24 March, 2009

Twilog -- a new word

So I just coined another new word, for use on #Twitter. Y'know, Twitter is really inspiring me to do so much, coin new words, start a #LGBTQ civil rights movement, get out and play with the Tweeples ...

If you're not on Twitter, you should be. Lance Ulanoff even agrees that you should be.

So my new word: Twilog.

I'm using it to describe a Twitter Log, or the log of tweets that a particular user makes. Yes, we can say that this is in their "tweets" but that doesn't really explain that there's actually a log of one's tweets being kept. Thus, Twilog.Or, if you'd rather, think of it as a portmanteau of Twitter blog (of course, "blog" itself being a portmanteau, so perhaps this is a portmandeux?).

You can find my twilog on Twitter.

23 March, 2009

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supports marriage equality

So now that it's public knowledge that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced his support for full marriage equality of all committed and loving couples, and his office has confirmed his much-touted change of heart, there are two questions that linger in my mind:

Did Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have anything to do with Sen. Schumer's change-of-heart?

Is New York the first state in the union that now has both United States Senators in full support of marriage equality, or has someone beat us to the punch?

In any event, thank you, Senator Schumer (and Gillibrand), for finally coming around and finally realizing that marriage is a fundamental right and that hatred, discrimination, ignorance, and homophobia have no place in our society, which reverses your previous stance and your vote in favor of DOMA.

18 March, 2009

A misinformed news article on the usage of Twitter by local police

What's of interest in this article isn't the fact that local police have announced that they're going to be using Twitter to inform the public, as that's something that's occurring with regular frequency around the nation.

What is of interest in this article is the extremely poor journalism in the description and explanation of what Twitter is:

This is the text of the article, written by Terence Corcoran, a journalist for the The Journal News, a regional newspaper published by Gannett--the folks who bring you newspapers such as USA Today:
Peekskill police have joined Twitter, an online community that serves as a venue for people to communicate through brief messages that are dispersed via e-mail and text messaging, Lt. Eric Johansen said today.

Members of Twitter are able to post messages that contain less than 140 characters. They can be viewed by people who have signed up to receive them on their mobile telephones and e-mail accounts.

While the service was originally designed as a social-networking tool, it is also used by large businesses as well as celebrities and musicians.

Johansen said police see it as a way to keep the public informed on everything from road closures and accidents as well as major incidents.

Access to Twitter is available by signing up at www.twitter.com, which is provided free to those who send and/or receive information.
Here's the e-mail that I sent to Mr. Corcoran:

Regarding your article, Peekskill police join Twitter to provide updates to public, you really should do a bit more research before you start talking about things like Twitter. It is disingenuous to describe Twitter as an "on-line community" when it is much, much more than that.

First and foremost, Twitter is, in its simplest form, a tool used for communication. Twitter is wondrous tool by which information can be collected and disseminated (which is why police departments around the nation have begun using Twitter).

Tweets (the 140-character messages that users create) can be viewed by anyone via the web, regardless of one's status of owning a Twitter account. Tweets and @replies (@replies are tweets made in response to a certain user's particular tweet) aren't usually delivered to one's e-mail account, unless one is using a third-party application, plug-in, or widget.

What does the usage by celebrities, large businesses, and musicians have to do with Twitter being a social networking "tool"? Twitter is still a Web 2.0 application; the usage of a Web 2.0 application--especially WHO uses it--doesn't change what it is. While Twitter is becoming perhaps a de-facto method of distributing and collecting information for a number of different groups such as marketers, celebrities, government officials, politicians, and those who advocate for social change, that doesn't change what it is: a communications tool.

What is significant is that a culture is being created around Twitter; Twitter has its own language, code of conduct (there's virtually no such thing as "too much information" on Twitter), and celebrity status (traditional celebrities aren't necessarily important on Twitter; there are a great number of "everyday people" who rank far greater in importance than most of the traditional celebrities, as far as Twitter is concerned. Twitter's methodology has gotten such web giants as Facebook to incorporate major Twitter-esque changes to the way they present information and allow users to interact.

Perhaps the effectiveness of Twitter to communicate information (as demonstrated by tweets about the landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River appearing a good 20 minutes before any news organization had information and started running stories (even on Twitter)) has scared traditional news media outlets into degrading and downplaying the importance of Twitter. Twitter may just be the biggest threat to the way in which traditional news media disseminates information, as it places the power of information into the hands of the people who receive it, not those who wish to disseminate it.

16 March, 2009

My sister's back on chemo...

So my sister's back on chemo, although this time it's a low-dose. They found some cancerous cells floating around in her bloodstream, which means that there's cancer somewhere in her body but it's so small that they can't find it (or so they say).

And then I found this video of her dealing with her battle with breast cancer at the age of 31 on-line (she never told me about being interviewed by the local news...)


14 March, 2009

Voting Irregularities in Peekskill, New York

I voted in the November 2008 presidential election in my voting district in the City of Peekskill, State of New York but I had a lot of difficulty in doing so. I have recently discovered that the vote that I cast that fateful night was not, in fact, counted at all.

How do I know this? Let me give you, gentle reader, the entire set of facts and see if you reach the same conclusion that I did:

On Tuesday, 2 November 2008, I walked into the voting area assigned to me and signed the log of voters, where my signature-on-file was verified against the signature I had just signed in the log book. After a wait of approximately two minutes (while someone else was in the voting booth), I went into the booth, and voted for the candidates whom I was certain about. I spent another minute or so making some last minute decisions and voted for a few more candidates. Then I went to do my write-in votes.

That's right, I actually am one of those people who s informed and educated about voting and knows that you can write-in the names of a candidate (anyone, really) you wish to vote for if you don't like any of the choices you're presented with.

So I began to process of writing-in my choice for these three different races, one of which was a very, very local race (city council). All three of my write-in choices were very unique. I lifted up the lever that you pull in order to write-in a candidate's name. Unfortunately, the paper that should have been there was not, and I was thus unable to write-in any candidates name (I would have been writing on the metal of the voting machine itself, instead of the paper 'ballot' (for lack of a better term; I honestly don't know what it's called other than the "write-in candidate paper in the voting booth")).

Being an informed voter, I called for an election inspector. One of the election inspectors came inside of the booth with me and determined that there was a physical malfunction in the machine that was preventing the paper 'ballots' to drop so that I could write-in a candidates name. She then attempted to vote for one of the candidates whose names were presented by flipping a lever (I should point out that she automatically started flipping switches along the Democrat row, instead of asking me who I wished to vote for...); however, since I opened up one of the slots to cast a write-in vote, all of the levers had been disabled and thus were no longer functioning.

As such, I had to exit the voting booth, where my vote was reset by the election inspector instead of it being submitted and counted, and submit my vote via an emergency ballot. Only, there weren't any emergency ballots on-hand. Thus, the election inspector came up with a solution: cast my vote on an absentee ballot and place it in the emergency ballot envelope (they had the envelopes but not the actual ballots). So I filled out the emergency ballot, where I was able to cast my vote for my write-in candidates by -- simply enough -- writing in their names in the space provided for the three races wherein I chose to vote in such a manner. I placed the absentee ballot into the emergency ballot envelope, sealed the envelope, and then handed it to the election inspector. I was personally assured that my vote would be counted and included with the general voting results as soon as the polls closed, at 9pm.

A few weeks ago, I went to the Westchester County Board of Elections web site to find the certified election results from the November 2008 election (I had visited the site previously in December 2008, and was advised that only the "certified" results listed the votes for any write-in candidates). Much to my surprise, none of the write-in candidates I had voted for were listed in the certified results; however, there were numerous other write-in candidates listed.

Thus, the only conclusion that I can reach from this is that the emergency ballot that I cast was not submitted and that none of the votes I cast that night were counted, period.

Needless to say, I am more than upset. I can understand that there was a mechanical failure with the voting machine; after all, the machines that the State of New York uses are more than 100 years old (and, for the most part, they do work). However, to not know or have in place the requisite measures when such a failure might occur is inexcusable. Further, to not have even one person's vote counted as a result of such failure is completely and totally unacceptable.

Maybe I should file a lawsuit against the City of Peekskill, NY for voting discrimination or something. I'll have to look into my options and report back.

In the meantime, I will stew in my anger and frustration, as I'm advised that there's "nothing that can be done" about this!

10 March, 2009

Airlines are nickle-and-diming us to death!

Ryanair isn't the only airline that's thinking about this. My friend just flew from NYC to Florida on Spirit Airlines, and he said that they're contemplating such charges, too. He also told me that Spirit actually charged him for choosing his seat in advance (window as opposed to aisle). But he had to go to Florida on a family emergency so he didn't have much of a choice, as they were the cheapest rate. Although, quite honestly, he probably wound up paying just as much as the "major" airlines after all of the nickle-and-dime charges.

So when you fly, you have to pay extra to choose your seat in advance (meaning that if you want to choose aisle/window before you get to the ticket counter, you're going to have to pay). You have to pay to check your luggage. Pay to carry-on luggage. Pay airport fees, taxes, and the homeland security surcharge. Pay for beverages/meals/snacks. Pay for this, that and the other thing. While the "rates" have dropped a bit, the actual cost of travel via plane has increased, and I would posit that the increase is significant!

I'm glad that my travel requirements aren't time-sensivite and that my needs are basically met via Amtrak and other rail travel. Amtrak even provides a discount to me on their fares as I'm disabled, and with my finances they way they are right now in this horrible economy, that discount is a life-saver! (I travel via Amtrak to visit my mother every month to assist her with her disabilities and life-issues.)

Ryanair CEO Suggests Charging for Toilets - SmarterTravel.com

05 March, 2009