Congratulations on having your first diary rescued

There is a strange and unique destination out there in the political blogosphere called The Daily Kos. You may have heard of it - it's been called everything from one of the most defining websites of the modern political debate, to an analog of the Klu Klux Klan. I suspect it's actually somewhere in between (but for those who don't like encountering ideas they don't agree with, be careful about clicking through, you may find yourself uncomfortable).

I recently tried an experiment, where I took a couple of my blog postings from here, and cross-posted them on an account at Daily Kos. As a result, I got to learn about the strange culture that's evolved on this headline-making site. For example, a posting there is actually called a "Diary" (not a diary entry, just a diary). And there's apparently a whole crew of users of the site who go through reading the hundreds of diaries posted throughout the day, and they "Rescue" them, which means they highlight them for the rest of the users of the site to read. Apparently, I hit the Kosian jackpot of having my first two diaries ever rescued and discussed. Most interesting was how many people commented on the entries compared to their life on this site. I suppose that when you've built a critical mass in an online community, the content gets a lot more attention, no matter its quality.

Anyway, it was fun to know that a site read (and often condemned) by various national political and media figures had, for a brief time, a little linkage to my self-indulgent ramblings.

Now, slackers, how come I can't get 33 of you to comment on a blog post here?

Curfews as further erosion of a healthy public life

IMG_2360.JPGI remember seeing author and activist Parker J. Palmer speak in Richmond in the late 90s, about the needed renewal of America's public life. He spoke of a time and a culture where U.S. citizens were much more likely to engage each other fully and authentically in the public sphere - parks, playgrounds, town meetings, neighborhood events, community gatherings. And it wasn't just nostalgia - he talked about a strong public life as a therapy for some of the world's ills, by connecting us with viewpoints, resources, and people beyond what we know in our more insulated lives at home. As Ronald Rolheiser put it, "To participate healthily in other people’s lives takes us beyond our own obsessions. It also steadies us. Most public life has a certain rhythm and regularity to it that helps calm the chaotic whirl of our private lives." Indeed.

It's too bad, then, that we often seem to be trending toward the further diluting and replacing of a strong public life, especially for our younger community members. In Richmond, the Common Council recently decided to enact a new curfew that restricts people under the age of 18 from being out past a certain time of the evening, and threatens to fine the parents of those people progressively higher for each offense.
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The joy of nuanced relationships

One of my favorite parts of living in a small city in the Midwest is that many of us tend to wear multiple hats for each other. When you get to know someone new in one setting, if you stick around long enough, it's a pretty good bet that you'll encounter them again in at least one other setting. These multi-faceted interactions yield some nuances and texture in relationships that I think are hard to find in less personal settings, and perhaps larger cities.
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A little quiet

It's been a while since I've posted here - I've had a couple dozen half-finished entries that just didn't seem worth bothering to finish, a barrier I've certainly encountered before. It's also been a busy month and life's been full of some great joys (cooking, consuming, community service, conflict resolving, cat transport, Co-op-ing, colluding in concomitance, celebrating the solstice, cultivating connections, etc.) and concerns that take place away from the world of my keyboard, so things are just quiet around here. Thanks for reading, check back soon. May the peace of the season be with you.

Everything you need to know about Cops

For the last several weeks I have been participating in a broad stroke study of law enforcement practices on city streets across America. I have done ride-alongs with police officers from coast to coast - Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas to Cincinnati, Ohio to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These ride-alongs are usually in the form of 22 minute segments during which I am transported to the ride-along locations using a technology called "Court Television." As the ride-alongs start to blur together and the study comes to a close, I thought I would share some of the conclusions that have come out of the experience, in no particular order:
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When it's all already been said

One of the things that is difficult for me to deal with in the world of blogging and even just editorial/public writing in general is that for any given issue, it often feels like every possible perspective has been rendered by others in so many different ways well before *I* get to that issue. This has gotten "worse" with the advent of blogging, where those viewpoints are often published within minutes or hours of any given piece of information becoming available. So by the time I develop an opinion about something, I'm often left with the sense that it would be a waste of my time to say roughly the same things that have already been said, with only a minor degree of personalized presentation.
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