Elect You This Day

My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is your elected leaders

Today is city election day for several seats on the school board and the city council. I’m not voting today because I don’t live in the city limits. But a good friend’s brother is running for city council so I’ve paid attention to that race for that reason, even sporting the candidate’s bumper sticker on my car to help with the campaign. (I used to live in the district and still drive in that area daily. Every little bit helps, right?)

But even when I lived in the city I didn’t pay close attention to local races like city council and school board. In the last mayoral race I kinda did. I paid enough attention to decide who I wanted to win, but even now I can’t recall on what I based my choice. (The one I wanted to win won and is about to sign into law a ban on texting while driving. I don’t like the ban, so I know I didn’t choose him on that issue.) The worst part is, I know better than to be so apathetic. I know that I am more affected in my day-to-day life by those making local decisions than those making decisions on the national scene, yet I pay more attention to the big races than the ones here at home. In 12 years as a voting citizen, the races I have paid the most attention to were the ones I covered for the newspaper — in a town I couldn’t even vote in.

That’s sad that I don’t care more than I apparently do. And I say “apparently” because I do care just not enough to invest any time or effort into it, or rather to sacrifice other things I do to read up on issues and candidates. I care more about other things — sillier things to be sure — than I do about local government. I care about the outcome of course, but I should be more proactive in earlier stages. I care if there’s an issue I’m passionate about or a person I’d like to see win. I am selfishly apathetic, only caring once I’m affected or once I realize how I am affected.

My pet peeve with any election is this: if you don’t vote don’t complain because you didn’t try to do anything about it. You have no cat in that fight, as the saying goes. I often find myself on the wrong side of my own opinion, however, not able to complain because I didn’t take the time to investigate the issues and the candidates and make an informed decision and vote.

Which gets to my other pet peeve I have about voting, and that is: uninformed voters. Don’t vote if you don’t know the candidates or the issues or what you’re voting for. That’s just silly and risky. Don’t go to the polls and vote for a woman named Cindy because Cindy is a nice name or a man named whatever because that was the name of your high school boyfriend. You are better off staying at home and not voting at all than to make mindless decisions that could have great impact. Every vote counts, both sound votes and silly ones.

Out of Context

I pulled Wednesday’s mail out of the mailbox Thursday morning on my way to work, and upon seeing the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin I shook my head. What part of journalism ethics did they miss?

Palin posed for that photo for Runner’s World, a fitness magazine, for an article about running, and under the pretense that the photo was going to be used in that context. What Newsweek did was take a good, harmless, appropriate photo out of context.

Newsweek’s cover headline “How do you solve a problem like Sarah” paired with that photo misrepresents Palin. The fact that she wore running shorts and other workout attire for an article about fitness has nothing to do with whether or not she is a problem for the GOP. The two are totally separate things. Now sure, once you choose to be in the public’s eye any photo of you can be used for any purpose. However, that’s stooping to the level of the supermarket tabloids not reporting news. I expect a publication with the word “news” in their title to be more responsible than that.

In a Yahoo news article about the cover, Newsweek defended the photo saying, “We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover” and that their test for using images is “does the image convey what we are saying?” Well, that gets to the heart of the matter. It seems to me that if that image illustrates their theme then their theme must have been to make Sarah Palin look ridiculous which is irresponsible journalism. That is not their job. A news magazine’s job is to do in-depth coverage of items in the news, not to make the news into something it is not. That photo alone does not make Palin look ridiculous. That photo in Runners World does not make Palin look ridiculous. That photo on the cover of a news magazine with a headline about her role in politics does, and that is not their call to make.

She does not go to work dressed like that. She does not stand in her office in a beauty queen pose. But yet their use of that photo in this way implies that and does not tell the truth.

On top of all that, Newsweek didn’t have permission to use the photo. According to Runner’s World,

“The photos from that shoot are still under a one-year embargo, and Runner’s World did not provide Newsweek with its cover image. It was provided to Newsweek by the photographer’s stock agency, without Runner’s World’s knowledge or permission.”

And on top of even that, the cover article with it’s “Republicans’ worst nightmare” teaser doesn’t even talk all that much about Palin. It has more to say about Obama’s inability to bring the two parties together and actually get anything done and how that may be the Democrats‘ worst nightmare come 2012.

Obama’s Speech to Kids

I was sitting in the airport in Atlanta when I heard the news that Obama was going to talk to students this week. Not only that, of course, but the news reported that people were upset about it, concerned that he was going to say something bad to our students. The report said the full speech would be out on Monday (the day before the planned speech) so I decided not to make a judgment until I saw the speech.

Then, a Facebook friend posted the “I Pledge” video saying it was going to be played at schools as part of the talk from Obama. I watched the video, and for the first three minutes or so I didn’t see much that I disagreed with. It’s basically celebrities saying “I pledge” over and over interspersed with what they’re pledging to do — things like be a better mother, be a better father, drink less bottled water, be a good neighbor, turn the lights off, love people more, etc. But then one guys says “I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama” and at the end Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (the video’s producers) say they pledge to serve the president. Hmmm…. I’m not digging the word “serve” there. I don’t “serve” anyone other than God. And the concluding image of Obama seemed too much like hero-worship for me.

Transcript of the Video (including the names of the actors in it)

So I objected to that video being played in schools 1) because it was counter to my faith, and 2) because it was obviously political and barring being used in  a high school civics course as part of a discussion/lesson, political ideas should stay out of education. But my feelings about the video had nothing to do with Obama’s speech (unless Obama was playing the video and I still wasn’t sure that he was; my friend’s source was another friend, and the only report in the news about the video was it being played at another school somewhere else.)

So I read Obama’s speech on Monday and thought it was pretty good. Not only did I not object to it I thought it was good for students to hear and to hear from our nation’s leader. Whether I voted for him or not, or whether or not I support all of his ideas, he’s still our president and a role model. He’s not a role model because I agree with him but because he has attained a position of authority that carries with it a certain amount of respect.

I watched part of the speech on the plane from L.A. to Atlanta and because I had already read the text I had no different response to the content. However, I found the delivery a little odd — the setting seemed more like the setting of a political campaign stop than that of a sitting president to the nation’s schoolchildren. I’d preferred to have seen him sitting casually, with students around him. Or, if he wanted to stand, do away with the big banner background and just talk in the high school auditorium/high school gym environment.

I didn’t watch last night’s speech on healthcare because I was at church with my family, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Gigapan Leaves Me Speechless

Every now and then the segmented areas of my life cross paths  like a kindergartner’s Venn diagram, and when it happens it’s just cool. Today, it’s NASA and photography (and a little bit of my news side).

I got a NASA News email today about a NASA spin-off technology called “Gigapan” that creates these unbelievably cool panoramic photos by piecing together thousands of high-quality photos into one large image. What’s so neat is that you see this image that seems like its from so far away, yet you can zoom in to see incredible details. The technology was created for and is used on the NASA rovers on Mars. Today’s release, though, specifically talks about the use of the Gigapan technology by photographer David Bergman at last week’s inauguration.

So I checked it out and it’s wayyy cool. Cooler than words can express (and that’s pretty cool considering I’m a writer and a lover of words!)

The original image


Now the zoomed in image of Obama.


Look back at the original photo and you’ll see a tiny red arrow above where Obama is. That’s how “zoomed in” this thing gets. Is that not cool?

This comparison doesn’t do it justice so go to the photo on the Gigapan site and check it out. On the Gigapan site you can also do “snapshots” where you “capture” a certain zoomed in image and can save and comment on it (for example, people who were there have zoomed in on themselves and saved that image with an explanation like “me and my son,” etc.) People have also zoomed in and “captured” celebrities like P. Diddy, Denzel, all the political people involved, even some guy playing a game on his cell phone. Very cool! Highly recommend taking it for a spin.


I like Bush ok; I voted for him twice. But even a Bush supporter can admit that he said some pretty funny things in the last 8 years.  Some of my LOL favorites from this Yahoo News round-up:

“I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.” — June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

“The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.” — May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz.

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” — Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill.

Dear Mr. President (Elect)

Finn’s kindergarten class wrote the following letter to our new President-Elect this week — and mailed it!

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Please tell the American people to be good friends. Play nicely. Also, they should pay attention and not hit. They should be good students and listen to their parents. And remember no pushing and no kicking!

Thank you!

Mrs. Txxxxx’s Kindergarten Class

I hope she lets us know if and when they get a response.

How Important is Voting to YOU

All across the country, cities are reporting a record number of early voters and predicting long lines at the polls Tuesday. The local radio stations are already saying be prepared for heavy traffic near polling places, and the city school system has closed schools that day to avoid traffic and parking problems at schools that double as polling places.

So I just wonder, if I show up at my polling place Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., as I plan to do, and a sign at the end of the line says “2 hours from this point,” would I stay? It’s easy for me to say in the highly-conservative and mostly Republican area where I live that my one vote certainly wouldn’t lose it for the entire state. But what if everyone felt that way and we all decided 2 hours (or more) was too long? The phrase “Every Vote Counts” is true, even in a place where you’re pretty sure how the vote will turn out.

But even more important than my vote being counted is what voting means to me. My vote is not just another checkmark to be counted. It is not just a means to an end. To me, it is an expression of something that is important to me, important enough that I would take the time and the courage to say “I think this person should lead our country.” It’s a vote of confidence for that individual. I do not vote to make a point. I vote for the people I can truly support as President or Vice President. Does that mean I’ll wait 2? 3? 4 hours, to vote? I don’t know. There also comes a point where I have to be a responsible steward of my time, and I don’t know right now where that line is.

High voter turnout is a good problem to have. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who don’t vote but love to complain about the decisions made by the people the rest of us voted in. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain because you didn’t try to do anything about it.

So vote. See you in line!