New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Saturday, September 6


She's avoiding the press.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter predicts how the strategy will play out:

I'd imagine that Palin will dodge press conferences in favor of interviews with people like Sean Hannity [Fox], Larry King and Ellen DeGeneres. Then, when the media complain that she is being kept away, the McCain campaign will cite the half dozen or so interviews she has granted as proof that the campaign press is just bellyaching. Brief press "avails" on the plane will be useless, unless reporters ask open-ended queries designed to elicit proof of real knowledge.

That should get Palin through the next three weeks. By the end of the month, the McCain camp can say she has to go to ground to prepare for the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate, where expectations will be so low for Palin that she will likely emerge intact. It will be up to the press and public to raise enough of a stink about this, that Palin is forced to submit to real interviews with real questions that show whether her real-life experience is any preparation for assuming high office. In that sense, the Palin nomination is as much of a test of us as it is of her.

Open letter from Wasillian about Sarah Palin

This letter went viral very quickly. It contains a lot more detail which undercuts all the rhetoric about anti-corruption and fiscal conservatism. I followed a debate on a moderate Republican blog just after it emerged about it and they weren't happy.

Source: local Alaskan blog Mudflats which has a heck of a lot more local background than the MSM. HIGHLY recommended.

The latest story the National Enquirer is working on is that Palin had an affair with Todd’s ex-business partner in an Anchorage Car Wash venture. This was an interesting twist because it was also rumored that Todd Palin had an “Edwards problem”. Maybe he has an Elizabeth Edwards problem. I generally try to resist getting too caught up in the smarminess, unless it becomes impossible. It just did.

Two days ago, Todd’s ex-business partner filed an emergency motion to have his divorce papers sealed. Yesterday the motion was DENIED.

Buckle up. I’ll post updates and links…unless the entire intertube network collapses first


From Anne Kilkenny

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .




I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens.

Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.


*"Hockey mom": true for a few years.
*"PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since.
*"NRA supporter": absolutely true
*social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
*pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
*"Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
*"Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
*political maverick: not at all
*gutsy: absolutely!
*open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
*has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
*"a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
*fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
*pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
*pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
*pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.
*pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.


I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008

Postscript: Anne interviewed on NPR

Friday, September 5

Be charitable

Richard Steel tells me he's sleeping out in the cold and (likely) rain to raise some money for people less fortunate than yourself so why not.


and help him raise a few quid


What's £5? £10? £20?

Seriously. Booze money?

C'mon ...


... you'll feel better for it ...

NB: The JustGiving website is Firefox unfriendly :{

Music: Tyrone Brunson: The Smurf

Best electro track ever .. and nowt to do with Dutch purple midgets ;]

SEO tips for egov/NFP

I've kindof blogged this stuff before but here's a MarketingSherpa 'inspired' helper to getting your stuff viewed (I'm thinking of egov and community stuff). And search engines will drive 50%+ of your traffic in nearly all instances. Y'know it!

#1 issue in SEO is links. They are ca-ru-cial. All search engines will rank you in their particular algorithm based in some fashion on links. #1 algorithm is Google's (80%+ UK traffic). The more 'authoritative' a link is the better. Think local press, think national brand. And an authoritative site is always popular and always relevant.

  1. Have great content
    What this means is something worth linking to.
    In the commercial world this would be considered 'Link baiting'. We (eGov/nonprofit) don't actually need to 'stoop' . We just need to do good PR - tell 'them' you have something worth linking to.
    Describe yourself properly (aka 'keywords') and use said keywords in your content. Here's a good example, instead of 'abandoned vehicle' how about 'abandoned car'? N.B your blogs actually act as ''link baiting''. Blogs seem to be extremely good at boosting Google rankings!

  2. Research your market
    If it's about X service who are the X targets? Where do you want a link from?
    In LOTS of service areas there's someone leaching off it - where are their links coming from?
    On Yahoo! Site Explorer type in the URL of someone doing something around your service, click “explore”. Click “inlinks”. Click “show inlinks: Except from this domain” to exclude internal links. Click “to: Entire site” to see links to every page on the site. You’re then given a list of every page that links to your competitor. Dig through the list to find sites that might link to you.

  3. Select good targets
    MarketingSherpa rates a 'link value' based on:
    Content on the page
    Topic of the site
    Number of outbound and inbound links
    Amount of advertising
    Reputation with search engines
    Website age
    OK. What this means is what sites are relevant to the topic and have a high Google rep. For Whitehall that means a limited number of relevant UK sites per topic. For Lgov that means a limited number of local/localised sites - many of which may actually be one-person productions, but they're highly relevant in specific areas. Directories are also relevant because many of them have been set up to capture traffic in specific geographic or subject areas. Talk to them - literally. There's usually a quid pro quo here. Just reject anything which asks for a posting fee, as search engines do the same.

  4. Partners
    Commercial sites set up relationship with people like newspapers - why not you? NB: they may need some help (!), i.e. pages to link from, what content should be on the page, and where the link should target. Think shortcuts. Or making sure the homepage is primed. And pick up the phone!

  5. Get well-built links
    This is a tekkie note. KEYWORDS: Write good anchor text. The words used in your links’ anchor text (the text users click) will affect your search rankings. The more links you have with the anchor text, the more likely you will have good search results. You want your target search keywords in your link’s anchor text. Also, it's not just the homepage, 'deep links' are most of your traffic. + search engines are likely to give better rankings to pages that attract links over time, rather than only recently or in the past. This is another reason why link building needs to be ongoing and (actually) why most egov sites start from an inbuilt advantage.

  6. PR
    Every single bit of PR should include a link to your site. Always ask for a link.

  7. Strategy
    Lots of tools out there which will track incoming links, record contacts. Allying this with analytics helps with understanding keywords and search terms and what actually drives your traffic and helps refine strategy.
HT: MarketingSherpa
and here's their useful links

Thursday, September 4

Behind the scenes at the conventions

In Denver @ the DNC reporting corporate lobbyists. From Bill Maher's RealTime.

NSFW! Daily Show in St Paul reporting the, er, gay side of the RNC.

Wonkette goes further: A Children’s Treasury Of Republican M4M Ads In Minneapolis St. Paul

How not to do video about recycling

Two local councils, Wyre and Flynde, are in the Mail after producing a DVD guide to recycling. The negative story says that it cost just over £2k but I suspect that's less than the total cost. And for that they got 1000 DVDs.

Who uses DVDs as promotional tools these days? DVD content's best served up online in nearly all circumstances. The council didn't put the video on YouTube - humour website Anorak's done that, so it's been 'virally enhanced' I suppose. Though not for the reasons they'd like.

At the time of writing Wyre's homepage link about the DVD is crashing and Flyde's link is to PR that says 'the video is available to view on the website', then links straight back to the homepage ... there's no obvious link to the 'video on the website' and I also notice that the PR asks residents to 'call the council' - rather than or as well as email them.


A few points ...

  • Why is every council doing this separately? Good on the two councils for sharing the cost but what - really - is the difference between vast numbers of councils on what goes in what bin?
  • There's also extensive message duplication - and dilution - about this issue with countless other departments and agencies saying exactly the same stuff.
  • This means the resources and talent hire to really get strong messages out, do the research and target just aren't there.
I know how hard it is to track down UK digital resources for reuse on green issues like recycling. There are some but I should be fed up hearing from some central agency pushing a selection of useful and preferably tailorable resources at me - I'm not.

There are a few councils trying things out - applause - and a few doing stuff like YouTube channels. Allendale has one video which made me laugh and actually has viral potential I think:

It doesn't have the views though yet to make much of a case for bothering. Neither do any of the others who have YouTube channels [Aberdeenshire, Allerdale. Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Cambridge, Charnwood, Darlington, East Devon, Essex, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Newham, Norfolk, Ryedale, South Norfolk, Swansea] - Newham being a noticeable exception, with Bristol having a couple of hits.

So how do you increase those view numbers? The key requirement is 'seeding' (and having a plan at the get-go for how to get stuff seen). This mean:
  • tapping into social networks and local websites, forums and blogs - promote the thing in the place people already are, online
  • give the embed code to the local/regional paper(s) and other media
  • using email - internal and external
  • posting to other video free spaces than YouTube using cheap tools like TubeMogul or Vidmetrix or HeySpread
  • you need to make syndication easy - promote and encourage the embed code and encourage subscription to your channel
  • create a short, preferably memorable, description which can be passed around
  • tag the video correctly with good keywords
  • you can pay numerous agencies to do all this for you - and maybe pay them on results.
Of course it helps if the content's great but agencies know you need to learn and get better, plus you need 'product' out there and some of it will hit home and boost everything else. Amateurish also has a different meaning in this space. That Allendale video is delightfully amateurish - and that helps, it's received as authentic.

There's also a lot of other tricks which professionals use - like making sure the exact middle of your video is right as that's what produces the YouTube thumbnail, designing it so it can be 'remixed', beefing up the comments and ratings yourself and using shock headlines - but those are best left to said professionals.

The shortlist above might sound complicated, it might sound hard, it might sound time-consuming - but why are you producing this stuff in the first place? You want it seen by more than a few councilors - who are impressed until the local paper or, worse, the Daily Mail comes a-knocking and a-cursing about 'wasting tax payers money'.

Postscript: I asked Richard Steel of Newham if he knew why they'd had hit videos. In comments he's said he's going to ask around. I just dug a bit deeper and I think I can see how. Most of the videos actually have numbers similar to other councils, but several have large (for UK eGov) numbers - one is 26k. But these are from a local entertainment event run by the council and are linked from numerous other sites including Facebook and are of BBC Asian Network stars (I assume). One is on a site in Vietnam.

Bristol have one minor hit about Getting Caught - Graffiti and the Law but it appears this got to 18k not virally. No Facebook/Bebo I could find. Here's the PR. Something must have happened to push one of these vids numbers way above the others. The only thing I can spot is a technorati post and video response.

Both, I think, show how with the smallest ammount of even inadvertent seeding, video view numbers can be pushed above the very low levels most council's are currently getting.

Postscript: And another: Barnet.

Wednesday, September 3

Scrapbook clips catch up

I've been repeatably hearing a bizarre (to my ears) ad running on the Olbermann netcast - Kraft 'natural, 2% milk' cheese with ... drumroll ... "no added growth hormone". Only in America?

I shouldn't mock. We have crap food here too. But something called Velveeta, which "doesn't need to be refrigerated after opening"???

Google has launched a Elections Video Search gadget which use speech recognition.

Using the gadget you can search not only the titles and descriptions of the videos, but also their spoken content. Additionally, since speech recognition tells us exactly when words are spoken in the video, you can jump right to the most relevant parts of the videos you find.
+ Google kills the Google bomb :{

Hah (sorry, shouldn't laugh).
A disgruntled city computer engineer has virtually commandeered San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network, altering it to deny access to top administrators even as he sits in jail on $5 million bail.
US 'Department of Homeland Security' is seriously suggesting that airline passengers wear 'security bracelets' which would deliver taser-like shocks if they 'fail to comply' - seriously.

Here's another shock horror story in 'the war against tourism':
And it wasn't enough for another woman to show TSA agents nipple rings that set off a metal detector. The agents forced her to take them out.

Mandi Hamlin said, "I had to get pliers and pull it apart."

In Chicago, people like Robert Perry are subjected to exhaustive security checks. He was patted down, his wheel chair was examined and his hands were swabbed, all in public view in a see-through room at the security checkpoint. Perry, 71, is not alone

"It's humiliation," Perry said.

Perry was also taken to a see-through room by a TSA agent when his artificial knee set off the metal detector.

"He yelled at me to get the belt off. 'I told you to get the belt off.' So I took the belt off. He ran his hands down over and pulled the pants down, they went down around my ankle," Perry said.

At that point, Perry was standing in his underwear in public view. He asked to see a supervisor. That made things worse.
Tracey Ullman has a great character, Chanel Monticello, taking da piss outta this shit.

Delightful story about how Karl Rove, aka 'Bush's brain', threatened a webbie:
If he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio".
No wonder they're losing online, who'd want to work for them?

Computing magazine had a good-news story about the NHS IT project - the biggest non-military IT project in the world - focusing on Homerton Hospital. All great, practical, working properly, stuff. Pity that a/ it's not easily found on the web and b/ Labour is making nothing of it.

eGov: New figures from NWEGG shows that:
A ‘self-serviced’ web transaction is 24 times less costly than a telephone transaction and 46 times less costly than a face - to - face transaction.
According to the Daily Mail (FCS):
Ministers had so far failed to put sex education on a statutory footing in the national curriculum.
Attempts to search for advice on school computers were often frustrated by filters which block sites containing sexual words.
New York Times piece on the challenges of being a Tekkie in Kenya:
Consider Wilfred Mworia, a 22-year-old engineering student and freelance code writer in Nairobi, Kenya. In the four weeks leading up to Apple’s much-anticipated release of a new iPhone on July 11, Mr. Mworia created an application for the phone that shows where events in Nairobi are happening and allows people to add details about them.

Mr. Mworia’s desire to develop an application for the iPhone is not unusual: many designers around the world are writing programs for the device. But his location posed some daunting obstacles: the iPhone doesn’t work in Nairobi, and Mr. Mworia doesn’t even own one. He wrote his program on an iPhone simulator.

Here's good CRM for you. From an email:

We couldn't help but notice that it's been a while since you've visited, and it's bumming us out.

If you have a moment, we'd love to hear from you about your experience on, what did or didn’t work for you, and how we could make things more enticing for you in the future.
Lincolnshire is truly pioneering with eGov. Apart from the ads they are:
As part of their “Accessibility tested by humans” strategy, Lincolnshire’s website will be tested every 3 months by a panel of disabled users with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy through to dyslexia. Results will then be published on Lincolnshire’s website for anyone to see.
I completely agree with this more 'social' attitude to accessibility.

Here's Whitehall's approach:
The draft had threatened to switch off non-compliant websites altogether, warning: "websites which fail to meet the mandated level of conformance shall be subject to the withdrawal process for domain names". The final guidance issues a similar warning, but using the softer formula 'may be at risk' instead of 'shall be subject to': "Government website owners are reminded to follow the conditions of use for a name (Registering domain names (TG114)). Websites which fail to meet the accessibility requirements may be at risk of having their domain name withdrawn".
Monbiot point:
A few weeks ago the writer Mark Lynas found a counter-intuitive revelation buried in the small print of an ICM survey. The number of people in social classes D and E who thought the government should prioritise the environment over the economy was higher (56%) than the proportion in classes A and B (47%). It is counter-intuitive only because a vast and well-funded denial industry has spent years persuading us that environmentalism is a middle-class caprice
How stays atop the pile:
In the past two months, we have started to combine search engine optimisation - talking to the news desk on the paper about SEO-friendly headlines and underlining SEO with our subs desk [on the website] - with our marketing and pay-per-click activity. If you do two to three small things at one time that can be very significant.
Etre (newsletter only) had a great post about 'cognitive illusions', relating this to usability. Citing Bruce Tognazzi from 1989 it notes that:
1) Users consistently report that using the keyboard is faster than using the mouse.

2) The stopwatch consistently proves that using the mouse is faster than using the keyboard.

This illusion reveals a much more important learning: Users' perception of reality and reality itself are not the same thing - which means that you should always verify their claims through research. You should also take pains to validate your own intuitions, because even when you're certain of something, you can still be very wrong.
Etre's blog had an interesting post about a new ATM interface for Wells Fargo. ATMs are thirty years old - proving that usability is an ongoing and never-ending process.

Dave Briggs is running an event in Peterborough relating the ReadWriteWeb to the needs of local government. Check it out.
Featuring case studies from both local and central government, practical exercises to learn more about how social media could be used within a local authority context and plenty of time for networking and chats over coffee.
eGov AU on why UK lgov sites are better than Australian ones. Unfortunately he cites Redbridge :{

Information ain't free. After a long break with no email, I had a notification about a citation of that suicide and the internet BMJ article (which I went to work on). But of course I couldn't read it because JAMA's medical research is behind a paywall.

That's cleared some clips :}

Just this to add - from the online journo Michael J Totten: The Truth About Russia in Georgia:

He raised his hand as if to say stop.

“That was the formal start of the war,” he said. “Because of the peace agreement they had, nobody was allowed to have guns bigger than 80mm. Okay, so that's the formal start of the war. It wasn't the attack on Tskhinvali. Now stop me.”

“Okay,” I said. “All the reports I've read say Saakashvili started the war.”

“I'm not yet on the 7th,” he said. “I'm on the 6th.”

“Okay,” I said. He had given this explanation to reporters before, and he knew exactly what I was thinking.

“Saakashvili is accused of starting this war on the 7th,” he said.

“Right,” I said. “But that sounds like complete bs to me if what you say is true.”

Thomas Goltz nodded.

Mugabe has 17% support

Gallup just did a poll:


Great points from John Ridley - much of which is just as applicable to the UK:

If you're a minority and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a "token hire." If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a "game changer."

If you live in an Urban area and you get a girl pregnant you're a "baby daddy." If you're the same in Alaska you're a "teen father." (Actually, according to your own MySpace page you're an F'n redneck that don't want any kids, but that's too long a phrase for the evil liberal media to take out of context and flog morning noon and night).

Black teen pregnancies? A "crisis" in black America. White teen pregnancies? A "blessed event."

If you grow up in Hawaii you're "exotic." Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential "American story."

Similarly, if you name you kid Barack you're "unpatriotic." Name your kid Track, you're "colorful."

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you're "reckless." A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a "maverick."

If you say that for the "first time in my adult lifetime I'm really proud of my country" it makes you "unfit" to be First Lady. If you are a registered member of a fringe political group that advocates secession that makes you "First Dude."

A DUI from twenty years ago is "old news." A speech given without proper citation from twenty years ago is "relevant information."

And, finally, if you're a man and you decide to run for office despite your wife's reoccurrence of cancer you're a "questionable spouse." If you're a woman and you decide to run for office despite having five kids including a newborn... Well, we don't know what that is 'cause THAT'S NOT A FAIR QUESTION TO ASK.

Fellow POW speaks against McCain

This is actually a couple of months old but has suddenly gone viral .. can't think why ...

To repeat a link, here's Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain.

How did he do that?

A Gremlins fan film: Gremlins interspliced I know not how with lots of others.Excellent.

Will McCain drop out?

Back in June I highlighted a story by Steve Rosenbaum suggesting that McCain will be forced off the GOP ticket because he's losing:

The polls all show that McCain's pro-war stance and Bush endorsement make him a lost cause in November
Post Palin and with even worse polls, today Andrew Sullivan is refloating this possibility:
I have to say I'm beginning to wonder if McCain will have to withdraw. Or can they switch after the nomination? To have your first presidential decision to be this bad, and to have your decision-making process and executive skill revealed as Michael Brown-level: how can he recover?

People keep forgetting. McCain has little to no executive experience. He's been a Congressman and Senator his whole career. He got the nomination by default. And this is the only executive decision we have to go on to judge his fitness for the office.

I mean: we have all just watched his decision-making process in real time: the whole country.

Do you really want that level of competence and thoroughness in the White House? In wartime? When making decisions about Iran and Russia? The prospect is terrifying.
And Daily Kos is running a poll on who'll replace him - their readers think Mitt Romney.

Matt Frei? Misses the point again - completely fails to say it's all about McCain's way of making decisions that's causing the vetting to be happening now. Webb? Same again.

BBC? blah.
Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now
The Guardian has some of this right but the Times seems more on the ball, Danny Finkelstein runs today with last night's Colbert Report question: Should it be Palin-Romney?

As Rosenbaum was pointing out, Republicans don't like to lose. So McCain being forced out isn't a mad idea at all. And it'll be a joy to watch the likes of Frei explaining his 'shock'.

Here's Colbert:

Music: Got to be real

Cheryl Lynn from 1978 on SOUL TRAIN. Yaaay! Ray Parker Jnr on bass.

Classic gay track, essential vogueing track and sampled to .. death ...


This is actually quite good fun, watching THEM self destruct.

The latest, from a church speech by Palin, about Iraq:
“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God.”
And her 'Pastor Wright' moment:
What you see in a terrorist — that’s called the invisible enemy. There has always been an invisible enemy. What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what’s going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. … We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You’re worried about getting hurt? He’s called us to die. Listen, you know we can’t even follow him unless you are willing to give up your life. … I believe that Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode. Everyone say “war mode.” Now you say, wait a minute Ed, he’s like the good shepherd, he’s loving all the time and he’s kind all the time. Oh yes he is — but I also believe that he had a part of his thoughts that knew that he was in a war.
[Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God]
Palin aka Tootsie:

Awh hell. Red State like the 'Alaskan librarian. take-her-on-the-tundra' look:

More satire: Ham Sandwich McCain's Actual Choice for Veep
McCain's actual running mate will be a ham sandwich.
The sandwich, said by analysts to be "a little light on the ham," has never held any public office and is incapable of speech or rational thought. It is thought that the choice will solidify McCain's credentials as a "maverick."
"John McCain makes decisions with his gut," said Davis. "That's what Americans like, right?"
And my fave quote on the whole shebang from Chris Kelly:
Just the breath of fresh air a state funeral needs.
Postscript: From Andrew Sullivan. Palin's Pastor Wright moment continues. She sat in church whilst some 'Jews for Jesus' guy ranted:
"Israelis who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists were simply enduring 'God's judgment' for not converting to Christianity."
And Lieberman is happy with this?

Another great viral funny:

Tuesday, September 2

Republikan police state

You may not have read this - because no UK MSM is covering it, including the Guardian (typical coverage by the Times) - but protesters at the Republican convention are being preemptively raided with automatic weapons shoved in their and their children's faces. Just like Genoa with a bit less physical violence

Here's a guest post from my good mate from New Jersey Toby Grace.

Other Thoughts

If there was any doubt that the United States is fast becoming as restrictive a police state as many in the Third World, the policies and behavior of law enforcement surrounding both political conventions should put it to rest. Though the Denver police were restrictive, the police in St Paul [twin cities with Minneapolis], acting in concert with state and federal agencies, can only be described as thugs.

Un-remarked by corporate media, the police staged preemptive raids targeting every form of alternative media such as (no surprise here) IWitness, which video documents police behavior, particularly at such large events as rallies and Conventions. Staff members were handcuffed and arrested, held in detention for days without charges, equipment mysteriously disappeared and all of this took place with guns drawn.

Police informants were inserted undercover in every counter-cultural group that was possible to infiltrate from Vegans to Veterans against the war. Protestors were supposed to be confined to a “Free Speech” zone fenced off a long way out of the sight of convention goers.

We had been under the perhaps erroneous impression that the entire United States was a free speech zone. That, at least was what Miss Blau, our Sixth Grade teacher at Matawan Grammar School impressed on us. Miss Blau took free speech and the rest of The Bill of Rights very seriously indeed. She made us memorize the whole thing and recite it standing up at attention. She had good reason. As a little girl in Poland, she had watched her entire family machine-gunned by the NAZIS as they tried to flee from their village. She never mentioned that fact in class but Matawan in those days was a small town and Miss Blau was a well-known and greatly respected teacher. We knew the story.

Bush, Cheney, McCain, Fox News, innumerable police authorities and the mind-numbing, dumbed down machine of the corporate media have been doing their best to convince us we must surrender much of our basic liberty to win this endless, amorphous “war on terror,” but you know what? We believe Miss Blau. You don’t defend liberty by surrendering it.
Video interview with Michelle Gross, President of Communities united against police brutality (a community organisation in the twin cities) describing the raids:

Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! (a news show online and also on public broadcasting in the US) arrested for disagreeing with a cop.

This clip shows best the difference between them and us. A obviously harmless, peaceful woman perceived as some sort of threat by a policeman enforcing orders from above. She is a journalist and TV host, not a Anarchist Black Cross organiser.

Good summary from the local paper.

Daily Show: A Lovely Afternoon Stroll Through the Police State of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Firedoglake has more
on the Sheriff giving the orders, a Republican being investigated for corruption.

Here's one possible reason for the arrests, from a live blog post made during the raids by an iwitness and TV producer:
We are suffering a preemptive video arrest. For those that don't know, I-Witness Video was remarkably successful in exposing police misconduct and outright perjury by police during the 2004 RNC [Republican Convention in New York]. Out of 1800 arrests, at least 400 were overturned based solely on video evidence which contradicted sworn statements which were fabricated by police officers. It seems that the house arrest we are now under and the possible threat of the seizure of our computers and video cameras is a result of the 2004 success.
Postscript: Just made the point back to Toby that this isn't like Genoa (the G8 summit where police beat peaceful protesters within an inch of their life and killed one) - that really was fascism in action. Being able to see, live, what's happening in St Paul is the difference the web's making in real life. The police know full well they are being watched and that's precisely why the ones being targeted are those recording and reporting what's actually happening (they can control the MSM).

Postscript: pictures and video now emerging of beatings of protesters. Note the boot print, and this is on a 17yo.

Sunday, August 31

Music: James Brown & Pavarotti

Doing It's a man's world.

It works!

HT: The Observer - The 50 greatest arts videos on YouTube

The West Wing analogy still holds

The West Wing 2006 Presidential election remains eerily comparable to the 2008 one, albeit with a slight kink.

Matt Santos = Obama
Leo McGarry = Joe Biden
Arnold Vinick = John McCain

Vinick wanted to pick Reverand Don Butler to shore up the anti-abortion GOP base but went instead for Gov. Ray Sullivan, as an 'attack dog'. Unlike Vinick Sullivan was 'pro-life' like Butler but less nutty.

After Vinick's loss, Sullivan was seen as the frontrunner for the next nomination.

Mudflats is an Alaskan blog which has all the background on evangelical right-wing hypocrite from nowhere Sarah Palin. Literally, here's the main street of the nowhere town she was mayor of eighteen months ago:-

In particular Mudflats details the "trashy novel" corruption inquiry she's at the centre of involving her sister's police husband, messy divorce and hubbie standing in for Palin to pressure for the set-up and firing of said police husband.

Jane Smiley in HuffPost outlines questions to ask Palin in a post titled "make her whine":

What is her religion and who is her pastor? Is she a Christian Dominionist and how does she feel about the separation of church and state? How does she square her roles as mother and politican? Who is taking care of the kids while she is away, including the baby?

Do the disabled children of rich people get special treatments that their parents can afford, while the disabled children of poor people get nothing? Who is the boss in her family? If it's her, then I want to know how that squares with Christian notions of patriarchy. If it's the husband, then I want to know his values and beliefs.

If she's a family values right winger, I would expect her to back those values up by breastfeeding for six months to a year, at least. If she's not breastfeeding, frankly, and she doesn't believe in birth control, then she's a hypocrite. She has to run as a right wing family values soccer mom or she has to run as a woman who has gained freedoms through the efforts of other women. She can't do both.

Is she really a gun-toting moose-killer, or is this a pose? What are her ties to the oil and gas industries -- and I don't mean her beliefs. I want to know who paid her and when and how much. She says she doesn't know what the vice president does, so I want to know what she thinks about Dick Cheney and the unitary executive. I want to know if she understands the Constitution and what the limits of the executive branch are. I want to know if she's ever been abroad, if she has ever written anything about the Iraq war, or if she's just a follower with a pretty smile, who goes along with the big boys in order to get a little something for herself.
Here's something which gets zero MSM play: Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain. As will this, concerning Palin's hypocrisy. Though this, potentially worse and completely OTT, is bound to whizz around the interwebs (already has 2300 diggs).

But here's something which also gets little play. The electoral vote (not the same as the headline polls or the actual vote, as many found out in 2000) has been for Obama for months - I just added the widget.

Click for

These numbers are why McCain has done something this desperate. He's losing.