Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Carnival #113: Big Roman . . . Thing Edition

In 113 A.D. Trahan's Column was completed. The freestanding column was erected to "glorify" Emporer Trahan and celebrate his military campaigns.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to observe the silhouette of the column and discern how the Romans felt about Trahan.

Changing the subject entirely, we start this week with a roundup of posts specifically addressing the burgeoning sexual harassment scandal in Attorney General Marc Dann's office. Surprisingly, only a few bloggers sent in posts on the matter. Jill Miller Zimon notes the irony that the scandal breaks during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Conservative Culture notes more irony -- that Dann campaigned on transparency and is now stonewalling requests for emails.

Boring Made Dull offers two posts -- one looks at Dann's history of picking friends with less than clean hands, and another speculates that those friends may not stay silent forever. I pile on with two of my own. This one breaks down the legal issues generally, and this one looks at the political implications of Dann's nearly inevitable discovery deposition.

Had enough of sex? How about vice? JMZ finds the arguments used against a Massachusettes casino gambling instructive as another proposal is being hyped to Ohioans. Tired of vice already? We've got violence. Jill writes up the PD's award for coverage of a particularly gruesome domestic violence incident.

More violence. Conservative Culture wonders why neighborhood residents enduring gang shootings seem to be worrying more about the police than the perpetrators. And he hopes Ohio will follow Florida's lead in forbidding employers from prohibiting guns on their property.

After all that, some good clean politics seems a relief, doesn't it? The Campaign Junkie rehashes the '06 Governor's race with an eye to 2010, and thinks he has a cure for what ails Republicans. And he shares an email of encouragement he sent to the McCain campaign.

Maggie Thurber argues that the money Toledo spends on public pools could be spent better elsewhere. Maggie has begun a series on Ohio public records law, called FOIA Fridays. Here's her inaugural post and this week's edition.

Staying in Toledo a bit, Carnival team member Lisa Renee talks trash -- or at least the disposal of same. She also examines how the Ohio Department of Corrections is cutting staff.

Word of Mouth blogger Daniel Jack Williamson has a personal blog and this week offers a post arguing that the spend-down requirements of Medicaid irrationally are not applied to SSI income.

Aside from Dann-age assessment, Boring questions whether Akron should be getting into the WiFi business. Carnival teammate Ben Keeler breaks down Obama's small-town bashing gaffe on The Point. Also on The Point, Kyle Kutuchief covers Akron Mayor Plusquellic's involvement with a group of mayors trying to curb illegal gun purchases. Kyle also discusses Akron's efforts to thwart scrap metal thieves.

The Dean of Cincinnati notes that the notorious Westboro Baptist Church plans one of their anti-gay demonstrations at the funeral of a local MIA soldier whose remains were recently identified. The post includes some marketplace-of-ideas-friendly plans for countering the crazies.

ProgressOhio reports on an effort to demonstrate what the Iraq War costs regular Ohioans. They highlight two new books critiquing the media's soft handling of Sen. John McCain. And they note that the Democratic Party has asked a Federal Judge to order an FEC investigation of John McCain's campaign finances.

Tim Russo is back to blogging and offers a reset on the Obama-sponsored blogger table at the ODP dinner two summers ago and how he got disinvited.

At Network Weaving blogger Valdis generally writes on social networking theory. This week he puts that theory to work to show how lobbyists ply their craft out of public view.

YellowDogSammy offers his usual thorough reportage on campaign happenings. With the first quarter of 2008 just ending, he post results in Ohio House and Congressional races, plus a detailed analysis of the Congressional numbers.

Call for Comments

Finally, we need some help from the Carnival community regarding format. When we were given the Carnival by the estimable Paul Miller, we posted a few guidelines, one of which noted that the topic of the Carnival is Ohio politics. We've not enforced the topic and for the most part things people submit have some relationship to Ohio and to Politics, or an least an emanation and penumbra of same.

But every week we get a few posts a little more off topic than on. I think we need to have a bit of a chat about it before the entire heard of horses has escaped from the barn and every worm has squirmed out of the can. I don't mean to call people out, but just highlight some posts that push the envelope a little more than usual.

So Kyle's post about The Chief Source now being iPhone compatible is interesting and shows what can be done with a blog. But is it about politics? And do we run the risk of another blogger submitting a post that is simply self-promotion based on the precedent. Tim Russo's Part 1 of his history with George Nemeth is about Meet the Bloggers, certainly an important development on the 2006 political landscape. But it similarly makes me nervous, not least because I suspect Part 2 doesn't end well.

And this post by Tim Higgins may be the most enjoyable read of the week, but save my soul, I can't wedge it into any sort of Ohio politics category. Finally, Tom Blumer submitted a positivity story as his sole contribution and assured me it would be fine if we decided it's not politics enough.

So we may be at a bit of a watershed. We can start cracking down on format or we can continue to allow drift, each choice carrying risks and benefits. But Jill, Lisa Renee, Ben and I each feel the Carnival isn't our property so much as it's a benefit to the blogging community we happen to work on. So we need you all to chime in. Which way should we go?

18 comments:

Maggie Thurber said...

Thanks for the work the four of you do on the Carnival...it's very much appreciated!

I like the focus on politics with an Ohio slant. But I also know that fellow participants write some really good things that don't quite fit.

I'd be fine with the regular carnival and, like you've done with #113, perhaps a listing (only) at the end called 'other posts of interest.'

Such a listing with links would allow us to connect to them but wouldn't require anything of our hosts except to link them.

I'm also fine with anything the group decides...thanks for asking for the input!

BizzyBlog said...

Scott et al -- off the cuff:

These seem within scope:
- All posts about politicians, elections, ballot issues, bureaucrats, and government entities.
- Any and all matters into which politicians and/or bureaucrats have injected themselves.
- Posts about the state's or an Ohio local-area's economy or education system, even if there isn't any specific political commentary in the post.
- Most higher ed stories.

These don't:
- Pure human interest stories, unless the post ties the story into some political issue.
- Anything not specifically about something going on in Ohio, or tied into something about Ohio (for example, another state is trying something OH should consider).
- Sports.

These are borderline:
- Posts that are purely about Ohio Media bias. I would argue they belong, since media bias affects what politicians do, and sometimes election results; others might not.
- Ohio war on terror-relevant items. Since AGs who ultimately prosecute these matters are politicians, and since politicians have interactions with groups often seen as terror-sympathetic (i.e., they've injected themselves into these matters), I'd argue they belong.
- Blog wars or disputes, unless there's a truly political element to them. I'd argue they don't belong.

Finally, I suspect that most of us have no problem relying on the "know it when you see it" judgment of the four of you who have nobly and selflessly engaged in making the Carnival what it is. Perhaps what I've scribbled might guide your thoughts a bit, but you have earned the right to be "benevolent dictators." :-->

historymike said...

A few thoughts:

1. A posting of guidelines would probably reduce the drift, if the community decides on a strict definition of "politics."
2. Personally, I think "politics" extends into quite a few areas, and I enjoy reading posts that might only tangentially be connected to politics.
3. As an extension of #2: the submitters are sending along what they believe to be their best work, not necessarily the most political. I think the emphasis of this site should be on highlighting the best blog posts that Ohio bloggers offer up, while using as broad of a definition of "politics" as possible.
4. Added caveat: the above comments are from a blogger whose blog post interests can best be described as "schizophrenic" or "ADD-like."

historymike said...

Oops-

I meant "a posting of a set of well-defined guidelines." There is a brief post that Pho referenced, but this is not available on the sidebar for newer contributors.

Kyle said...

Scott,

The way you characterized my post submission is unfair. I submitted the iPhone post because it took me a while to figure out the code. My post contains a "hey fellow bloggers, here's how you can do this too" section. That is why I submitted it to the carnival and thought it might benefit other political bloggers in Ohio.

In the future, I'd prefer you just not use something or contact me rather than trying to scold me in front of the class.

Lisa Renee said...

Kyle, I don't think it was meant as a scold, but as an example of where we are now and where do we want to be.

It's a part of the growing process that almost any group goes through when you have to look at what our original standards/goals were and ask those who are participating how they feel.

However, your point about being emailed is valid, there have been a few times when others have submitted things when it's been my turn up where it's been clearly stated they were not sure if it would qualify that it was up to me. I think all four of us have tried to err on the side of as much inclusion as possible, and Mike's point about the rules being more clearly delineated is a good one, hence something we can take from this discussion to work on.

Maggie's suggestion is also a good one to consider as well as Tom's. Speaking as one of the four who has "benevolent dictator" status, I'd rather know what those of you contribute think to be able to include as part of our decision making process on this issue.

Pho said...

Kyle:

The way you characterized my characterization is unfair. I didn't scold you in front of the class. I went to pains to make it clear I wasn't scolding you in front of the class. The reason I said "I don't mean to call people out" was to emphasize that I wasn't calling you out.

I also acknowledge that your post contained useful and interesting information. In fact, that's why I was inspired to write the coda and ask for input.

If I had just elected not to include the post, people wouldn't see the dilemma. The dilemma being that one the one hand bloggers are sending in well-written, informative and valuable posts that go off the boards and on the other that including those posts sets precedent that ultimately may lead to someone submitting a clearly inappropriate post but having a legitimate beef about whether the format is being enforced even-handedly. Personally, I believe in confronting such issues proactively, hence the bit at the end.

And frankly I'm agnostic as to what the ultimate result is. I would simply like the result to arise from consultation with the community rather than just the four of us.

It's dewey-eyed and idealistic to think of the Carnival as a community public forum rather than a property the four of us own, and your prickly response confirms that. Nonetheless, it's one vestige of my youthful communitarian idealism I have a difficult time relinquishing to jaded middle age.

Jill said...

I want what everyone else wants. Whatever that turns out to be.

As for my preferences if anyone wanted to know, but none of which need to be followed:

I like the idea of keeping it Ohio and political but then choosing one of two ways to handle other submitted posts that have to do with things like border crossing problems in New Mexico or human rights violations in China:

either include them in a lower portion, the way Scott did this week, or not allow them at all.

I'd err on the side of including them somehow but not in the Ohio-oriented portion. What makes the carnival unique is that if people want to know what's going on in Ohio, from Ohioans, as well as what things outside Ohio concern Ohioans, this is the place to come, but lets delineate, for ourselves and others.

Jeff said...

I can certainly appreciate the desire to keep the focus restricted to politics and to Ohio, especially considering how much work the four of you put into this already. However, I've got to admit, all of the items Scott mentions in his request for comments sound pretty interesting.

My suggestion is that you maintain the focus for links to be incorporated into the usual format (i.e, individual blogger paragraphs) and for conditional assurance of inclusion. However, let bloggers submit posts not within the scope (if they wish) for possible inclusion in a single grass-catcher paragraph at the end of the carnival. The references can be much more cursory, so as to limit the amount of editing work. That way there's a place for interesting meta, non-political, and non-Ohio type stuff.

Just a thought. It's a better one than my first idea, which was to break the weekly Carnival into several distinct segments (Ohio politics, national politics, blogging about blogs, arts & life) ... way too much work!

mw (DWSUWF) said...

FWIW, I have made occasional contributions to this Carnival and manage one of my own. Mine is even more restrictive, as I want the Carnival to be about a very narrow topic - In my case "divided government". I require those two words to be in the post. Pretty simple. Every month I get dozens of submissions on everything from pop psychology to "how to make money on your blog". Its clear that many bloggers submit posts to whatever is up on the calendar and without regard to theme. It all boils down to whether you want the carnival to really be about something. If you do, you exclude anything thats not.

My only compromise, is that I put all the off topic posts into a pool and I pick exactly one I like to include as a proxy for all the off topic posts.

TBMD said...

Personally, I'm fine with you folks taking a "know one when you see one" approach.

I'd prefer that we stick to the political angle, as Tom & Mike have outlined, but I do like the idea of just a catch all linkfest at the end.

However, like DWSUWF, I run my own carnival, and it's a hassle to wade through the dreck. So, pls don't interpret my thoughts in such a way as to make additional work.

Ben said...

Hey, the Carnival got a lot of comments this week.

Harold Thomas said...

As one whose blog (The Ohio Republic) tends to ride the border between on and off topic, I just want to stress that I greatly respect the work of the Carnival's editors, and the difficulty of making fair decisions on the material submitted.

As an advocate of secession, it is not always easy to keep my remarks strictly on-topic to Ohio politics; and I have stressed to each of the editors that I will not be offended if a post deemed off-topic is not published. Some weeks, I don't submit because I find myself too far off the reservation.

I do think, however, that it would be helpful to include an editorial policy (or a link to one) in the sidebar of the Carnival for the education of newbies and reference of more experienced posters.

Harold

Tim Higgins said...

As one whose postings constantly skirt the edge of relevance for this site, I have to say that I have been treated with nothing but fairness in inclusion.

The work on the Carnival has always been exemplary. I submit posting for "consideration", and I am always willing to bow to the judgment of its organizers as to how and whether any posting fits.

As many have said already, political discourse extends in many directions these days. The Carnival is a great Compass on the journey.

Tim Higgins said...

I should also add that having followed the link to my own posting, I discovered that I sent the wrong posting in for consideration. I sent my 4/16 posting instead of the one from 4/12. I apologize for the confusion. My only excuse is jet-lag, and being exposed to the logic free zone of Washington DC for 4 days.

Lisa Renee said...

I'm really glad everyone is chiming in, without all of you the Carnival would not exist.

I feel the suggestions so far have been very helpful.

Servidores said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pho said...

Spomment deleted.