What's with the spamfest, livejournal?

Seriously, 6 spam posts a day on basically any public posting is kind of crazy. I have a permanent account that I desperately want to use more, but I will be deterred if every single time I post, I get a deluge of suggestions on medications I should take -- especially ones for enlarging a penis I do not have.

Friend types, is this happening to you? Is there some tricksy privacy setting that'll fix it? I don't want to shut off anonymous commenting altogether because I have friends that do actually use it. :( Tips greatly appreciated.

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Hail, friend types.

I have decided that this ridiculously extended hiatus from regular posting has to end. There are several reasons for this:
  • I miss the crap out writing for me and sharing my crazy thoughts with my friends.

  • Writing out my crazy thoughts helps me become... well, less crazy.

  • I know it's still a few months away, but I am planning on participating in NaNoWriMo (kind of) to get back to my novel and I think I could really use the practice of just being candid. I've spent the better part of a year writing mostly for my employer, and I miss being able to just let loose with my own written voice.

  • I'm pissed at the news and it's an election year. I need an outlet other than my boyfriend, because I fear he may go bonkers if he has to bear the brunt of my rants about how the news media is failing the electorate.

To that last point, I am also going to revive spade_news. It was vastly helpful to me in the madness of the last election, people seemed to like it, and it's becoming abundantly clear to me that corporate-owned "old media" just sucks. I mean, c'mon. When an article in The Onion is the most believable and well-crafted piece you read all day, that's a sad commentary.

I blame a significant portion of this mounting angst on the fact that I've taken a shine to HBO's The Newsroom and I essentially am a younger version of the militantly idealistic EP -- but without the stab wound scars from reporting overseas in war zones. Surprisingly, despite having spent a full year in the belly of the beast and working at a local FOX station, I still love journalism and firmly believe in the necessity of the Fourth Estate.

In the spirit of this, spade_news will have none of the bullshit fluff that occupies a good half of the average nightly newscast. There will be no flowery profiles of candidates, no shallow abstracts about upcoming legislation, and there will certainly be no ridiculous fearmongering about which kitchen appliance could be killing you. Nay, the focus will be on issues that impact people, and I promise to deliver the straight dope using only the type of honesty that is as blunt as a spoon coated in silly putty.

Unlike old media, I want readers to be involved. If you want more information about something, tell me and I'll do my darnedest to look into it. If you think I'm wrong or that my source is crap, tell me and we'll talk. Creating an informed and vibrant discussion is what the news should be about, anyway. I'd also be happy to add writers dedicated to the mission to the group, and I may even do a little recruiting.

So, there's that. Plan set. Yukon, ho!

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This ain't no game show...

I got a text message from Barack Obama's campaign today telling me that I could win a dinner with the president at George Clooney's house and the air fare would be covered. It's been irking me for hours.

To clarify, it's not that I don't think the event would be awesome. Clearly, it'd be a heck of a lot of fun and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I mean c'mon, you'd get to hang out with the most influential man on the planet [reminder: we still have hundreds of nukes] and one of Hollywood's finest charmers -- and no, I totally don't care that George is twice my age. His smile still has the power to transform my kneecaps into gelatin. It's that, as much as I would enjoy that little vacation, I don't need it.

In point of fact, I have several things that I do legitimately need -- all of which could be taken care of if they gave me the money that will go into preparing that dinner, flying some lucky bastard into LAX, and paying for all the Secret Service staff shifts and travel expenses. I could buy groceries for the first time in a month. I currently require toilet paper, but cannot buy any until Friday. I could start repaying back my federal student loans, which I've never been able to make a dent in because I simply don't make enough to pay back the sums I had to borrow to get the degree that got me my college-required job. Thinking about it in that way just makes me disgusted that it's such an incredibly wasteful and unnecessary gimmick.

Call me crazy, but I expect better from my president. I know it's a campaign year and it's super tough to get cranky, disenfranchised voters to the polls. The glistening sheen of a historical election has kind of lost a little bit of its luster now and the GOP actually offered up a candidate that isn't completely batshit cray -- but this isn't a freaking game show. I don't want to be the lucky contestant that gets to come on down for a delux dinner with celebrities. I want my politicians to do things that make a positive difference, and this dinner doesn't do that. It's so temporary and pointless, it makes me sad. That expenditure of time and resources could -- and I think should -- be spent on something much more worthy.

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Et tu, brute brain?

What are you wary about today?
It's not surprising that "What are you wary about today" is the Question of the Day due, given the ever-forboding Ides of March; however, its timing is convenient because I finally feel like I can adequately explain my answer.

In recent weeks, I have been very anxious and I couldn't put my finger on what was causing it. I knew that being the single night-side Web Producer in a Top 15 Nielsen Market station in an election year would be difficult, if not only because it would dramatically increase the amount of political coverage I'd have to kick out on top of the day's news. As predicted, the workload is heavier, the days are longer, and the content is more intellectually exhausting. I know I'm tired and that I tend to be more sensitive when I'm not well rested, but I never counted on these emotions.

I spent weeks struggling to figure out why I feel like I''m being muffled or silenced. I feel like my voice isn't being heard. This, of course, is absurd. I write and publish dozens of articles as accurately as I can on the daily in the office. Every night, I speak with a group of friends about what nonsense our political leaders have gotten up to. The next morning, I share some of it online if I'm still feeling riled. Half a dozen usually people respond and even more "like" it.

After further analysis, I realized that the issue was not that the information wasn't well-presented or recieved. It's that I don't feel the gravity of the data is sinking in. Basically, what I am saying is that I'm losing my inner honeybadger, and am to the point where I am now giving several shits. In fact, I give so many that I am constantly carrying around a heap of cynical crap, but I don't always feel like other people are giving their fair fecal contribution to the issue.

Now, I do realize that I am more susceptible to these steaming servings due to my near-constant political immersion at work of late, and I am fully willing to admit that some of the little things occasionally seem more dramatic than they actually are. However, there are some profoundly disturbing trends right now and it scares me that a lot of people are so disenchanted they just don't care. I also think I'm feeling particularly vulnerable because I am a woman.

By now, I think everyone knows that certain Legislative movements in various states and comments by political figureheads have been very offensive and demeaning to women. Some of them I believe to be crimes against humanity, and the constant struggle for a woman's right to govern her own body and health freely is demoralizing when harmful obstacles are being put in the way of care in a blatantly hypocritical and sexist way. Abortion is legal, yet women in Texas will essentially need to consent to being raped with a 10-inch wand and then go home and think about her choice for 24 hours, no doubt causing considerable physical discomfort and emotional distress, before she can access a procedure that was previously offered without those measures. Working women in Arizona who use contraceptive medicines to control migraines or crippling PMS may face an employer's interrogation over their sex lives or lose their jobs. Religious organizations are furious that the Obama administration wants insurance companies to cover contraceptive medicines, but no one seems to care that most insurers cover Viagra and vasectomies, which are all the rage during March Madness. Over 600,000 American men get them each year.

The tenor of discussions in the media is almost more revolting, especially with shock jocks calling women who use birth control sluts and suggesting that having insurance cover medication is akin to wanting to be paid for sex. Having a presidential candidate who was quoted on the 1994 campaign trail saying single mothers are "breeding more criminals" doesn't help either, especially when you consider that a lawmaker in my home state now wants to legally recognize single-parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse.

It's not just the women's issues that I think should be pulling at the public's attention either. There's the fact that signed a bill into law that tramples the First Amendment-guaranteed right to assembly and could make protesting a political event a crime. Or that he gave the green light to drones over the U.S. despite unanswered concerns about privacy, regulation, maintenance cost and security. Don't even get me started on the National Defense Authorization Act and the death of habeus corpus.

These are all decisions and discussions that will affect -- and are already impacting -- the lives of millions of Americans. These issues, votes and signatures could fundamentally alter the way our country operates -- largely for the worse, I fear. I worry even more when I see my fellow citizens willfully maintain political ignorance or flatly deny facts -- like that the rate of violent crime severely declined after the legalization of abortion, and that child abuse has also declined. Or that research consistently shows that teen pregnancies increase under abstinence-only education because -- SPOILER ALERT -- it doesn't lead to abstinence. Yet, some people will argue passionately that these are not observable truths and fight to make them into policy under law.

It seems to me that many Americans do not have an appropriate sense of perspective when it comes to politics. Many of the passionate few are ideologues, the passively-interested crowd tends to be fickle, but even more people are genuinely apathetic. Hell, over 40 percent of the eligible population just simply didn't vote in 2008. Now, there's talk of voter disenfranchisement and we haven't even got a GOP nominee yet.

Part of it is the fault of the media, and I know that I too am among the guilty. We know that anything longer than 500 words -- e.g. this virtual novella -- won't get any attention from most web surfers. So, we keep it brief to remain competitive while providing a service I still believe is fundamentally important to democracy. However, in doing so, we lose so much nuance in brevity. It's hard to adequately relay the tangible, human effects in 3 minutes of fleeting airtime, though many fine professionals give it their best shot every day to varying degrees of success. But I feel like we've lost a lot of depth and comprehension in our quest for creating the fastest and dispassionately concise news fare. Just earlier today, I complemented our weekend anchor on a a story he did about barbers seeking a law to require a license to display a barber pole. It was quirky yet oddly easy to relate to, and it was an American story. He said to me, "It felt great to do a real story again. We don't do that anymore." It's a sad commentary that proves all to true on more days than not.

The thing that keeps my feet on the ground -- and me in the saddle at the news desk -- is that there is still time and there is motion. The New York Times had a fascinating profile on how Centrist -- even moderate Republican -- women are growing disenchanted with the GOP-led restrictions and candidates, though sadly some now say they feel less inclined to vote. Yet, there are those who now plan to vote for -- and campaign for -- Obama now. A prominent employee of Goldman Sachs publicly proclaimed disgust at the company's culture and practices, ultimately quitting as a matter of conscience. Locally, a judge just denied a bank's attempt to demand a quarter of a million dollars from an elderly Minnesota man who was struggling with dementia when the loan was signed. And even though they're awful, hateful and dangerous amendment proposals like gay marriage bans and voter identification laws will bring people to ballot boxes. Oh, and it's totally awesome that judges are declaring those laws unconstitutional, because they totally are.

But we need an informed populace. This is vital, because the ignorant are easily misled with manipulative emotional ploys or misrepresented statistics. Is there any better example than the KONY 2012 viral campaign that swept across social media this week, despite the fact that Kony hasn't been seen in Uganda since 2005 and the people behind the project only put about 30 percent of all revenues toward their stated mission? Or the fact that the charity, Invisible Children, said Thursday it's not actually affiliated with KONY 2012, and the translated screening in Uganda was shut down when viewers began hurling rocks in outrage? Yet, millions of people shared this video as if it were the biggest social crisis they'd seen while completely ignoring that child sex trafficking happens in the U.S. too. Perspective, man. I'm telling you.

When society starts to think that liking a Facebook status is tantamount to political involvement, we need to do more to educate our neighbors and discuss what is important in our communities. After all, helping our fellow countrymen should be a happy task for us because every little improvement makes us all stronger. In that mindset we can begin to succeed, and I think we still can.

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It's the little things...

Sometimes, our success manifests itself in really strange and beautiful ways.

Tonight, I was frustrated with work. We had a lot of potential spot-news false starts, which kept bringing my workflow to a screeching halt. My reporters were late in getting me their scripts, thus making me scramble. My coworker didn't do a very simple request, and I think it was an intentional omission.

But you know what? I powered through it. Despite all of the challenges, I got out at midnight, which is an improvement on the norm -- considering even seamless nights could get stretched to 1:30 with the damn video machine. Also, I completed everything I needed to -- and made time to do a few extra things as well, including the request that was skipped.

Sure, I came home cranky and feeling grumpy abut tomorrow, but then I got on Facebook to make my usual late-night rounds and saw some comments that pulled me to the FOX 9 page. One of them was for a viewer thanking us for putting the videos of our weekly fitness segments on the web. This was something I just kind of started doing and branded as FOX 9 Fitness on my own, because I thought it would be a unique offering that could be bookmarked and referenced by fitness fiends. Now, not only are they being sought, but the users are requesting them by branded name.

When I saw that and looked back on the day, I realized there's a reason I do what I do. I'm really fucking good at it.

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