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Thursday, October 30, 2003  

Blogospherics: People are saying

Ghettopoly is not the only subject that has attracted attention in Bloggersville. Both the war in Iraq and blogging itself continue to be vectors of opinion.

  • Satires capture inanity of Iraqi invasion
  • Benito Vergara at The Wily Filipino read an account of some utterly obtuse American soldiers in action in Iraq and took it the same way I would. Ben couldn't help but express his admiration.

    Way to Go Men!

    I'm feeling, like, all inspired and stuff and thought I'd single out Sgt. Mark Redmond and Sgt. Eric Schrumpf as soldiers who need our support. You the man!

    As the New York Times wrote:

    Like many soldiers here... Sergeant Redmond said he did not expect the Iraqis to resist so doggedly.

    "I expected a lot more people to surrender," he said. "From all the reports we got, I thought they would all capitulate."

    In the three days that followed, they did not, and he fired every weapon on his Humvee, including a 50-caliber machine gun, his M-4 rifle and a grenade launcher -- everything except the shoulder-fired antitank missile. Many of the Iraqis, he said, attacked headlong into the cutting fire of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

    "I wouldn't call it bravery," he said. "I'd call it stupidity. We value a soldier's life so much more than they do. I mean, an AK-47 isn't going to do nothing against a Bradley. I'd love to know what Saddam is telling his people."

    Maybe Saddam is telling his people to defend their homeland from invasion... but wait! We have to support the troops!

    Dude, I am totally not voting you off the island!

    It amazes me that so many Americans do rather poorly when quizzed on information in almost any area, but seem to imbibe cultural imperialism along with their ABCs. Last time around, it was that silly Army officer saying he can defeat Muslims because his God is better than theirs. Now, we get the Keystone Kalvary smugly revealing its contempt for people from a different culture. Why would folks think that traits such as bravery, deep belief in a deity and a desire to defend one's homeland are American or Western? Why are the deaths of civilian Iraqis considered comedy? It is as if some of our countrymen and women believe only Americans (and perhaps Europeans) are really people.

    A new blogger recently caught crap from some in the blogosphere over his satirical entry about the Bush administration's reasons for invading Iraq. Mike Larkin of Larkin Blog posted this pithy political satire.

    Mutual Admiration

    Osama bin laden, the director of George W. Bush's re-election campaign, today issued a renewed call for jihad against America and expressed his profound gratitude to the American President.

    "The President has been an enormous boon to my recruiting efforts. Ever since his incompetent intelligence services inadvertently allowed me to bomb the country on 9/11, I've been on a roll. My recruiting is off the charts. And every day, the Administration does something that really helps my cause."

    In particular, bin laden mentioned the invasion of Iraq. "By knocking out my big opponent, Saddam, and turning the country into a breeding ground for terrorists, he has really made my job easy. Words cannot express my admiration. Perhaps another suicide bombing will do the trick."

    Reached in the Far East, where he was on a campaign swing for his war on terror, Bush said he was "deeply honored" by bin laden's words, and expressed his own gratitude for the al-Quada leader.

    "Before 9/11, I was really sucking wind in the polls. But those attacks were literally a gift from the sky. I've now got the whole country cowed and the press bamboozled. And, as an extra bonus, we've got Iraq's oil. Osama rocks!"

    Bush said he hopes that Osama will launch another terrorist attack soon, in time to get the GOP re-elected in 2004. "It would be really great if it could happen the week of the Republican convention in New York next August. All those explosions will make a nice backdrop to my re-election speech. It'll be just like the Fourth of July!"

    Some in the blogosphere took the 'he is not allowed to question the efficacy of American leadership' gambit. There was even an effort to pressure Blogcritics, where the entry also appeared, into censoring Mike. These kinds of responses to satirical treatment of the war make no sense to me. Whether actions are rational and/or moral is what determines whether they are right or wrong, not the nationality of the persons involved. Furthermore, political actions that impact the entire country and world are what we really need to scrutinize closely. Satire is is an excellent way to do just that.

    Read the rest of Ben's and Mike's entries. I think you will agree with me that both have a knack for getting it right and making it funny at the same time.

  • Blogging and the workplace
  • Another Michael, the fellow at Ones and Zeroes, is concerned about the firing of a Microsoft temporary employee who dared blog about his place of employment.

    Freshly Unemployed

    Blogger Michael Hanscom joined the ranks of the unemployed on Monday, because Microsoft Security objected to his blog entry Even Microsoft wants G5s.

    The blog entry had a picture of a truck delivering some boxed Apple G5 computers and mentioned where Hanscom worked and what building it was in.

    His manager told him that “Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you’re no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus.”

    I agree with Hanscom that the post is pretty innocuous. As a Microsoft customer buying software for MacOS computers, I’d be really annoyed if they weren’t testing them on the latest and greatest Macs. Especially since Virtual PC doesn’t run on G5s yet.

    Microsoft employee and corporate blog evangelist Robert Scoble says Microsoft encourages employees to weblog. Microsoft has been, in recent months, ahead of the corporate culture curve with respect to blogging. It’s my hope that this is a mistake or the result of one branch of the company not knowing what other branches are encouraging. Even if Hanscom shouldn’t have posted this picture, this solidly moves Microsoft into the “mixed message” category on blogging, which while not great, is still better than many companies.

    I am going to repeat the advice I gave months ago when I wrote about the trend of disciplining or firing journalists who blog. In fact, I'll extend it to other fields. Keep the blogging and your work separate. The interests at issue are quite different. Even if an employer gives an initial approval, I don't believe it should be relied on. The minute you say something that someone at work doesn't like, the approval is likely to be withdrawn. In addition, knowing your employer is looking over your shoulder will chill what you say on your blog. I recommend simply not mentioning blogging if you use your real name and being circumspect even if using a pen name.

    Does a fired blogger have a legal leg to stand on? In most cases, no. Most employees are at will. Since firing someone for blogging violates no constitutionally protected rights for a private employer, the employee is the vulnerable one.

    If I worked for Microsoft, I would take their policy of encouraging blogging with an entire box of Morton Salt.

  • Blogging director does it again
  • Filmmaker and blogger Brian Flemming has good news to report. He has made history with one of his movies and has scored some eleemosynary compression software that will make it easier for him to stream his movies to the Web.

    A beneficiary of the new software may be Nothing So Strange, a Flemming film that made its Internet debut this week.

    Well, at long last, it can be revealed. It went down to the wire, but we did what we wanted to do: We're debuting the film worldwide on the same day that its exclusive theatrical run opens in Seattle. Made possible, of course, by my new pals at BitPass.

    Did I mention that a worldwide internet debut of a feature film has never, ever, ever happened before? And you read about it first at Brian Flemming's Weblog.

    The movie is a satirical look at group psychology and group relations, premised on the assassination of an iconic businessman. Wired says,

    . . .It's a tale of paranoia and police corruption, of conspiracy theorists and grassroots activism. And it comes with a brilliant and ingenious Internet component -- an entire Web universe of memorials to Bill Gates and conspiracy theorist sites.

    Director Brian Flemming began working on the film after attending a November conference in Dallas of researchers who study John F. Kennedy's assassination. Flemming began to wonder: What would a contemporary assassination look like? Who would be the target?"

    "It seemed to me, with the growing divide between the rich and the poor, that the violence might take the form of a class war," Flemming says. "So naturally it seemed that Bill Gates would be a primary target. And then I thought, 'What if this happened right here in my own neighborhood, and the Rampart Division of the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) conducted the investigation?'"

    Nothing So Strange can be viewed here.

    Congratulations, Brian!

    2:55 PM