Wanting to Believe

In a blog entry I wrote for work, I referenced a New York Times story about the presidential candidates’ health care plans. The basic point of the story was that we can’t trust that the numbers from either campaign will end up being true. Both are probably being rosy in their estimates and too critical of their opponents.

The key paragraph, though, was one I thought bears true to issues far beyond health care:

A number of economists said voters would be wise to simply tune out all of the competing numbers and focus instead on the philosophical underpinnings of the candidates’ plans. Indeed, Dr. Reinhardt offered voters the same instruction he delivers to his students, that economics as practiced in the political arena is often “just ideology marketed in the guise of science.”

After the election, at the other blog, I plan to offer a discussion about the topic of “wanting to believe.” It’s probably true that both candidates are making promises too bold about a lot of their plans. But plans, once implemented, can be tweaked. We can predict disaster and to some degree we’re in an economic one now. In reality, though, both plans might work, and both plans will certainly have unintended consequences. So you get to the core question of which one you would rather have be the one put in place, with the consequences being a secondary matter.

It explains why many of my friends send me anti-Obama stuff that is obviously false within the first few sentences, but only to those who either want to find the fallacy or at least don’t implicitly believe it because it came from a friend. The same is true for much of the anti-McCain stuff I have heard during the campaign, the worst of it from Republicans themselves. Or there’s the screed against journalism by Orson Scott Card, who repeats the standard bullet points of Republicans seeking a way to make Democrats alone guilty of the financial crisis. It doesn’t take long to discover that politicians generally played a role, politicians of both ranks. I haven’t studied the meltdown enough to speak authoritatively, but I’ve read enough to know that there’s a wide swath of accountability for this, including on my own shoulders for taking on as much debt as I did. But folks interested in winning aren’t interested in that.

What I want is for a large group of Americans to admit that they’re voting for their candidate not because the one guy is a Muslim or the other guy is crazy and old. I want voters to say I agree more with the one guy’s politics, and then admit it makes them more likely to believe the garbage about the other guy. Only then can someone who saw the Reagan years as golden not blanche when someone talks about how wrong the 1980s were. It will be then that a liberal can not take offense when a conservative considers Obama’s policies akin to socialism. Those beliefs are based on core philosophies.

Part of the reason I’m voting for the candidate I’m voting for is because I want to believe his policies will be better than the ones from the other guy. All the while I’m wanting to believe the other guy is at his core a good man and would be revolted to think he could harm this country. This wanting to believe of mine comes with the caveat that I recognize an illness in anyone who wants to be president, only because I’ve probably seen signs of illness in myself. Nonetheless, I think politicians are capable of overcoming their own egos, and in this election I have high hopes for both contenders.

He Shoots, Rejected!

With the industry I work in ensconsed in the depths of what one co-worker called a “death spiral,” I have concluded that finding extra work in addition to my day job would be a good idea. And what better avenue to pursue than one related to the one I’m on anyway?

Many days on the social networking site Facebook I see this catchy little number:

suite101 image

I had clicked on it before to see the basics. It looked pretty interesting and possibly useful, so I set it aside for a while.

The thought many of us who write have is that there will be opportunities for writers at newspapers for some time, but that papers like ours are moving more and more to having freelancers on contract. I don’t anticipate that happening to me soon, but the day could come within 16 years. Why 2024 matters is that’s when I’d be eligible to retire on full benefits from my company. We recently received statements showing what our pensions would be if we retired at 62. It’s not great money by any means, but joined by Social Security and whatever other income I can create, it’s not poverty. That I would be able to work that way for the next 16 years, full time with medical, is the big question.

One day a co-worker took me to lunch and we talked about what we want to do with our lives, a constant conversation among journalists. What used to be understood as wanting to do what we’re doing in some capacity is now a wide-open question. I concluded I want to write books and blog for a living. The book part is doable. Blogging maybe even moreso.

So I thought it was time to get serious about the ad on Facebook. On Monday night I went to update my status to the latest clever thing and the ad wasn’t there. I did some searching and found another company advertising for bloggers. That company wanted 25 submissions a month. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, but I wanted something a little less demanding. I finally found the suite101 ad, found out the company wants three submissions a month, then provided the information sought, including two news clips, and waited.

I got rejected.

This morning I received a response saying it was for one of the following reasons:

  • your areas of expertise and samples did not reflect the search interests of our Web audience;
  • your educational and employment experience did not suggest authoritative expertise re the subject areas you wish to cover;
  • the tone of your samples was better suited to a site either more or less formal than our own;
  • your writing sample may have had serious errors in language use, structure, grammar, spelling, or punctuation;
  • your writing suggested a first-person, experiential, or opinion-based approach to material rather than an objective journalistic style that quoted verifiable sources.
  • So, like many of the greats who’ve made it big as writers, I’ll have this rejection story to tell. Some Canadian company I’d never heard of with a stable of writers I’ve never read on a Web site I never visited thought I wasn’t suitable for the company’s audience. Time will tell whether I share being great and making it big in common as well.

    Oh Gr8, I Got Tagged

    8 Favorite TV shows:

    1. Lost
    2. Saturday Night Live
    3. The Office
    4. Mad Men
    5. The Simpsons
    6. Get Smart
    7. Major League Baseball
    8. NCAA Football

    8 Things I did yesterday:

    1. Made Sascha get out of the van and dial me up a Dr. Pepper.
    2. Ate three potatoes.
    3. Wore a hoodie.
    4. Went to church.
    5. Made cupcakes.
    6. Continued working on my plan for world domination.
    7. Made Apollo giggle.
    8. Took a nap.

    8 things to look forward to:

    1. World domination.
    2. Well, uh, you know.
    3. Sleeping in.
    4. The next Bruce Springsteen tour.
    5. 10 p.m. Nov. 4
    6. A haircut
    7. The next trip to Hawaii
    8. Getting my book published.

    8 Favorite restaurants:

    1. In-N-Out
    2. Pudge Brothers Pizza
    3. Sunny Teriyaki
    4. Anthony’s
    5. Aroy Dy
    6. Red Robin
    7. Noah’s Ark
    8. Spaghetti Factory

    8 Things on my wish list:

    1. Out of debt.
    2. Book published.
    3. Getting rid of a bunch of weight.
    4. Two newer cars.
    5. Whirled peas.
    6. Fun at the Legislature this winter.
    7. A vacation, a good vacation, not just time off.
    8. Kids’ college paid for

    8 people I tag:

    1. You
    2. Him
    3. Her
    4. That one
    5. You in the corner.
    6. You, out there on your own, sitting naked by the phone.
    7. Your mother.
    8. Nunya

    Turning Off the Television

    family watching televisionWhen I was in sixth grade I could have probably told you any program that was on in prime time on the major networks. That was true for even the shows I never watched. We subscribed to TV Guide, for one. For the other, it’s not that hard to memorize the schedule for three networks. Now, though, it isn’t just the insane number of channels we have to choose from that makes me less inclined to have the agenda down pat. It’s that life has served up things more important than whether Richie, Potsy and Ralph Malph manage to foil the guys burglarizing the Cunningham’s house.

    Still, I love television. I love all the news shows available. I love “Lost” and “Saturday Night Live.” Assuming I remember it’s Thursday I’ll often watch “The Office.”

    Despite that, we’re considering turning off the cable television. One reason is the instrument in front of me. All of the shows I mentioned can be seen online, at a time of my choosing.

    Second, though, is the concern over whether I’m watching my children become too attached to the screen. The house might be quieter. There might be more noise from the piano. It would benefit me, for almost certain, but I’m more wondering whether this might be the right move for the kids.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, Diana wants to watch “ER” on my laptop and I’m going to see if the latest episode of “Mad Men” is available.

    Not Stone Yet

    dogYears ago I didn’t report an incident to a woman’s liking and she called one of the local talk shows and ranted about my coverage. As I heard it, I was incensed, coming unglued over the phone with my boss. I’m sure that was good move. Fortunately my boss wasn’t one to carry a long memory. Besides, he’s retiring soon, so even if he does remember it he can’t do anything about it come 2009.

    Since that moment I learned how important it is to not let what readers think affect how I feel about myself. Read the criticism and see if it’s correct. If not, either try to correct or let it go. Sometimes that depends on the person making the criticism. We’ve got one reader with whom it’s just better to never communicate. There’s someone else, though, who I have in the past had a lot of respect for who is convinced I unfairly singled him or her out for censoring on the work blog. No matter what I do, nothing seems to be persuasive. Anymore I don’t think this person is willing to even talk about it, fine to just take random shots at me in e-mails or in the comments on the site.

    I admit it bothers me. I offered today to meet over lunch or a hot beverage to talk it out. I’ve yet to hear back. Again, with some people it wouldn’t bother me. for some reason this one does. It’s proof that I’ve yet to overcome my codependency.

    Mark Twain I’m Not

    As much as I admire Mark Twain’s wit and ability to tell a story and make a point without socking you (or me) in the face with it, I think what’s underrated is the guy’s hair.

    Other photos are not as complimentary as the one here, but even if his hair was unkempt and unruly, his stature is increased because he was willing to keep that kind of mop on top. And look at Einstein. Would we care about relativity if it hadn’t been expressed by someone whose finger appears to have constantly been in the socket?

    Alas, I can’t pull it off. There’s no place for a big-haired fat guy anymore. Well, maybe it’s just because there are so many of them out there. I let my hair go too much and pretty soon people start assuming that I spend most of time playing fantasy games online or standing in line for the next Lord of the Rings movie. I once did a seminar in a hotel room next to a science fiction convention. I’ve seen those people. I’m not among them, bless their hearts.

    What makes my decision final, the decision to forego dabbling in longer hair, is on Facebook I posted as my status that I should probably cut my hair. A friend, who I hadn’t seen in ages until Sunday, responded “Yup.”

    I agree.

    I guess if I ever get recognized as a modern Mark Twain, it won’t be for the hair.

    Biden in Tacoma

    Joe BidenThis morning, Sunday, I made the drive from Bremerton to Tacoma, about a 40-minute ride, to take in what will probably be the last major visit by a presidential or vice-presidential candidate to this state. Barack Obama is likely to win this place. The real question, as it was four years ago, is the governor’s race. Joe Biden, who would be Obama’s veep, came to Tacoma today mostly to tout his and Obama’s candidacy. But there was a strong message in support of Chris Gregoire as well. I got to cover it for the paper. Here’s the story on Sunday’s Biden event. And here’s the story I wrote about our governor’s race.

    What America’s facing economically is something we reporters have been facing for the past few years. There has been a real uncertainty in the ranks and major exits from bigtime reporters. Well, bigtime for this state. At least four of the biggest players in Olympia have taken PR jobs, two with private companies and two with the state. I don’t blame them. Sometimes I envy them. Today was not one of those times. For someone who loves politics, at least most of the time, today was like ice cream. So this year I got to see Hillary, Obama, McCain and Biden. I even got to participate in an interview with McCain. You know who would be so proud? My mother. I wish she would have lived long enough to see this. I have faith she is seeing it and that it matters to her. Probably not as much as those grandbabies, but still. I mean I got to ride the bus with McCain. No matter what happens the rest of my life, I’ll always have 2008.