who read this will say it is OK to force girls to marry men. There may be a few who are OK with having multiple wives.

But in a country that prioritizes religious freedom (with a Constitutional Amendment to prove it), outside views clearly have won in this case.

There are all kinds of beliefs out there that some think are strange: keeping silent during child birth, reincarnation, resurrection. At what point do you think the government should be able to tell someone they can't do something their religion instructs them to do?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Time's almost up

After much procrastination, staying true to my usual M.O., I finally filed my taxes today.
I was so ashamed to admit this even 24 hours ago until I discovered there are many more out there like me, putting off the inevitable.

And unlike me, they still have yet to take care of their business.
Well, now that I’ve quit dragging my slow behind on this, I want to help you, my fellow man, with this friendly reminder/public service announcement:

YOU GOT LESS THAN 5 DAYS LEFT!!!!! STOP SHUFFLING AND FILE THOSE TAXES ALREADY!

No more excuses. Even, if you’re cheapsakate like me, you can either do it yourself or do like I did and have someone do it for you. In my case, I went to the Queensborough Neighborhood Association where the folks were nice and friendly.
But best of all, it was FREE!

Here’s a list of some other places that offer free tax assistance, but time is running out, Tuesday will here before you know it. So, you may want to call them first:

  • The AARP Tax Aide Program, Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon., Broadmoor Branch, Shreve Memorial Library, 1212 Captain Shreve Drive, (318) 869-0120.
  • Barksdale Air Force Base, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., basement of the Military Personnel Flight (MPF) Building on BAFB. For active military, retired military, reservists, dependents and Base employees only. Call 456-4765 for appointment.
  • Caddo Community Action Agency, Cedar Grove Center, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8001 Fairfield Ave. (318) 868-7222.
  • Caddo Community Action Agency, David Raines Center, 1625 David Raines Road,
    Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., (318) 425-2401.
  • Caddo Community Action Agency, St. Vincent Center, 4055 St. Vincent Ave., Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (318) 861-4808.
  • Centerpoint, 1002 Texas Ave., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (318) 227-2100 for appointment.
  • Louisiana Department of Revenue, 1525 Fairfield Ave. Call (318) 676-7505 for appointment.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wellness, or something like it

I ate chocolate chip cookies for breakfast this morning.

Afterwards, I raced to a school to write about its first-ever health fair. I didn't think I'd learn anything new (I already know it's NOT a good idea to eat cookies for breakfast):

Brushing my teeth properly? Check.

Flossing? Check.

Washing my hands? Check.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables? I'm working on it (I can't profess to be totally healthy. I mean, I did eat cookies as my first meal).

But, I did learn something unexpectedly.

A nurse coaxed me into getting my height, weight and body mass index checked by some gargantuan machine.

When I saw the results, I was shocked. Literally. I almost thought about developing an eating disorder.

That machine said I was an inch shorter and weighed about 15 pounds more than my doctor's scale--and I thought that was wrong.

I've got to do something. And, quickly.

Luckily, those fleeting thoughts of developing an eating disorder subsided: I had three chocolate-covered donuts for lunch.

I'm going to do better. I promise.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I love these!

Recently, in my spare time in my evenings, I've been look through oodles of photos of "kittehs" (pronounced kitt-ees) from the Web site Icanhascheezburger.com. It's where people in cyberspace put captions on cat pictures. Here are two that I have found that made me laugh out loud:
Humorous Pictures

funny pictures

For dog lovers, there is a similar, but not quite as developed Web site Ihasahotdog.com. Here are two of their examples:
cute puppy pictures

funny dog pictures

So I hope you enjoyed a quick laugh, or at least a little smile.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

It's never easy


Having recently dealt with a death in my family, I've heard a lot of people tell me dealing with it is never easy. Even when it is common, I think that's true. I've been to a lot of funerals and sat with a lot of families during times like these, and none are ever quite the same. And I'm never totally prepared to accept that someone is gone.

So I know the family and friends of Ethan Powell are struggling now. So many people throughout the country and even outsides its borders cared about this child who died Saturday from leukemia.

I first learned about him because he went to a daycare center my mother used to run. She just got back from a trip to Europe, and I hated to tell her Ethan had passed. I even posted a blog almost a year ago when Noel Methodist Church hosted one of a couple bone marrow testing sites.

People wanted him to pull through.

Obviously his story will live on. From what his dad has posted, Ethan's parents will work to help find a cure for other children. That is noble tribute.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Armageddon Files, Vol. 1: You be the judge

Want a sure sign of the apocalypse? Check this photo out:OK, when I first saw this picture while browsing some political news on the ABC News web site last week, it shocked the sweet bejesus outta me. I mean, “How the…? What the…? When the…? huh?” Was all I could manage to articulate.

Of course, reading is fundamental, so when I took some time to actually read the story, I was a little bit clearer on the situation. Well, slightly, I mean, he’s not a biologically-born man but a transgendered man with female organs inside who happens to be a husband to a wife named Nancy and they live in Oregon. “Ohh okk…Now, it all makes sense…say what? Ok, let’s try this again…” I thought.

So, I used some common sense and figured I should just read his own first-person account on The Advocate, which was mentioned in the story. By now, I’m sure all of you have heard the story of even seen it Oprah earlier today.

Well, after skimming his story in The Advocate, I finally understood that this wasn’t about some crazy science experiment or something, but a couple trying to have a child… Granted, they’re doing it in a completely unconventional way that is extremely strange to me, particularly when it comes to the aesthetics of it all, but their desire to have one didn’t sound any different to me than any other couple … Right? ….Or wrong? I’m just not sure on this one, what do y’all think?

Is it a sign of the apocalypse? Or is it just another interesting example of the ever-changing American way?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jay-Z and Beyonce marriage: true or false

An editor, who knows how much I love to gab about celebrities, sent me this from a newswire:

"Beyonce and Jay-Z take out marriage license in Scarsdale GNS Entertainment for April 2, 2008 By ROB RYSER The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News SCARSDALE, N.Y. — Long rumored romantic pair Beyonce Knowles and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter may soon be the first couple of hip hop.
The superstar entertainers, better known as Beyonce and Jay-Z, recently took out a marriage license in Scarsdale, People magazine reports.
Citing an unnamed source, people said the couple took out a license on Tuesday, which was April Fool’s Day.
Both superstars have consistently downplayed rumors of a romance between them.
Scarsdale Village Clerk Donna Conkling could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
In order to get the marriage license, the couple would have had to make an appointment and both show up with proof of their age and identity, as well as pay a $40 fee.
The license is good for 60 days.
"

I've been waiting for this for a while. But why did they have to take out the license on April Fool's Day? Does that mean this is a joke?

I hope not. Is everyone else as excited as I am?

Discuss.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Situational UN-awareness

So I received a story about a man arrested for taking pictures of women's derrieres in a local store. Police were called after the husband of one of the women saw a man taking pictures of her in a local Wal-Mart.

I would like to think I would have enough situational awareness to know if someone was taking pictures of me. Then again, if it was going on behind me, I may not have noticed. So here's a reminder to remain aware of your surroundings. You never know who may be taking photographs.

Then, I also saw this story about a woman arrested after she thought she was calling a drug dealer. This is like one of those "World's Dumbest Criminal" tales. The police had called a woman about a car registered in her name. The woman called the police back and "stated that she would like to buy $150 in crack." Wow. She must have thought the phone number looked similar to her dealer's number. Or she just figured the only person who would call her would be her dealer.

The moral of the story is to not call a number back until you've checked your voicemail to know who called you in the first place. Again, it's a case of situational unawareness, although this time it's electronic awareness rather than physical.

Have you ever been startled when you realized you weren't aware of your surroundings? I'm sure we all have. Care to share?