Wisconsin feels like Sidney all over again

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walker

Of the hundreds of soccer games I have seen my kids play, I remember that soccer game clearly. My daughter was playing U9 for Northmont and we had a game against the Sidney Bees on an unseasonably warm Saturday in April. This was her first full season with select soccer.

The game was pretty tight all the way through. We scored the first goal late in the first half, they scored the second goal early in the second. There were just a few minutes left in the game when their star had a break-away and dribbled the ball all the way to our goalie and took a shot. The goalie deflected, but not cleanly. It bounced to the side of the goal, off the pitch and through the net that was not fastened securely to the ground.

The referee called it a goal.

All the parents saw the ball roll into the side of the net. All the kids saw it. The coaches saw it. But the Sidney parents said nothing, amid the protests of the Northmont parents and coaches. All it would have taken was one brave parent to step forward and say, “We want to win, but not by cheating. We’re not going to accept that goal.”

But nobody did.

All the kids on both teams learned the real rule of soccer that day. The more games you win, the more goals you score, the more your parents will love you. And it doesn’t matter how you get them. And to this day, when I hear about how team sports build character, sportsmanship, etc. Sidney, Ohio pops into my head and I know I am being lied to.

Wisconsin feels an awful lot like Sidney, Ohio on that warm April day.

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Public sex is just for animals, not humans

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Northwestern University Logo

Apparently there has been a big bruhaha over a Northwestern professor having a live demonstration of a sex act* performed for students as part of a human sexual psychology class.

Ok, so what.

Sex is part of nature. It’s primary function is for procreation. But, unlike animals, humans have the good fortune (or mis-fortune) of also having a brain with curiosity and a need for recreation attached to the same body as their genitals. When we deny that fact and refuse to study the psychology behind human sex, we’re not really exploring our entire humanity. What’s wrong with demonstrating a sex act as part of an academic exercise for the purpose of studying emotional and psychological reaction? Was it the practical application of a theory that upset people the most or was it just the fact that it was sex? Or maybe it was the modification of a perfectly good power tool?

Studying the psychology of human sexuality without a practical lab is like studying architecture and never building a bridge. Do you really want that guy in charge of the project?

Oh my god, dog, you are going to hell for those thoughts!

Actually, all dogs go to heaven, so I’m not really worried. And even if you believe God made you in His image, certainly He knew what He was doing when He gave guys danglies and women innies. He did it a lot so with your logic, He is either a genius or a pervert.

Secondly, sex acts are neutral. They are neither good nor bad. What makes them good or bad is all this morality and cultural crap we attach to them.

Thirdly, sex is a very large part of who we are (unless of course, you are married.) Why not study it more fully? Why would we not want to know everything about what makes us tick? Why does something like sex make us all giggly or nervous or outraged or ….

The rules of sex are not established by nature. They are established by the class of humans in power. Like every species in nature, the ones allowed to procreate are the ones best suited to advance the species. In the animal kingdom, we have the most cunning, the fastest, the most powerful, etc. In the human world, we have the class most willing and able to dominate the others. That class will use social norms, religion, laws, peer pressure, shame or any other means necessary to impose their will on others. Depriving the “weaker” classes of the means to procreate is the ultimate dominance one human can have over another. (Don’t even get me started on non-hetrosexual sex. I have no idea why anyone wants to prevent that or why they feel it threatens them. Maybe that deserves more study.)

Ever wonder why virginity is prized above all else in some cultures? There is no natural reason for it. It doesn’t destroy a woman or make her any less fit for companionship or procreation. Yet a “ruling class” gets that idea impregnated (pun intended) into a class (women) which prevents them from consenting to intercourse outside of a sanctioned union, i.e., marriage. When a women violates the rules, she is ostracized and in some cultures, killed. A population is now controlled by their own morality. Really simple crowd control, ain’t it? That statement is over-simplified, but you get the idea. You can apply the same kind of thinking to any type of sex. Attach a moral penalty to it and you control a population. Start from there and study outward.

Did you have a strong reaction to Professor Bailey’s demonstration? Why? Like him, do you eventually arrive at a logical, academic reason for not being curious about the psychological basis of sex-toy-induced orgasm? Did you recoil? Did you ever ask why you had that reaction? You probably should.

It seems an unfair symptom of our culture to know what sex is all about almost five decades into life rather than in the prime of youth. It not only robs you of some great interactions with other people, but also a deeper understanding of works of literature like The Awakening, The Scarlet Letter or Sister Carrie. Read them when you are young and intimidated by sex because of fear or confusion and you learn nothing. Read them when you are older and know a bit more and it produces anger and resentment. (Maybe I’m just projecting here.. sorry.) When we fail to give sex cultural or moral power it does not naturally posses, we also free ourselves from the power others wield over us.

And before you go on about “think of the children” and other such nonsense, I am not advocating sex awareness that is not appropriate for children. But as a parent, have you crafted your exit strategy on sex before your child turns 18? Why not; it’s your job. Why are parents getting involved with the class demonstration that happened at Northwestern? Didn’t you give your off-spring the skills to determine his or her own sexual choices? If not, shame on you. You had eighteen years!

Ok, your turn. I’ve already said my piece.

—–
*Apparently the sex act was a dildo attached to a modified reciprocating saw where the woman disrobed and consented to the man using the device to penetrate her vagina. I’m not sure what the class was studying, but if they were studying reactions to facsimiles of a penis during intercourse, I’m pretty sure they got some interesting ones. Does my saying penis and vagina upset you? Does my description of the act above? Why? Be honest with yourself, please, even if only in your head. It’s the only way we grow.

And the title? It was a tweet I received yesterday from a fan in response to my 140 opinion on this mater. I promised I’d write more today. It wasn’t really public sex; it was in a classroom, as an academic study with everyone in the room an adult and with full consent.

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Fire for hire; the new public services

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I read a rather dry account of the last Union, Ohio city council meeting in the Dayton Daily News this morning. Nobody goes to these things and fewer people read the articles recapping them. But maybe we should start paying more attention. (I looked for the article online and could not find it, so I scanned it here and will replace with a link when it gets posted.)

Here is why we should start paying attention.

Fire and police departments are receiving less tax revenue and are set to receive even less for salaries when bills like SB 5 pass. But they are still expected to be on the other end of a 911 call. (I think the City of Englewood has a EMS charge, but not fire.) It appears the City of Union would charge for police, fire and EMS services; first to your insurance company and if they don’t pay, to you.

I understand subrogation and why sometimes it is necessary. But when someone calls 911, the last thing they should be thinking is; “Can I afford this call?” If their house burns down, and they are insured, the insurance company will replace it. If their house catches fire, the fire department comes out, and the insurance company will pay for repairs but not fire services, the homeowner could end up paying a whole lot more than the house is worth in fire-fighting fees.

I think the last thing we need is for a family to be sitting on the front lawn with a calculator, estimating how much a 911 call is going to cost and whether or not it is worth it.

In truth, though, what these laws will eventually do is increase insurance costs. The insurance companies will spread out the risk for everyone, charging people who live in Zip Code 45322 a bit more of course. And since insurance in America is a for-profit game, these additional fees will include the profit expectation a publicly-held company demands. These are also post-tax dollars, so they are about 33% more expensive than an income tax assessment would be to cover the additional cost of fire-fighting services for a community.

Government cuts are always nice, but when your income tax tax bill is cut and your total cost of citizenship rises, where is the savings to the citizens? It’s like buying a really cheap printer but paying hundreds of dollars a year in ink cartridges. Or a really cheap car that costs you the retail prices in repairs every two years. Or buying cheap processed food and paying more than quadruple in medical insurance premiums because your BMI is out of whack (assuming you carry insurance.)

Subrogation for essential emergency services is a very slippery slope. I know that the proposed ordinance is limited to “at-fault” incidents. Anyone who has ever been in an accident knows that at-fault is almost never a 100/0% split. In most instances, you are partially at fault simply because you were on the road. Clearly, if your house was not there, there would be nothing to burn.

Once you crack the door, it is easier to fling open wide.

I wonder what other public service will be next?

When the City of Englewood “saved” a million dollars.
.

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You wish you were Charlie Sheen

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Charlie Sheen as he appears on the twitter

Admit it. You wish you were Charlie Sheen.

While you are shaking your head violently from side to side and stomping up and down disagreeing with me, just hear me out for a few seconds. Then you can go back to your ranting about why I am wrong, why Charlie is melting down, how he is bad for his kids, why he is anti-Semetic, a bad role model or any of the other pat sound bites the media are flinging around.

Ready? This stuff could be a bit deep. Or deep in it. I’m sure you’ll decide for yourself. **

Charlie admits his humanity. All of it. He says the “crazy” we think in our minds and acts on it.

Only this stuff isn’t so nutty. He is magic. He is a big star. He was born small and now he is huge. He has navigated the shark-infested waters of the entertainment industry and is smarter than most of the people he has come up against. He is special. He has a natural gift of poise and conversation. He got 1.2 million followers on Twitter before you even got out of bed this morning.

And he is not saying hateful things. He is just saying really, really brutally honest stuff. If we tag it as crazy then we can all feel better about ourselves. If we say he is crazy, we don’t have to deal with why we’re not living up to our potential. And if we go even further and start tearing him down, we’re morally superior.

He is getting away with all of this because he is operating within the bounds of the human condition. He knows down deep inside — way, way, way down deep inside of each of us — is a Charlie Sheen Dream that has been smashed down by years of following the rules and believing what others tell us about our inadequacies. There is always tomorrow. Next time. The next relationship.

Will you embrace your inner Charlie? Yeah, me neither. It’s too bright and scary out there.

You may now resume your lives. Or drop a comment below. Or unfollow me on twitter. Or unsubscribe from this blog. Whatever fills the ignored hole in your soul.

—–
** But I’m betting you won’t.

I was not going to write anything about Charlie Sheen. But then I got to thinking that Martin Sheen, his father, was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. By extension, we invented Charlie. So naturally — as is our way here — we needed to claim the good things this invention brings to the collection of humanity. Just like we do the Wright Brothers, we plant a flag in anything that gets famous and claim it for our own.

.

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Destroying a legacy

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Signature wall at Marple Newtown High School in Pennsylvania

Yesterday, we participated in the #letsblogoff about legacy. You can read all the articles submitted here. This morning, I opened the Wall Street Journal to this heart-breaking story of a legacy about to be erased from history. Apparently English teacher Thom Williams encouraged students at Marple Newtown High School in Pennsylvania to write on the walls. But the teacher died of cancer in December 2010 at the age of 63 and the school plans to repaint and renovate the classroom.

While the true legacy of Mr. Williams will always be the students he taught and inspired, there seems something wrong in being quick to wipe out years of written record so blithely, especially in a digital culture that seems intent on removing ink and physical medium and replacing it with transitory screens. Stories like this make me wonder why we are in such a rush to remove those quirky things that make us human and replace them with neat, orderly banality.

If the walls can not be preserved, we should at least make a record of it by photographing every square inch of the walls and recreate them on a memorial site or historical display at the school. To do less would be to marginalize Mr. Williams’ life and vocation.

Be creative, kids! Reach for the sky! You can win the future. But you’ll learn to do it in an environment of neatly painted institution-white walls.

PHOTO: Ryan Collerd for The Wall Street Journal. Please don’t sue me for using the photo. Thank you.

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What is legacy – a #letsblogoff post

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At some point in my pursuit of an English degree at the University of Minnesota (it was the only college that let dogs in), I read the book The Ties that Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England. It changed my perception of history and ultimately led me to a quest for the meaning of legacy.

I am still on that quest.

….

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You are a deadbeat piece of crap

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help wanted cheap

When did the United States of America go from “shoot for the moon” to “circle the wagons?”

We appear to be on a race to become the sickest and dumbest of the developed nations where nothing is going to be possible. The enemy this time is not the Communists, Soviets or al-Qaeda. The enemy is your deadbeat neighbor who is sucking your hard-earned money out of the tax coffers to finance his lavish lifestyle. He is buying big-screen TVs with his unemployment checks and taking extravagant vacations with his Social Security checks. If he is a teacher, he is enriching his pension plan from your sweat and aching back. If he works for the government, he is an over-paid lazy bum who is the reason your health insurance plan at the plant stinks.

Do we really want armed police officers and firefighters hired by municipalities at bargain-basement prices? How stupid and ill-trained do you want the teacher to be teaching your children? Have we abandoned the notion altogether that good schools increase property values? We seem to accept the argument without question from the Right that the public employees need to lower their expectations of compensation and the value of work rather than the private sector workers increasing their expectations.

Smart people are being driven out of politics by zealots and bullies under the mis-guided notion that small government is good government. But a small government that enables corporations to rape the human resources unchecked for the sake of profit only is not a good small. Even small government must be balanced.

The secret to getting cheap labor appears to be convincing everyone that they are not worth the salary or benefits they are asking. From the Tea Party to the GOP to the media, the message appears to be consistent — human beings are just too darn expensive.

Break out the torches and pitch forks, folks. We are turning against each other and it isn’t a healthy debate.

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How do we measure good things

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I have an instinct that my random conversations and connections with people on twitter is a good thing, though I would be hard-pressed to find some measurement that says I’m right. I also know when I am clicking with someone in a conversation, though there is no “clickomoter” that confirms my intuition. I just know.

….

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Passing on the magic

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I was dropping off a friend at the airport early yesterday morning. As I was coming back to the parking garage, I had to cross the street and go through these large glass sliding doors.

I have gotten into the habit of waving my hand in front of me like Dumbledore in a Harry Potter movie to open automatic doors. My kids have grown tired of this gesture and think it is lame. Now, I think I do it just to annoy them, but it has become a silly almost involuntary habit.

….

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Public employees and teachers are parasites

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Something is happening to our culture. The public employees who plow our streets, mow the lawns at our libraries, dig our ditches, snake out the gunk from our sewers and teach our kids how to read are becoming parasites on our economy. Their unreasonable demands for fair wages and benefits are killing jobs for you and me. We need to rise up, grab our pitchforks and torches, haul them from their houses and strip away their ill-gotten gains.

Or so a growing number of Republican governors and lawmakers would like us to believe, most recently, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe said today that the public employees are being unreasonable by not caving into the demands, citing the States are “out of money” and that the private sector is making sacrifices so the public employees should too.

Only shouldn’t we be asking why the private sector has to make sacrifices to the tune of 10% unemployment, increased foreclosures, home values underwater, increased benefits cuts and wage freezes while large corporations have record profit years? Shouldn’t that be the real question?

We should not be seeking to lower public sector jobs to the level of private sector jobs, but seek ways of increasing the private sector to what the public sector now has that the governor is seeking to strip away. Once the protections are gone, it is just a matter of time before everyone sinks further down together.

How unskilled and underpaid do you want YOUR kid’s teacher?

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Where are the small businesses in all these economic recovery summits?

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Mark_Zuckerberg 2008 SXSW

Apparently today, President Barack Obama will be meeting with Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Eric Schmidt from Google and Steve Jobs from Apple to discuss how the business community and government can work closer together.

Excuse me?

Apple, Google and Facebook are the business community? Where are all the small businesses that are supposed to be the backbone of this economic recovery? What could a 26-year old kid who built an empire of cards on a parasitic business model, a do-no-evil-but-dominate-the-world-anyway CEO who gutted newspapers and is about to topple the smart phone industry and a megalomaniacal evil genius possibly know about surviving and thriving in this economic disaster? That is like asking Eric Cartman to explain Phase II of the Underpants business or checking out eHow.com on becoming a multi-millionaire. (Hint: Step One; Start with a million dollars)

All Jobs cares about my business is he has sold me a Mac II, Mac IIvx, (2) Quadra 900s, (2) G3 towers, (3) iMacs in bondi blue, tangerine and grape, a Mac Mini and the latest iMac for the desktop, a Powerbook 170 and 165c, Powerbook G3 (Pismo and Lombard) (4) Powerbook 15″, (2) Powerbook 17″, (2) MacBookPro 13″ and a MacBookPro 17″, a MacAir 13″, (8) iPods, an iPad and (3) iPhones, a Newton, a MacPlus, 2 AppleTVs and 3 Imagewriters. All Zuck cares about my business is how many times I post to my blog, who reads it and how he can sell my data to anyone for the highest price. Eric Schmidt knows everything, down to the number of minutes all my employees take bathroom breaks, and I have no idea what he is doing with the data. I suspect not anything that will benefit my bottom line. But none of these guys really knows anything about building out a business in a down economy.

What President Obama really needs to do is assemble a group of middle-aged people who recently got fired and were scared sh*tless into starting their own companies just to avoid the bank taking their homes or their local church from casting them out for being shiftless, unemployed bums. Or a group of small manufacturers who had to mortgage their homes to make payroll when the banks called in their credit lines and lie awake nights wondering how to make the next payroll.

Get out of this bubble of big companies and ask us all out here how we are really surviving and thriving in this economic downturn. Ask us about the piles of forms we have to fill out every month just to stay in business. Ask us how the government can ease the strain of everyday worry on whether or not we are going to lose our health insurance before 2014 kicks in. Ask us not only about Federal regulations but State, County and Local ones as well (which, by the way, Mr. President, are much more onerous and closer to home than anything that comes out of Washington.)

Ask the small business owners who are making it through every day without giving up how they are doing it. I grant you, you will get a better picture of what doing business in America means much more accurately than meeting with the top “pop companies” of the moment.

Because for us, if we stumble, we’re not just losing a percentage point on our stock. When we stumble, we lose everything.

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Is it storytelling or curating? #letsblogoff

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Jim Henson’s character “The Storyteller” and his dog. It is what pops into my head when I hear storytelling and it is the standard by which I measure all stories. Probably not fair, but it is what it is.

I wrote this earlier, but it applies now, so I republished for this #letsblogoff.

A while back, many bloggers decided they wanted to throw off the image of being one guy and his dog, hanging out in his parent’s basement ranting in his pajamas. They set about becoming “journalists.” And then that kinda didn’t set right because that was rather limiting their right of personal expression when they didn’t really have any facts and so they become “writers.” The latest metamorphosis for bloggers is to become “storytellers.”

Everyone now is a storyteller.

Only they are not really telling stories. They are curating facts. They are collecting events and regurgitating them. It’s the same thing they were doing as a blogger with a “new and improved” label stuck on the front only it is neither new or improved. The basic ingredients of storytelling are missing.

I recently received an invitation to Storify.com. They tout on their web site:

Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories.
You collect the best photos, video, tweets and more to publish them as simple, beautiful stories that can be embedded anywhere.

That’s not telling a story. That is assembling an exhibit piece for The Museum of Social Media. Bleckkkk.

If storytelling is not what most bloggers are doing, what is storytelling? I didn’t know myself until I received a tweet from @SaxonHenry this past Wednesday morning with a link to her blog. And with the following sentence, everything clicked.

Simply recording the boys’ actions wasn’t nearly enough! I had to determine how I would have responded to what they were doing. (I encourage you to read the entire piece.. after you get to the bottom of mine, of course.)

Saxon tells stories. I defy you to read this account of boys playing outside without feeling that film of grit between your skin and your sweat. Or read this poem and not smell the mix of old grease and pancake batter crisping at the edges, while getting an uneasy urge to run away from a life that has become banal and dull. Her choice of words, the cadence, the rhythm expresses her reaction to the story she is telling.

Jane Devin also tells stories. Her style is intense and many times uncomfortable but succeeds in ripping away a social mask that most of us have spent years affixing to our true faces. In her latest post, I defy you to read the entire post without choking back anger and a primal fear that you have been discovered for who you really are by those who have become the closest to you instead of the person you wish them to see. Jane’s choice of words, her intensely-packed paragraphs followed by a short, controlled release before she plunges you back with a half breath expresses her reaction to the story she is telling. It is almost like literarily waterboarding the reader.

In a culture where anyone can become a published author, claiming the title of a writer or storyteller without honing the craft is unfair to those who have. It cheapens their work. It disrespects their gift.

If you want to become a storyteller, then work to become one. Don’t just claim the title. Examine the elements of story by reading books like A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Watch episodes of The Storyteller. Watch the last scene of Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome over and over. Read books by Joseph Conrad, John Steinbeck and Kate Chopin. Read Ben Zander’s book The Art of Possibility and watch his TED presentation. And read Jane Devin and Saxon Henry. Buy their books when published.

And tell stories. Lots of them. Like acquiring any skill worth holding on to, practice, practice, practice.

And while reading and listening to all of the materials I suggested above, think about why their stories work. And work to be as good as they are in telling a story that has your reaction embedded throughout.

Or stick to curating and leave storytelling to those who choose to reach beyond their five senses.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “answering the question, “What makes a good story?”” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

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Imagine this as the future of newspaper

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Gatorade Control Center

I read yesterday’s Dayton Daily News today and they had a special section included. I don’t know where it is on their web site and I gave up trying to find it. I had hoped to point it to you as it is really cool stuff.

They have assembled all the COX Ohio Media in one facility and really decked it out with a bunch of studio space, digital equipment and tons of toys. I hope they give tours. But as I read the 10-page broadsheet-sized insert, I noticed a gaping hole in their media– no social media. Just newspaper, television and radio.

Oops. I hope that is just an oversight. If not, call me and let’s do business.

Here is what I think a newspaper/television/radio media company should do. Build out a social media center like they did at Gatorade (photo above) and staff it 24/7/365 with people authorized to reply back. Anytime anyone mentions Dayton on twitter, Facebook or blogs about Dayton, they know it. They know all the influential bloggers, the restaurant directories, the sporting events going on about town. They see tweets from people stuck on 35, wondering what the holdup is. They see a shout-out to a favorite restaurant or a blog post just published touting the really cool things about Dayton, Ohio. They see tweets from a frustrated bride three days from her wedding looking for a wedding photographer because the one she booked cancelled on her. They get behind movements to get Kroger to carry cheese curds.

And they would suggest advertisers quickly and authoritatively. And advertisers would get calls. And business.

And they see tweets when people are coming into Dayton for a family visit and welcome them back. They see birthdays on Facebook and send out tweets and updates wishing each a happy birthday. Maybe they even send out random cupcakes on that special day from a local bakery who advertises with Cox. In short, they act as the bar in the City Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Can you imagine how many people Jeff Pulver would tell at his 140conf Conferences about the time he came to Dayton, Ohio to visit Hamvention and the local newspaper made sure his experience here was warm and inviting? That they tweeted him when he landed, asking if he needed a ride, maybe even tweeted his hotel to alert them he was in town? I wonder how many other people would like to visit Dayton, Ohio, just for the pampering experience?

You are a neighbor here in Dayton, Ohio, not just a resident. And in the process, we all connect just a little bit closer to each other and the outside world.

That is what I think a local newspaper can become. And for not a lot of money.

Postnote: 2011-02-21
Chris Brogan posted a video about the future of media. Here is one facet of my take on hyper-local.

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Not enough traction lately

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I looked at my blog and realized I had not posted anything new since last Saturday. Who does that? Who sets up a blog with the intention of writing insightful, pithy posts about politics and life and such and then goes away for a week without posting anything?

Oh… you too?

Sorry.

It’s not that I haven’t had all sorts of cool things running through my head or whacked out opinions on stuff happening around the world and in our back yard, but it’s just that I have no traction for a 300 word rant. I found myself blurting out my opinion in a sentence or less and then nothing.

I can’t get enough traction on a single idea.

I sure hope it’s a phase.

.

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Football’s “Big Game” ads

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On Monday, every blogger will turn into a marketing expert and analyze the ads from The Big Game* fifteen different ways in hopes that you won’t realize they don’t know crap about marketing or advertising. Several of them will actually know what they are talking about, but those people will be so non-confrontational that you probably won’t read them anyway.

Over here at the DogWalkBlog, we’re going to stick with what we know; dogs and dog-related accessories. Our entire criteria on judging the effectiveness of any Big Game ad is whether or not they have a dog in them. Then, we will list them further on down this page and tell you why we think they were cool or lame.

Fair enough?

Good.

*Super Bowl is a trademark of the National Football League (NFL) and DogWalkBlog did not pay any money for the rights to use it. So, we’re saying “The Big Game” (until the NFL clamps down on that one as well)

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