Tuesday, November 30, 2004

California vakay blogomatic

After doing due diligence with both sets of folks for Thanksgiving, Greg and I are winding up with a little business and pleasure combination in San Diego and flying back Thursday. All of this gives me the occasion to get in a little time in one of my favorite cities and do blogging from another locale while on vacation, which I always think should count in double-coolness blogosphere redemption stamps.

So after depositing Greg at his workplace du jour, I left the car and hoofed it to my nearest Kinko's. This enabled me to get in a little walking time in downtown San Diego. It's a lovely area -- full of enough coffee houses and little ethnic restaurants to fulfill the needs of the perpetually sunglass-wearing crowd but masking its density and high-rise profile behind historic charm. You encounter a lot of the beautiful older stone and brick facades that are in such short supply in southern California, which gives the little blocks enough personality that you don't mind the inevitable bother of one-way streets and endless construction. And there's life on the streets, unlike the wide and unpopulated sidewalks in my old home base of Orange and LA counties. (Though the life manifests itself in interesting ways, as I remembered on the way here when a fairly normal-looking fifty-something woman in a Santa hat straightened up as we walked past each other and said to me with great sincerity, "How do you know I'm not married?" I shrugged with feeling. You got me there.)

So here's a few odds and ends before the new keyboard and the silly Kinko's chair that wants me to be fully reclining while I type annoy me too much and I have to find a Starbucks to rejuvenate myself.


On blogosphere numbers:
Greg the Husband sent me this article about the expanding world of Blog. There's nothing new in saying that new blogs are being added on at an astronomical pace, but I appreciate a little perspective on that, like this bit of context by Weblogs Inc. founder Jason McCabe Calacanis:
There are millions of blogs, but I would say less than 1 million are updated
regularly. So less than 1 percent of the country is blogging, but that figure is going to grow over the next five years to some percentage of the folks who e-mail today.

Democrat crisis control:
Interesting editorial in today's Wall St. Journal from Joe Trippi who managed Howard Dean's campaign entitled "Only the Grassroots Can Save the Democrat Party" (subscription only, so I can't link to it). Leaving aside for a minute why the Democrats should pay a lot of attention to the manager of a presidential candidate who, y'know, failed, it's still worth considering his bullet-pointed list of how to save the day. It's probably worth even less for The Most Republican Woman in Ortho-blogosphere to add my thumbs up or thumbs down, but keeping my opinions to myself isn't a strong-point:

* Don't ignore the base. The heck with centrists and swing-voters. -- Thumbs up. I would say the same to the right. Be what you are -- stop pretending to be everything else in between. You don't fool anyone and you look like you don't like being what you are.

* "Democrats must reconnect with the energy of our grass roots." -- One thumb up while the other one scratches my head. What does that mean exactly? All through the article Trippi invokes "grass roots" and the benefits to be derived therefrom without ever quite saying what he means by that. I suppose it might be best defined by what it's not. Grass roots aren't Hollywood left, academician left, pundit left or any of the other high-profile movers and shakers that shape the party. Grass roots are those who don't feel addressed by any of the bombast of the elite wing and those who don't have much money to give. It probably is a good idea to involve those people, but it seems to conflict with his first point. Many of these are not the types that are willing to say "I am a Democrat" (or Republican for that matter), and view themselves as centrist.

* Host and moderate Grassroots Councils in every county. Take politics out of Washington D.C., and into Bat's Grommet, N.M. etc. -- Thumbs stuck up my nose. Grassroots Councils? Sounds like an Amway party without the personal warmth. Goodness knows stuff like this sometimes works, but I don't know how.

* Don't ignore state and local DNC. -- Thumbs twiddling. Don't know enough to comment, though it sounds like a good, if obvious, idea.

* Find innovative ways to support organized labor's growth -- One thumb up, one down. I feel conflicted. The part of me that thinks that the conservative agenda works better for the country than liberal agenda hopes that they waste a lot of time on this hopeless goal. But if I was trying at all to be objective, I'd tell them that trying to engineer the entire economy and workforce to the days when labor unions were necessary and effective -- let alone hold back the forces of global communication and commerce that have resulted in massive outsourcing of non-professional jobs -- is like trying to hold back a tidal wave by hitting it with a stick.

* Be the vehicle for changing our failed political system by placing stricter money restrictions on candidates -- one thumb up. Likelihood that the DNC will actually do this: virtually nil. Turn down all that shiny money from George Soros? Yeah, right.

* Develop bold ideas and challenge people to sacrifice for the public good -- two thumbs totally up. Going back to the first point -- be liberal. Go ahead. My thought is that once the experiment is tried it will be clear to everyone what works and what doesn't about a pure liberal agenda, but if we never try, we'll never know.


Lunch critique:
Lunched with Greg at one of the small taco places that he loves. Two words of advice for the owners:
* a fish taco is a lightly battered, herb-seasoned ounce or two of fish in a taco filled with cabbage. It isn't a plank of Long John Silver's cod with lettuce all over it on a tortilla. Let's get right.
* if you have a cousin who paints badly, you don't owe it to them to hang their stuff on the wall. If you paid anything for the paintings of deformed people in serapes, you were robbed.


Summing up Orthodoxy for non-Orthodox:
Karl's anniversary list of favorite posts continues to provide fascinating observations, particularly as every post has links to other posts. In this post about the cult of the nice, there was this thought from SockMonk:
Orthodox Christians have no grounds to be proud of their own accomplishments or lofty spirituality. But please forgive us if we insist on pointing to the most competent and effective hospital we have been able to find for our own diseases and hurts.


A Very Un-PC Christmas to you:
This reprint from Huw brings up a good point for those people, myself included, who are still trying to arrive at the best answer of what to say (if anything) along the lines of 'Merry Christmas'.
A Christian wishing the "greetings of the season" wishes to say, "Your religion maybe good enough for you so, enjoy it". It is not what is heard by the other party, however. What the Christian should say is "The Incarnation is not just for me, but also for you if you will accept it..." and so "Merry Christmas" or "Christ is Born!" is the right thing to say -- that or nothing. The Non-Christian will hear such a sentiment even if all we say is "Happy Holidays".

I'm inclined to agree. People will hear "Christmas" in whatever you say -- why not actually say it? What's the worst that could happen? I think we "sensible" Orthodox are afraid of looking like we're coming on too strong (like those frightful Protestants) but somewhere along the way, I often feel guilty of being ashamed of Christ, let alone being a man-pleaser.

Something to work on, and only 26 Repenting Days till Nativity!


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