Entries Posted in "April 2005"

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I Never Thought I'd See the Day
April 30, 2005

I'd be on Republican Radio (as a non-Republican nonetheless). I'm sitting in the studio right now and all I'm thinking about is how humiliated my mother would be right now. It's not often I get to be the token.

The theme of today's program is "It's a Big Tent," debunking the myth that all conservatives are rich white men. The show will feature a number of different non-white, and in my case, "non-rich" HA! conservatives. Among them are Muhammad Ali Hasan, founder of "Muslims for America," and Nathan Scott, a homosexual conservative (sitting right next to me) who runs the blog HomoCon. Andrew Sullivan, eat your heart out. You'll recall I find some conflicting philosophies there. But I won't waste my breath, er, finger strength right now.

The show is two hours long and Nathan and I will be more in the second half than the first. The black conservative and homosexual in the same segment? Wasn't I just talking about this yesterday? We'll see.

We're broadcasting live online 11am-1pm (PST). Does that mean I'm live-blogging? Never. That is for nerds.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 5 }
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Subliminal Primetime Philosophy
April 28, 2005

From the Epistle of "Will & Grace", Chapter 2, verse 9,677:

And it was so that the character "Jack" mentioned wanting to buy a house. Then said the annoying nasal lady from the really bad M&M commercial to "Jack",

"Okay, I guess I'll ask the obvious question. Since when are gays allowed to own property?"

To which, "Jack's" friend, "Will," answered, "Since we were set free and given 40 acres and some Prada mules." Then the studio audience laughed.*

Is there an antonym for "Amen"? Because I think it's appropriate here. But then again, blacks and homosexuals have the same plight, right?

*As heard while channel-surfing (Lest you think for one minute I would ever watch that show.)

(Update 4/29): A homosexual nightclub in San Francisco accused of discriminating against blacks. But wait though...how can they do that? I thought we were the same.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 17 }
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How To Blog Like a Rockstar: get over the need for cyber appreciation (Part 1)
April 27, 2005

You put a lot of hard work into your weblog so it's perfectly understandable that you want people to recognize your efforts. If you're a human being and you live on the earth, chances are, you need some type of affirmation. We all do in varying degrees, but the necessary vulnerability associated with broadcasting yourself and your opinions on the world wide web is unparalleled.

Not only is the blogosphere full of nerds and introverts (of which I am neither by the way), but it's also full of people who just want to be liked. Yes, even the jerky ones. For this reason alone, you'll find people more hesitant to be original or do/say something that hasn't already been. I can peruse a weblog and figure out within a matter of minutes if the person is insecure. Insecure writing is a turn off. As you read, it's like there's a musical underscore to the writing saying, "Is this okay? Am I okay? Do you like me? Well, do you? If you don't, I'll change."

What separates the good bloggers from the average is the level of nonchalance with which they view reader opinion. Rockstars do not need constant affirmation from others. They just are.

You slave all day over the "perfect post." When it's all said and done, you think yourself pretty smart. Hey, you were witty, you were insightful, and you even cited other sources! This one's a keeper. Surely you will get lots of comments. Surely someone will recognize your genius and link to your brilliant post. Surely your fame will spread all throughout internetland and your site will be featured in the New York Times, right?

My message to you: get a life.

There are three main forms of cyber affirmation after which most bloggers seek: Comments, Hits, and Links. All three are very important, but only when viewed in proper perspective. Today I will address the first.

Comments
Many will argue that commenting mechanisms are one of the greatest appeals of blogging because readers have the ability to give instant feedback. I disagree. I would venture to say that commenting is not only grossly unimportant to good blogging, but it's also overrated.

Don't get me wrong. I love it when readers chime in on my site and at times I've been disappointed when fewer people speak up. When I first started reading weblogs, I used to love being able to freely comment or voice dissent. Unfortunately, there's another side to this. I've heard many bloggers whine about not getting enough comments on their posts. You'll notice some blogs get many comments while others hardly get any. Somehow, number of comments has become a gauge for the success of a post. That's poppycock.

I have an announcement for you: the average reader will not comment. Get over it. I've generally found that less than 1% of your average daily visitors will actually leave a comment. Yes, LESS THAN 1% Don't believe me? Let's do a few case studies:

Site: Little Green Footballs or "LGF"
Average Daily Visitors: Somewhere around 95,000+ (in case you didn't catch on, that's a lot of visitors)
If you browse LGF, you'll see that on average, their posts command anywhere between 75 to 500 comments. At most, that's around .05% of their average visits.

Site: Wizbang
Average Daily Visitors: 15,000+
On average, Wizbang posts usually get between 15-40 comments each with occasional peaks. At most, that's about .02%

I could go on, but I'll stop there. Sure there are exceptions to the rules, but I guarantee you that on average, people aren't coming to your weblog to comment; they're coming to read what you write. It's really nothing personal. Well, not entirely. A few of my own observations about comments -

  1. Most comments are left by the same small segment of people.
  2. The way you frame a post/discussion can both positively and negatively influence the chances of someone feeling compelled to comment.
  3. Many visitors don't even read the comments.
  4. A lot of people are too intimidated/uncomfortable to comment publicly. Some people would rather express themselves privately. Make sure you have a visible email address so people can contact you. You'd be surprised what gems you get via email.
  5. Sometimes a lack of comments is indicative of a good thing. People may be at a lack of words. If you hit on a tough subject or hard truth, sometimes it's best that people say nothing and just meditate on the topic.
  6. The phrase "Thought-provoking" includes the word "provoke." Are you doing that? If you're not, maybe you should start.
  7. The more you pose questions the more people will comment.
  8. You never know what people will identify with. Your deepest most insightful post might not get much response. Your rant on bad customer service, just may. Just keeping doing what you do.
Every time someone comments on my site, I am honored. My readers leave smart, funny, thought-provoking, and well-written comments. I value the comments. Sometimes they crack me up, and sometimes they agitate me. I learn something new every day and I personally believe I have the best readers ever, but of course I am biased.

In the same breath, I realize that I have to continue to be, do, and say what compels me regardless of what readers might say or even if they take the time to say it. Don't write for comments. Don't write for public affirmation. Remember, you are a rockstar; you're on a mission and you don't care. Write because you have something valuable to offer to those who have an ear to hear. The rest will work itself out.

For more see:
- Tips #1-3: Don't Emulate the Success of Others, Get Some Motivation, and Decide Your Genre

- Tip #4: Set Standards

- Tip #5: Be Yourself

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 13 }
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When Handcuffs Aren't Enough
April 26, 2005

Remember a few weeks ago when I said that every social problem begins in the family? Well for all you naysayers out there, I offer you a prime example of parenting gone bad: "Police Handcuff 5-year-old After Tantrum." At this point, I'm sure we've all heard, seen, or read the story about last month's turbulence in a St. Petersburg, FL elementary school classroom. If you haven't, Baldilocks has a good run down. I won't bother regurgitating information. In short, Ja'eisha Scott, a 5-year-old girl with a history of bad behavior was acting out, being violent, and endangering others (and herself) in the classroom. The teacher couldn't control her, so the police department was called. The girl threw a tantrum and couldn't be "tamed" so she was handcuffed. End of story.

Now let me just say this: when we have to use officers of the law to control elementary school children, we are in DEEP DEEP trouble. As of late this has been an all too frequent occurrence.

In Philadelphia, a 10-year-old student was handcuffed and arrested for violating the school weapons policy when she brought scissors to school. In St. Louis, a kindergartener was handcuffed for being unruly and disruptive. Then there's the Texas mom who dialed 9-1-1 because her 9 and 12 year old daughters were fighting uncontrollably. Her reason? They were "bigger than her."

I don't know where you all come from, but my little brother is 6-foot-2 and can bench press my mother one and half times over, but it would be a cold day in a very hot place before my mother would ever be afraid of him. That my friends, is insane.

Do you see what happens when parents do not properly discipline their children? All literal hell breaks loose.

Of all the commentary I've read on the matter, I've yet to read anything with which I fully agree. Most people agree that handcuffing a five-year-old and broadcasting the video on national television is highly suspect. I'll co-sign on that. I hate our media. We sensationalize everything and I'm not particularly fond of seeing the same traumatizing (for the girl) images played over and over again. It's unclear who (if anyone) exactly has her best interest in mind.

Let me just interject a brief caveat on children and police officers. When examining such matters, it's important to remember that there is an all out systemic attempt to weaken parental authority. It's an attack on the family structure. The less power parents have, the more chaos we will see.

Here in Washington state, it is perfectly legal for police officers to march onto school grounds and interrogate your child without parental consent. The only requirement is that they must read the child their rights. Considering investigatie manipulation tactics used and the fact that the average child has no idea what the "right to an attorney" means, I take issue with this type of legislation.

Caveat finished.

In the case of the 5-year-old Florida girl, I believe we're looking at the culmination of three different failures: parental failure, governmental failure, and lastly, educational failure.

Parental Failure: It's politically incorrect to blame parents for their children's behavior, but I'm all for it. After all, this is the land of the free and the home of the blame. Children (not adults, but children) are direct products of their upbringing. They mimic what they see; they test boundaries; they don't always know right from wrong. From what has been reported, this is not the first time the police have been called and this behavior clearly isn't isolated. If kids are allowed to throw temper tantrums at home, they will surely do it in public (and to the nth degree). There may be other household issues to factor into this equation, but simply put this mother is not doing her job.

Incidentally, the mother claimed it was a "set up" and has consulted an attorney and recently announced she will sue. She may very well have a case. I've yet to read anything about her taking any personal responsibility. Typical.

Governmental Failure: Someone else has noted this better than I could. In her post on the matter, La Shawn Barber precisely writes:

We live in a litigious society, and had the teacher done anything physical to restrain her, the parents would have sued the school. That must change. Schools should be allowed to administer a certain level of restraint when children become a physical threat to others without civil liability. I’m old enough to remember when principals paddled students. You had to be really bad to get sent to the principal’s office at the elementary school I attended, but if you were, you got paddled and sent home.
We are reaping what we've sown here.

Educational Failure: Many people are coming down hard on the school administrators for their actions, but I say they should've done more. I think they should also be faulted in laying a foundation for this to take place.

I've observed a number of public school teachers and heard from students themselves that coast to coast, many a classroom are out of control. Teachers and school administrators are afraid of students and employ weak methods of laying down the law. Via a video tape, part of the conversation between Ja'eisha and the teacher, Christina Ottersback, and principal, Nicole Dibenedetto was captured. So it goes (as transcribed by the AP):

"This is your mess to clean up. We need you to stop. You may not do this," Dibenedetto patiently but firmly told the girl, who stubbornly refused.

Eventually, the girl did start cleaning up the mess, but then she refused to leave the room. Only when Dibenedetto and Tsaousis asked her to make a choice before they counted to five did she finally leave with them.

(Emphasis mine) "Make a choice before they counted to five????" Mistake number one in my book. This isn't Supernanny. Enough with 1-2-3 magic. The only choice the 5-year-old should've been given was the choice to obey, and that doesn't take 5 seconds. Many elementary school teachers try to employ these modern techniques that do not work on hard-headed and undisciplined children. I don't care if you have America's Most Wanted in the third row, classroom control is entirely dependent on the teacher. I've seen it done, but it takes hard work.

Ultimately, we all lose in this scenario. The mother loses because she's not properly rearing her child. The child loses because she doesn't get disciplined in love and reaps worldly repercussions. The school loses because they have to spend more time policing students than actually educating them.

And we still want to keep prayer out of schools eh? Foolish we are.

Posted by Ambra in Education | Link to This Entry | Comments { 20 }
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Red Undergament Lunacy
April 25, 2005

The major problem with extreme victimization is that groups come up with ridiculous tactics to further a cause while simultaneously (and unfairly) invalidating their own message. Proof? Prepare yourself for: "The Panty Line Project."

In um, "celebration" (I guess) of Sexual Assault Awareness month, a Lawrenceville, Kansas shop called "Raven Bookstore" recently set up a rather unorthodox window display. Hanging in the front display window are multiple pairs of lacy red lingerie covered with hand written messages like "Red Panties are Not Synonymous with Askin' for it" printed across the front. The messages were written by actual victims of abuse. Somehow this is supposed to make the display more credible. The Lawrence Journal-World reports:

At The Raven, three pieces of thick blue ribbon hold up about a dozen pieces of women's undergarments. Most are pairs of panties, painted with messages like: "This is Mine" and "By Invitation Only." Tracy Williams and a co-worker from the Ga Du Gi SafeCenter look at the Panty Line Project display at Hobbs Inc., 700 Mass. Williams said survivors of sexual assault wrote the messages on the lingerie as part of the healing process. "It gives them the opportunity to let their voices be heard," Williams said. "It makes it real."
I think we've all had enough symbolism. Let's look at this logically. A question for the masses: Assuming you've personally disrobed, at what point should a man seeing you in your "red panties" be part of the "No means no" equation? If you're in them, and he's there to see you in them, it seems to me like you're actually saying "Yes," no?

I'm just asking.

The bookstore's display is part of "The Panty Line Project," organized by Tracy Williams, a Sexual Assault Coordinator (proof positive we can make up our own titles) with a local rape clinic who had the following to say about the project:

"The discomfort people feel when they walk by and see underwear gives them a glimpse of maybe the discomfort that someone who's been sexually assaulted may have as well."
Umm right. We're talking about sexual assault, right? We're talking about rape, right? We're talking about an event with the potential to seriously damage a woman's life, right? That's what I thought. And now let us all join our heads to figure out from which intergalactic place Ms. Williams came.

Red panties in a window may conjure up a number of different thoughts and emotions, but "rape" and "sexual assault" just doesn't seem to fit in that equation. This is a societal reality we're dealing with, here, not Victoria's Secret.

Sexual abuse is a prevailing problem and a disturbing one at that. As a society, we should have zero tolerance for those guilty of committing such crimes--especially when they walk around in flowing robes and call themselves "Men of God" (but that's another discussion). Sexual assault in any form is disgusting, sick, and has caused much emotional and spiritual damage in the lives of many women.

Here we have a prime example of a very worthy and unfortunate cause diminished all in the name of feminists' quest to be "progressive." Event organizers take a very serious issue and attempt to equate it with what is arguably the antithesis of "serious": red panties. Even the word "panties" alone evokes some sort of school girl/boy giggle. That's not exactly a good thing considering the topic is not funny.

Blogger Matt Rosenberg (who actually hipped me to the story) makes some important observations on "The Idiocy of the Panty Line Project":

"By the time a gal, in the company of a guy, strips down to her panties, whether they be red, white, blue, green...there are certain other issues which rise to the fore.

Yes, "No Means No," and that's what I'll make sure my son understands when he gets older. But I'll also make sure - or rather I'll make sure my wife makes sure - that my daughter understands that when a gal gets down to her panties with a guy, she's raising the bar, uh, expectations-wise.

Pre-marital celibacy, and relative chasteness (i.e. kissing and not a heck of a lot more) is certainly an option for young women and men. That's a personal choice, and one that should never be mocked, or dismissed.

Guys aren't quite the pigs some old-school feministas think. But they ARE guys. Young ladies: you wanna play it safe? Then keep your pants on.

There's the rub. Enter the age old debate about a woman's "role" in her own sexual assault. The reality is, no woman deserves to be violated. Ever. I don't care if she's walking down the street half naked, looking like a silicone-injected Fredrick's of Hollywood model. Every man is accountable for his own actions. On the most basic relational level, men should be the protectors of women, not the inverse.

Now let us return to reality. A reality which reveals that men are visually stimulated. This isn't a negative characteristic, but it is a characteristic. Moreover, we live in a sexually perverse society that has given people warped, unhealthy, and immoral views of sex. Unfortunately, there is a certain level of defense involved here. In a sentence: women need to do better--better at protecting themselves, and better at carrying themselves.

Anti-sexual assault campaigns that include red panties are confusing and counter-productive. It's great to allow people the opportunity to tell their stories, but if the goal is prevention, I'm thinking we should be heading a different direction. From a conceptual standpoint, the irony of the "red panties" analogy is this: no one knows you have on red undergarments unless:

A) You're improperly dressed (i.e. you un/intentionally reveal them) or
B) You're undressed.

As women, we could stand to work on modesty, regardless of the cause. Enough with this fruitless quest to be "provocative" in message for others. Let's work on rebuilding the identity of women in their own eyes first. America is the only place I know of that not only allows people to pitch a tent and camp out at their own victimhood, but actually celebrates along with them. As Donna Summer once wisely sung, "Enough is enough."

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 10 }
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The Star Mangled Banner

Over the years we've heard some pretty bad renditions of our national anthem. Admittedly, it's not the easiest song to sing. The notes are all over the place and if I recall correctly, it spans into two octaves. This however, doesn't excuse Roseanne Barr for her mockery some years back. Nothing rivals Ms. Barr, but now it looks like there's a new kid on the block. Caroline Marcil, a Canadian, positively butchered our anthem at a recent US-Canada exhibition game USA Today reports:

NEW YORK (AP) - By the dawn's early light, Caroline Marcil finally finished on national TV what she started at a hockey game - a flawless rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The Montreal singer was to perform the national anthems of two countries before the United States' 5-4 exhibition victory over Canada on Friday in Quebec City.

Despite two tries, she forgot the words to the U.S. anthem and then left to get the lyrics. When she returned to the rink, she slipped on the carpet covering the ice and plopped on her back before a Quebec Coliseum crowd of 7,166.

After lying motionless for a few seconds, the 24-year-old Canadian left on her own and the game began without either anthem sung.

I'd leave too if I made that much of a fool out of myself. It takes a lot of something to pick up your pride (and self) off the ground and leave with some dignity. To her credit, she was singing a foreign anthem along with her own. How many Americans know another country's anthem? Come to think of it, how many Americans know our country's national anthem? Come on people. We all saw the American Idol auditions.

Still, Marcil should've done her homework. Lesson learned. (I hope)

Incidentally, I think I know three: America, Canada (Oh Canada) and France (La Marseillaise). Now the singing part, well, that's another story.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 20 }
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Media Updates

Okay folks. Regular blogging to re-commence this week. A few updates first.

  1. The Nyktionary: Is taking forever. And since you people want to complain, I request your help. Over the last year or so, I've been compiling some of my favorite made up "or re-defined" words, phrases, and expressions. Those who've been reading awhile and know my propensity to use slang, make words up, etc., so please let me know of any expressions/words you think should be included .

  2. The Photo Gallery is finally up. It's a work in progress, but I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to keep it. I've never been too keen on photos on the net.

  3. New Media: By request, I added some new audio. I often do some teaching, lecturing, blah blah, so I uploaded two from the last few years on the media page. Maybe more to come, we'll see. Thanks reader Alex for helping me get rolling on that.

    Also, by way of announcement, I think I have another radio interview coming up this Saturday. "They" say Dinesh D'Souza may be on as well as others. We'll see. Probably not. I think it'll be broadcast online. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Monday everyone.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 6 }
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In My World
April 21, 2005

This weblog is living proof that you don't have to play by the "rules." I very rarely check my web statistics. When I did recently, I found that despite my sporadic nature as of late, you people just keep coming back. Thank you for bearing with my weeklong absences. Remind me to rant about how much of a gigantic pain it is to sell a house.

Things will even out shortly, I promise. Immediate plans are in the works to ensure this weblog as well as other writing endeavors get 100% of my attention (and some). You know what that means...yeah, I'm crazy.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 21 }
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Bloggers Become Authors

America is a funny place. You can go your entire life stopping for pedestrians, paying taxes, and being an all around good citizen and be totally ignored by the masses. Contrarily, if you have sex with married men, write about your adulterous escapades on your weblog and then pose nude for playboy, you get a book deal. Just ask Jessica Cutler, aka "The Washingtonienne," a blogger and former Capitol Hill staffer fired for writing about her multiple sex partners on the world wide web. One would think intelligence and a way with words would be typical of any blogger given a book deal. Incidentally, Cutler's blog maxed out in profundity when she wrote:

"He wants us to get tested together so we can stop using condoms. Isn't that sweet? Hope I don't have anything!"
Now there's a role model for young women everywhere. What's the payoff for being a blogho? For Cutler it was an online playboy spread and a book deal with Hyperion.

Now before you go to calling me a hater, let me just spare you the brain cells and say it: I'm a hater. Actually, I am quite the opposite. Although I don't particularly see any type of self-deprecatory behavior as a credible means of building an audience, let alone getting a book deal, I am content in the knowing that bloggers are getting book deals.

Cutler (along with a few more crediblee bloggers) was featured in a recent USA Today article on bloggers with book deals. As marketing new writers becomes more difficult, publishers are seeing green with bloggers who've already gained a following. This is very good news to any blogger who's ever pondered writing a book.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 14 }
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Thursday's Missive: What's On Your Nightstand?
April 13, 2005

I've never been a voracious reader (see the "Reflections On the Ill-Read Society"). I got through high school and part of college without actually reading through an entire book. That probably says less about my abilities and more about crappy curriculum. I've read the first half and the last chapter of countless books, but unless the writer is captivating, it's tough for me to make it cover to cover. As I'm sure you can deduce, I'm strictly a nonfiction reader. With nonfiction you can afford to speed-read, skip, and skim. I have to buy every book I read because prep school gave me a nasty habit: annotation. I underline, I highlight, I fold pages, I write notes in the margins. It's bad. The good news is when I like a book, I'm a faithful customer. I'll read it and reference it again and again.

Growing up, I always envisioned myself in bed on rainy Saturday mornings (of which Seattle has many), devouring books off my nightstand without a care in the word. Then life happened and I now realize that what little time I have for reading is usually spent online. When I get married, I will have to institute a "no laptops in bed" rule...for me not him. Ah the pitfalls of internet.

My nightstand looks like a library these days. It's full of books I've put off reading, as well as references I've read hundreds of times. Here's my current pile, what's yours?

  1. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
  2. Imposters in the Temple: A Blueprint for Improving Higher Education in America, Martin Anderson
  3. Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship, Joshua Harris
  4. Undercover, John Bevere
  5. A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer
  6. Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, Laurie Beth Jones
  7. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris
  8. The AP Stylebook, The Associated Press
  9. The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America, Shelby Steele
  10. Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts, Franky Schaeffer
  11. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, John Piper

Related entries:
- Reflections on the Ill-read Society
- Books that Changed Your Life
- Hi, I'm Charles Dickens and I'm Overrated

Posted by Ambra in Books | Link to This Entry | Comments { 45 }
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City

I Have a Talk Show