Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chicken, Anyone?

Secretary Rumsfeld apparently likes the game of chicken, because he's inviting every nuclear power to play along.

Moral of the story: Rumsfeld's plan for ICBMs will get us all killed.

Not Only Will We Burn, But We'll Itch

Oh lord...I don't envy my children. From National Geographic:
Rising levels of carbon dioxide—a so-called greenhouse gas that traps heat within Earth's atmosphere—can fuel booming poison ivy growth, a new study reports.

Even worse, the rash-inducing vines may become more potent.
Sorry kids. Blame Granny and Grandpa. Or at least, their friends.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Don't Believe Him

Americans could learn a little from Machiavelli these days:
[There is]“such a difference between the way we really live and the way we ought to live that the man who neglects the real to study the ideal will learn how to accomplish his ruin. . . .”
Machiavelli was pointing out that what people say and what they intend do not matter. Only the result matters.

Consider the following from the President's speech at West Point:
We're still in the early stages of this struggle for freedom and, like those first years of the Cold War, we've seen setbacks, and challenges, and days that have tested America's resolve. Yet we've also seen days of victory and hope. We've seen people in Afghanistan voting for the first democratic parliament in a generation. We have seen jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets, holding up ink-stained fingers, celebrating their freedom. We've seen people in Lebanon waving cedar flags and securing the liberty and independence of their land. We've seen people in Kyrgyzstan drive a corrupt regime from power and vote for democratic change. In the past four years alone, more than 110 million human beings across the world have joined the ranks of the free -- and this is only the beginning. (Applause.) The message has spread from Damascus to Tehran that the future belongs to freedom -- and we will not rest until the promise of liberty reaches every people and every nation. (Applause.)
Contrast that with this:
BAGHDAD, May 29 - The U.S. military said Monday it was deploying the main reserve fighting force for Iraq, a full 3,500-member armored brigade, as emergency reinforcements for the embattled western province of Anbar, where a surge of violence linked to the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq has severely damaged efforts to turn Sunni Arab tribal leaders against the insurgency.
President Bush is living in a dream world, and his high-minded grasps to be the next Truman or Roosevelt or Reagan do not matter. His rhetorical acrobatics (and liberties) are just self-indulgent gas-bagging. The only thing that matters in the news about the Iraq War today is that we're now having to call in the reserves because the insurgents gained the initiative.

Dammit, Mr. President, wake the f*ck up. Fix this, or get out of the way and let someone else do it, and you can continue your impotent speaking circuit uninterrupted.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Times are tough at work. My supervisor left due to the abusive environment (see below). In her absence, a very ambitious senior staffer is looking to take duties out of my hands and use them to create an empire inside the Nonprofit. Ambiguities are in play all around; because they weren't dealt with before my supervisor left, Mr. Ambition is using them and my non-descriptive title to play games. He wants to be the savior of the organization, and to do it by manipulating my turf.

This is a learning ground for me. I am face-to-face with not only classic power games in which I must learn to manuever, but I'm face-to-face with my own shorcomings.

My self esteem has always been based on my intelligence and creativity. That's warped somewhat as I've aged into wanting to be the sole source of creativity and intelligence. These are my buttons. I have to learn not to let them be pushed.

I was told that I was to be responsible for the "day-to-day operations" of my Big Project, while Mr. Ambition would take control of "overall strategy." My strategy: to keep him blind to the fact that there are no "big decisions." They're all "little decisions." Since the Nonprofit has no overall strategy, let him run around and try to make one. In the meantime, I will make it work and claim credit for it.

Sure, Mr. Ambition, you win. I surrender. You take care of that big picture strategy. Just let me run it all.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Tone is Torture; or, Post Mortem: One Rough Week

The fact that I'm up at 2 a.m. on Friday writing about my rough work week should tell you what kind of week it was.

My org is pushing a Super Duper Event on Monday. Celebrities, dramatic locations, the whole bit. Thing is, it's not really a newsworthy event. It's more of a fundraising and footage/photo-gathering event. We want the celebs to give us money and to help us raise money. But there's no news story's an old story, which, granted, we're trying to keep cameras on because it's the right thing to do, but our success should be measured in dollar signs, not headlines.

The event is huge, the local staff are screwing around. So my very capable supervisor issues an all-hands-on-deck call for staff to help with media pitches. Great! I want this experience on my resume anyway, so we grind a couple hundred calls out.

So while this is going on, another department wants us to drop what we're doing and send out releases on their non-news-making report. We say no. They complain. We still say no. They complain complain complain, and we say NO. The dispute is settled when the new chief of staff steps in and says NO, but we'll put something on the webpage. To salve egos, I place this story as the top story for the week, with the plan being to drop it today to get us on message for the Super Duper Event on Monday.

All this is setting me back severely on all my very urgent deadlines for the Huge Project. So I'm already stressed out and leaving work feeling like I've been beat with a stick from doing press calls that are a bit of a stretch for editors in Whereever, America.

But today, oh today, Friday, surpassed all the rough days by a factor of ten.

Our legendary President, who doesn't even know how to turn on her computer (I'm not being funny....she really doesn't) somehow becomes "shocked" that today, three days before the event, we haven't posted the press release on the event to the website. Not that I'm quibbling, but the press release was clearly marked "Embargoed Until May 8th," meaning that we'd basically be jamming our thumbs into the eyes of every reporter who respected our embargo if we posted it on the web before then. Her email (which she had to dictate because she doesn't know how to use email) then degenerated into general gripes about the way our department does its job. It concludes with an expectation of a "full court press on Saturday and Sunday" to make up for "ground lost" and the most senile "it's about the mission, the misssiooooonnnnnnn" closer I've ever seen.

Mission, schmission. I've been in this job for two months, and I can tell you unequivocally that The Mission is dead, and the President is holding the still-bloody knife in her micromanaging, bully-fisted hands. Right now my org is a group of staffers floundering desperately to man their posts and make a difference in spite of, not under the leadership of, a-former-Jedi-hero-turned-Sith-Lord. Her brass-knuckled karate with the staff has resulted in no director of my department lasting more than a few months. She's axed whole departments and done nothing to abate an anemic fundraising trend that threatens the future of the organization. She sets the tone, and the tone is Torture.

All this exposes an important fact to keep in mind....somewhere there is a bad actor watching our site and reporting it to her. Good to know. Be warned! If I find out who you are, and you're not a board member, you and I will definately be passive-aggressive friends for years to come.

But my supervisor has finally had it. Not only did she fight back, she slammed the boss for copying irrelevant staff on the email and told her she was finding these public dressing-downs to be contributing to a hostile work environment. Then she turned in her two weeks notice. Good for her!

Unfortunately, now I'm very much exposed with no go-between between the Boss Lady and myself. And the autonomy of the web effort is now in jeopardy.

Stress. Stress stress stress.

So Sunday I'm off to the Super Duper Event. This will be a lot like watching a train wreck up close, I think.

Oh well. At least I still have L. waiting for me in bed when I come home. She's my rock.

And by the way, Madam President, if you're reading this, I'm already travelling on Sunday for your non-event event. Take your full court press and stick it in your locker room.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Now That is Punishment

I am a funky mix when it comes to crime and punishment.

I don't believe the prison system should be seen as a rehabilitation system as its primary function. Prison is for punishment. The point of prison is doing time, not helping the inmate.

However, I am opposed to the death penalty. Killing anyone for any reason is wrong. And death is not punishment; it is escape. A dead man is beyond our capacity to punish.

Compare, for example, death by lethal injection, which ends the life of the inmate, to this, courtesy CNN:
Once in prison, Moussaoui will be in lockdown for 23 hours of every day, with one hour of recreation daily. He'll also spend that one hour alone.
The same four walls, every day, no conversation, for the rest of your life. Now that is punishment.