Gringo Manaba

Adventuras y Fantasias or Fantastical Adventures


  • July 2004
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Archive for July 29th, 2004

The Truth Will Out

Posted by glasscastle on 29th July 2004

must have slipped a dose of Sodium Pentathol into our Diet Coke as we
went through security because we feel overwhelmed by a desire to reveal
a secret so deeply held we didn’t realize it existed until we were getting
ready to come into the Fleet Center this final night of the Democratic
National Convention.

The secret is that the real reason we leapt at the chance to get our
hands on convention credentials was not our history as an irredeemable
political addict, nor the chance to rub elbows with the jet setters and
powers who rule our country, nor even the inevitable boost to our  stats
which the exposure provides.  It was the balloons.

It must have been 1960, the first time we saw them.  We would have
been 7 then, and our Dad was a big Kennedy guy, and a minor figure in
local politics, so we are sure the convention would have been on the
family tube that long-ago July. A bunch of boring grownups talking and
talking and talking, and finally one good-looking Daddy-type got everybody
to cheering and standing on chairs and throwing their hats in the air,
and then, suddenly….

Balloons!! Everywhere!  More balloons than we had ever seen or
even imagined in our lives to that point. Pouring out of the ceiling,
raining down on the people, who raised their arms as though welcoming
and summer rain after a hot humid afternoon. They kept coming, it seemed
they would never stop, until finally they were lying all around, completely
covering the floor, swallowing up kids caught on camera until only their
heads showed atop the sea of balloons, bobbing blond and brown on the

Somewhere in our seven-year-old mind we knew that someday we would BE
THERE when the balloons fell, and wade in them ourselves, someday, somehow. 

And now, hot damn, WE ARE THERE, and there are the balloons, wrapped
up in long tube-like nets in the roof of the Fleet Center. Millions of
them. And we will be there, finally. It was worth the wait.

Posted in ESL Links | 1 Comment »

Convention Retrospective, part 2

Posted by glasscastle on 29th July 2004

Another hot topic among the bloggers is the proliferation of "psuedo-blogs"
which are popping up all over Boston like acne on a teenager in a chocolate
factory. These "psuedo-blogs" come in many forms.

Much in evidence these days, of course, are politician’s blogs.  Not
to be confused with political blogs, which are written by non-politicians,
amateur pundits and political junkies of all stripes and which comment
on and analyze politics.

Politician’s blogs are invariable created, written and maintained by
staff members of the great man (or woman) in charge, who of course is
much too busy to read any blogs, much less write one.  But after
Howard Dean, andy politician with an ounce of sense or feel for the public
pulse knows he needs a blog, even if he or she hasn’t a clue as to what
one actually is.

So the wealthier one go out and hire an established blogger (or ‘Ho,
as they are informally known around the ‘Sphere) to create their blog.  If
they are less affluent they just order one of their staffers to figure
out what a Blog is and then get one going.

These "blogs" are barely identifiable as such, consisting mainly of
crass shucksterism and recycled press releases. In addition there are
innumerable "psuedo-blogs" selling products, set up as part of advertising
campaigns, by bars or restaurants, or to solicit credit card numbers
in return for instant sexual gratification.

More difficult to categorize are the many many blogs being created by
the mainstream media organizations to try to "catch the wave of the happening
blogger phenomena". Most of these blogs were created in the past two
weeks and the odds of their surviving the election season are slim to

Bloggers are reluctant to admit these journalistic blogs to their community
for a couple of reasons.  For one, they are clearly professional
writers, and in fact part of the mainstream media..  They are getting
directly paid for writing their blogs, and bloggers are fiercely protective
of their amateur status (although somewhat contradictory they scheme
constantly about how to have a living from their blog and quit their
day jobs.

But more importantly, they are being edited.  Even if the editor
only reads the stuff before, or even after, it gets posted, the fact
that one’s employers will be reading and evaluating one’s blogging does
change the basic nature of the endeavor. And in addition to editorial
control of content, there is the fact that the mere existence of an intermediary
agent violates the true essence of blogging – naked contact between the
blogger and the reader. The whole rush of the blogging experience is
that there is NOTHING BETWEEN the observer and the reader, and the impressions
are fresh and unadulterated,

We have been hanging, occasionally, with a blogger from the Philadelphia
Inquirer.  He WAS a feature writer, until two weeks ago, when his
editor told him to start a blog and pack his bags for Boston.  He
seems like a really nice guy, and he might get the point someday (at
which point he would probably start blogging about the Philadelphia
Inquirer rather than the Conventions his editor sends him to, and lose
his job, which would be a tragedy, but good blogging material).

Not only the prink media is desperately delving into the blogging pool.  Reporters
from CNN, the New York Times, Fox and Sports Illustrated have started
blogging as well. Why is the traditional media suddenly so fascinated,
near obsessed, with the bloggers. It can;t be because we’re the most
interesting folks in town!

It is becoming increasingly clear to the Dowbrigade that it is because
they are scared.  Well, not scared, exactly, but a little nervous
at least, and with some reason.

First, we are undocumented workers, threatening their jobs by working
for free, eroding the market for their product, and they resent the fact
that we haven’t "paid our dues", haven’t spent those hot summer nights
working the police beat in some urban cesspool or the frigid
6 am Blizzard reports, and here we come waltzing in to take the choice

And second, we represent the first realistic threat in decades to expose
their cherished myth of objectivity.  Most of the reporters we have
talked to honestly try to obtain the impossibly illusive objectivity,
but this merely ends up making their inevitable subjectivity more subtle
and difficult to detect.

What they have been feeding us for many years is one specific world
view and one consistent and usually coherent version of what the news
"means".  All Bloggers aim to do is  point out that
there are alternatives.

Posted in ESL Links | 1 Comment »

Convention Retrospective, part 1

Posted by glasscastle on 29th July 2004

Okay, here we go.  Back in our seat in Blogger’s Row, where fistfights
are about to break out over seating space. Part of the problem is that
the joint is absolutely packed to the rafter’s for this, the final night
of the Convention, the frenzied build-up to the Kerry acceptance speech
rocking the joint with manic energy. The other reason, we suspect, is that word has leaked out that we have the only functioning, publicly accessable Wi-Fi web in the Hall. There are sure a lot more than 35 laptops up here on Blogger’s Row tonight.

We have notes for a good half dozen
posts waiting in our notebook, the prose is flowing, but we are dead
on our feet and fading fast. On the way into the hall we were mesmerized
by a line of slot machines along one side of a main concourse.  Wow!
When did they legalize THOSE babies in the Commonwealth? Turns out they
were Compaq flat screen email stations. So before things get out of hand,
lets get to the blogging!

As a member of the Freshman Class of Major Party Nominating Conventions,
we would like to take this moment to do a little meta-blogging, and comment
on the effects of having blogger here, their success or failure, and
what it all means. What better place than here in the placid eye of the
political hurricane, guarding our seat at Ground
Zero, to get a little perspective from the whole thing and sum it up
in a few rash generalizations.

First of all, the various aggregators set up to collect and collate
all of the postings from the convention bloggers (some including bloggers
on the outside) have been performing an invaluable service both to the
bloggers and their readers. Personally, I like the one set up by Dave
, called Convention
. We love being able to check up on what everyone else is
posting as we all sit here staring at our screens, and you get a wonderful
kaleidoscope of views on each of the speakers as they parade on stage.
The strange and secret process used by the Convention organizers to select
the Bloggers has yielded a true variety of political positions, blogging
styles and levels of seriousness.

The buzz around the Row is that for the really astute political analyses
and cutting irreverence for which blogger are known we will have to wait
until next week, after the pundits have had time to digest, reflect,
sleep and then in the peace and solitude in which they are accustomed
to work, tell us all what it meant. We hope the aggregators are still
up and running next week.

In fact, we hope the aggregators are still up and running a MONTH from
now, during the REPUBLICAN Convention. The Republicans will be having
Bloggers, too. However, instead of soliciting applications, they have
hand picked and invited about 20 individuals who they feel will fit right

We doubt that many of the Bloggers here will also be among the anointed
20 in NYC, although Dave Winer is
reporting that Jay
has been invited.  On
the other hand, we are sure this crew, political junkies all, will have
lot to
fest in
5 weeks, and it would be fascinating to follow their comments and comparisons
as they watch along on cable TV.

Plus, we absolutely MUST add the invited Republican bloggers to the
list.  How fascinating to read and integrate what they write with
what the bloggers who had been in Boston will write.

The possibilities for using aggregation to collect and juxtapose information
streams from otherwise independent sources are staggering and expanding
as fast as people can think.

Posted in ESL Links | 3 Comments »

Sharpton Deep-Sixes Set Speech – Crown Goes Wild

Posted by glasscastle on 29th July 2004

Al Sharpton
last night believed the only speech so far that could be classified as
a real
barn burner. The spontaneous cheers and delegate delirium far
exceeded that produced by Jimmy Carter, John Edwards, Teddy Kennedy and
even Bill and Hillary. He was also the only featured
speaker to date who deviated almost
press in advance of his appearance.

In a related vein we have noted that all of the prepared speeches we
have heard so far have a certain uniform blandness, as though they had
all been penned by the same lame hand trying to sound like many different
voices.  Is it possible that all of these speeches are coming out
of one single office somewhere near the heart of the Democratic Party
Convention organization?  And that Sharpton was the only Democrat
with enough guts to trash the prepared text and strike out on his own?

If so, all we can say is that the Dems desperately need some new speech
writers. Just for the record, the Dowbrigade is available.

article from the New York Times

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Much A-DooDoo About Nothing

Posted by glasscastle on 29th July 2004

The pre-Convention press coverage here in Boston made it sound like
The Mongol Hordes led by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were about
to descend on our fair city.  We were told to expect gridlocked
traffic, body-cavity searches on random street corners and daily mass
street protest that would have blood running in the streets.

Understandably, locals mad
plans to leave the city in droves, for the Cape, down Maine way, even
to the relative peace and tranquility of New York City. It reminded us
of the Weatherperson-fueled panic whenever a Nor’easter is moving up
the coast, causing panicked people to flock to the hardware store to
stock up on batteries, drinking water and shotgun shells. Usually the
turns into a dud, and people either go "Huh?" or "Whew".

They must have pulled this one a hundred times over the past few years,
and people fall for it every time. Once again, the warnings of impending
doom were slightly exaggerated; in reality, the city has been more like
a ghost town, anywhere away from the Fleet

The forces or order cleared out 3,000 jail cells in anticipation of
the massive civil disobedience. Total protest-related arrests so far
(after 3 days) – ONE.

"The real question for me is why Boston was manipulated into believing
that hordes of protesters would descend on the city," Tom Hayden,
who led protests at the infamous Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968,
in an e-mail to the Globe. "It plays into the politics of fear,
suppresses civil liberties, and becomes a blank check for police overtime
and the
procurement of bone-crushing gadgets."

from the Boston Globe

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