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District Representation – The Washington Post, January 22, 1879
|| 10/1/2009 || 8:16 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

District Representation

The Washington Post, January 22, 1879

With the exception of the Indian tribes, the only community within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States unrepresented in Congress is the District of Columbia.

Territories whose few inhabitants are scattered over a broad expanse like the masts of ships on the ocean, and which neither commerce nor manufactures, send their delegates to Congress to represent their interests, and procure for them such legislation as shall tend to develop their resources and afford encouragement and protection to their people the embryo state advances toward maturity.

States with half the population of this District have their representatives in the House, and have an equal voice in the Senate with the oldest, largest, richest, and most populous members of the family states.

It is only here, at the capital of a country whose government is based on suffrage, that suffrage is unknown.

Holding to the theory that governments derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed, and that the ballot is the proper mode of expressing that consent, our Government denies the ballot to the inhabitants of its capital city.

Believing and teaching that is should be no taxation without representation, and that such taxation is tyranny, our Government levies taxes on the property of this people, and if those taxes are not paid it sells the property under the red flag and the hammer of a Government auctioneer. Thousands of homes have thus been sold here during the last few years.

We cannot see how any man, whatever may have been the result of his observation here in times past, can hold to the Democratic creed, to the great underlying principles of free government, and oppose the representation of this District in the law-making department of our governmental mechanism.

And because out faith in true Democracy is a vital reality, and not a sham, we approve the proposition to have the District of Columbia represented in the House. We see no reason why this community should be an exception to the general rule- why all should have a voice in the Capitol and we be mute.

It may be urged that the horde of negroes who swarm here will be used to elect a delegate who will misrepresent our people. We do not believe it. Intelligence and social influence, if rightly employed, will so direct public opinion that the election will be a fair expression of the wishes of our people.

As the delegate will not vote, and as his influence will depend on his being in accord with the dominant party in Congress, there will be no temptation to resort to any of those schemes and tricks that brought reproach upon popular suffrage here some years ago.

But whatever may be the fears of the timid and doubtful, we see no way in which an honest believer in Democracy can deny representation to this community. The taxpayer has a right to be heard. A delegate can speak for him. Consistency demands that this proposition should not fail for want of the support of Democrats in Congress.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Photographs of the Taxpayers March on Washington [PART ONE]
|| 9/12/2009 || 8:57 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

A sign that says Bury Obamacare with Ted Kennedy covered in horse poop

This morning I got up early to attend the Taxpayers March on Washington. Being that I’ve attended nearly every major demonstration in Washington, DC over the last ten years, I was really curious about how this demonstration would go off. How many people would there be? What would be the demographics of those present? Would people bring guns? Are these people as crazy and brainwashed as they’ve come to appear on television? Instead of relying on YouTube videos and hearsay, I wanted to see for myself who consider themselves modern day patriots.

Before I left my house I turned on the TV to see if there was any coverage of the demonstration on the major cable television news channels. Sure enough, CNN was showing that an estimated 80,000 were present. I also opened up the Washington Post and was rather startled that they had an article on the front page about the march. Where was the same kind of coverage before the Iraq war started when there were hundreds of thousands of Americans marching? After reading the article, and questioning Washington Post’s motives, I put on my FREE DC hat, charged up my camera, and rode my bike down to Pennsylvania ave to take it all in.


Below is my first batch of photographs from the day.

Photo of a woman wearing a t-shirt that says: I want my gun
Photo of a woman wearing a t-shirt that says: I Want My Gun.
My question is, why do you need a gun at a peaceful demonstration?

+ MORE



Google Reader’s Featured Reading Lists: Where are the rest of the newspaper journalists?
|| 8/27/2009 || 7:51 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

After logging into Google Reader this afternoon, I was presented with a link that brought me to the page above. It features lists of blogs that journalists, foodies, and tech bloggers read. I decided to go through the entire listing and was struck by the fact that so many of the journalists are from the New York Times….


News:

  • Thomas Friedman, NY Times
  • Paul Krugman, NY Times
  • Nicholas Kristof, NY Times
  • Dexter Filkins, NY Times
  • Charles Blow, NY Times
  • Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post
  • Michelle Malkin, Hot Air
  • Patrick Ruffini, The Next Right
  • John Dickerson, Slate
  • Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos

Tech and Web:

  • Chris Anderson, Wired
  • Adam Pash, Lifehacker
  • Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
  • Alex Papadimoulis, The Daily WTF
  • Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land
  • Jason Kottke, Kottke.org
  • Annalee Newitz, io9
  • Meaghan O’Neill, TreeHugger.com & PlanetGreen.com
  • Ben Popken, The Consumerist

Food and Health:

  • Mark Bittman, NY Times
  • Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times
  • Béatrice Peltre, La Tartine Gourmande
  • Faith Durand, The Kitchn

Trends and Fashion:

  • Cathy Horyn, NY Times
  • Abby Gardner, Fashionista
  • Danielle de Lange, The Style Files
  • Carrie Leber, Bloomacious

I think the overall listing is decent, but what about journalists from other newspapers? Most of the journalists & bloggers listed above do not have a daily printed edition of their reporting. Only the New York Times has a daily printed edition. So what about the reporters from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, etc., who have their writings published each day? I bet they read blogs too. The New York Times might be one of the best & largest daily newspapers in the country, but Google should have reached out for a wider range of journalists from other cities around America.



Dear WashingtonPost.com: Either You Are Censoring Bloggers Or Your 3rd Party Widget Isn’t Working Properly
|| 8/18/2009 || 4:25 pm || 5 Comments Rendered || ||

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World highlighting the link that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading

On Sunday I was pleased to see that Washington Post staff writer Dan Zak had transcribed my poster in his article on MTV’s Real World filming in DC. So pleased in fact, that I spent about an hour writing and formatting a blog entry about the article.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I decided to go back to the article to see what kind of reaction Dan Zak’s article made on-line. The metrics for ascertaining this information is somewhat straightforward; the more comments the article generates, the larger the reaction. This, however, only gives the basic information of who decided to comment on the Washington Post website. The second metric that can be used to gauge the popularity of an article is to see who is blogging about it.

Since the Washington Post’s print edition does not make it’s way out of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to other parts of the United States and the rest of the world, bloggers are an integral part of the Washington Post’s digital distribution model. As a way to track this digital diaspora of off-site responses to an article, the WashingtonPost.com has a link posted in each article that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading (see red arrow above). This link is managed, err, powered by a third party called Sphere, which is supposed to track instances of when bloggers use the URL of a specific article in their blog entry.

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World questioning why my blog entry does not appear in the listing of who is blogging about a article

So why wasn’t my blog entry mentioned? Does this third party widget not work as well as it should? Are the 206,000 websites that Sphere.com says are using their product not really getting the best product they thought they were receiving? Or is there some form of censorship that is being employed at the Washington Post to scrub out blogs that the web editors don’t want their readers to see?

In my opinion, I think Sphere.com is not working to the best of it’s theoretical ability. I say this because I would rather not think there is some sort of censorship taking place– but I will not rule that prospect out. In my original blog entry I made sure that I hyperlinked to the article, used the entire name of the article, included the name of the author, and I even sent a trackback to the URL on the WashingtonPost.com. Combined together, all of these factors should have put my entry in the “Who’s Blogging” listing. But, alas, its not.

This has some important implications. First and foremost, the author of the article is not able to fully see the extent to which his article was covered on-line. His boss might incorrectly assume by reading the Sphere.com information that the article had minimal on-line reaction and possibly make future editorial decisions based on this partial & incomplete information. Secondly, WashingtonPost.com readers are unable to see other opinions about the article. Instead they are only offered the opinions written by other WashingtonPost.com readers (which I’ve griped about before) and not writers who have their own established blog and dedicated readership. Lastly, since I was not given credit for writing the sign transcribed in the article, I was further excluded from receiving any residual credit, and the WashingtonPost.com readers were never informed of why the sign was put up in the first place.

In conclusion, I hope the WashingtonPost.com and/or Sphere.com fix this widget or refrain from this type of subtle censorship. This exclusion of other viewpoints only hurts their readership and stifles subsequent information discovery. My opinions are just as valid as those expressed by the commenters on WashingtonPost.com and its disingenuous to present a link that appears to give accurate information about who is blogging about an article, when it’s clearly not showing all the bloggers who took the time to participate in the discussion.



The Medicare Constitution – American Healthcare Reform Parodied from the UK’s NHS Constitution
|| || 1:01 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Yesterday I read the op-ed “In Defense of Britain’s Health System” by British doctors Ara Darzi and Tom Kibasi in the Washington Post. Near the end of the article they stated:

Standing in defense of Britain’s health service does not mean that we believe it is the right prescription for the United States. It is not for us to propose the solution for America, but we hope that correcting the record on some of the facts about our NHS will help Americans evaluate the real strengths and challenges of our system, instead of focusing on the misinformation spread by fear-mongers.

It got me thinking, what if the American healthcare reform was simply expanded Medicare coverage? Even though only people 65 or older qualify for Medicare, its already America’s largest health insurance program, covering over 40 million Americans (Number of Uninsured Americans = 47 million). This concept of expanding America’s current single-payer healthcare option is already outlined in the bill HR 676, which is withering away in Congress due to intense pressure from insurance corporations, pharmaceutical corporations, industry trade groups, and small-government conservatives. But what if Americans received a Medicare Constitution that outlined the rights, pledges, expectations, responsibilities, and values of a national healthcare system? To answer these hypothetical questions I decided to plagiarize the British NHS Constitution and replace NHS with Medicare and Parliament with Congress (as well as few other minor changes). Below is the result:


A photoshopped graphic from the NHS constitution

Medicare belongs to the people.

It is there to improve our health and well-being, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science – bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at times of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matter most.

Medicare was founded on a common set of principles and values that bind together the communities and people it serves – patients and public – and the staff who work for it.

This Constitution establishes the principles and values of Medicare in the United States of America. It sets out rights to which patients, public and staff are entitled, and pledges which Medicare is committed to achieve, together with responsibilities which the public, patients and staff owe to one another to ensure that the Medicare operates fairly and effectively. All Medicare bodies and private and third sector providers supplying Medicare services will be required by law to take account of this Constitution in their decisions and actions.

The Constitution will be renewed every 10 years, with the involvement of the public, patients and staff. It will be accompanied by the Handbook to the Medicare Constitution, to be renewed at least every three years, setting out current guidance on the rights, pledges, duties and responsibilities established by the Constitution. These requirements for renewal will be made legally binding. They will guarantee that the principles and values which underpin Medicare are subject to regular review and recommitment; and that any government which seeks to alter the principles or values of Medicare, or the rights, pledges, duties and responsibilities set out in this Constitution, will have to engage in a full and transparent debate with the public, patients and staff.



1. Principles that guide Medicare

Seven key principles guide Medicare in all it does. They are underpinned by core Medicare values which have been derived from extensive discussions with staff, patients and the public. These values are set out at the end of this document.

1. Medicare provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief. It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights. At the same time, it has a wider social duty to promote equality through the services it provides and to pay particular attention to groups or sections of society where improvements in health and life expectancy are not keeping pace with the rest of the population.


2. Access to Medicare services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay. Medicare services are free of charge, except in limited circumstances sanctioned by Congress.


3. Medicare aspires to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism – in the provision of high-quality care that is safe, effective and focused on patient experience; in the planning and delivery of the clinical and other services it provides; in the people it employs and the education, training and development they receive; in the leadership and management of its organizations; and through its commitment to innovation and to the promotion and conduct of research to improve the current and future health and care of the population.


4. Medicare services must reflect the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment.


5. Medicare works across organizational boundaries and in partnership with other organizations in the interest of patients, local communities and the wider population. Medicare is an integrated system of organizations and services bound together by the principles and values now reflected in the Constitution. Medicare is committed to working jointly with local authorities and a wide range of other private, public and third sector organizations at national and local level to provide and deliver improvements in health and well-being.


6. Medicare is committed to providing best value for taxpayers’ money and the most effective, fair and sustainable use of finite resources. Public funds for healthcare will be devoted solely to the benefit of the people that Medicare serves.


7. Medicare is accountable to the public, communities and patients that it serves. Medicare is a national service funded through national taxation, and it is the Government which sets the framework for Medicare and which is accountable to Congress for its operation. However, most decisions in Medicare, especially those about the treatment of individuals and the detailed organization of services, are rightly taken by state & local Medicare and by patients with their clinicians. The system of responsibility and accountability for taking decisions in Medicare should be transparent and clear to the public, patients and staff. The Government will ensure that there is always a clear and up-to-date statement of Medicare’s accountability for this purpose.



2a. Patients and the public – your rights and Medicare’s pledges to you

Everyone who uses Medicare should understand what legal rights they have. For this reason, important legal rights are summarized in this Constitution and explained in more detail in the Handbook to the Medicare Constitution, which also explains what you can do if you think you have not received what is rightfully yours. This summary does not alter the content of your legal rights.

The Constitution also contains pledges that Medicare is committed to achieve. Pledges go above and beyond legal rights. This means that pledges are not legally binding but represent a commitment by Medicare to provide high quality services.

Access to health services:

You have the right to receive Medicare services free of charge, apart from certain limited exceptions sanctioned by Congress.
You have the right to access Medicare services. You will not be refused access on unreasonable grounds.
You have the right to expect your local Medicare provider to assess the health requirements of the local community and to commission and put in place the services to meet those needs as considered necessary.
You have the right, in certain circumstances, to go to other states or countries for treatment which would be available to you through your local Medicare provider.
You have the right not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of Medicare services including on grounds of gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability (including learning disability or mental illness) or age.

Medicare also commits:

  • to provide convenient, easy access to services within the waiting times set out in the Handbook to the Medicare Constitution (pledge);
  • to make decisions in a clear and transparent way, so that patients and the public can understand how services are planned and delivered (pledge); and
  • to make the transition as smooth as possible when you are referred between services, and to include you in relevant discussions (pledge).

Quality of care and environment:

You have the right to be treated with a professional standard of care, by appropriately qualified and experienced staff, in a properly approved or registered organization that meets required levels of safety and quality.
You have the right to expect Medicare organizations to monitor, and make efforts to improve, the quality of healthcare they commission or provide.

Medicare also commits:

  • to ensure that services are provided in a clean and safe environment that is fit for purpose, based on national best practice (pledge); and
  • to continuous improvement in the quality of services you receive, identifying and sharing best practice in quality of care and treatments (pledge).

Nationally approved treatments, drugs and programs:

You have the right to drugs and treatments that have been recommended by FDA for use in Medicare, if your doctor says they are clinically appropriate for you.
You have the right to expect local decisions on funding of other drugs and treatments to be made rationally following a proper consideration of the evidence. If Medicare decides not to fund a drug or treatment you and your doctor feel would be right for you, they will explain that decision to you.
You have the right to receive the vaccinations that the CDC recommends that you should receive under a Medicare-provided national immunization program.

Medicare also commits:

  • to provide screening programs as recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services (pledge).

Respect, consent and confidentiality:

You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with your human rights.
You have the right to accept or refuse treatment that is offered to you, and not to be given any physical examination or treatment unless you have given valid consent. If you do not have the capacity to do so, consent must be obtained from a person legally able to act on your behalf, or the treatment must be in your best interests.



2b. Patients and the public – your responsibilities

Medicare belongs to all of us. There are things that we can all do for ourselves and for one another to help it work effectively, and to ensure resources are used responsibly:

You should recognize that you can make a significant contribution to your own, and your family’s, good health and well-being, and take some personal responsibility for it.
You should register with a General Practitioner, who will become your main point of access to Medicare.
You should treat Medicare staff and other patients with respect and recognize that causing a nuisance or disturbance in clinics and hospitals could result in prosecution.
You should provide accurate information about your health, condition and status.
You should keep appointments, or cancel within reasonable time. Receiving treatment within the maximum waiting times may be compromised unless you do.
You should follow the course of treatment which you have agreed, and talk to your clinician if you find this difficult.
You should participate in important public health programs such as vaccination.
You should ensure that those closest to you are aware of your wishes about organ donation.
You should give feedback – both positive and negative – about the treatment and care you have received, including any adverse reactions you may have had.



3a. Staff – your rights and Medicare pledges to you

It is the commitment, professionalism and dedication of staff working for the benefit of the people Medicare serves which really make the difference. High quality care requires high quality workplaces, with commissioners and providers aiming to be employers of choice.

All staff should have rewarding and worthwhile jobs, with the freedom and confidence to act in the interest of patients. To do this, they need to be trusted and actively listened to. They must be treated with respect at work, have the tools, training and support to deliver care, and opportunities to develop and progress.

The Constitution applies to all staff, doing clinical or non-clinical Medicare work, and their employers. It covers staff wherever they are working, whether in public, private or third sector organizations.

Staff have extensive legal rights, embodied in general employment and discrimination law. These are summarized in the Handbook to the Medicare Constitution. In addition, individual contracts of employment contain terms and conditions giving staff further rights.

The rights are there to help ensure that staff:

  • have a good working environment with flexible working opportunities, consistent with the needs of patients and with the way that people live their lives;
  • have a fair pay and contract framework;
  • can be involved and represented in the workplace;
  • have healthy and safe working conditions and an environment free from harassment, bullying or violence;
  • are treated fairly, equally and free from discrimination; and
  • can raise an internal grievance and if necessary seek redress, where it is felt that a right has not been upheld.

In addition to these legal rights, there are a number of pledges, which Medicare is committed to achieve. Pledges go above and beyond your legal rights. This means that they are not legally binding but represent a commitment by Medicare to provide high-quality working environments for staff.

Medicare commits:

  • to provide all staff with clear roles and responsibilities and rewarding jobs for teams and individuals that make a difference to patients, their families and carers and communities (pledge);
  • to provide all staff with personal development, access to appropriate training for their jobs and line management support to succeed (pledge);
  • to provide support and opportunities for staff to maintain their health, well-being and safety (pledge); and
  • to engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide, individually, through representative organizations and through local partnership working arrangements. All staff will be empowered to put forward ways to deliver better and safer services for patients and their families (pledge).


3b. Staff – your responsibilities

All staff have responsibilities to the public, their patients and colleagues.

Important legal duties are summarized below.


You have a duty to accept professional accountability and maintain the standards of professional practice as set by the appropriate regulatory body applicable to your profession or role.
You have a duty to take reasonable care of health and safety at work for you, your team and others, and to cooperate with employers to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements.
You have a duty to act in accordance with the express and implied terms of your contract of employment.
You have a duty not to discriminate against patients or staff and to adhere to equal opportunities and equality and human rights legislation.
You have a duty to protect the confidentiality of personal information that you hold unless to do so would put anyone at risk of significant harm.
You have a duty to be honest and truthful in applying for a job and in carrying out that job.


The Constitution also includes expectations that reflect how staff should play their part in ensuring the success of Medicare and delivering high-quality care.

You should aim:

  • to maintain the highest standards of care and service, taking responsibility not only for the care you personally provide, but also for your wider contribution to the aims of your team and Medicare as a whole;
  • to take up training and development opportunities provided over and above those legally required of your post;
  • to play your part in sustainably improving services by working in partnership with patients, the public and communities;
  • to be open with patients, their families, carers or representatives, including if anything goes wrong; welcoming and listening to feedback and addressing concerns promptly and in a spirit of co-operation. You should contribute to a climate where the truth can be heard and the reporting of, and learning from, errors is encouraged; and
  • to view the services you provide from the standpoint of a patient, and involve patients, their families and carers in the services you provide, working with them, their communities and other organizations, and making it clear who is responsible for their care.


Medicare values

Patients, public and staff have helped develop this expression of values that inspire passion in Medicare and should guide it in the 21st century. Individual organizations will develop and refresh their own values, tailored to their local needs. Medicare values provide common ground for cooperation to achieve shared aspirations.


Respect and dignity. We value each person as an individual, respect their aspirations and commitments in life, and seek to understand their priorities, needs, abilities and limits. We take what others have to say seriously. We are honest about our point of view and what we can and cannot do.


Commitment to quality of care. We earn the trust placed in us by insisting on quality and striving to get the basics right every time: safety, confidentiality, professional and managerial integrity, accountability, dependable service and good communication. We welcome feedback, learn from our mistakes and build on our successes.


Compassion. We respond with humanity and kindness to each person’s pain, distress, anxiety or need. We search for the things we can do, however small, to give comfort and relieve suffering. We find time for those we serve and work alongside. We do not wait to be asked, because we care.


Improving lives. We strive to improve health and well-being and people’s experiences of Medicare. We value excellence and professionalism wherever we find it – in the everyday things that make people’s lives better as much as in clinical practice, service improvements and innovation.


Working together for patients. We put patients first in everything we do, by reaching out to staff, patients, carers, families, communities, and professionals outside Medicare. We put the needs of patients and communities before organizational boundaries.


Everyone counts. We use our resources for the benefit of the whole community, and make sure nobody is excluded or left behind. We accept that some people need more help, that difficult decisions have to be taken – and that when we waste resources we waste others’ opportunities. We recognize that we all have a part to play in making ourselves and our communities healthier.





####

Alas, I don’t think Americans will receive such a utopic result when it comes to healthcare reform. As I stated before, there is too much money to be made off of pain & suffering for the American system to radically change to a system like the one parodied above. But I do have hope that one day people will wake up and realize that we are all in this together.



The sign I posted outside of MTV’s Real World DC house is transcribed in today’s Washington Post
|| 8/16/2009 || 3:01 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Last month's photograph of the sign I wheatpasted outside of the Real World DC house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC

Last month I posted the photograph above in my entry about adding some political commentary to the area around the Real World DC house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. This morning a friend of mine left a somewhat cryptic comment on my Facebook page telling me to check section E6 in today’s Washington Post. I ran downstairs, opened the paper up, and let out out a hearty laugh.

Transcribed near the end of Dan Zak’s article, Neighborhood Watch: MTV Is in the House, and Everyone Else Just Wants to Be, is the text of my sign:

Reality Bites

Sometime in July, a sign is posted on the base of the lamppost on the northeast corner of the intersection. In simple black lettering on a plain white background, it reads, one word per line:

IN
THE
REAL
WORLD
ALL
AMERICANS
DESERVE
FULL
REPRESENTATION
IN
CONGRESS.

In the next section of the article there is choice quote from some teenagers from Maryland:

“It’s been 23 years. . . . D.C. is a treasure. . . . They’ve been to New York, like, five times. . . . It’s the capital. . . . It’ll be a really good representation of the city. . . . I talked to the cast before and they’re really down to earth.”

(underline added for emphasis of the Congressional lack thereof)

While I was not identified as the creator of the sign, even though a simple Google Search would have brought the author to my website, and the author only mentioned that there was one sign (there are 8 still up last time I counted), I’m very pleased that my sign was mentioned in today’s article. In that respect, the ten dollars spent making those signs & purchasing the wheatpaste was completely validated— my message made it into the Washington Post. But the real question is if the message will make the cut and be mentioned in any of the episodes set to air on MTV in 2010?


Since the sign(s) has been up now for just about a month, I figure its time to remove them and put up something new. I already have the next flyer made, but I’m debating if I should put them up or not. The flyer is a bit over the top, but well, umm, so are most of the people mentioned in the article. But unlike the ones who actually give two shits about the show, my aim is not to get in the house or hang out with the cast (I really could care less about that), but to use their presence in Washington, DC as a vehicle to get out the larger message of DC residents being second class citizens denied representation in Congress.


Click on the screen grab below to read the last page of the article:

Screen grab from the Washington Post article about the Real World in DC where the text of my sign is transcribed

What’s interesting about the text on-line versus the text in the printed article is that there is extra space between lines of the poster in the on-line version captured above. These extra line breaks actually make the point of the poster appear more important on-line than it does in the print edition, which does not feature extra line breaks. But since the print edition of the Washington Post is not delivered outside of the Washington, DC area, this typographical difference carries significantly more weight on-line than in print. In that respect, I must thank the web editor at the Washington Post for giving the text of my sign a little bit more emphasis than it would otherwise have received if it were identical to the print edition.


UPDATE – After I posted this entry, I went back to the Washington Post website and found that the poster was briefly shown at the beginning of the video portion of the article:

Video still of the poster being shown on the video that accompanies the article


Note to the cartographers at the New York Times: the Red Line goes into Maryland
|| 7/11/2009 || 7:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

I know this a bit late, but I was looking over the coverage of the DC Metro train collision last month on the websites of the Washington Post (below) and the New York Times (above) and noticed one glaring error in the New York Times map. The Red Line does not start and end at the borders of the District of Columbia, rather it extends far into the state of Maryland. Maybe the New York Times can issue a cartographic correction?

I guess you could say this is a good example of when the local newspaper gets it right…


Related Found Maps:

+ MORE



Dreaming of being on the Metro then one hour & seventeen minutes later a Metro train crashes
|| 6/22/2009 || 10:29 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

So around 3:30pm I awoke from my afternoon nap and Twittered that I had two vivid dreams at 3:45pm. About an hour and seventeen minutes after I posted that, while I was sitting on my front porch reading today’s paper, the worst train crash in the history of Metro took place. This type of dream prescience has happened before, so before the dream goes into the deep recesses of my memory, I am going to briefly transcribe what I remember. The following recollection was written at shortly after 6:05pm on June 22nd:

The dream started out inside of a train that looked and felt like a Metro train traveling at somewhat high speeds. However it seemed to be moving faster than normal, or maybe that was just the nature of the dream. Behind me was what looked like an airline pilot and a lady in a business suit. We were talking about how it was nice to be traveling on the train and then the conversation made its way to Accela. Where I turned around and said, “But it still uses the same rail lines as the regular trains.” They both laughed and then the train went completely silent as we rolled on. The silence reminded me of when I am on the Metro and the AC goes off and this audible static goes away for a brief moment. As we roll on down the track in silence this portion of the dream ends….

I then found myself floating above Nationals Stadium. A batter has hit a baseball deep into the outfield. Instead of a normal wall, there a crowd of teenagers who are in the field with baseball mitts and one of them catches the ball and then the crowd of teenagers disperses. No once can see who took the baseball. Then the crowd of the stadium starts to sing in unison to the tune of “Happy Birthday To You,” a phrase that causes those in the stadium to break out in laughter, “Where is the baseball, Where is the baseball, Where IS the baseballllll, Where is the baseball?” Shortly after this scene the dream ends.

I found it interesting that my mind had created something both funny and completely new in the context that I tend to think of dreams as a subconcious means of rehashing ideas and visions that have taken place in my waking life. Every part of the train sequence was rehashed from experiences of being on Metro and Accela trains, but the baseball portion was different. I have never created a somewhat humorous song while sleeping. However, its the train portion of the dream that is still haunting me.



UPDATE: To make matters more eerie, it turns out that two of the fatalities in the train actually resemble the two people I was talking to on the train in my dream. The pilot who died, Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr., was involved in protecting Washington, DC during the whack events on 9/11, which is the source of my previous dream and he was sitting next to his wife, who also died. I got a chill down my spine after looking at their photos. However, unlike my dream, we were all sitting in the back of the train, not the front where they were actually sitting. I specifically remember turning around to speak with them because they were behind me and from my experiences on Metro trains the seats at the end of the car tend face the direction of the trains movement. Moreover, the lead cars, where the conductor is located and where they were sitting, have fewer seats than the back of the train. Regardless, I’m still a bit shaken by this synchronicity.



I am mentioned in today’s Washington Post article “Artomatic ’09: Survival Tips From an Expert”
|| 6/5/2009 || 12:51 pm || Comments Off on I am mentioned in today’s Washington Post article “Artomatic ’09: Survival Tips From an Expert” || ||

In today’s Weekend section of the Washington Post there is an article titled Artomatic ’09: Survival Tips From an Expert*. In the article staff writer Michael O’Sullivan follows around Phillip Barlow, one of the DC area’s biggest art collectors, and asks him questions about how to go about exploring the 9 floors of art at Artomatic.

Near the end of the article Michael O’Sullivan writes:

Okay, spill it: So who does the collector like? Barlow wouldn’t give a Top 10 list or even a favorite floor. But he did express interest in — or lingered longingly in front of — the work of several artists. Here’s a partial list of his favorites:

Floor 9: Jessica Van Brakle.

Floor 8: Jared Davis, Nikolas R. Schiller.

Floor 7: Jeremy Arn.

Floor 6: Jen Dixon.

Floor 5: Mark Jude, Meinir Wyn Jones, Stephen Reveley, Michael Enn Sirvet, Steve Strawn.

Floor 2: Drew Graham, Kate McGovern.

Still, Barlow cautions against using his taste alone as a guide, adding that the secret to Artomatic’s success is volume, volume, volume. “There’s just so much stuff here that I can practically guarantee that something’s going to be new or interesting,” he says. “To someone.”

Read the entire article here. I plan on stopping by Artomatic this evening around 7pm. Maybe I will see you there?


* This article’s title in the print edition is different from the on-line edition. The print edition is titled Artomatic ’09: Survival Tips From an Expert while the on-line edition is titled Annual Artomatic Show Exhibits the Works of More Than 1,000 Artists.


Related Artomatic Entries:

+ MORE



A Response to Doug Feaver’s “Listening to the Dot-Commenters”
|| 4/10/2009 || 8:01 am || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

In yesterday’s Opinions section in the Washington Post I came across Doug Feaver’s article called “Listening to the Dot-Commenters” and felt compelled to write this missive concerning his incomplete analysis of anonymous commenters on the Washington Post website.

He writes:

But the bigger problem with The Post’s comment policy, many in the newsroom have told me, is that the comments are anonymous. Anonymity is what gives cover to racists, sexists and others to say inappropriate things without having to say who they are.

He goes on to defend the commenters because they add dynamic content to an article, can be entertaining, act as a non-scientific survey on the topic de jour, and oftentimes show that the readers do not necessarily agree with the journalist who wrote the article. While these are all factual points, Feaver misses the larger issue. Comments are not completely anonymous.

Of the 330 comments that were generated by the article at the time of this posting, only one commenter addresses the larger point that I am attempting to make.

dlpetersdc wrote: Posts here are only anonymous to readers of these posts, not the WaPo’s staff. When you post, likely your IP address is recorded with the entry…[snip]… But anyone who thinks that you can remain anonymous on the Internet is fooling themselves.

Lets take this commenter’s summarized point one step further. Since all traffic on all websites leave a digital footprint that can be tracked back, in real time, to a unique IP address or Internet Service Provider, why does the Washington Post continue to shield it’s readers from one of the most important & least invasive aspects of this harvested data: the commenter’s geographic location??

Unlike the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or USA Today, as a newspaper of record that does not have nationwide circulation, the Washington Post’s existence and continued success is contingent upon a large local subscriber base and those living outside of the current distribution area reading articles on-line. Each month I pay to have the paper delivered to my house, but am essentially given no extra privileges when reading or commenting on an on-line article. Alternatively, each on-line article that non-subscribers read also helps the Washington Post’s bottom line through on-line advertising. Yet all commenters, paying subscribers and non-paying readers, are given the exact same treatment in the comments section of the Washington Post website. I feel this is unfair, unwise, and only perpetuates ignorant, racist, and bigoted remarks.

The incorporation of the geographic location of commenters might not seem significant, but the implications are quite important to the general discourse. When I read an article about the unconstitutional D.C. voting rights bill (aka the 1/3 Compromise), I sometimes like to see what comments are being left on-line or if someone expresses a legal opinion that I have not read yet. However after I have read what the different commenters have written, I am generally saddened that local opinions are sometimes lost in the clutter of non-local opinions. While the Washington Post knows the approximate location of each “anonymous” commenter, this information is not disclosed to other commenters, and it creates & perpetuates a vacuum of ignorance.

Moreover, sometimes the Washington Post will have a poll about an issue and many times I’ve found that the results are unbelievably skewed by those who do not live in the region. Why not add some basic geoscience to the poll by disclosing the difference between how readers from the Washington metropolitan region voted versus those who live in the rest of the world? This geographic data is already there waiting to be used, but sadly it is not.

But its not just an issue of liking or disliking comments; I can always choose not to read them. The root of the issue is that the Washington Post is perpetuating this type of ignorance by shielding their on-line readers from where a comment is originating. This data is collected the moment a user begins loading content from the website and it does not personally identify any readers. While an IP address can be spoofed, most people are not going to take the time to put forth the extra effort just so they can prevent their approximate location from being revealed.

Commenters can still be anonymous and have a geographic location attached to them. For example, my current IP address only shows that I am a Comcast subscriber based in Washington, DC. With thousands of other Comcast subscribers, I still retain a level of anonymity by creating an “anonymous” account using a different e-mail address and creating a screen name that only I know of.

Imagine for a moment that immediately after the commenters screen name there was the text “from [LOCATION]” or as it would read on the screen: ANONYMOUS COMMENTER from Memphis, Tennessee or Nik Schiller from Washington, DC. Who would you be more likely to read if the article was about something in Washington, DC? Or Memphis, Tennessee? Esssentially, what comments have more credibility? Those comments originating from the geographic location of the subject of the article? Or those that do not?

Well, of course, it depends on the context of their comments. If they were bashing the residents of Washington, DC and do not live here, I would most likely ignore them. But as it is now, even though the Washington Post knows where the commenter is from, all other commenters are denied this basic level of geographic understanding and it alienates readers who actually pay for the newspaper.

In conclusion, I believe a more civilized level of discourse can be established if the level of anonymity is slightly altered by providing the geographic location of all commenters. Its not so much about WHO the commenter is, but WHERE the commenter is from that is at the core my logic. Locals commenting about local affairs will be treated with more respect, while people who don’t pay for the paper, leave absurd, racist, or sexist comments, can & will be ignored more easily. As a paying subscriber, I feel it’s the least the Washington Post can do to encourage my on-line participation. The current model is a free for all that can be more civil, if, and only if, the Washington Post chooses to bring more sunshine to their paying & non-paying readers through the visible disclosure of the geographic information that each on-line reader already provides.





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  • thank you,
    come again!