Richmondite notes digerati exclusivity in CNN/YouTube debate

The CNN Political Ticker has published a comment by Nancy Kolger of Richmond, Indiana, in response to last night's CNN/YouTube Republican Political Debate:

As a Senior Citizen I am really disappointed that not one question was asked about Health Care and rising Drug Costs for all the people. I can send you an email response and/or question but I do not know how to take or send a video or download and all that other stuff that younger people do. So therefore I was not given the chance to ask a question and I feel this is a form of discrimination...

Kolger goes on to suggest some topics that she would have wanted to cover had she been able to submit a question. The responses in the comments range from agreement to disagreement to outright insult. Of course this is all happening on the highly interactive website of the news organization that pioneered the fast-paced media product directed at short attention spans. I suspect there are some "senior citizens" out there who wouldn't know how to point a mouse at, and some who are preparing their YouTube video responses complete with CGI effects right now. Good for Nancy for getting this far.

Darfur Genocide, On Our Watch

Until I watched the PBS Frontline documentary On Our Watch, I had only a very general awareness of what people meant when they talked about the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. It is sobering and sad to know that that even with all of the news and pseudo-news I follow and the "think globally" circles I travel in, it's still possible to not really know the details of a genocide that has gone on since 2003, killing over 200,000 people and forcing the relocation or outright flight of another 2.5 million people.

If you're more apt to learn and benefit from an hour-long video than you are from 240 Kilobytes of text on Wikipedia, then I commend On Our Watch to you as a great overview of the issue - you can watch it for free online. It covers the origins of the conflict, the horribly lacking role of the United Nations, and the oil interests, global economic interdependencies, and cover-your-ass politics that have allowed other international players, including the U.S., to stand idly by.
Continue reading "Darfur Genocide, On Our Watch"

Local coffee shop Sacred Grounds closing next week

070307_123636If you follow the news over at The Richmond Coffee Shop Times, you have probably heard by now that Sacred Grounds is closing at the end of next week. The Summersault staff had a last (or perhaps-second-to-last) hurrah lunch there today, and as the cashier was ringing up the bill I asked what they'd have to tack on to the total to keep the place open: only $20,000. Our credit card's credit limit wouldn't accomodate that, but if any of you have the means, it could be a great way to earn some travel rewards.

The story that's tempting to tell is that the introduction of a Starbucks into the market had a deleterious effect on sales at Sacred Grounds, and that the enterprising owners of the local shop just couldn't keep up with the big nasty national chain. It seems the reality might be more complicated than that, but that doesn't make it any less sad to see a space that promoted good food, live music, long conversations and local culture closing its doors.

And so we take note, keeping score in the comings and goings of these community spaces in our town, always working to make sure that there are more coming than going.

Richmond can still host a 2008 Presidential Debate

The news came yesterday that Richmond was not selected as one of the sites for a Presidential / Vice Presidential Debate in Fall 2008. It's certainly too bad given the potential it had for bringing attention to Richmond, but as EDC President Jim Dinkle has been saying, just the unity and positive image we presented in bidding for the debate was itself a great achievement, and one we can build on in the future.

Of course, we still CAN have a Presidential / Vice Presidential Debate here in the Fall of 2008, and one that gets national media attention. Continue reading "Richmond can still host a 2008 Presidential Debate"

Is this really all that

Brushed With OilAnother stop along the journey of trying to organize all the information in my life, without adding complexity:

I've been ignoring for a while now. I've seen little icons for it popping up on weblogs I read, seen references to it in articles on software and productivity (including one on my own company's weblog), and heard people using it in everyday conversation. But I really didn't understand it, or what it really did, or why anyone would use it. (Plus, it seems like a waste of a perfectly good domain name,

I'm still not sure I do, even after reading the site's own description of what it's for. This is a strange and disorienting place to be for someone whose job it is to have my finger on the pulse of web tech trends. But I'm trying out using it anway, and you can see my Chris Hardie page at I guess it's just a list of web pages I've marked people in my "network"? the world? see, with various keywords associated so that I can...have keywords. Ummm, yeah, I think that's it. I kind of like it, but I don't know why.

Do you use How? Why?

Flickr Photos Featured

I love Flickr, which shows off the world we live in through the eyes and camera lenses of everyday folks. In the last week I've had a few of my photos posted there (most of which are released under the Creative Commons license) appear in some interesting spots:

  • Schmap Nashville Travel Guide: a couple of photos I took at the Tennessee State Museuem are apparently now a part of the fourth edition of this online tourist guide. There may be a print version too, but I'm not sure where to find it.
  • All Around Ohio for November 11: a photo I took of Antioch Hall at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio was featured in an article about the college staying open.

Links for the Week - Election Day Roundup

Election Day Roundup:

  1. The Results Are In: Four more years for Sally Hutton and Karen Chasteen, a bit of a shakeup on the City's Common Council, and a 27% voter turnout - bleh, but not so bleh as last time.
  2. Voting, a blog entry: Scenes and thoughts from one voter's experience
  3. Pal-Item endorses Hutton, Thalls erases blog entries: most voters were probably thinking of the critical need to observe good blogging etiquette when they cast their vote today...
  4. Meet the new Mayor of Indianapolis, Greg Ballard: Greg Ballard, the Republican who pulled off one of the biggest political upsets in Indiana history, will be the next mayor of Indianapolis.
  5. Antioch College will stay open: a different kind of recent vote that affects the region. Of course, if you're the Weekly Standard, you might be a little disappointed after predicting Death by Political Correctness.

How was your Election Day?

Three Questions to Ask When You Vote

IMG_1306.JPGTomorrow is Election Day here in Richmond, and in the name of helping us move toward a voting process where the vote you cast can actually be verified, I'll suggest these three questions to ask when you visit your friendly local computerized voting center. You may not get the answers you want, but the people who oversee the process will not know that changes are desired unless they hear from you:

  • Can I please have a paper record of my vote? The answer will likely be "no." In Indiana, there is no way for you to have a written record of your vote. The state would like you to trust that it has properly received and counted your vote in its computer system. If there were a need for a recount, the state would use the computer record of your vote, not a paper trail that humans can look at. But hey, who ever heard of an election that was close, or one where a recount really mattered?
  • Can you please show me a copy of the software source code that powers these voting machines? The answer is probably "no" again. The software that runs on the voting machines we use was developed by for-profit corporations, and the contract that your lawmakers typically make with them is that the source code won't have to be available for the public to see. We just have to trust that they haven't made any mistakes that might affect vote counts, or worse, any intentional changes that might alter the outcome of the election. But hey, who ever heard of someone trying to change the outcome of an election for their own benefit?
  • Can you please provide me with a copy of the testing procedures to insure that my voting machine has not been altered or compromised? Many officials will provide you with a copy of the procedures if you ask in advance, and sometimes copies may be available onsite at the voting center. You may be charged a reasonable per-page copying fee. If you can't get your verbal request fulfilled, submit your request in writing, which creates a legal duty for your public officials to produce the documents. Once you have them, you can decide if they're sufficient for you to trust the democratic process to the integrity of the machines and the companies that make them. But hey, who ever heard of a government-managed process that wasn't totally comprehensive and in the full interest of its citizens?

You can learn more about verified voting at and their page on Wayne County's voting equipment. If you'd like to take further action on this issue, there's a Citizens Tool Kit available that includes notes on how to raise awareness and make change in your community.