Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congressmen reaching out ...


The above cartoon provided by It's ironic because it shows that our elected officials are out of touch - which I certainly believe to be the truth - but this blog post is about elected officials using the internet - Twitter, specifically - to stay in touch.

A Texas congressman is fighting an archaic rule in the US House which prevents congressmen from doing things such as posting to Twitter, without identifying each post as coming from a member of Congress and stating that it is official business.
For Rep. John Culberson, a Texas Republican, the rules amount to a virtual gag order. Culberson opened a Twitter account to help him stay in touch with his consituents. Because the microblogging service allows only 140 characters per post, adding the required language is almost impossible. Faced with an official crackdown, Culberson began working to change the rules. "Send to all: Congress, change the rules," he posted on the site this week. "Talk to us on our social networks. Let our Congress Tweet!"
I think it's pretty cool to see Congressmen get involved in something like Twitter ... or MySpace or Facebook. Several of our local representatives have either MySpace or Facebook accounts. And at least one presidential candidate has a Twitter account:

Yeah. It's for real. Click the image and it will take you to his page where you can follow Barack.

In the end, I have to tell you, I think it's cool that elected officials are trying to use the internet to reach out. I just hope that the communication is a two-way street and that they realize they can use the internet to LISTEN, too.

Dialog show notes 071608

Dialog show notes only today because Reason was a "previously enjoyed" episode ... on account of complete power failure in Lockport.

And on Dialog the show started late on account of the press conference for the Lockport Ice and Recreation Center, which WLVL carried live. And given the importance of the press conference, the new arena was the topic dujour.

A caller said I should be the weenie of the week for saying yesterday that I couldn't talk about the topic until after today's press conference - only to have Doug Young report on it bright and early at 6 a.m. today. The reason for that, though, is that we were asked not to release the information until the press conference, which the group kindly set for 11:05 so we could carry it live from the beginning.

Anyway, although we had agreed to keep mum on the topic, it broke in this morning's paper, so WLVL reported it earlier than we had planned. I'm not sure if the US&J was asked to hold off on the information or not, though.

I think the planned arena will be a huge boon for Lockport, both economically and in terms of morale. As one of the speakers at the press conference put it, maybe we won't have kids say "there's nothing to do in Lockport."

There's still alot of work before the arena becomes a reality, but today's announcement was a big piece of the puzzle.

New column on casino debacle

As an FYI, yesterday's column was on the ongoing fight against the Buffalo Creek Casino.

Here's a snippet:
Personally, I view casino gambling as a form of entertainment. Every so often, I'll go to the Seneca Niagara Casino ... or even one of the Canadian casinos ... and drop $20 into the slot machines. That's my limit. $20.

I understand that other people aren't as frugal as I am ... and some people spend more than they can afford to at the casino. But those people spend more than they can afford to on everything. They spend too much going out to eat. They spend too much going to the movies. They spend too much on junk food. And yet, I don't hear Joel Rose complaining about the movie, restaurant or grocery industries.
For the full column, click here.

Kids and technology ...

A couple weeks ago, we got our oldest daughter (who's 11) a cell phone. It seems both surreal and completely natural at the same time. Surreal, since cell phones really weren't common when I was 11 ... and natural because my wife and I both have cell phones ... and we don't have a home phone. So rather than her borrowing ours to call her friends all the time ... now she's got her own.

Anyway, the cell phone came with some rules. She's not to give her number out to anyone without asking us first. And she's not to answer the phone if it's a number she doesn't know. No calls before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Pretty standard stuff.

The little one (who's 8) does NOT have a phone.

They do, both, however have email addresses now. I've wanted to get them email addresses for quite some time, actually. So they can email friends and - specifically family - many of whom live out of state.

The concern was always safety. I get - on average - 1,000 spam emails a DAY. Now, I understand that I get more than most, due in large part to the fact that I put myself (and my email address) out there alot. But many of those emails are unsuitable for children's eyes. So, I didn't want to get them a GMail, Hotmail or Yahoo account. I wanted a kid specific email that I could oversee.

I found one called EZPZeMail. It's not free, but it's not cost prohibitive either, especially since we're talking about the safety and wellbeing of my kids here. The best thing about it (in my opinion) is that the kids can only send or recieve messages from people in an approved list ... and guess who gets to do the approving. :) Anyone in that list, the message goes straight to their inbox. Any messages from anyone else goes to me. I can then either approve the message for the kids to read it, or I can delete it and they never have to see the type of smut we're used to in our inboxes.

Go to the forum to submit your own "kids and technology" tips or tricks.