Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blog blunder fells UA teacher

My schedule has become too intense to follow a lot of the big blog controversies, and this one has been going on so long that even a print newspaper takes notice. But if you want to see why people don't trust the daily papers, take a look at the story and then the first comment which gives the "rest of the story."

But that's not what this post is about. It's about a sidebar on the newspaper page, titled "Blogging Etiquette: How to Blog Safely."

Now remember, this is a sidebar to a story in which a college instructor loses her job because she made repeated death threats against a blogger's two-year-old. So here are the rules of blogging etiquette:
  • Blog anonymously. Preserve some privacy by shielding your IP address and registering your domain name anonymously.

  • Use a pseudonym and don't give away any identifying details, including where you're located, how many employees there are and what sort of business you do.

  • Do not blog while you're at work.

  • Limit your audience by only allowing a select group of people to read your blog.

Do you notice anything left out from that list? I'll give you a hint; how about "Don't say anything on the Internet that you wouldn't say to a person's face in the middle of a room full of people"? Then you wouldn't need to hide your IP address and comment anonymously.

In fact the first two rules are, generally speaking, made for people like Deb Frisch, who (presumably) can't take their (apparent) anger issues out in their everyday life. The third one is probably good employment advice, and the fourth runs counter to what most bloggers are trying to accomplish.

And given the "rules," the title "Blogging Etiquette: How to Blog Safely" is an oxymoron. Because the rules don't have to do with etiquette (manners, politeness, civility), but with how to get away with being a complete jerk.

So let me reiterate the one rule that should have been there but wasn't, that would have saved Frisch's job if she had followed it: The Internet is public. Don't say anything there that you wouldn't want published.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A note to grocery clerks

Dear nice young lady who rang up my groceries this evening:

I suspect that your boss told you he wanted you to be "friendly," to "engage me in conversation" so that I would feel like I'm at a "hometown" grocery store, despite the fact that I shop here about three times a year because it's outside my neighborhood and despite the fact that there are tens of thousands of square feet of merchandise space and dozens of employees I've never seen before and possibly never will see again.

When I think of a "friendly" store, I think of a place where they do their jobs without acting as though I'm wasting their time, where they take my word for it if I come back the next day and report that my milk was sour, where, if I want to start a conversation, they go along with it, but not to the extent that they hold up the other customers behind me in line.

I don't really feel that it's "friendly" when I undergo a third-degree about the groceries I bought, what I plan to eat for dinner or how I plan to cook it. I also don't care very much if you approve my choice of grocery products or if you congratulate me on my money-saving shopping style.

In fact, I actually have enough of a life that you don't have to provide my sense of community or neighborhood.

I'll be nice to you and give one-word answers to your questions, just in care your manager is watching, but now you know that I know that it's a meaningless ruse. My question for you: Do you know it's a meaningless ruse?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Oh, by the way

There a new Onion Dome posted.

I'd give it an "ehh"

We went to see Superman last evening. We started on a lark to see the new pirate movie, but once at the theatre, we realized that only the hardcore would be seeing the pirate movie last night.

So we and about five others watched Superman.

I'd been hearing all the hype leading up to it: Is Superman a Christ figure? or an Anti-Christ figure? Tales of English churchmen teaching their little Sunday school charges about the Bible through the Superman movie (I suspect their Sunday school charges are about as scarce as the moviegoers last night, but good luck to them.) You could see "Christ-image" dotting the film like refrigerator magnets -- but they never got to the essence of the story, and it was never quite clear what the essence of the story was, exactly.

What I loved about the old Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, may he rest in peace, was the sense of the romp, the big-screen comic book. This one seemed to be going for the big-screen TV show, down to including the TV theme as a motif in the opening music and Perry White's intonation on "Great Caesar's ghost!"

That would offer one possible explanation of why Superman/Clark Kent was so wooden. Brandon Routh is an appealing kid, but the Christopher Reeve legacy seemed to weigh heavy upon him. He seemed to be playing Christopher Reeve as Superman. And at times I'm not sure it actually was Brandon Routh. Some of the flight scenes looked like they had been staged by Pixar, and a CGI Brandon Routh was doing the flying. (And what's with that curl in the middle of Superman's forehead? It never moved in the wind.)

But there was a constant weight of ponderousness, as if the writers wanted us to be -- what? -- enlightened? There was no substance, just the voice of Marlon Brando uttering vaguely Biblish platitudes about human potential. We deserved Superman because we were so -- could be so -- good. Well, whatever. I liked the fact that people, with their inadequate medical facilities, did what they could to help Superman, and if they had wanted to wrap something profound in a Superman story, it might have been something more along the lines of "even Superman needs help sometimes" -- which, come to think of it, was a theme of the old Superman III.

Up next: Ingmar Bergman directs the next installment -- Three Scenes from Superman Eating Wild Strawberries.