I'm pleased to present the First Edition of the Empirical Manifesto Newsletter and welcome back schpydurx to my FL, freshly returned from his self-imposed exile. Today's edition is an exclusive interview discussing his new position as a newswriter covering local political events.
ehowton: First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on being selected as a reporter for the Conservative online newspaper News Platoon. I'm thrilled to see you doing political work that will make a real difference instead of claiming that ceaselessly bitching about our current administration on your blog is true political punditism (which I have to assume you've since rescinded).
schpydurx: Thank you for having me.
I'd like to clear something up straightway though, and that's this faulty syllogism that so-called "ceaselessly bitching on a blog" is more than just bitching. A blog may be the only news source that tells the whole story for some. Yes, blogging is typically personal and biased, but when you consider that the so-called mainstream media too is biased towards Liberal causes, you take heed to the words of the Committees of Correspondence founder Samuel Adams, "You can't trust the media." His point, of course, was not to take news at face value. Just looking at human behavior, it's simple to deduce that if a particular information source is always biased positively or negatively towards their subject, there's a part of the story that isn't being told.
So when I criticize Our Dear Leader, I'm doing the job that the mainstream media and Paul Harvey (God rest him) used to do: I'm telling the rest of the story. I don't need equal time, I AM equal time.
And for what it's worth, if it wasn't for modern so-called Web 2.0 technologies like blogging, Facebook and Twitter, I wouldn't have been made aware of the opportunities and problems in our community. I met Christie Carden (hsvteaparty.com, see my interview with Christie here) through Facebook and that was how I got involved with the Tea Parties. Because of Christie, I was also clued into Linda Lawrence's work with the South Huntsville Civic Association to stop the Huntsville Housing Authority's utter usurpation of power. Because of Linda's and other like-minded groups' online presence and her networking with Christie, I covered the Grissom meeting and am planning on working more closely on the HHA issue.
And for the record, I volunteered for News Platoon. There was no selection process. I agreed to willingly give of my time to support a cause that I believe in.
ehowton: You claim your position is to report 'hard news' in the political arena as opposed to opinion pieces, but given your overtly close-minded policy toward accepting any differing political viewpoint from your own, how can you claim to follow News Platoons goal of not blindly favoring one political party over another while pledging to give all parties and candidates a fair shake when reporting factual news? It seems a deeply insurmountable conflict of interest.
schpydurx: There is no conflict of interest. I don't willingly go around making up news and ginning up false accusations. I fully admit to being human and making mistakes from time to time--announcing facts as news before it's been confirmed or by not checking enough sources. Sometimes, you try to get a jump on the news and be the first to break the story. In this Web 2.0 era, a few seconds can make all the difference between breaking a story and coming in dead last.
I can tell you this right now just from the few stories I have reported on as well as the in-person interviews I've conducted: if you don't have a thorough background on the story, you're going to get something wrong. That's just the nature of the business. The problem with politics is that there is a long history to most issues--enough of a history to write a several-volume tome.
And that's something I want to stop and talk about right there: History. People don't know their history, whether you're talking about history that directly affects them such as family history or the history of their community. Then of course there is political history. And World History.
The thing about history is that there is a great ignorance and apathy. People don't know their history and they don't want to take the time to research it and find the truth because that takes too much effort. So you have too many lemmings sitting on their steadily widening haunches stuffing their face while doing nothing more than spectating. For this reason, most people's perspective starts "today."
I see this all the time in computers. You get people that think that Microsoft is the do all end all to computers because that's all they've ever seen on their desktops. But as a Systems Administrator, you can attest that this is nowhere near true. And just for a quick computer example of how knowing your history helps, I'll use the example of the
biffwas an early email program and that was what you typed at the command line to check your email. Why
biff? Because the programmer that wrote the program had a dog that would bring him the paper every morning. Guess what the dog's name was?
I want to take this opportunity to refute this bullshit notion that I'm close-minded. That simply just isn't true. I have my principals and I stick to them. I'm not a reed waving in the wind. I study an issue and make a judgment call based on the facts that are presented to me. When presented more facts, I look at them too. New information does NOT mean a different opinion, it simply means that there is new information.
I fully believe in studying what the opposition thinks and why they think it. This is useful because you have to think critically about an issue and examine all the facets. You also get to see where that other person is coming from. When you're seeking truth, and there's two opposing views, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. But it's not an exact science either. You can't go looking for facts at exactly 50% between the two views. It's more like standard deviation. It's somewhere between the two, and the closer you get to a pole, the more likely it is that you're getting hyperbole. And then of course, there's my catchphrase, Even a broken clock gets to be right twice a day.
I fully admit that I'm no Rush Limbaugh or flashpointblog.com. Each of us are at different skill levels. If we don't hone the skills we have, we never progress. And that's the irony, isn't it? Liberals love to claim the term "progressive" because it sounds like they're really making the world a better place when in actual fact, they are impeding progress. Explain that!
ehowton: It is well documented that you refuse to acknowledge the differences between socialism and communism citing, "They both boil down to a dictatorship, so why bother with the nuances (my word, not yours)." Given that glaring flaw in your own personal understanding of politics, why do you think you're qualified to even write?
schpydurx: It's funny that you should bring this up. I was on a forum not too long ago and some dumbass said "Communism and Socialism are the same thing." I LOLed and immediately thought of you and your criticisms.
I still believe that socialism and communism still end in a dictatorship and an oppressed population, even if "some are more equal than others". I do see the need academically to recognize the differences between them and study them. Perhaps that information may be useful some day to uncover a very crafty politician. Most likely it will just lead to more hyperbole.
ehowton: Professional political scientists are way smarter than you are. You obviously have a lot of experience in the political arena to have been chosen for this responsibility. Outside your part-time pizza delivery duties, can you give us some examples of the background which makes you the right man for this job?
schpydurx: Again with the faulty syllogism! I've already told you, I volunteered my time, skills, efforts and energies.
Regardless, I'm qualified to write because I'm here in the streets seeing the effects of policies set forth in Washington. Like a scientist, I embrace the scientific model: I hypothesize about what might happen given a set of circumstances. (Hypothesizing means asking "What if?" for those of you confused souls in Texas.) From there, I test the theory and record the results. If I was wrong, I check my experiment to make sure that I didn't taint the results via bad practice or faulty syllogism. If I can find no errors in my procedure and the outcome wasn't what I expected, I then have to choose to embrace the facts I have just uncovered despite the implications or I have to reject the truth. Unexpected results can be a hard pill to swallow.
For the record, the same political scientists that you tout as being much smarter than I are the same ignorant fools that have been pushing Keynesian economics and repeatedly feeding us this propaganda bullshit that Obama is the smartest guy in the room. How can that possibly be? We're talking about the same guy who gave the unemployed an additionally $25/week on their unemployment benefits which pushed some of theme over the threshold of being able to receive $300/mo in food stamps. So let's do the math: $100/mo - $300/mo equals a net gain of -$200/mo. You'd expect the smartest guy in the room to catch that error before he let the plan out the door or have the food stamp rates adjusted. Hell, I see the fallacy in this logic and I failed Cal B twice!
We're talking about the same political scientists who claim that Supply Side economics don't work when it's been proven otherwise. They have also tired to sell us on this idiotic Cap & Trade horseshit which will result in 0 reduction of emissions but will simultaneously drive up the cost of both doing business and the cost of living. These are the same bunch of people that said Porkulus would create oh-so-many jobs, yet all we've seen thus far is higher unemployment numbers. And now they're trying to sell the bogus idea that instead of tort being the number one cost in medicine, some how the service providers are the problem and the government can more efficiently solve the cost problem than the Free Market? Allow me to call bullshit by quoting Syriana:Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize.
When these so-called experts finally get it right, then we'll talk. Until then, my track record is much better than theirs; thusly, I'm more qualified to write about politics than they are.
ehowton: What is your goal in writing for the News Platoon? What is it you'd like to see happen? You've told some you were a filmmaker. Other's that you were penning the Great American Novel. How does this burgeoning field advance those goals? Or is it instead a job of resignation, a self-admittance that this will be the pinnacle of your career?
schpydurx: That's a lot of baited questions at one whack. Let's deal with them one at a time.
My goal in writing for News Platoon was to further establish my web presence while at the same time doing something that I have a passion for: informing people of the lies Liberals flaunt every day as gospel. Granted, I'd rather be doing this in a talk-show format and have thought several times of doing a podcast, but in order to do that right and get on a schedule, I'd need more than just me dedicated to a volunteer project. I don't have the money to compensate people for their time, so that idea has been scrapped until I can secure the funding. I haven't tried fundrasing just yet, but that's because of a personal weakness of mine: I can't sell a product that I don't believe in.
I wouldn't hire me to do a talk show with no previous experience. Granted, I have learned that with the right attitude anything is possible and I could see someone wanting to hire me for my zeal. But that would be a hugh risk investment that someone already in the field would have to take. Simply put, I just can't do the talk show format at this time with the resources I have. My personal past financial mistakes are still costing me and that doesn't help my ability to raise capital.
But I have always thought that I have a knack for writing when I can finally make myself plant my ass in the chair and not get distracted. I've tried my hand at screenwriting and again at being a novelist. Screenwriting isn't so bad so long as you're creative enough to come up with something fresh. Then you've got to use that creativity to market and sell the script. Unfortunately, I keep drawing a blank when it comes to the screen. As for being a novelist, I started writing A Time To Fight on a mission trip back in '98. I've yet to make it past the fourth chapter because I can't see how to make the plot work to give me the setup for the ending I desire. It's discouraging because I have a friend who's written several short stories and at least two novels. We're quite similar and share a lot of the same passions including writing, but he's more dedicated to his craft than I. It may come down to the fact that I prefer passive entertainment like film when my ass is planted in a chair and steadily widening.
As for filmmaking, the same above applies. Filmmaking is a very expensive hobby to have. And you need great people skills along with an ability to expertly manage money. As a combined producer/director, you have to be able to simultaneously see the forrest and the trees. Really, the key is to have a story that you'd willingly sell your soul for in order to be able to tell and be so enthusiastic about that you can get other people involved and recruit them to make the movie in your head, not theirs. So there's a lot of leadership involved in filmmaking as what Jerry Lewis called "The Total Filmmaker"--one who writes, produces, directs and acts.
(As a side note, I've not had any real ambitions for acting. I think with the proper training I could do it, but I don't think I have the skills that Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp or any of the other great character actors have. I do, however, have a unique personality which could be utilized, but that leads to [rightfully so] type-casting.)
When I think of myself trying to be the Total Filmmaker that Jerry Lewis talked about, I don't see myself doing a lot of acting. Maybe a small supporting role at most and then something more towards the end of my career when I've gained the proper experience. What I do envision is writing, directing and producing. But that takes a tremendous amount of capital. And my biggest problem is the stories that I am dying to tell are books I have read. Optioning property like that is very expensive in and of itself before you do a day of pre-production.
But I have a plan to solve my deficiencies. I want to get into still photography which is something that can be done for far cheaper than motion photography. And I'm thinking about taking some writing courses as well as getting formal training in being a sound engineer. The idea here is to pursue journalism in such a manner that with enough training (degree or certification irrelevant) you could drop me in the middle of nowhere and I'd be able to give you print, audio and video of the subject matter. Guess where else those skills come in handy? As I get older, I realize that time is running out if I want to do all the things I want to achieve, so I have to work smarter and more efficiently.
ehowton: What will be your next task after cleaning up local politics?
schpydurx: Well, I don't believe that local politics will ever be "cleaned up." And even if they are, they won't stay that way. Politics has unique inertia to it--it's always moving.
That having been said, I'm going to continue to plug into the local community and give it my all to affect positive change. I'm still going to show up for the protests and follow local politics closely. But sometimes you've just got to move on. That time hasn't come for me yet.
I've learned a lot about effectively fighting for what you believe in. If Huntsville were a smaller town or I thought I could get the political contributions, I'd run for mayor. But I have something a bit less ambitious (in a way) and something more relevant to your readers: I'm exploring the possibility of running for the Live Journal English User Representative in 2010. I'd like to see Live Journal innovate in ways that they haven't innovated before and make you want to spend more time here. I want Live Journal to be the Apple of blogging. I have a few ideas already, but I need to study the community more and see what the people want.
And since I know this question is inevitable, I'll go ahead and ask and answer it: Why didn't I run this year, knowing that the election was upon us? Several reasons.
First, there is no way I could get the votes. I don't know 300 people on Live Journal and I haven't made the rounds. Secondly, LJ is in too precarious a situation right now. I think I could provide the leadership to the users and the advice to the board, but that job is more suited to someone who has a long career behind them, not someone like Obama who comes in late and wins. I have full faith in kylecassidy and I'm sure that if the powers that be won't listen to him advocating for user's rights and expectations, he'll come back to the user base and inform us of the situation in turn calling for us to put pressure on LJ when needed. We need a leader that's prepared to do battle and I wasn't. I am just now fully comprehending what happened last year and the mess that we're in this year. So I want to wish good luck an Godspeed to kylecassidy.