A postscript to astroturf

The ombudsman of the Boston Globe wrote an interesting column today following up the “astroturf” (or should that be “chemlawn”?) about Bush’s genuine demonstrated leadership that I wrote about a week or so ago. Some interesting words:

Editors at dozens of papers have not been pleased to discover that they ran GOP form letters. Most papers, the Globe among them, want their letters page to reflect authentic local sentiment, homegrown views, not reworked press releases….[Globe Editorial Page Editor Renee Loth:] “Readers have a right to assume that what they read on the letters page is not canned public relations material,” she says. Thus, she has instituted a new policy to confirm original authorship on any letter that could be part of an organized campaign.

The Internet may be part of the problem, but it can also be part of the solution; I’d suggest adding regular online searches of key phrases in any suspect letter, to quickly identify already-published duplicates.

If the number of hits I’m getting from Google on “demonstrating genuine leadership” is any indication, editors are starting to do just that. Of course, Greg pointed out to me in a chat that “over the weekend … the AJC ran the ‘demonstrating genuine leadership’ letter again without realizing.” To be precise, it was Friday, and it was published signed by Robert Rahm of Snellville. Eternal vigilance is the price of an astroturf-free editorial page, I guess.

Heroic bloggers all around

Example #1: William Gibson, blogging his book tour. Gibson is on track to blog his entire book tour, which is shaping up to be a grand sweep through America, modern blogging culture, and his back catalog, not to mention super-rare hardcover first editions of Neuromancer.

Example #2: Julie Powell of the Julie/Julia Project, bravely bouncing back from a near total meltdown on Sunday to not only save the recipes she was working on but move ahead with total brave dedication.

Example #3: Moxie, aka Madison Slade, coming out of another unfortunate relationship and turning the angst into a really good short story.

There are a ton of other examples, including my family and friends. But I sometimes think that blogging is a metaphor for the larger human struggle: to reverse entropy, to make sense of the disorder that each of us face in our own lives, and to use the disorder to tell stories that explain it all.

Poulson Reed: Virginia Gentleman … and Curate

My old friend and mentor Poulson Reed was my first section leader in the Virginia Glee Club. I credit him with my early vocal realizations about the importance of listening and blending one’s vocal tone with the section around you, as well as just generally showing me that it was possible to enjoy (and participate in!) the hijinx of the Glee Club while still remaining a gentleman.

I had lost touch with Poulson since he graduated, so it was an unexpected joy to see this note from fellow alum Dave Ryan:

On January 18th, Christopher Corr and I had the distinct pleasure of attending Poulson’s ordination and installation as Canon of the St. John’s in the Wilderness Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, CO. It was an amazing and inspirational event, with many in attendance, and angelic choir and orchestral music.

You can see Poulson at his new gig on the cathedral’s staff page. Congrats and Godspeed (or something), Poulson.