Bring on the Heat

I turned the heat on today. I blame Lexi. She’s borderline sick today and keeping the house at 61 degrees doesn’t seem very wise. Though all things considered, it’s the second latest date we’ve turned on the heat:

It might help that I’m going to be homeless tonight and the thought of a warm house is more than enticing.

Support Start Seeing Art

My local public art side project, Start Seeing Art, is now accepting sponsorship. It’s basically advertising—rotating banners in the sidebar—but I hate to use the word “advertising” because the site doesn’t justify the eyeballs to use that word. We get minimal traffic thanks to our extreme niche, so it’s more of a generous subsidy than a mutual exchange. If you or anyone you know would be interested in supporting public art by sponsoring Start Seeing Art, please send ’em to the support page.

The sponsorship banners are $25 per month (cheap!), with a maximum of five banners each month. So even if I sell all available space I won’t be getting rich ($125/month). More than anything this is an effort to bring some kind of revenue, any revenue, into the site. I’ve been running the site since November 2007 and we’ve mapped 371 works of local public art. That’s a lot of work. And a lot of gas. In that time we’ve made a whopping $20.36 from the Google ads (I think we’re too niche and too local for Google ads to be of much use). If the sponsorship banners sell I’ll probably drop the Google ads.

I’ll keep exploring other ways to make the site work. Grants are the most likely option, but it gets complicated since I’m not a nonprofit—unfortunately not making a profit doesn’t make you a nonprofit, as the joke goes. Hopefully we’ll figure something out and I can justify the time I put into the site.

Bono on the Financial Crisis

Bono talks about the $700 billion bailout package:

“I am not qualified to comment on the interventions that have been put forth. I can assume these people know what they’re doing. But is is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion to save 25,000 child who die every day of preventable treatable diseases and hunger. That is mad. Bankruptcy  is a serious business. And we all know people who have lost their jobs this week,  I do anyway. But this is moral bankruptcy.”

I agree with Bono on both counts: I’m not qualified to comment on the bailout yeah or nay, but I do think it’s amazing that we can shell out a ton of money for all these bailouts but we can’t spend a much smaller sum of money to save lives.

It’s much more complicated than this, but saving lives seems more important than saving the economy.

Is Barack Obama a Muslim? Who Cares?

The New Yorker Obama CoverThe question of Barack Obama’s faith and background keeps coming up. Despite his long-held Christian faith, the rumors that he is a Muslim persist. An April poll showed that 1 in 10 Americans thought Obama was a Muslim (one would hope that number would have dropped in the months since).

Is Barack Obama a Muslim? No. (Visit for the short answer.)

But what if he was? Who cares?

Is Barack Obama an Arab, as McCain crowds in Minnesota seem to think (yes, I’m embarrassed for my state)? No. His father is from Kenya, his mother is from Kansas (hey, my mom’s from Kansas!) and he was born in Hawaii.

Again, but what if he was an Arab? Who cares? Continue reading Is Barack Obama a Muslim? Who Cares?

Did Martin Luther King Jr. Finally End the Civil War?

PRI’s The World has a fascinating series of stories on how wars end. The series is looking at past wars to give insight into how the Iraq war might end. Yesterday’s story covered the end of the Civil War and the failure of Reconstruction.

What’s so interesting is the assertion that the Civil War didn’t end at Appomattox. The battle continued, though it wasn’t always a military battle (though people still died):

Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations says it helps him understand how it’s possible to win the war, capture the capital but still lose the peace. He notes the North won the big military contest between 1861 and 1865, but that didn’t end the struggle. And over time, Biddle points out, Southern resistance paid off. In 1877 President Rutherford Hayes withdrew Northern troops from the South.

“And the South proceeds to essentially run out the Northern installed governments of the remaining Southern states, institutes what amounted to white one-party rule, removed blacks from voter rolls throughout the South and established a system of segregation, and that system remains to a significant degree all the way up until the civil rights movement of the 1960s.”

Biddle says if you look at in political terms, it’s possible to construct an argument that the South actually won the war.

That’s quite a claim, but it’s interesting to consider. If the Civil War was fought to bring freedom to blacks, you could argue that freedom wasn’t fully achieved until Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. How’s that for a long view of the conflict? Never thought I’d consider MLK a Civil War hero. That’s probably taking it a bit far, but it’s interesting to consider and is a strong counter to the myth that the Civil War ended amicably at Appomattox.

The Presidential Debates are Broken

Tonight is the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I’m not sure if I want to watch. Having watched the first presidential debate and the only vice presidential debate I came away with the conclusion that debates are broken.

  • “Facts” are tossed around by both candidates and then challenged and defended with no regard for what’s factual. Even when multiple sites and news organizations fact check the candidates, those misleading, deceptive or blatantly false claims still come up. Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin used “facts” in the VP debate that had already been fact-checked and swatted down after the presidential debate.
  • The follow-up questions are limited so there’s no actual resolution for any issue. A candidate can make an outrageous claim and it just sits there unchallenged. This happened multiple times in both debates.
  • Finally, the underlying issues that inform policies are never actually debated. For example, we go round and round on who’s tax policy does what (here’s a good breakdown of their respective tax policies), but we never get to the issues behind the opposing policies: What will improve the economy more, giving more money to the middle class or more money to the wealthy? That’s the real debate, with real historical examples (Reagan vs. Clinton), but we never actually get there.

Continue reading The Presidential Debates are Broken