Saturday, October 13, 2007

Conservatives Accuse Google of Being Unpatriotic on Columbus Day

Among the stupidest crap I've heard in recent months in the accusation (reported by CBS) that Google is unpatriotic because of the events it choose to draw attention to (or not draw attention to) by altering its logo.

The LA Times is among the sources that have picked up the story. A conservative web site is criticizing Google for acknowledging the 50th anniversary of sputnik in its logo design last week. The website complains that Google has never altered its logo for Veterans Day or Memorial Day. The sputnik was, well, communist. Google changes its logo regularly and has commemorated such dates, according to CBS, as "World Water Day, Persian New Year, painter Edvard Munch's birthday and China's Dragon Boat festival."

The idea that this discussion started around Columbus Day seems especially ironic to me. I'm not sure what's patriotic about Columbus Day. Columbus was an Italian working for Spain. He discovered Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands. My school system doesn't give kids the day off (which means I work), but my bank closes (so I can't cash my paycheck that day) and the mail doesn't run. To me the holiday is an inconvenience. Perhaps his trips would have been more meaningful if Leif Ericson hadn't discovered mainland North America over 500 years before Columbus. But I digress...

A couple of thought occur to me. One is that Google's logo is a type of pop art. The Conservatives who are complaining about it want to judge pop art based primarily on political correctness. That attitude and approach is part of what has led to the decline of pluralism in America. We don't tolerate people who think of act differently very well any more.

The other thought that occurs to me is that making Memorial Day and Veterans Day a measure of patriotism is a symptom of the narrow view of patriotism Conservatives take. Patriotism is about guns and war and beating the enemy to Conservatives. I'm not anti-military by any stretch; but I think patriotism is about more than war and uniforms. I agree with John Edwards: it's time to be patriotic about something other than the war...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Change of Seasons

Less than a week ago we were having high temperatures in the mid-80's, lows in the 60's, and speculating about whether we would break 90F degrees in October for the first time in recorded history in Bluefield.

Today the high was in the mid-50's. For the second night the mercury has dropped to 40 or below. And even though we were running our one window unit air conditioner three days ago to cool the bedroom, we are now running our furnace for the first time this Fall to heat the house up...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blogging for Money: Step II

When you look at blogging for money, there are a variety of income models.

Suite101 was where I started. I eventually stopped editing a site for them because the work load wasn't worth it to me at the time. They wanted a blog post a week and a short feature each week. The Suite pays based on ad revenue - a profit sharing model. It's entrepreneurial: the potential is there to make some money if you can attract traffic. It's also a fairly low bar in terms of getting in to start with.

They have a new model since I left that allows contributors to simply write content instead of carrying the responsibility for maintaining a topic. I will probably start doing that soon, without taking on a site for them...

I blog for Creative Webblogging now.
I have two sites with them: China Venture News and The Universities Weblog. I write 20 blogs a month for each. If I do that, I get $112.50 a month for each. They want me to go out once each week to another blog on each topic and comment there in a way that leaves a link back to my blog. That's not hard. If I meet some traffic minimums, there's the potential for bonuses. If my traffic does well, there's the potential to go to 40 blog posts a month for $250 a month.

I've mentioned Smorty before. Smorty will pay you to blog about products and companies. It's $6 and up for 400 words or less. You have to have a personal blog that's 90 days old and has a minimum of two posts per week.

The top end of the spectrum is About Dot Com. There was a service that used to do something like Neilson ratings for web sites. About Dot Com always ranked in the top ten. When I worked for them they had about 500 writers ("guides," they called them). My site was about the middle of the pack and I had between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors a week. About Dot Com is demanding. I probably spent 20 hours or more a week on their stuff. Their tools kept changing. When I left they'd started wanting me to look at making video content. They wanted a blog post a minimum of three times a week and they wanted original content articles at least twice a month and they wanted a catalog of links on my topic. They had a lengthy application process that judged you on something like a portfolio. If they liked you, your portfolio became the start of your site. There were people on the travel channel making a couple of thousand a month for them.

There are other places to make money by blogging, but those are some good starting points...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cooking Lunches with Orzo

On the weekends I try and find time to make something to eat that I can take to school with me - something that is more appealing than a TV dinner or a cold sandwich. This weekend I made one of my favorites...

I like to make pasta and vegetable dishes with a neglected little pasta called orzo. The stuff looks like rice. The Italian word means "barley," but it's made from the same ingredients as most other pastas.

I usually start with a stick of butter and a large non-stick skillet. Pick your favorite Italian veggies. This time I used mushrooms, zucchinis, eggplant, red onion, and bell peppers in both green and yellow. I slice the zuchs long ways, split them long ways again, and cut them into one-inch segments. The peppers, onion, and eggplant get diced into reasonable sized chunks. The mushrooms get quartered. Then they go into the butter on low hear for 30 or 40 minutes.

Mix in some pesto, an herb or two (this time it was oregano, last time it was basil, next time who knows?), some red wine, and some black pepper. Cover it and set it aside...

I boiled a pound of orzo. After I drained it I mixed the veggies and the orzo together. I had a little left over red pasta sauce in the fridge that I pour into the mix. Then I added turmeric - just for color.

The whole batch made me six lunches. I put one in the fridge for tomorrow and froze the other five...