In my current love/hate relationship with social media its easy to forget why I liked it in the first place.

Facebook was a great solace during the three years when my office was isolated and I could go entire days not speaking to anyone except by email. Have I mentioned I’m an extrovert?

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Insta linked me to the outside world. And Pandora.

One big benefit of working alone in an almost empty building was that I could play music as loud as I liked – electronica & jazz for writing workshops, grants or  PowerPoints,  classic rock & funk for collating binders.

Social media connected me with folks I’d never meet in person (friends of friends, journalists, activists etc.) and more importantly created a much larger circle of information. I know we all live in our bubble of self-selected media, but having FB friends outside of my regular friend group continues to introduce information I might otherwise ignore or miss.

For instance, a Native artist I follow  introduced me to Indian Country Media so I learned of the DAPL protest actions long before it surfaced in the New York Times. Social media introduced me to, among other things, emergencies and issues affecting women of color, the LGBTQ community, Black Americans and native peoples.

I’ve read perspectives that I agreed and disagreed with from Libertarians, Bernie progressives, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and international citizens, activists and journalists.

So it’s not all bad.

However.

Since the election I have decided that social media and journalism has to be balanced with conversations In Real Life (IRL).

I’ve started reaching out to old friends and acquaintances to schedule chats over coffee, phone, or Skype. I’ve started reaching out to make new acquaintances and friends to meet and chat. Did I mention I’m a shy extrovert who doesn’t make friends easily?

It’s hard to be the initiator all the time (no one likes rejection), and time is as limited as ever, but committing to In Real Life is helping me feel hopeful in a way that liking folks social media posts isn’t.

Hearing opinions and updates accompanied by voice and body language puts me back in the “I – Thou” that I know I need.

So hit me up for a coffee date or drink.

Meanwhile, this brilliant animation my inspire you to join me IRL.

 

I am really suffering in the new news landscape created by the gutting of our daily paper. I was opposed to it to start with by the reality of it is so much worse than what I had anticipated. The minimal reporting that does happen in print is mostly re-runs of things on the Internet.

I feel completely disconnected from city, county and state news. Stories I have attempted to follow just drift away.

The paper arrives in print too late to read before work and is literally 75% sports and ads. The nation, international, metro and business news is one thin section of USA Today length stories, most of them not written by paper staffers. I normally consume a lot of news. What used to be the local daily for metro & statehouse news, a weekly suburban paper, and a weekly hyper local paper. With supplemental NPR and BBC & CNN on the Internet.

Continue reading

Moral restrictions on medical procedures. That is the framework of the anti-abortion movement and other conservative positions. My God says “No”, therefore it should be “No” for the whole country. We have been down this road before in history, which is why we have separation of church and state. Or we used to.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has until 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 30th to make any line-item vetoes on the state budget before he signs it into effect for July 1, 2013. Politicians should not be making medical decisions or forcing doctors to lie. For your Friday reading pleasure I give you an Op-Ed I submitted to Ohio newspapers, which they unfortunately declined to publish.


 

My Hands Are Tied
“My hands are tied” is phrase Ohioans we will get used to if Ohio House Bill 200 becomes law. This is the outcome desired by anti-abortion activists, and the future feared by those who believe medical decisions must be between a patient and their doctor. The people of Ohio cannot let this bill become law.
Women have been preventing and terminating pregnancies for 4,000 years. Because women who desperately need an abortion for whatever reason will do everything in their power to get one, they have died for lack of a safe, legal abortion. Access to safe, legal abortions has been the law of the land since 1973.  Since then, anti-abortionists have found ways to limit access, intimidate women, and yes, even kill physicians who have abortion practices.  This means that today 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties have no abortion provider.
Now Ohio legislators are attempting to further thwart this legal medical procedure by increasing the waiting period before a procedure and requiring doctors to give untruths to their patients and perform an unnecessary, invasive ultrasound or face criminal charges.
By increasing the waiting period to 48 hours, and requiring two visits to a provider before she can secure a safe legal abortion, the legislators effectively “tie the hands” of many women who cannot afford to travel twice in two days to obtain their medical procedure. By adding the provision that doctors who fail to comply with the House Bill 200 rules would be subject to a first-degree felony charge (the same class as rape, aggravated arson and kidnapping) and a fine of up to a million dollars, the legislature has tied and double knotted the hands of Ohio doctors.
This bill is a textbook example of a slippery slope. A slope that would be all but impossible to climb back up if it becomes law.
Doctors who are oath-bound to “do no harm” will be forced to lie. The bill requires doctors to provide patients with the patently false information that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Good clinics already provide information and counseling through trained patient advocates who talk with women about their feelings and beliefs without pressure or judgment. The goal at Preterm Clinic in Cleveland is to ensure that every patient is informed and sure of her decision whether it is to have an abortion, choose adoption or continue her pregnancy.
The slope gets slipperier. This bill requires doctors to divulge in writing “their gross income and the percentage of that income that was obtained” by performing the procedure. Will we have the same declaration when from a doctor before an MRI or a hip replacement? How does this information help the patient? The theory that there is a multi-million dollar abortion industry exploiting and “tricking” women into having abortions they don’t understand or want is a lie.
By restricting abortion to a “medical emergency”, this bill removes the right of a doctor to decide what is medically necessary for a patient. How can we expect a doctor, under threat of a felony charge, to not hesitate when deciding if a situation has gone from “necessity” to “emergency”? The American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly opposes legislative interference that “causes a physician to compromise his or her medical judgment about treatment in the best interest of the patient.” As women – as mothers – we oppose that interference as well.
Where does it end? House Bill 200 ruthlessly and viciously restricts a legitimate medical procedure, forces physicians to compromise their ethics, and treats women as incompetent. After abortion is effectively inaccessible, what will be restricted next because legislators don’t trust you and your doctor to competently decide your medical procedures? Will you allow your judgment to be overridden by lawmakers? Will doctors let their medical training be overridden by politicians? Will you trust politicians to make your medical decisions?
We must stop this bill – and the slippery slope it creates – before all of our hands are tied. Women, and men who respect the right of a woman to make choices about her health care, would be wise to contact Governor Kasich and demand that veto House Bill 200 in its entirety.
Call Governor Kasich at 1-614-466-3555 and tell him to veto this bill.
Tweet Governor Kasich @JohnKasich and tell him to veto this bill.
Contact Governor Kasich through his website and tell him to veto this bill.
Do something.
Please.
117108-115093

I am starting to seriously worry that we are about to lose our daily newspaper.

Another long-time reporter had a farewell column today and just last week the publisher announced that he was retiring (at age 55) to “start a new chapter in his life.” With roughly another 30 years to live he could probably squeeze out two chapters if he tries hard. Who retires at 55 anymore in this economy? It sounds suspiciously like gettin’ out while the gettin’ is good.

I don’t blame him for making choices that suit his life. The paper’s online edition has dozens of comments about this announcement, half of them blaming him for the paper’s decline. It would be nice if there was someone to blame, but I doubt it is the publisher who has only been in residence for 6 years.

The thing that worries me is that we may actually lose our daily. If you have read this blog in the past you know I am serious about my local daily. I think we may be on a path to go to a three day a week paper like the Times-Picayune and I think that would be tragic. I need written words for news in order to process and review, to check the byline and have some semblance of trust that actual journalism is taking place. I don’t want to watch TV for my news and I don’t want to have to get everything off the Internet either. I want a newspaper dammit!

And you can’t have any good lunatic letters to the editor online, because then every yahoo in the world can comment on them. I want to comment on the letters out loud, to my husband, over coffee, not read someones inarticulate name calling. Spoils the whole thing.

I am also concerned that “citizen journalism” will devolve into something that only barely resembles reporting. Like lots of folks I rely on Twitter and other formats for up to the second information but social media also makes Snopes a necessary bookmark. When I was a kid there was a morning and afternoon paper and we all thought it was the death of news when we became a one newspaper town. And that was when we still had two independent entertainment weeklies and a couple of art mags. We though we were so deprived.

I know we have the internet and I can watch BBC and read the Washington Post and all the syndicated columnists I can digest, but its not the same as my grubby city newspaper with its county council antics and state house news.

 I sure hope I am wrong about our daily.

I have been ploughing through a five-inch stack of newspapers this weekend. I insist the newspapers be set aside for me to read if I can’t get to them that day and, since I have been traveling for work lately, I am a bit behind.

My rationale is that if I haven’t read it yet its still news. I do read the fluffity USA Today in my hotel room so I am not in a complete news void, but I like to know a) what is going on in my town and b) what the local paper has to say about national and international news. Not much on most days, but these are my people.

Still, I compulsively read the entire paper everyday. Except for the sports section which I consider to be elective like the classifieds. I pay very little attention to professional sports (or college or HS) unless something extraordinary is happening that everyone is talking about. Then I will get up to speed because basic human interaction demands it.

It can be an interesting exercise to read the news this way. For instance, I read what was in retrospect a lousy analysis of the Wisconsin recall election followed by a baffling four-page spread on the marines. Turns out there was something called Marines Week in town which made the in-depth explanation of MRE’s more understandable if not actually news. Its important to keep the papers in chronological order.

My favorite part of the paper, after the insane letters to the editor of course, are the comics. I save these for last as a reward for reading about debt crisis and failing public schools. I am a bit OCD with the funnies as well and read all of them even the ones I hate. I save Doonesbury and read it last so I can savor it. It also helps me recover from Mary Worth and Family Circus.

A Karen Findley-esque performance art piece could be constructed from all the dysfunction found in the intersection of Charlie Brown, Beetle Bailey, Mary Worth and Judge Parker. The paper once tried to phase out Judge Parker and Mary Worth by taking them off the comic pages and placing them in the classifieds. A firestorm of protest from the over 80 crowd got them back to their rightful home. Where they remain in perpetuity. And where, because of personal issues beyond my control, I am forced to read them every day.

Now for the mile high stack of New Yorker’s I have been neglecting…

I really need to go on a news diet. Limit my intake to 1,200 high quality words a day obtained from organic, bozo free sources.

The first thing I am giving up is the Letters to the Editor section of the local paper. I read these letters and swing between being outraged at the 100% lies that are permitted because it is opinion, and being depressed because these people live in the same city as me.

I always look at the signature first since I know all the local cranks by name. I cruelly categorize them as frustrated novelists, wannabe talking heads, living room preachers and of course, religious nut jobs.

One unnamed (because he wants you to know his name I refuse to print it here) white, suburban crank spends a lot of time crafting his vitriol before he spews. A recent letter of his about health care in the news contained this nugget “…the Faustian bargain that Congress passed late at night in a swarm of lobbyists and militant, progressive estrogen.”

Isn’t it cute when they get all frothy at the mouth?

Today there was another one blaming “the false promises of the sexual revolution” for “mothers being married to government benefits” rather than their “babydaddy”.

Being rather tired of it all, this particular “militant, progressive estrogen” (yes that is a quote from a letter today) is declaring herself on a news diet before I become One of Them.