Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Wed, Feb 28 2007

Driving home a point?

Have you been hearing about the continuing flack over a portion of Muslim cab drivers at airports who refuse to accept passengers who carry alcohol, and the possibility of drivers being fined or losing their licenses over it? There are claims that some drivers also refuse to take passengers with service dogs, though reports vary on the frequency of such things. One blogger, who I belive is Muslim, mentioned the fact that these sorts of taboos sometimes come up in personal choices or in certain geographical areas, and are not always a strict rule of Islam.

I have to confess being puzzled as to why someone would purposely choose to work driving people from a specific location where a great many of the customers would be carrying alcohol. I'm apparently not the only one who wonders about this. If the object is to test the limits of religious tolerance, some drivers may find they have won the battle but lost the war. If they're the majority of cabbies at airports these days and they form lines to take fares and then wave people off because of forbidden cargo, they shouldn't be surprised that tired travelers aren't happy about it.

Religious freedom is near and dear to my heart, particularly since I belong to a Christian denomination that has focused a great deal of study on the original meaning of the fourth commandment, a point that has sometime put us at odds with the Christian majority and has even caused some members difficulty in the workplace as they sought to follow their faith. We've even had a few lawsuits over Sabbath keeping. But the majority of Adventists do their jobs without a hitch and they manage to work out Sabbath issues with professional-minded employers who are willing to accommodate a sincere, valued worker. And we don't neglect to take care of emergencies or infirm people when the sun goes down on Friday night. That would be neither sane nor spiritual. It seems to me that one needs to approach these matters with reason and caring or else be in danger of coming across as a cold-blooded separatist who cares for neither people nor the One we claim created people.

There seems to be some talk that outside influences may have been responsible for at least some of the cab drivers' refusals to take certain fares. That possibility is a good lesson for any of us who choose to follow any religion or denomination. Politicians, peddlers and extremist factions with an axe to grind have a way of presuming to speak for others when it suits their purposes. We need to study and learn for ourselves so that we know exactly what it is we really believe. That way, when controversies come up, we'll be flexible enough to lovingly practice what we preach in any given situation while still staying firmly planted on the principles of our faith.

posted at: 08:48 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Feb 27 2007

A huge tip of the Stetson to the citizens of Murphy, Texas

I have no idea who the angry council member was who popped off at Chris Hansen and Dateline over their use of a house in Murpy, Texas for a segment of To Catch a Predator. But I'm glad to know that not everyone in Murphy agreed with that council member. None of us thinks Murphy is suddenly a bad place to live after the airing of the Dateline segment. The city of Murphy has played a brave part in showing people everywhere just how close to home these people who prey on kids can be to any of us and how nonchalant these people are about parading their behavior into a "nice" neighborhood next to schools, parks and churches. Murphy is every town, in this respect.

Whether it was actually one of these smiling faces who complained or just someone pretending to be a council member, I'm hoping that the message got out that the complainer is in the minority and needs to get a clue. Shame on them. If you get to Murphy anytime soon, stop by for something to eat at a local restaurant or buy some food there and have a picnic in Murphy City Park. Let's help caring Murphy citizens to shout the complainer down with our voices and our pocketbooks.

posted at: 11:38 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Feb 26 2007

The Boardwalk turns 100

Good news for local history buffs! We can now pre-order a copy of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: A Century by the Sea. The new book is full of photos and notes documenting 100 years of fun at this Central California Coast attraction. Fred Swanton, a local businessman in the area, got the whole thing going about 1904. A fire ended up destroying the main Casino building, but rebuilding began a short time later and The Boardwalk opened to the public in 1907. (The Scenic Railway was the first roller coaster there. The wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster, which is now a National Historic Landmark, wasn't built until the 1920s.)

Mr. Swanton was one busy fellow. He served as the Mayor of Santa Cruz for several years, dabbled in hydro-electric power, and traveled the length of the state of California to tell everyone who would listen about the wonders of Santa Cruz County. (You can still visit the Swanton Pacific Ranch location in the Davenport area, north of Santa Cruz.) He also helped get phone service to the area, encouraged the early film industry to make use of the Central Coast's redwood forests and other prime locations and he just seemed to be one of those people who never rested on his laurels, but kept looking for ways to bring fame and fortune to the Santa Cruz area. A lot of his projects seem to have fallen by the wayside, but the Sant Cruz Beach Boardwalk is still a major tourist destination and a favorite hangout for locals.

posted at: 13:37 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Feb 23 2007

Birthday Musings for February 23

Those of you who drop by this blog from time to time know that one of my favorite writer games involves taking note of several well-know people born on a given day. It's fun to imagine them all being alive at the same time and in a room together where they might share their various experiences and views of the world. A few of the well-known people born February 23:
George Handel (1685), composer of The Messiah
Konstantin Pats (1874), Estonian Head of State
Elston Howard (1929), catcher for NY Yankees
Sylvia Chase (1938), newscaster for ABC
Anton Mosimann (1947), chef
Shigefumi Mori (1951), mathematician
Michael Dell (1965), founder of Dell Computers
Dakota Fanning (1994), actress

posted at: 11:23 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Feb 22 2007

Unfortunate title snippings

Who knew that one of the things writers would need to be concerned about someday was software that renders graphics containing titles. It has become really important to really think about what will happen when a particular word gets shortened or abbreviated in these instances. I rather doubt that the original writer ever imagined needing to consider such a thing. And unless their target audience has changed quite a bit recently, I rather doubt that Encore Westerns really intended to convey such a tacky image in their channel's lineup.

posted at: 11:31 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Feb 21 2007

Sitting pretty

It's time for us to see the results of Design Within Reach's annual Champagne Chair Contest. It's great fun to see what contestants come up with, using wire, foil and a cork or two.

posted at: 09:24 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry


The Amgen Tour of California cyclists will be just south of us Thursday as they enter Stage 4 in Seaside and cycle the coast on 1 down to San Luis Obispo. They may get rained on tomorrow, but I doubt they'll care very much as they ride through some of the most scenic territory in the world. They'll wind up their fun next Sunday in Long Beach. Once in the Long Beach area, they'll use part of Shoreline Drive, which will also be used for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April.

posted at: 09:04 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Feb 20 2007

Eat something (with aspirin in it). You'll feel better.

The TV newscasts have been full of advice from a new report that suggests women take low doses of aspirin on a daily basis to lower their risk of heart disease. If you want to have some fun, go to Google and do a search under News with the words "women", "aspirin", "heart" and "daily". Note the number of results returned. Do the search again, adding the terms "fat" and "exercise". If you get the same results I got, you'll find a lot fewer articles mentioning the importance of exercise and diet right alongside the daily dose of aspirin. Ladies, if we keep downing those fast food fries and sit on our derrieres most every waking hour we're foolish to think that aspirin is going to save our hearts. But the media knows what everyone loves to hear: Take a little pill and you'll feel better.

I'm not a dietician, but I'll give you some dietary advice anyway. As long as you're relatively healthy and not allergic to aspirin you should forget taking the aspirin and go for a walk, give up most of the fatty meals and eat more foods that contain a high amount of salicylates. Fruits high in salicylates include oranges, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, pineapple and dates. Vegetables high in salicylates include zucchini, radishes, green bell pepper and canned tomatoes. (A lot of herbs are also rich in salicylates, but you'd have to consume a large amount in order to get enough to approach that which is present in an aspirin.)

I suppose this is where I urge you to discuss these alternatives with your physician before you go wolfing down too much of any one food as though it's a miracle cure. We humans do seem to have a tendency to take even the most healthful things in life to excess.

Other recent newscasts talked about taking a nap to ward off heart problems. It may be a great idea to nap. However, the study that was done on naps was conducted on adult males in Greece. It's already socially acceptable for adult males to nap in Greek culture. I wonder if the study would produce similar results in corporate America where many female workers spend their lunch hour rushing through a few bites of fast food, picking up the dry cleaning, setting up a clown for their child's birthday party and then navigating heavy traffic to get back to work to answer to a boss who has a stop watch on their every move. The stress from that can't be good for one's heart. And how will that boss react when said female worker decides to follow all that lunch hour rushing with a nap? Who will make the boss understand that she couldn't nap on her lunch hour because she had to take care of other things? And if she gives up her lunch hour to nap, who will take care of the errands she can no longer run while napping? Pressure mounts, placing more stress on her already-stressed heart. we'd probably have to change the whole structure of American society in order to see these things happen.

Just imagine doctors writing real presciptions for non-pharmaceutical remedies such as twenty-minute naps, thirty-minute walks and sixty-minute meditation or prayer sessions. Imagine this practice, instead of prescribing drugs or surgery, being the first line of defense in maintaining a healthy heart. It would certainly be interesting to see how it affected each of our lives and the lives we touch in our daily routine. How much influence could one individual's routine have over a whole society when it comes to good health? It could be fun to find out.

posted at: 08:14 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Mon, Feb 19 2007

Surf City USA

The battle for Surf City USA continues, with Huntington Beach pressing for the case to be moved to Southern California. Noland's on the Wharf filed a suit against Huntington Beach over the right to sell its popular Surf City T-shirts.

I still say that the two cities should use their time and money to work this whole issue into a major surfing challenge, with any monetary proceeds going to charity. Look at the money being wasted now on lawsuits, when everyone could be having a lot more fun and doing a lot more good for the whole state of California. The current whining contest is bad form, bad manners and a bad example to children who are learning to work out their differences by watching supposedly responsible adults.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see someone introduce legislation over this situation. Or perhaps the whole thing will degrade itself into the likes of a Wrestlemania head-shaving contest.

posted at: 10:34 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Fri, Feb 16 2007

What makes respect?

Marty Kaplan at the Huffington Post reports that a recent poll shows one-word descriptions of President Bush becoming increasingly derisive. I never know how to react to things like this, because I grew up in a time when we were encouraged to have respect for the office of President. There were sometimes harsh words and criticisms for those in office, but we were usually able to separate the dignity of the office from the idiosyncracies and foibles of any given individual who had been elected by a majority. We certainly heard negative things about John F. Kennedy following his assissination, but we still held the notion that the office of President could be an honorable one. Presidents still coaxed respect and fueled patriotism among our nation's diverse population, for the most part.

But somewhere, something changed. Maybe it was the blow-by-blow accounts of Watergate that began the change. Maybe it was an assumed familiarity with the office that we all experienced as technology allowed the press to get more information out right away so that we heard and saw more inconsistencies in our leaders. Whatever it is that changed, we somehow no longer feel the need to hold the office of President just a bit in awe. And we don't seem to mind saying so.

If we continue down this path, we might just get where we're headed. Those who can't take the heat we give them may just get out of the political arena altogether. What we're left with may be candidates who build a political career based on manipulation who then move into the office of President feeling entitled to demand raw power with minimal accountability. If we don't want that, we may want to stop what we're doing right now and take a good look at just what it is we expect from one who sits in the office of President. We may need to stop our sniping and and be willing to give, and expect in return, a sense of respect and dignity from anyone who dares to think they can win the privilege of our votes to the office of President of the United States. If all it takes to becomee President is enough wealth to run a huge campaign, then part of the fault lies with us, for allowing ourselves to buy into that system with our allegiance and our votes.

posted at: 11:57 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, Feb 15 2007

Chewy edges

I make a pan of brownies now and then and I prefer a heavier, gooey type of brownie over than a lighter, cake-like brownie. I don't like the chewy edges to be harder than the middle, but if you don't bake them long enough you end up with the middle brownies being more like a hot, thick milkshake than a brownie. So I end up baking them too long and then I've been known to cut the hard edges off, which wastes a good portion of a batch.

Now there's a brownie baking pan that claims to make perfect brownie edges and more of them. The inventors of the pan also recommend making lasagna in the pan. No more extremely chewy, dried-out lasagna edges? I love the idea, but I know that a lot of foodies who love digging out those dried, chewy lasagna corners at potlucks are going to miss the crunch of a noodle that drifted above the sauce line. The brownie pan is appropriately called Baker's Edge.

posted at: 09:50 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Wed, Feb 14 2007

Banking, credit cards and Social Security numbers

Things like credit can bring out strong opinions in people. USAToday and other outlets recently reported on Bank of America creating a pilot program to issue credit cards to people without Social Security numbers. NPR says that the rate of some of these cards can be more than 21 percent. You can see state usury limits at Lectlaw, but you'll also be reminded there that banks operate under different rules. In spite of the cards being issued with high interest rates and requiring some form of photo ID (perhaps one of those driver's licenses we keep hearing may soon be issued to illegal immigrants) plus a prior checking account with Bank of America, the move to offer the cards has brought out some real snarling.

If Bank of America makes this gesture, can other banks be far behind? As noted by Edmund Mierzwinski in a PBS interview, getting angry at Bank of America and switching your account to a small bank might make you feel better, but the truth is that, regardless of what bank or charity name is on your credit card, a few large companies actually own all the underlying business of credit cards.

I suppose one good thing about all this (besides the fact that people wouldn't have to steal Social Security numbers to get a credit card) is that people who are here illegally and are expected to get many of these accounts from Bank of America would at least be leaving some sort of record in the event that they use their card to further any illegal activities or engage in acts of terrorism. But the whole issue has really gotten heated on the part of many citizens and legal residents who have worked hard to qualify for a card. Some people are also concerned that their own good credit may be affected by folks who have a poor or sketchy credit rating and who are statistically more likely to default on their card bill. And you know that low interest rate on your own card that you enjoy now? Even if you have a great credit rating and you're faithful to pay what you owe each month you should remember that other things can raise your currently low percentage.

The only way to really be able to afford a credit card is to take responsibility to know exactly how your bank is treating your card account, month after month. Banks can change things in a big hurry and they may change things based on behavior other than your good credit history. I just wonder whether any higher defaults on these new card accounts will result in banks justifying higher interest rates for the rest of us. And will unscrupulous international thieves or terrorists eventually set up checking accounts, get that credit card, run it up and then just skip the country? Or worse yet, will terrorists leave their credit card bill behind by commiting suicide in a terror attack? Even one incident of that nature could put banks right under a Homeland Security magnifying glass and might even end their ability to lobby for all those special regulations they now enjoy.

posted at: 09:40 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Feb 12 2007


Every now and then my spouse tunes in to Jim Cramer's Mad Money show and I confess that Mr. Cramer's boisterous style used to make me simply get up and leave the room for awhile, but either I've grown accustomed to his voice or he's toned it down just a wee bit lately for those of us with tender ears. In either case, he has extremely useful information to offer. If you'd like to know more about what he's saying but you find the yelling and sound effects a bit much you can still get online recaps of his TV show.

Mr. Cramer's newest book is Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich. But his best-known offering is almost two years old. Jim Cramer's Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World. He'll tell you some of the usual things when it comes to investing in stocks, such as as recommending that you diversify. But he goes against the grain of some of the old-school "buy-and-hold" philosophy when he tells us we have to do our homework on our own investments and be willing to get rid of stocks that are essentially sucking the profits out of our better stocks. It's taken me awhile to warm up to his shtick, but it's worth working through all the yelling and sound effects he uses on TV if it gets you to the heart of his no-nonsense advice on being an active participant in your investments in a time when things change so rapidly in the world of business.

posted at: 08:47 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Feb 09 2007

Getting up with the Joneses has its dark side

A tip of the Stetson goes to Michael at Orange Crate Art for a link to a post on How to start your day at 5:00 AM, which was published on lifehack.org. I noticed that several of the comments included the fact that going to bed with the chickens cuts too badly into one's social life to be of real value in the early rising department. It's true that life is full of trade-offs, and one of the down sides to rising early is that you tend to nod off over your dinner salad in the evening.

I've always been a morning person by nature, so it's the late evening events that are difficult for me to make the most of. However, I have a feeling that the folks commenting on the above-mentioned article are not talking about the social side of business, but are instead referring to social activities that have as little to do with work as possible. If that's the case they'll just have to decide which is more important to them—productivity or partying.

Still, it's all something to think about, particularly for writers. If we're up in plenty of time to watch the sunrise every day we may feel good about being very productive, but we might also be missing certain business networking possibilities with colleagues or clients who tend to keep the same hours as vampires.

posted at: 09:44 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Feb 08 2007

The beauty of oral history and interviewing

The UC Davis site has a report on how Vietnam Vets are helping teach current students more about the Vietnam War. Oral histories are a beautiful way for people to pass along their experiences during historic events. Many would never just sit down and write about what they've been through, but most people can be encouraged to just sit and tell stories in a comfortable setting. Rutgers also has Oral History Archives full of memories from people who lived through the times of the Vietname War, Korean War, World War II and even the tense period of time we refer to as the Cold War.

I've had the privilege of speaking to people about their family tree history on several occasions. Very often they will freeze up at the site of a recording device and the idea of being "interviewed" as part of an official record. The first few questions will almost always bring a response that goes something like, "I don't really remember very much about it at all." But I've found that a little patience, plus a willingness to let the person meander a bit from the original question to a place where their memories are strong, will usually end up bringing a flood of ideas to the surface as you chat with them.

A lot of what we each remember best is associated with our senses. Think of how much opening a new box of crayons and catching their waxy scent evokes school memories in your own life. Encouraging these types of sensual triggers in others is key to helping them reach back into their past without peppering them with pointed questions. I recommend to anyone who interviews others for any purpose to watch and listen to Charlie Rose speak to people. He is wonderful at putting people at ease so that they can talk about what matters. They may never answer the original question he asks them, but no one will care when the interview is over. He gets his guests to remember and say things they never expected to say to anyone. And he treats them like guests—with dignity and respect and a genuine appreciation for their company, for however short a time that may be. His work is pure gold in a world where we often see interviewers practically stick a microphone up someone's left nostril as they scream questions that demand the person's most private thoughts.

posted at: 08:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Feb 07 2007

Candied methamphetamine

It looks like the old advice for children about not taking candy from strangers needs to be updated to include other substances, now that drug dealers are trying to lure younger customers with flavored meth.

I guess the money factor is as much an addiction as any other for a person who sells drugs in order to get their own drugs. But when greedy people go actively after children for profit any sympathy we all ever had for their own drug-induced plight is cancelled out by their low tactics. These people are already putting children in enough danger by running a meth lab in the first place. The labs, full of hazardous chemicals and ripe for explosions, often house several families, including little children who are at the mercy of the greedy adults. Many lab locations are booby-trapped and full of loaded guns within reach of babies and small children. Older children are often forced into the meth-making process itself.

We often see news video of raids on labs that are in isolated national forests or in rural mountainous areas. But crooks are increasingly bold enough to run their filthy operations in or near towns or suburbs. Take a look at the DEA's National Clandestine Laboratory Register and you might be surprised at some of the addresses where authorities have reported finding drug labs of one kind or another. And now the crooks want more kids than ever in their grasp, so they're candy-coating their poison.

posted at: 08:53 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Tue, Feb 06 2007

War and Peace

As years go by it gets harder to know just where our tax money goes. We often hear of committees, research projects and buildings we didn't even know we were paying for. People are elected, hired by election winners and appointed by election winners until their tasks and funding are so layered that we don't even know how or why they came to be where they are or why we should be footing the bill.

With all the talk about defense and terror and with the pointed conflicts lately about our military presence in Iraq, I'm wondering why we don't hear more about an agency with a slightly different focus, the United States Institute of Peace. This agency is the one that recently reported on the fact that Great Britain was now the top target for al-Qaeda attacks. The site maintains an extensive list of links to web sites of governments' Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices, has its own online bookstore and has a weekly newsletter you can sign up for to get news and other information. Their experts frequently brief our legislators on current conditions and conflicts throughout the world. Their funding comes from Congress (which means you and I help foot the bill) and they also receive contributions and gifts. (Last month Chevron gave a sizeable contribution toward the construction of a permanent building that will serve as home base for the institute's operations in Washington, D.C.) The agency is in a unique position with its mix of funding sources and the range of influence it has in a rapidly changing political arena, which makes it a very worthwhile one for taxpayers to take time to become familiar with.

posted at: 11:52 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Feb 05 2007

Taco Salad for busy people

I have a tip for those of you who are long on work hours and short on cooking hours. Rely heavily on a few dishes that you know come together well. One of my reliable favorites is Taco Salad. This one-dish meal has so many possibilities that you can make it for just about anyone, including picky eaters and people with food allergies. You put in what people can eat and like. You leave out what they can't or won't eat.

We happen to prefer it meatless. Sometimes we add Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Grillers Recipe Crumbles. If you want meat you can include chopped chicken or beef, or you brown ground beef or turkey sausage to toss into the mix. If you don't have any of those you can even use a little leftover or canned chili to give the salad some heartiness. We like kidney beans in the salad but we've also used pinto beans or the canned beans that have chili flavoring.

The salad is usually made with iceberg lettuce, but we use whatever lettuce we happen to have on hand. Crushed corn chips go into the bowl. Sometimes we use Fritos corn chips, but you can toss in any kind you like. You can even cut corn tortillas into strips and crisp them in the microwave if you want a low-fat chip. If someone has a tough time with corn you can substitute flour tortilla strips or even mildly-flavored wheat crackers for crunch. Note that a lot of products contain corn, so if corn is a no-no, read labels carefully before you toss in anything else I've mentioned here.

I like chopped onion, but my spouse's constitution won't always tolerate raw onion in the evening, so I usually substitute sliced green onions. You can also add diced avocado, chopped tomatoes, sliced celery or almost any tossed-salad-friendly raw vegetable you like. Add your favorite shredded or chopped cheeses. Cheddar and Monterey Jack work well, plus you can add olives, pimientos, canned diced chiles or even peppers if you want the salad to bite back.

Most recipes I've seen for Taco Salad advise using French dressing, but I shudder when I think of that. We usually keep a mild salsa from the store's deli section on hand in the refrigerator. We use the with sour cream or sometimes with Ranch dressing. Toss in cumin, garlic salt, onion salt, oregano or other Tex-Mex seasoning.

If you have dairy intolerance you should leave out any cheeses and forget the sour cream dressing in favor of a tomato or salsa-based dressing. There are also tofu-based products you might be able to have success with for a creamier dressing.

One recipe for Taco Salad suggests putting all the ingredients into a big plastic bag and mixing them that way. If you're on the road you can even eat the salad right out of a corn chip bag. We usually make it in a bowl, but you do need to know that this is a salad that doesn't keep well. Leftovers placed in the refrigerator will be a soggy mess when you take it out the next day. Just looking at it will make you ill, particularly if you make it with that orange-hued French dressing. Trust me and don't try it. Make enough for one meal at a time and make it just before you serve it.

A main-dish salad might sound like an odd thing to serve in the winter for those of you just sitting down to a steaming, comfortable bowl of soup. But California is having a stretch of warm weather after our big freeze last month. Taco Salad will taste great tonight.

posted at: 13:50 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Fri, Feb 02 2007

Is guerilla marketing defeating its own core concept?

There seems to be enough blame to go around concerning the recent ad campaign that had Boston law enforcement responding to the possibility of a terrorist attack. The Chimes at Midnight refers back to an eerie, similar-sounding scenario from William S. Burroughs.

Doug McCaughan notes that maybe the overreactive old people in charge of safety and security should hand over leadership positions to the younger, more tech-savvy people. Actually, that particular scenario was already covered in a movie from 1968, entitled Wild in the Streets. But that was another time, when many young people were high on illegal substances, went to college courtesy of the bank of Dad, brought their dirty laundry home, ate free in Mom's kitchen and worked just enough hours so they could make payments on that hot car. Wait a minute...

Back to the present...I find it interesting that Interference Inc. has removed its regular content (for the present time) and replaced it with a simple apology. Some would say that they got the attention they were hired to get and that an apology is no skin off their corporate nose. I'm not sure I agree. I don't know if the company's apology was put on the site under legal counsel or perhaps under social pressure. They could certainly be genuinely sorry for what happened. The problem for me is that an apology, heartfelt or not, is an admission on their part that they've messed in the nest of their own image as a leader in guerilla marketing. If they meant to do it all, they should have the courage to keep their site up and running with their regular content, adding an apology to that if they wish. If they're not going to be proud enough of what they've done to tout their work and show a list their satisfied clients, it weakens their position. It's a subtle thing in the midst of all the finger-pointing, but it's there as an issue—at least for me.

And speaking of finger pointing, I'm a little surprised that I haven't heard more parents fussing about an advertising campaign that used a cartoon character to flip a bird where children are present. If a campaign is adult-oriented material, wouldn't it be most responsible to place it in adults-only locations? Will there be repercussions from the decency-watchers, particulary since this whole thing appears to be about cute-looking little cartoon characters in the first place?

And then there was all that talk about hair from folks hired to place the devices (in Boston). Hair? What does that have to do with mooninites and Aqua Teen...of course, how could we expect acuity or clarity from an ad campaign burdened with the promotion of animated beings named Meatwad and Ignignokt? None of this makes any sense. And maybe that's more of a sad reflection on our times than we'd all like to admit.

posted at: 09:35 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Feb 01 2007

May her legacy be change

A little 7-year-oldgirl recently perished in a fire in Watsonville. She was living with her family in a garage that had been illegally converted into living quarters for a number of people. And the city knew about the building's use at least several months before this fire occurred. Watsonville Mayor Manuel Bersamin has been quoted as saying that the lack of affordable housing in Watsonville contributed to the little girl's death. The truth is that if people were paid better wages in our area there would be no need for 17 people to be illegally crowding into a house and garage. The mayor can blame the child's death on the lack of affordable housing if he wishes, but the true answer to such difficulties lies not in having cheaper and cheaper housing, but in attracting employers who pay reasonable wages in the first place, so that no one is tempted to overcrowd into substandard housing. People come here to find work. Many of them will take any job and employers know that. If this is an agricultural issue we need to be addressing the reasons behind why people are paid so little to work in fields. There's no excuse for it. Better-paying jobs have to become a priority for the city planners or this kind of madness will go on for a long time.

In the meantime, there is no excuse for illegal housing conditions. Some ethereal enemy did not kill this child. A series of bad choices on the part of many killed her. I hope the city leaders realize their power to help change the situation so that no child ever dies this way again.

posted at: 10:54 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!