Monday, July 28, 2014

The "Free Flow of Information Act" - Except Not

Last week I received yet another fine and lovely patronizing email from my Senator Dianne Feinstein.

She was responding to my correspondence about the Free Flow of Information act. I had of course written to instruct her to protect ALL writing, not just that by degreed journalists (although I do sport one of those degrees).

Her response to me (and yes I have repeatedly informed her that I am female):

Dear Mr. Waytz:

Thank you for writing to express your concerns about my amendment to the "Free Flow of Information Act" (S. 987). Your correspondence is important to me, and I welcome the opportunity to clarify my amendment.

I believe a free press is a cornerstone to our democracy, and an independent media is essential to hold government accountable. Let me be clear: I support a reporter-shield law. I voted in favor of similar legislation in previous Congresses. More than 30 states, including California, have adopted a reporter-shield law, but there is no federal protection for journalists and reporters with professional credentials.

As you may know, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a reporter shield bill called the "Free Flow of Information Act" (S. 987). This legislation would create a federal reporter shield law, prohibiting federal law enforcement agencies from compelling a reporter to reveal his or her sources. I was concerned the protection in the original draft provided a special privilege to people who are not really reporters – namely the operators of Wikileaks or hate websites.

Therefore, when the Senate Judiciary Committee debated this bill, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and I offered an amendment to define who is considered a "covered journalist" in order to receive this new special privilege.

Under our amendment, a "covered journalist" is defined as someone who is an employee, agent, or independent contractor for a media entity. You should know that this definition would also include freelance journalists, documentarians, book authors, bloggers for news sites, and many others. I believe the language "legitimate news-gathering activities" is key and would exclude hate websites and other persons who are not actually engaged in a journalist pursuit. I am pleased to report the amendment is supported by a list of more than 70 different media and public interest organizations, including CNN, Fox News Network Inc., and the Newspaper Association of America.

On September 12, 2013, Senator Schumer's bill was considered by the Judiciary Committee. I voted for it, and the bill was approved 13-5. It now awaits action on the Senate floor.

Once again, thank you for your letter. I hope you will continue to write on matters of importance to you. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein United States Senator

MY response to her response:

Dear Mr. Feinstein -

I think you're wrong on this. The First Amendment protects speech, and in this day and age, Any Citizen who reports a story should be protected by this legislation. You don't get to pick and choose the reportage you like.

Further, only protecting "approved" journalists is actually worse than not protecting anyone, because any number of nefarious agenda-bearers (including the Federal Government) will control the approval process. That is WAY too much power. Ironic this is "The Free Flow of Information Act," because the way it's written now, it's anything but that.

I'm very discouraged by the tightening of the noose.

Please remember I remain,

Your Employer,

Ruth Waytz

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stop Spilling Your Seed

Yeah I said it. 

Hebrew mythology has a nice piece of finger-wagging, admonishing us not to "spill our seed upon the ground." True, they're probably going for the literal read here, but I'm taking this in a different direction: I challenge to you to stop expending your best energy on Facebook (or twitter, or Instagram, or Tumblr, or whatever). Stop generating free content for people don't know you and don't give a rat's ass if you live or die. 

I'm not telling you stop posting on Facebook; I'm asking you to stop writing FOR Facebook. Keep creating - by all means - but do it on your own blog, for your own self, and then link to it on Facebook to increase Your page views and build Your brand. 

There's never been a better time or an easier time to be a writer, photographer, or artist. Blogs can be set up instantly and free. There are plenty of apps. You can do it from your phone. Remember: social media means to steal your gift, or worse yet, to compel you to give it away to them for free. So stop. 

Why not have Facebook and its ilk work for you, instead of the other way around?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Not all posts showing up on Twitter and Facebook?

Over the weekend I figured out twitterfeed, and got it up and running. Or so I thought. It harvested my most recent post and published it to both twitter and facebook - yay - but this morning it ignored my post about Sochi's dismal ticket sales - another yay - and published my Guest Post by Michael Cade. WTF?

Be My Guest ~ A post by the esteemed Michael Cade

Per pal Ruth's request/order, I'm tackling the subject of:

What's the Point of Blogging?

My testimony is provided in several short chapters below.


Honestly, I think the main function blogging (or micro-blogging, in the case of Twitter) serves is to satisfy my somewhat pronounced obsessive-compulsive urges. The Internet is a wonderful (and horrible) drug for those of us with impulse-control issues. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="189"]Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun... Micro-blogging![/caption]


I do like the idea of being in complete control. On my blog, no meddling editors can bend my prose or change the meaning of something I wrote. Everything that's good (or bad!) -- is solely attributable to me. That's accountability!


I sometimes use blogs to direct my raw hatred at various nemeses and fools. I've earned the right to do so because pop culture has rammed the dumb ideas of these dicks down my throat for years.


There's a narcissistic quality to the medium of blogging, of course. Although, in recent years, I've felt less desire to satisfy this portion of my brain. Fame -- even on a micro-level -- doesn't hold much appeal for me. (Money, yes. Fame, no.)


Blogging can produce a number of aesthetically pleasing images. (See below.)

Kitty Cane


I've delved less and less into attempts at opinion-shaping with blogs. Generally, most people will believe what they want to believe, regardless of how convincing an argument you construct to the contrary. And people will often view you (or the idea you're presenting) through a preconceived lens, which means they're either amenable to your ideas or they aren't. Most aren't. Jerks.


The business of day-to-day life makes longform blogging nearly impossible. In many respects, that's a good thing. If I'm too busy to write a 2,000 word blog post about the minutia of Fill-in-the-Blank, that probably means I'm actively engaged in more worthwhile pursuits e.g., contemplating how taut my balls are.


With regard to personal stuff, I don't like blogging about these things. It's Too Much Information. No one wants to hear about my hygiene. Or my Type II Diabetes. Or the women I date. Or my attempts at DIY dermatological surgery.


I think writing is a really worthwhile endeavor but I have no idea where it sits on my own personal Priority Tree. Lately, it's way down on the lower branches. To me, the most compelling thing about writing is the idea of memorializing and capturing your ideas with the printed word, as doing so may create a pathway to those ideas actually happening (should you want them to happen). Similarly, I think that acknowledging your failures and shortcomings via the printed word may lead to the subconscious correcting of such missteps in the future. What's also cool about blogging is that you can finish a post without resorting to the hokey tricks of newspaper columnists, e.g., making your story come full circle with a trite and contrived end-phrase, e.g,
"Folks, that's something we can all stop and think about, regardless of political affiliation."
Rather, you can end the post in a more productive way, maybe by (i) wishing that your enemies boil in white-hot excrement for eternity or (ii) wishing good tidings and massive success to all the people you love. (I choose the latter, though the former is tempting.)

Looks like my Sochi boycott is working

So happy to read that people are too scared and too pissed off to go to the Olympics: I do still wish we hadn't agreed to send our athletes....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

... and kitty angels meow thee to thy rest

Deep and heartfelt thanks to all who reached out to express sympathy for the loss of our dear boy Lefty.

I know people with human offspring roll their eyes when people like me (born minus the urge to replicate and surgically ensuring that outcome at age 22) refer to pets as their children, but love is love and loss is loss, regardless of species. You share your love, your life, your bed, and your heart with these creatures, so when they go the pain is all-encompassing.

Fortunately I never lose sight of the fact that I am borne aloft on an immeasurable wave of love and support. Lefty and I had a good run together, and he went out in the best way possible. He managed to leave the party while he was still having a good time, which is more than a lot of us ever get. His days were filled with good food, cool sinks, running faucets, and high thread count down bedding. He had toys, perches, and friends of both human and feline variety.

It's going to be a while before I stop hearing him howl out the news of the day to no one in particular until I can finally get him into bed, where he will paw at me until I lie in a snuggle-appropriate configuration, and before I will stop offering my arm for him to curl up into for some quality face-rubbing.
He was a Good Boy and as with all adored pets, I had hoped we'd have more time together.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Big Dairy to change the definition of “milk” so they can add chemical sweeteners without labeling.

So this morning I read that the FDA is reviewing a petition to allow Big Dairy to add - gee, I dunno - Aspartame and Sucralose (and who knows what else?) to milk. And get this: They want the FDA to let them do it WITHOUT HAVING TO MENTION IT ON THE LABELS.

Yes, you read that right.

After all we had to do to GET ingredient lists on food labels (and yes we know that "natural flavoring" means secretions from a beaver ass), here comes this: The Dairy industry is suffering! People are finally realizing that humans are the only species that drink the milk of other species, and that there's no reason for it, especially for children.

So sales are down and everybody knows Kids Love Sweets, so let's make milk SWEET for them!

Hey Michelle Obama, if you really do give a crap about the obesity issue, take a gander at this issue. It's well known that artificial sweeteners have a carload of really nasty side effects. Are we really okay to flood our nation's milk supply with them?

Here's a link to write your comments to the FDA. They've logged 6,626 comments as of midnight last night.!submitComment;D=FDA-2009-P-0147-0012

Or you can just copy or edit my comment:

SO MUCH WRONG with this!

First, the idea that milk - a product ingested primarily by children - would be adulterated with chemicals like aspartame and sucralose, which are known to be Harmful To Children? That's insane enough on its own.

Second, that even if a parent wanted to be conscientious and choose milk that DIDN'T have these poisons, this petition grants the milk producers the right to include these chemicals (and who knows what ELSE) WITHOUT HAVING TO INCLUDE THEM ON THE LABELS.

This completely overrides the consumers' rights to CHOOSE what we are eating, drinking, and giving to our children.

SHAME ON YOU if you agree to this.

You can't show me one single advantage to granting anyone the authority to exclude ingredients from the list we fought so hard to see on our foods. Oh wait - More Sales for the Dairy folks and more sick people who need expensive health care.

Silly me.

But Heads Up, FDA - We're watching you.