Monthly Archives: October 2007

Blogging for All — Last Add

Apparently there is going to be another story about Citizen Wausau in tomorrow’s Herald.¬† And also apparently there is going to be some quotes from me in the article, or at least I heard the tapping of keys in the background as I was talking. ūüôā¬† I have no idea why I was interviewed this time, I have nothing to do with CW and the story of how CW has come into being has already been told by them, me and Pat Peckham.¬† But for the record, I will say one last time what I have pretty much said in every interview about both CW and the Wausaublog.

Get your own blog.¬† It is simple and free here on WordPress.¬† But please, don’t just sit in your basement in your pajamas and spew opinion strung together with internet links.¬† Well, OK, you can do that if you want, it is a free country, but I don’t find that very interesting or beneficial.

Get out and do something.  There is TONS of stuff going on around town.  People are working with charities, creating art work, mentoring kids, putting on plays, dancing, playing music and on and on and on.  There is no way that any one person or even news organization can cover even a tiny percentage of these things.  But you can.  You are doing them or know who is.  Buy a cheap digital camera, take some snaps and write a little tidbit.  Citizen journalism.

I would love to see 50 blogs of Wausau, or even 5,000.  I am glad to see CW up and running finally, but will be even more impressed when YOU have a blog.  Just get out there and do it.  It will be good for all of us.

And this is the last thing I am saying about this.  Really.

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Unidentified Dudley Object

So, L and I were driving back from the Wisconsin Englishes presentation at UWMC when she turns to me and says, “Do you see that?”

I did indeed. And I took pictures of what we saw. They are NOT photoshopped, if anything, the colors look even richer to the eye than they do to the camera.

Makes for an interesting skyline, that is all I have to say.

Click on any or all of the thumbs for the larger image, but you get the idea.

UDO 7 UDO 6UDO 5UDO 4

UDO 3UDO 2UDO 1

Blogs, Censorship and Conflict

This little post is inspired by the comment by Mr. Mentzer and also by the little brouhaha over at Citizen Wausau.

First let me say that there is no animosity, or really, feelings of any kind about the start up of Citizen Wausau. I have said many, many times that there is always room for more voices about anything and everything and another take on Wausau is a good thing. So, rock on guys and have fun with it.

I will go even a step further and say that everyone should have a blog or something like it. Writing is a tremendously valuable skill and one that is simply not exercised enough by most people. For years I have seen all the wonderful things that the library puts out encouraging reading (Readers are Leaders and so on) and have always thought, “Reading is great, but you need to be able to DO stuff too.” And one thing everyone should DO is write.

Back when Ken Burns’s first big war pic came out (about the oxymoronic Civil War — how can any war be civil?) I, like many people were amazed at the poetic beauty of the letters and diary entries that he found — written by ordinary people. Even allowing for the fact that over time only the best of such things survived and the he had the liberty to edit the heck out of them, the use of the language by ordinary people was quite striking. They obviously spent a lot of time both reading and writing. We don’t — but we should.

I am reminded of one of my favorite snarks, although I forget now who said it. At the time of the quote the various TV networks had various promos to encourage reading. I believe CBS had a thing after many programs telling people how they could “read more about it.” Which lead to this acid response: “Having a TV network combatting illiteracy is like a chocolate eclair manufacturer fighting obesity.” But I digress.

So, everyone should have a blog. Expressing yourself in writing often organizes your thoughts and gives you a very nice mental work out. I am not talking about spreading information here, though that might be useful — just expressing your thoughts on “paper.” It is a good thing for everyone.

Beyond that, more discussion of our town is good and more information is good. Citizen Wausau is a good thing. And so will whatever the next blog about Wausau be. I have always said, and certainly stand by the idea — “the more the merrier.”

I will say, however, that I sit here with a bit of bemusement at the brouhaha over at Citizen Wausau. Perhaps it was not intended, but there were some comments in the CP when the Wausaublog was going black (not permanently, apparently) that this new blog would be more wide open than this blog had been. I was perplexed by the comment at the time, hoping that perhaps it was a misquote or something.

Over the year or so that the Wausaublog limped along, there was exactly one post that I sort of declined to run. The author said it was satire, but it just sounded like an attack to me. I sat on it a long time and finally said, “Sorry, I am not going ‘print’ that.” The person apparently got their feelings hurt and never contributed again. Which is OK. There was one other time when I was sent a contribution and I asked the author whether they really wanted it out there in the form in which they sent it to me. I pointed out that maybe they might not get nice comments on it, and the author said not to run it.

And speaking of comments, I had one instance where I felt forced to cut off comments on an article. Some group from Texas found the blog because of a post that mentioned a band that used the Confederate battle flag as their symbol — and these guys from Texas wanted to post dissertation length comments on how the aforementioned oxymoronic Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. I just wasn’t in the mood for a flame war over a 4 month old post, so I closed the comments for a while. It was the only time I deleted comments.

I did also get into a bit of hot water when I tried to moderate a comment thread that had gotten a bit out of hand. One of the contributors felt that in doing so, I was taking sides and eventually declined to participate as a contributor any longer. Which is also fine.

But all that being said, I do feel for the guys over at CW. No matter what you are doing on a public blog that represents something (even if it only yourself) such as your city, your business or whatever, it is probably impossible, especially on the internet, to have completely free speech. If you did, your blog would be covered in spam comments leading to porn sites.

And, as I have said before, editors have value. Not posting something because it is not good enough or is way off topic or vile or whatever, is fair game for the owner of a blog. That is what an editor is for. The Herald (for example) is under no obligation to publish anything and everything that comes over the transom, and the same is true of CW and the Wausaublog.

So, here is where I can tie things together. If you want every word you write to be “published,” get your own blog. You can get a free one here on WordPress.com in about five minutes. I encourage you to do that. Writing is good for you. Everyone should do it.

The last thing I wil say is that to be a blogger of any kind on the net requires a bit of both thickness of skin and skull. Anyone in the world can post anonymous comments on your thoughts and opinions. Registration doesn’t stop that, only makes people more creative. So, you can’t take yourself too seriously and for the most part you can’t take the comments from others all that seriously, either. Unless it involves a spellchecker. I know from first hand experience that a copy editor is even more important than an editor.

Hunted Like Animals at UWMC

It is not often that a re-run is an important event, but this is one of those occaisions.

UWMC is showing again the film, “Hunted Like Animals” which is a documentary by Rebecca Sommers about the genocide of the Hmong people in Laos.¬† The film will be shown on October 10 at 7 pm in the college theater, and as usual, you can’t beat the price, it free.

Click for Larger ImageCheng Lee, Director at the Multicultural Resource Center at the college has arranged for Rebecca Sommers to be available by phone after the screening to discuss the film and answer any questions.  Lee said that last year when the film was show there was a panel discussion with a number of local Hmong Elders discussing the film.  That must have been fascinating, and I am very sorry to have missed that.

Most of us in Wausau are aware of the sad recent history of the Hmong people.  To make a long story short, the Hmong people sided with the US during the Vietnam War, and after US troops left Southeast Asia, the Hmong were persecuted by the governments of Laos and Vietnam.  Many Hmong people became refugees settling in Thailand, the US and other places.  But Hmong people still remain in Southeast Asia.  Their plight is still horrific according to Sommers.  Here is a quote from the press release for the film:

Over thirty years and a generation later the Hmong-in-hiding are attacked, chased, raped and killed by Laotian soldiers.¬† Those who surrender face an uncertain fate. ‚ÄúHunted like Animals‚ÄĚdemonstrates that the Hmong-in-hiding in the Laotian military training areas are going through. ¬† They endure genocide, the reason why many escape to Thailand, and become refugees.¬† This story of human rights violations on the Hmong-in-hiding must be told.¬†

And for a story to be fully told, it must be listened to.  I hope that folks will make an effort to come out and see this film so that we can better understand the situation in Laos, and by extension our Hmong neighbors here.  The shared experience and the discussion period are an important part of building our community.

If you would like some previews of the film, Sommer’s site has a number of clips, which you can find here.

See you at UWMC at 7 pm in the theater.

Also Spotted Downtown

Big Boxes are people too!! Please Give!!!

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Spotted Downtown

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking grout.

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