Monday, July 23, 2007

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Edition 2.15

Welcome to the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy, Edition 2.15 - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy John starts us off this week by questioning those who cheered Libby's pardon in Blogs for the Subversion of Justice posted at hell's handmaiden.

DWSUWF see fairness as key ingredient to democracy in Fixing Fairness - A modest technology solution. posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall.

Falling Out asks why Britney's bald head is more interesting than the demise of democracy in Disbanded Brothers posted at The Truth Of Paradox.

FitBuff wonders if a "fat tax" is a sign of the decline of gastronomic democracy in How Much Are You Willing to Pay for Twinkies? posted at Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog.

Doug Ragan stands up for the Right Wing in What Everyone Missed in the Immigration Debate posted at I'm A Pundit Too.

Madeleine Begun Kane wraps things up with Yet Another Filibuster Song Parody (The Full-a-Bluster Song) posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

I'll be back in two weeks (August 6) with another edition of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Submit Your Posts Here. More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Video Site ~ Help me win $25

There's yet another new web site entering into the viral video marketplace that has been so dominated by YouTube. This one is called, and their particular hook is video contests. "Producers" select a theme for "Performers" to post on, with prizes from $10 to $25 each. The prize money comes from the advertisements that are appended to the start of each video.

I was contacted by Shawn, one of the goChongo founders, and asked to enter one of my YouTube videos into their "Political Posturing" contest. Always being one to want to test out new web sites, I agreed.

You can view, rate, and vote for my entry, "New Political Dictionary," by clicking on this line.

The site still has a few bugs to work out, but it could be a fun concept if the ads at the start of the videos don't get too annoying. I'll also be interested to see if their approach to revenue sharing (small pots of prize money) will attract many users.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

USA; the home of free speech! Or is it...

Many Americans take their first amendment rights to free speech for granted, and assume it applies in all situations. This is simply not so.

Sure, everybody knows you can't shout "Fire" in a crowded theater, or otherwise use your "free speech" in such a way as to cause a panic, or to libel or slander somebody. But the reality is, in most private situations, you have no rights to free speech at all.

I've had this discussion with people on various online forums, particularly lately on YouTube, where somebody's posting (or even account) is deleted by the site moderators, and everybody gets up in arms about "Free Speech." The fact is, when you post to somebody else's web site, you are posting to their private property, and they set the rules of engagement.

The First Amendment only applies where and when the government is part of the equation. The point of the First Amendment is to say from the start that our government cannot tell you that you cannot say certain things. The point is to maintain a press and a public debate that is free from intervention and censorship from official sources. That's all. When you're in my house, I can tell you to shut up as much as I like, and you have no recourse but to leave.

And, when you're at work, you are at somebody else's "house." Can you be fired for what you say at work? Contrary to popular belief, you certainly can.

Speechless at work, posted on The American Prospect, is an excellent discussion of our lack of free speech (and other) rights in the workplace. The article is an interview with Bruce Barry, professor of management and sociology at Vanderbilt University, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, and author of Speechless: The Erosion of Free Expression In the American Workplace.

Why does Barry think that our lack of free speech rights in the workplace is such a serious problem?
"The problem is that the climate for free speech at work leaves employees with their rights as citizens and their job security in tension with one another. The pragmatist advice basically says hold onto your job and shut down the citizenship if it's going to get you in trouble. That kind of tension between citizenship and job security is not just bad because it might be nice to work in a freer workplace, it's bad because it has a harmful effect on the health of a democratic society. There may not be that many people getting fired for their bumper stickers or their blogs on a given day, but when it does happen, it has a chilling effect. We talk about the decline of civic engagement in this country, and I think this is a reason why."
According to the article, "A 2001 AFL-CIO study revealed that 80 percent of employees believe it would be illegal for an employer to fire them for expressing political views that s/he disagrees with." If you are vocal about political issues on or off the job, you better hope that your boss is one of the misinformed who thinks you can't be fired.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Edition 2.14

Welcome to the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy, Edition 2.14 - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy Starting us off this week following the Fourth of July, Charles M. presents an excellent and timely tribute to our "forgotten founder" in History's Hit Job on Thomas Paine posted at KILL BIGOTRY!.

John continues on a related theme in We Hold These Truths posted at hell's handmaiden.

Falling Out presents Target You posted at Falling Out: The Truth Of Paradox.

Steven Silvers presents WakeUpWalMart defections might mean union-backed activist groups have done all they can do posted at Scatterbox at

And in the Satire Department:

Avant News presents a particularly funny and poignant entry with President Ron Paul Deported Under Ron Paul's No Amnesty Law posted at Avant News.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Suffering From Bloomberg-Envy ... Or Just an Idiotic Egomaniac? posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

I'll be back in two weeks (July 23) with another edition of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Submit Your Posts Here. More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm not worthy! ~ Ken, the BBQ Star

About a month or so back I was contacted by the Cattlemen's BBQ Sauce people (well, actually a person from their PR company) about a video I'd posted on YouTube with a BBQ recipe: Chocolate Coffee Steaks. She said they were launching a new web site for Cattlemen's, and they wanted to include some videos.

Although my recipe was for a dry rub, I do keep two flavors of Cattlemen's in the house for serving on the side, or for use as an ingredient in my own sauces, so I agreed and gave permission for them to use my video. Then I forgot about it.

Today I got an email from Lisa (PR lady) saying the site had launched at - I was quite surprised to find my coffee-chocolate dry rub recipe video as the third item listed on the home page under "Featured Recipes."

I've been even more surprised (pleasantly) as I've looked over the other Featured Recipes and found that most of the others are from guys with real BBQ credentials; either a professional grilling site of their own or a rack of awards from BBQ competitions. And then there's my amateur content which I shot with the camera in one hand and a spatula (or a beer) in the other.

Very silly, and a lot of fun. And, no, I'm not getting paid by Cattlemen's, although I'm kind of hoping to find a coupon in my mailbox next week.

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