Monthly Archives: January 2007

How to Make Friends in Blogtopia

pwlogo.jpgAs anyone who has met me in person or online knows, politics and news about politics pretty much dominates my online activities. I’ve been a political activist most of my life having got started at a fairly young age with an incident involving a PTO meeting, a pop song and a complete misunderstanding of lyrics by parents that I felt strongly should be explained. For more on that story, visit my fellow FireDogLake commenter Miss Fiddyment’s site.

One of the daily resources I use to keep up to date on political news is Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire website. Every morning the first thing I check in my email inbox is the daily digest sent out in the wee hours of the morning by PW that is a compilation of stories Goddard is tracking on his blog. This is a valuable way to cut down the time I spend reading through the feed reader by getting my hands on the top headlines happening in the political world via a single email so when I opened today’s email and saw this item posted I felt compelled to take part.

Now, to be honest, this is a selfish post for both Taegan Goddard and myself. We both get something out of the deal. The 5 or so people who read my blog get a chance to find out “what does Joh do when he wakes up, what is he reading?” and Goddard gets to have my blog post about his site along with the dozens of other sites that will link to him today, giving him an impressive one day traffic boost which never hurts the Google ranking and hit counter. I usually avoid this sort of thing, but he is asking for advice from bloggers, I like his site, plus he asked nicely and hey – I wouldn’t mind a link to this place from him and the shot at $100 to spend at Amazon on the kind of useless crap I buy from there.

So on to the advice portion of the post since he asked for some. My first thought on this is that his site does a fantastic job on the information side of things. He always seems to have a great handle on the actually important stories of the day, so I can’t really knock him for this. There are a few things about his site that if I were running it I would probably resolve to work on, first of which is a noticeable lack of images that appear with his postings.

Now I understand the sparse, info-is-king approach that Goddard takes is one of the key features of his site, but I’m not saying he needs to turn into Flickr and become a photo sharing site or anything. All I am saying is it might be nice to include a post every day with a new photo of the day or image roundup that posts a few photos from the campaign trail. There is always a campaign going on somewhere every day that generates an image he could feature that would be an enhancement to his posts.

Second, his site tends to be more of a one way flow of information kind of site. I have found that sites such as this tend to get hamstrung slightly and lose out on the benefits of a strong comment section culture where all the people who read his site can gather, trade comments, praise him, bitch and moan about him, whatever. It may be a design issue that prevents this, it may be the tone of his posts or something else entirely that prevents a strong comment culture from forming, but if he were to make a commenting culture take root on his site I think it might benefit him and his readers since I am fairly certain he has a bipartisan readership and not enough sites can do what he does and maintain that bipartisanship.

Third, I would also like to see more video and audio used on the site. There are numerous video and audio items generated for political Blogtopia daily, he ought to aggregate the best of those and include some podcasts and vlog posts in his roundup every morning. This works hand in hand with the image issue I raised earlier. Rich media is a great way to punch up the impact of a site and doing what he does with PW is hard to do and keep things interesting on its own, having pretty pictures that move and things to listen to while reading the rest of his site would only be a bonus for his readers.

Well that’s it for me, I think those are the only issues I could offer advice on. I hope this review of your site helps you out a bit Taegan, I really enjoy your work and I hope you will keep at it for a long time to come. If you would like an experienced multimedia producer to work with you on punching up the multimedia on your site, send me an email or give me a call at the number over there on the right in the contact me section. Good luck with everything and I hope this advice helps in some way to improve an already great site.

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“Yeah, But it’s a Nice Place to Raise a Family”

redneckgathering.jpgI hear this phrase a lot around here from all different kinds of folks. I hear this from musicians, bartenders, doctors, attorneys, cooks, secretaries and all kinds of other folks from all walks of life. It’s one of several versions of what I like to call “automatic responses” to certain keywords that when a person hears the keyword or phrase being spoken by another, it will automatically spit out this answer.

In the case of “Yeah, But it’s a Nice Place to Raise a Family” I believe this is code for “this place really sucks and I feel I am drowning.” It is the response usually programmed for any sort of complaints about the social conservative culture that permeates life in Indianapolis. If you say “There’s no nightlife or good live music in Indiana” someone will say “Yeah, but it’s a nice place to raise a family.” If you say “I wish there were a decent theater or poetry reading scene in Indy” your best friend from work will say “Yeah, but its a nice place to raise a family.”

You see, there is a Brain Drain in Indiana that gets much discussion in this state, but that is all. The primary reason for the drain is that when our college graduates are faced with the choice of taking a job here or taking one elsewhere, especially if they have any sort of creativity involved in their work or social life, they usually opt for the far away out of state job over the local Hoosier job.

Creativity is valued immensely in economic development circles because where there are creative communities that are thriving, there are more college graduates there to enjoy the cultural amenities that a city has to offer. Educated populations enjoy art, music, theater and other creative pursuits more than lesser educated populations. A few years ago I knew a young attorney graduating from IU School of Law – Indianapolis that I met because he was also a fantastic guitarist in a local band I worked with. He actually took a much lower paying job in Austin, TX over a firm here in town just so he could go be a part of the Austin music scene.

Take a look around you if you live here in Indianapolis. Of all the people you know, of the ones who do have college degrees, ask yourself a couple of questions. 1) Are they originally from here or married to someone from here, and 2) are they raising a family and is their primary motivation for living here the cost of living and school choices for their children? I bet your entire list of college degreed friends answer yes to both of these questions.

Indy is not a city you move to by choice. It’s a second or third choice city. It’s a place you move to because you have to for work reasons or family reasons or both. Every dissatisfied resident of this city I meet moved here for a job and found a cultural wasteland that bores people to tears. Our sports heroes publicly lament this all the time. The reason Jermaine O’Neal opened the Seven nightclub in Broad Ripple was so he could bring a real NYC/LA/London style nightclub for him and his friends on the Pacers to hang out in during the offseason.

So when idiots like Senator Brandt Hershman give the Hoosier Brain Drain a boost by sicing the fundies on the gay people and trying to ban same sex marriage and even benefits for unmarried heterosexuals via the Indiana Constitution, you have to wonder why the Mayor and Governor continue to blather on about Indy being a World Class city.

It’s real simple folks, you run off the gays, you run off their creative collaborators who are straight, this runs off the college educated fans of their works and your economy starts to stumble badly. This is why we are becoming a state full of married redneck truck drivers and their wives because we have had to resort to the “logistics industry” for economic development.

If you want scientists to work in a biotech economy here you’re gonna need to have some good local bands to divert their attention in the off hours. There’s a wicked guitar player at Purdue who is a biotech major who is shopping his resume in California and Texas right now. You want to lose him? Too late, he and his domestic partner are probably moving to San Jose or Houston next June.

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Indiana Brain Drain Gets a Boost

In an effort to run off the entire creative population of Indiana, state Senator Brandt Hershman (R-Evil Bastards) has recently reintroduced legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 7, in the Indiana General Assembly that would create a Indiana Constitutional Amendment to add some key paragraphs which are as follows:

Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman.

This Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

These two paragraphs would not only ban same sex marriage, but would also tangle up a whole host of laws which have nothing to do with marriage but that extend legal rights and considerations to unmarried couples of all persuasions. This amendment would basically assign married couples to a class of citizen above all else, granting them exclusive rights. You know, quality folks like this:

redneck-wedding.jpgGary Welsh at Advance Indiana has been blogging about this issue the last couple of weeks and has been keeping his eye on the situation closely. Gary is a moderate to progressive Republican which is a rare combo in these parts but he can be counted on to be principled and advocate on the logical view of any issue. As an openly gay attorney here in Indianapolis, Gary is a lone voice in his party against this amendment and so he has his work cut out for him.

Today he put a post up on Advance Indiana that caught my eye and brought me into the battle with him. It seems our friend Senator Hershman, who has a colorful past of his own (more on that below), has brought in the notorious Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association to help advocate on behalf of the amendment. This has kicked this debate up to the next level so I’d like to reach out to friends in the progressive and liberal blogosphere to help out in combating this atrocious legislation.

If you have any friends, relatives, former co workers or any other personal ties to Indiana through which you could ask them to contact their state Senators to oppose this craptastic fiasco-in-waiting of an amendment please direct them to this website where they can locate their senator and send him email. It’s a simple web form using their ZIP code to find their Senator and Representative.

For a little background on Senator Hershman to give you an idea of what kind of guy we are dealing with, a story that first appeared in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune on November 7, 2000 told the story of Senator Hershman’s first wife, Tracy Johnson Hershman, who the good family values senator forced to get an abortion against her will upon finding out about an unplanned pregnancy in 1997.

Ever the gentleman, a week later this advocate of pro-life policy for thee not me then upheld his own family values by filing for a divorce from his wife. The hypocrisy of this man knows no bounds! You can read more about this story at Advance Indiana and also at Bilerico, another Indiana blogger riled up by the Hershman/Wildmon Bunch.

That Bilerico link is a hoot, you all should check it out. He wants folks to tip him to good gossip like the Hershman story about some of the other sponsors and supporters of the amendment. Cast ye not the first stone kind of stuff if you ask me, whats good for the goose…you get it.

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State of the Blog Address

Well its been a while since this blog was updated and this has bugged me for some time so I decided to do something about it by conducting a State of the Blog address. The State of the Blog is not too good. I feel like I’ve neglected a good opportunity to do some work here by myself for a change and find myself not able to focus on blogging for my own priorities. I’ve been otherwise engaged in some attention diverting projects and my health as a consequence has become compromised so once more I am finding myself scaling back my activities in January to refocus energy on healing and putting health issues behind me.

I am also saddened by the situation my brother Tom and his wife April are finding themselves in at this time. April is having surgery on Monday, January 22nd at which time she is having a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy due to her second bout of breast cancer. In an effort to help them I am asking everyone to keep April Padgett in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time for her.

Also, please keep Jane Hamsher in your thoughts and prayers as well. The lioness of Firedoglake.com has been a wonderful friend and is herself entering her third bout with breast cancer as well. I hope that the thoughts and prayers of the Netroots community will carry her through this as well, and she will be prayed for right alongside my sister in law April and all the others in this world suffering from catastrophic illnesses.

As soon as I feel up to returning I will come back to this blog and begin anew the effort to use this space for productive purposes. For now I am taking a short hiatus to reorganize things and I look forward to a return in the near future.

Sincerely,

Joh Padgett

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