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We gain. We lose. We question why.

Remember the suffragists were told to wait their turn. Abolition was more important. The emancipation of slaves was more important. Remember Sojourner Truth pointing out the fallacy of that dichotomy.

We are now faced with two developments that tarnish an otherwise spectacular and historic electoral result. And history has a few things to show us, if we open our eyes to it.

One loathsome development is the systemic denial of civil rights to our gay citizens and the other is the revisionist history of Michelle Obama being crafted and told. No longer do we hear of her accomplishments, now she who was his first mentor in the law firm in which they met, is relegated to “Mommy-in-Chief”. The “justification” offered says that “too much change, too fast” won’t be acceptable to the American people. But, too much change, too fast is what this country was founded on.

Pretending Mrs. Obama’s accomplishments don’t exist is an insult to her and to every woman who ever achieved anything in the public sphere. It won’t make the achievements go away, it simply cloaks them from public view. It is a disservice to young girls looking up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who are not told the full story of the woman in White House and the scope of her accomplishments. It diminishes what such young girls may aspire to. Imagine how torturous it is to be Mrs. Obama now and see this happening. She may have resigned herself to this when the President-elect set his course in electoral politics. Could she have anticipated answering her two daughters’ inevitable questions about how their mother is packaged, presented, and portrayed?
We are a country founded on a pursuit of rights and civil liberties. If we have learned anything from history at all, we know that systemic denial of rights will eventually fail. Denial of anyone’s right to be themselves and be judged by the content of their character will eventually be revealed as the true un-American way, inconsistent with our very founding principls, our governing documents. When false logic was offered for the displacement and imprisonment of Japanese Americans this was wrong and unconstitutional. “Justifications” were offered. Truth was obscured. Liberty got a black eye. It took our country years to admit it, but admit it we did. Where were my fellow Japanese Americans this election, I wonder?

The scare tactics of the McCain campaign were obvious and stood in stark contrast to his gracious concession speech. His willingness to look the other way while his campaign stirred up racial hatred of the worst kind tarnish his service and besmirch the honor he once held as a soldier. The Mormons who planned a methodical and deceptive fear campaign on California’s Prop 8 display the same disgusting and un-Christian tactics that true followers of Judeo-Christian belief systems cannot abide without revealing themselves as hypocrits.

To counter acceptance of same sex marriage, they resorted to fear-mongering and greed the two-headed monster of attack politics. They “used hypothetical consequences of same-sex marriage, painting the specter of churches’ losing tax exempt status or people “sued for personal beliefs” or objections to same-sex marriage.” The New York Times notes that these claims that were “made with little explanation.” Just put a false statement out there and put the onus on someone else to do their own analysis or research. Shame on the voters of California too lazy to ask a question or two, or God forbid do any critical analysis.

Then they raised the specter of indoctrination of young children. Because everyone knows “those people” are out to recruit your children? Like terrorists? I will never forget Mormons explaining to me that people of color bear the taint of original sin. We were not allowed to be written into the book in heaven. Too bad I divested them of that joy by preemptive strike.

Some non-gay friends may ask, why should it matter to me? It matters because denial of rights in these systemic ways – of women to be fully who they are – of gay citizens to enjoy full constitutional rights – cannot be tolerated if we are to call ourselves a Democracy. If I can’t get you to aspire to your better self, think about it in terms of naked self-interest. Today it is someone else, tomorrow it could well be you.

My friend’s daughter (only 3 1/2 years old) recently noticed she was the only brown child in her class. I celebrate that she now has brown children in prominent places to look up to for a normal view of a real world, more richly diverse than where she currently lives. I can only hope that by the time she is old enough to understand more than skin color, she will see a world where women and gays can also achieve, be viewed as equals, and enjoy full citizenship rights.

No, wait. I can do more than hope. I can speak out and act out and ensure that this dialog keeps going until we get it right. We are America, we ARE better than this.

Bloggers debate traffic, revenue, monetization, and love.

I participated in a panel discussion this evening hosted by Povo, the new wiki-meets-yelp site in town. I discovered Povo (Portuguese for people) when I was writing about the “Hello Greenway” event. Povo had a wiki on the Greenway.

Each of the panelists had different methods they’d used to increase revenue from their blogs, or try to. Each method had varying levels of success. Ultimately, the value of blogs seemed to be:

1. a place for us to hone our craft,

2. as a showcase for our work, and;

3. only sometimes, a source of revenue.

It seemed more common that panelists found indirect benefits of blogging, such as a way to sell freelance services, to get publishers’ review copies of books and product samples, and to use affiliate programs for some revenue stream.

Adam of Universal Hub lucked out with one of those serendipitous moments Rhea highlighted when something happens and you get a burst of traffic or a sponsor finds you.

I shared a couple of thoughts. Okay, more than a couple about the state of blogging:

- don’t do it for money, even a book deal will not make you rich, and blogging alone will make it hard to pay the bills;

- decide what your focus is, if you want to be a commercial site and drive traffic for ad clicks that’s a different animal than a creative outlet to showcase your unique voice to publishers and agents;

- there’s a vast area of opportunity no one has yet adequately captured. Many entities like Povo (in my observation) are trying to build enough traffic one way or another so that they have a marketable value. Syndicators and aggregators are trying to do the same thing. Big advertisers have not gotten nimble enough to drill down and tailor ads to relevant blogs and small local sponsors haven’t gotten savvy enough to learn how to take advantage of relevant blogs that would be good partners for them.

- That leaves us all wandering in the desert (Just Call me Moses) and cobbling together a bunch of different things to make a living at this thing we love called writing.

People also debated the micro-blogging platform such as Twitter.

Do we resist? Do we jump in and try it? Experiment? You will see that I have decided to try it. My assumption is that there is some overlap between people with the attention span of a gnat who only get their interaction and infotainment in 160 character bytes with those who read real books and appreciate a well crafted story. I probably have readers in both camps and I think we CAN all just get along. Anyway, it’s an experiment. I hope it brings my blog to the attention of a few Tweeters? (“Twits?” “Twitterers?”) who use it.

[Follow me on Twitter: LDGourmet!]

I look forward to what I’ll learn from them!

Sam Baltrusis Sam Baltrusis – the Loaded Gun publisher (in black sweater/white collar) leads a panel discussion of Boston area bloggers: (L to R)

Povo Blogging Panel Making a point, hope it was a good one.

Special thanks to Lauren Clark DrinkBoston.com for the photos!

Just call me Moses…

Wandering in the desert

Technorati released their “State of the Blogoshpere 2008″ report and the discussion about its conclusions has begun.

Here are my comments on the initial conclusion drawn from, or highlighted by, Galley Cat:

“Only Two Percent of Bloggers Can Make a Living”

I have a healthy disbelief of many of the assertions of revenue at the top end of the reported scale. I also note two significant points:

1. Two bloggers cited as making over $1,000 per month had books already or launched their blogs and books around the same time. In other words, the PR machine was primed.

2. At the other end, “Among active bloggers that we surveyed, the average income was $75,000 for those who had 100,000 or more unique visitors per month (some of whom had more than one million visitors each month). The median annual income for this group is significantly lower — $22,000.” (emphasis supplied.)

I scanned the report and will probably write more about it as I analyze it, but for those of you who haven’t found your way to Galley Cat or Media Bistro yet, here’s my comment:

I think ad revenue potential is vastly over estimated by, surprise, those whose business is vested in selling traffic. Been blogging for two years and have seen lots of changes, most for the better. One thing remains constant, the refrain that “content is king” uttered by someone who is making profits selling their traffic with your content; usually uttered at the same time they say “we can’t pay you but just think of the great exposure.” The ones making money seem to be doing so by exploiting those willing to give their work away.

On the other hand, many small businesses are not prepared to take advantage of the opportunities focused sponsorship would offer them. For example, I find a product I might give up precious real estate on my blog for. I reach out. They love the idea, but they don’t know the first thing about widgets or code or how to do what they know in concept they ought to be doing. “I’m a small business and don’t really know how to do this kind of thing.”

Larger businesses who get it, don’t want to allow bloggers any control over what goes on their blogs. (Asian dating services? Oprah’s latest diet? Puh-lease.)

I refuse to host soulja-dancing re-fi ads, diet ads, or Kraft Singles ads on my blog and Adsense never rose to a full dollar of revenue after one year.

Syndication is another concept that seems to be growing but it appears that most of those doing it, still struggle to find a business model that works. They are reaching out to established savvy bloggers providing quality content, but still very uneven in the “benefits” they can offer to the bloggers providing the content they’re selling. “just think of the clicks you’ll get!”

If advertisers could figure out how to eliminate middlemen like all these – and find bloggers like me, we would all be happy. At present it seems hard to find each other in the wilderness of the blogosphere. Just call me Moses…

Povo Mojo

I thought this name, Povo, was shorthand for Post Modern Viewpoint or something. Turns out it’s Portuguese for people. As in “by the people, for the people”. This is a wiki meets yelp sort of website. All about events, happening, opinions and sharing resouces.

Tomorrow, I am speaking on a panel of bloggers hosted by the new Povo website folks. The other panelists include:

I’m honored to be asked and looking forward to a lively discussion. When the host is a guy who’s blog is entitled “Loaded Gun” you know I’m doing my homework!

One final thought:

With more magazines going belly up each day, more magazines and newspapers laying off writers every day, why is “blog” still a four-letter word? People look down their noses if you’ve “only” published electronically.

They trumpet post-election day newspaper sales as a sign that print is not dead. If they looked closer they’d see people bought newspapers with the historic headlines to keep for posterity or sell on e-bay or both. Those lined up for the next day papers did not subscribe.

Tomorrow will be good. I’ll keep you posted. Click the event page here for more info.

Rainy night Boston

Election Night 2008 – a Triumph of Hope over Fear

We walked to Oak Street in Chinatown and were excited to see the longest line we’ve seen there. As we moved closer, we saw that it actually snaked around the block!

polling-place-2008

It felt like there was electricity in the air. I had goosebumps thinking about it. Looking at the older Chinese people, the young Haitian and Dominicans, we appreciated anew how diverse this city and our neighborhood is. Or at least can be, in a moment. It still doesn’t feel this way in daily life.

1-vote

But this is what this election is about. It’s about how things might be, it’s about hope, it’s about seeing the best in our selves and saying Yes we can.

I had goosebumps in line. Every time I think of what it must feel like to be a African American parent and now be able to look your child and say truly, there is no door shut to you. Of course it’s not true, but the visible hope that it might be true, one day, is before us. It appears within reach with more substance than suggestion.

When they show the tapes of the Civil Rights movement: the fire hoses, the dogs, the police – the power of the white/majority State unleashed against her own citizens seeking the dangerous benefit of being granted the privileges of exercising their full citizenship and humanity – how can you not cry? And people who lived through those attacks get to feel the sense of a promise fulfilled. It’s so incredibly moving.

9:45 PM – Ohio, Pennsylvania both have been called for Obama. Our little Enna three years old, called us to let us know she wants Obama to win, and Ennyn her little sister is on the potty.

11 PM – while steeling ourselves for a long night we see the announcement : President Elect Barack Obama.

3 AM – have not stopped welling up, tears of joy spilling down my cheeks, often.

I feel vindicated. The weight of every racist attack I’ve borne, rests lighter on my psyche. I didn’t know I was still carrying them. That the weight of approval was no longer behind the those who would be victimizers. The moral pendulum has swung in favor of all of us who have come so close to having our spirits crushed.

My heart is singing for every parent of a child of color who can now hope for better things for that child. For every parent who can make them promises, and encourage dreams and really believe it, perhaps for the first time.

I note that the McCain campaign headquarters is uniformly white. How does one even find a room so homogeneous? How does one do it while proclaiming the podium to speak “for the people.” That McCain’s concession speech was gracious and expressed values in stark contrast to the racist, fear-mongering campaign he ran. This belies his allegiance to politics of old.

The multiple thousands of people, from every walk of life from celebrities like Oprah and Rev. Jesse Jackson, to regular citizens, women and men, parents bringing children to witness this historic event.

President-elect Obama’s victory speech was somber, acknowledging the considerable challenges we face:

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

But also inspired us to be our best selves, as individuals and as a citizenry:

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

He wisely called on history from both sides of the aisle. The speech was in many ways, like well-written wedding vows. It predicted the tough times ahead and the likelihood that we will not love him the next four years the way we do tonight. But he promised to help us be our best selves; to be honest with us. We are much better off for facing these challenges with this partner and how we weather them will be a measure of our character as much as it is a measure of our political process.

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Rock the Vote – Fish and Otherwise

If you really want to vote more than once (I keep trying but they won’t let me!) Here’s another way.

The Ocean Conservancy is rocking “Fish Vote 2008″ so that you, the citizens, can vote on the Conservancy’s top priorities. Go to this page to vote and learn more about the issues are facing each of these species.

For example: Grouper (Motto: “Let the Grouper Spawn. What happens in the Gulf Should Stay in the Gulf”) – large numbers gather to spawn making the catch easy for fisherman. But harvesting before they’ve had a chance to produce the next generation means Grouper are in danger of disappearing.

And in that other election, think about this: you know that national debt thing – how it hit the $1 Trillion dollar mark? A number so large the clock ticker thing in NYC can’t count it any more? I can’t even count how many zeroes that is so I have spell it! Rob Simpson, Author of What We Could Have Done with the Money We Spent in Iraq offers this fun-slash-totally depressing site and ticker that shows you the amount we’ve spent on the Iraq war during the minutes you’ve been on the site – (in the time it took me to write this post: $5 million plus.)

It also has a “shopping spree” to let you choose what other things you would have spent or we could have spent $1 Trillion dollars on. I’ve just rebuilt the gulf coast, fed, housed and built hospitals for half the third world, saved polar bears, bought an island, a bunch of wineries, the entire NFL, a lear jet, mansions in Hawaii, Beverly Hills, Manhattan, a casino…The point is, I ran out of things to spend it on. (On their list there are silly things and serious things, from Bentley’s to feeding starving kids.)

Here are some other things we could’ve done other than start a war with Iraq:

  • Paved the whole interstate highway system with gold
  • Provided a free college education for every American who’s currently in high school.
  • Made every American baby a multi-millionaire by retirement age.

I don’t know what it would cost that baby to retire by the time she reached that age, but it’s got to beat Social Security benefits!

Bottom line:

VOTE!


A window into what I’m thinking and writing about.

Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing itself...you can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

Where I’ve been seen, published, cited, syndicated…

  • - Tuesday November 11 @6 PM Povo Blogging Panel. Come to 660 Washington Street in Chinatown at the Archstone Building to see what a panel of bloggers have to say about the state of blogging.
  • - Interviewed by Sarah Turner of Suite101 about Using Blogs to Raise Social Awareness
  • - Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Austin American Statesman, BBQ Report, Computer Shopper. See clips here.

For Real on the Virtual Gourmet!

Noted food and wine author John Mariani ran my article Salmon and the Sustainability Zeitgest. Click here to read it!

Books make great gifts, for yourself or others.

Click here to see what's on my Powell's Bookshelf.
Powell's Books

Mark Your Calendars

August 22 - Courtney Hunt's acclaimed film Frozen River at the Coolidge Corner. See Diversions for more.

Caught my eye…

  • The Audubon Insectarium opens in New Orleans. See Getting Down with All that Skitters.
  • Copper River Salmon is so hot, even E!online is commenting on the stars who eat it. Taye Diggs was digging it.
  • Vertical farms? Colbert meets Ethicureans...heaven is for those with humor and ethics, yes? Interesting food for thought here....

On Women and Work

Read my contributions to The Glass Hammer a new blog for executive women.

Diversions

  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

What's on my del.iciou.us list?

BlogBurst.com

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