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Cancer Blogs

(Cross posted at on the One America Committee blog)

Elizabeth has touched the hearts of many of us with her wonderful book, but she is not the only person who writes wonderfully about battling cancer.

Yesterday, Katie got a wig. I found her blog through a mutual friend. What she wrote about cutting off her hair and getting a wig reminded me of when Kimberly had to cut off her hair or when Fran did.

These stories are other illustrations of when Americans show saving graces to the people around us, about Americans at the best when fighting a horrible foe.

That foe isn't just terrorists. It is poverty. It is disease. It is ignorance and injustice.

We've talked a lot about citizen journalism here and it reflects part of my dream. I want to see Edwards supporters writing not only about candidate visits, but about how each and everyone of us, are working to bring about the One America that we all hope Sen. Edwards will help lead us to, whether it be helping in soup kitchens, with Habitat for Humanity, or helping people around us through difficult times.

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Fiona and the Governor

Fiona and the Governor
Originally uploaded by Aldon.

Today, Kim and I drove Gov. Dean around Connecticut. As we dropped him off, he posed for a quick shot with Fiona.

Click on the image below to watch a brief interview I did with Gov. Dean at the same stop.

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Folk dancing at Fiona's Birthday Party

We had a folk dance for Fiona's birthday party. Here are a few clips.

Transforming media

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently thinking about how the media affects the way we think. I’ve been writing a bit about The Ad and the Ego. It is a great film about how advertising shapes our thinking in terms of telling us who we should be, or at least who the advertisers want us to be.

Yet there is more to it than explicit messages about what we should buy and the implicit messages about how we should view ourselves. The pace of advertisements has changed over the years. Years ago, advertisements were often 60 seconds long, and sometimes longer. They were more ponderous. Now, the ten second spots through the longer thirty second spots throw as much information at us as quickly as possible, before we click our remote to mute the audio or to change channels. Is this rapid-fire information changing the way we think? Is the medium the message?

I’ve thought more about this based on a blog post by Chris, whom I met last week when I visited Colin McEnroe’s Blogging Class. Chris wrote, Aldon's mind seemed to work very much like the web... He seems to have adapted his thinking patterns to the online world in which he is immersed.”

I’ve often wondered how much does the times makes the man and how much does the man makes the times. Perhaps the same applies to the relationship of media to media consumer. Do I hop from hyperlinked thought to hyperlinked thought because of how much time I spend online, or do I spend as much time online, because I’ve always hopped from thought to thought.

I’ve heard people claim that the television viewership by children is increasing cases of ADHD. Yet on the other hand, I’ve often heard it suggested that the increase in ADHD diagnoses is because of increased testing. When I was young, one of my nicknames was ‘fiddle fingers’. I was always fiddling with something. Later on in life, before I started spending a lot of time online, I was well known for tossing out a ‘collection of thoughts’ in any discussion I was part of and I would take notes at meetings, not to remember what was said, but just to keep track of all of the thoughts that would tumble out of my head so that I could get them in when I got a chance to speak. Have I gravitated to hyperlinked organization simply because that is how my mind worked in the first place?

I suspect that there is a little bit of both in there. This isn’t a new question. The events at West Nickel Mines, PA a couple weeks ago have really got me thinking about this. One of these days, I’ll write my great blog entry about this, but for the time being let me toss out a few thoughts. The Amish have always sought to separate themselves from the world around them. I’ve always thought of it in terms of Romans 12:2 “Don't be conformed to this world…” You look at advertising, you look at blogs, and you have to wonder how much our modern media is conforming us to the world.

Yet that is only the first part of the quote. The scripture goes on to say, “…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Blogs, and all of the new media that is growing up around the Internet provides an opportunity to transformation, and that is an important part of why I am online.

So, whether the way we think is molded by the media around us, or we can mold the media around us by our thinking, blogs and other emerging media provides a great opportunity for transformation, and perhaps we all need to think more about our role in such transformations.

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"I just really want a hug"

(Cross-posted at One America Committee Blog)

I spend a lot of time helping politicians mine for votes, and sometimes I wonder if that is part of the problem with politics in our country today. When I’m not out vote-mining, I’m spending time with my family. Today, we will have Fiona’s birthday party, a contra dance. The vote mining and the contra dancing perhaps shape my reaction to an article in today’s Hartford Courant.

Steven Goode and Colin Poitras have written an article about Sherry Amico, “a self-taught guitarist with a powerful voice”. On August 9th, “she was found dead of a methadone overdose in a friend's apartment.” They quote a posting she had on MySpace, "My dream = to have a family and be happy ... Outcome = feeling like [expletive] because DCF won't leave me ... alone ... I don't mean to be annoying. I just want help. I want to live a drama free life for at least a month ... I just really want a hug."

Maybe it is time for a seismic shift in politics away from this mining for votes, the name calling, or at best policy statements that seem hollow in the wake of a suicide like Sherry’s. Maybe it is time for us to gather around campaigns of candidates that will use their contests not only to find voters, but to change people into the sort of Americans I grew up believing in, American’s that care for their neighbors and work hard to help those around them.

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