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Saturday, February 03, 2001

2:31 AM
I am...still incredulous after watching Politically Incorrect earlier tonight. One of the participants paid $47,000 in an eBay auction to be on the show. Host Bill Maher said it proves his opinion that the Internet is all about ego. It wasn't clear if the man necessarily has any Internet ties, beyond the auction.

The man, Darrin Farrow, did himself no favors by calling himself a financial advisor and sending in a photograph of himself in a suit before the show, but showing up shirtless, adding "model" to his list of professions and plugging a poster of his shirtless self. It was pretty creepy.

Much to my surprise, Maher focussed his vitriol on online journals. I was shocked someone who scorns the Internet (this isn't the first time he's belittled it) would even be aware OLJs exist. Others on the panel went on to say that people who are spending that time online, are missing out on the "real" world. (As if word-addicted people like myself would be Hollywood scenesters but for the Internet.) Further, Maher scoffed at panelist Bill O'Reilly's assertion that OLJs were just an natural extension of the talk show/reality TV model (which for many, they clearly are).

Maher insisted they worked hard to be on TV, so why should idiots with web pages get so much attention. I defy him to learn all the technical aspects of TV production and not only not be paid handsomely for it, but pay for the privilege out of his own pocket.

I've learned html, some Java Script and am contemplating Perl. Further, I've learned to work with images in ways I never imagined I would. I took computer programming and photography courses in high school and performed terribly in them. I have learned and grown far more by teaching myself these skills vis-a-vis my web sites. Paying what I do to maintain the sites has made me stick with it.

While I don't deny part of the reason I keep a journal online is ego-based, probably the biggest reason is to reach out to people with similar interests, ideas and experiences. It has also been one of the most enriching parts of this journey for me and why I haven't given up when I get discouraged. I do believe we're leaving a document of these times, as well as developing community.

When I hear that criticized as strange or pathetic, I cannot help but think the speaker distrusts the process partly due to ignorance and partly due to a lack of vision. I don't propose that in the future all communities or relationships will or should be formed online. However, it has been a boon to people like me who value finding like minds, rather than limiting their human interactions to those who share only their geographical proximity.

It becomes a chicken/egg question. Long before the Internet I was big on correspondance -- I had pen pals and kept in touch with long distance friends for years. I even befriended my favorite rock band sight unseen, through letters and phone calls. It seems to me that all of the best things that have ever come my way have been the result of my words, so email and my web sites have been a natural extension of that.

It's rather elitist for a TV comedian to suggest that common folk have nothing to say that anyone else would be interested in (web statistics would suggest otherwise). On the contrary, I think the growing popularity of online journals is due to readers being better able to empathize with the experiences of everyday people than they can with, for example, 6 gorgeous twentysomethings who live in Manhattan apartments they could never afford in real life.

When I look back at history or when I read books set 100 years ago, what I lament is the dearth of personal stories and details of daily life. What I found most fascinating in the Little House [book] series, for example, is how they ate, how they made things, how they did the wash -- their feelings and desires are very similar to ours today. Our experience of those same chores, however, is vastly different 100 years later, as I'm sure our descendents' descriptions shall be 100 years hence. It's important that we have this sense of history. After all, people who share Maher's opinion can ignore stories they don't care to read, but the rest of us can do nothing about those that were never written.

I'm suspicious when people on television and in magazines tell the masses what the Internet is and is not, particularly people who claim not to use it, like Maher. The Internet is the first major competition television has had and no one knows where it will go next. Further, unlike the vast majority of media outlets, it is not entirely controlled by any major corporation. That is Maher's excuse for questioning its validity. Heaven forbid the people espouse their own views when Maher, ABC and television in general are so anxious to dictate them.

From Maher's perspective, I suppose it's all well and good if the masses are interacting with Politically Incorrect's site in lieu of personal sites. He neglected to mention the faux-community ABC has tried to build around shows like his -- complete with bulletin boards so fans can view ads, I mean, discuss the show. Perhaps Maher can take comfort in the fact that the Politically Incorrect web site loads only 25% of the time.

Politically Incorrect's htmlly incorrect home page

Such holier-than-thou disregard for the Internet is particularly mean-spirited considering the fact that the Internet is increasingly corporate and less personal and innovative with every passing day. Corporations, networks, record companies, advertising whortals (MSN, Yahoo) and newspapers have sunk billions into Internet ventures, trying not only to keep their viewer/readerships, but to double count all those eyeballs by driving traffic to duplicate or ancillary content online. No one wastes more bandwidth than the sites of TV shows, channels and networks.

While I don't necessarily believe personal sites and online journals are serious market share competition for the networks, I find it interesting that Maher would cite them specifically and repeatedly. Throughout human history, the means of production, media included, have been in an extremely small number of hands. This inexpensive form of self-publication is new and some will take it to extremes (many would argue that I do), I don't doubt that. The pendulum always swings between extremes before resting in the middle. Yes, there are nuts on the Internet. There are nuts everywhere.

However, as a woman and a minority, I'm familiar with this tactic of using a few oddballs as the extreme, yet allegedly representative, example and painting an entire (presumed homogenous) community/demographic with the nutcase brush. It's despicable. It isn't implausible to think that networks and TV stars like Maher are miffed because people like Pamie have attracted tens of thousands of visitors while paying $0 for marketing and advertising. I wonder if Maher receives 100 fan letters a day.

Moreover, online journallers and people running personal sites enjoy greater free speech than anyone on television could ever dream. I can say whatever I want on my site, offend whomever I want (or don't want, but who get offended anyway), short of threatening the president. That is the beauty and the danger of any freedom. I try to write responsibly about worthwhile things, so I expect not to be characterized by nor held responsible for the actions of others who happen to use this same medium for self-expression.

It costs me, but as I learned in my college newspaper days, even with with so little at stake, I disdained being beholden to the powers that be. Nor need I concern myself with consumers who might boycott the products of my sponsors, because I have none.

For me, the decision to self publish was a good one. $30 a year for a domain and $9 a month for hosting is a bargain when I think of the headaches I'm spared and the giant space to explore my creativity in writing, design and photography. Indeed, the feedback I've received from my online writing has encouraged me to seek traditional publication.

That's more than I can say for the last writing course I took in which the professor singled out my novel pitch as something with no broad appeal. He suggested people like me try self-publication. That petty put down was the best advice I could have followed at that point in my writing career. In fact, had I pursued traditional, rather than web, publication at that time, I might never have taken the time to rediscover my love of photography.

There is a wealth of incredible writing, photography, design and artwork available on the web for free. Better still, there is a good, old-fashioned system of apprenticeship by which web developers pass on their knowledge. I doubt that is a frequent occurence in the cutthroat world of television. I find that spirit of generosity inspiring -- and revolutionary.

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9:59 PM
I am...still a fan of the movies, all rants aside. I just don't like for actors and the like to take themselves so seriously.


In the ceiling at the movies

Another mirrored ceiling shot at the movies

neon reflected in a table top (at the movies)

Stars in the ceiling, at the movies

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Friday, February 02, 2001

12:51 AM
I am...not sure how it took me four days to get back to this journal. I don't know where the time goes. For one thing, I created and updated a bunch of pages over the past few days -- the site's main page is redesigned and now has an area for links to recent updates, like my new bio, the tattoo page, the things I'm thankful for page and the page of things that rock and things that suck.

. . .

My sleep cycle's gone insane, this week. I was trying to get back on a day schedule again, now that I'm no longer sick and The Boy is back in school. It's not working out very well, however. Even after staying up two hours later than I intended last night (Wednesday), I couldn't stop my mind from racing or get comfortable in the living room chair.

After more than an hour, I gave up and tried to sleep on the couch. About half an hour later my mom started screaming at me because she's convinced for some reason that sleeping on couches ruins the springs. Let me get this straight -- distributing my weight evenly across the couch is destructive, but sitting my fat ass on one cushion is better? This reeks of my dad's 1,001 rules that made growing up in this house like prison without the joy of anal sex.

The three of us are down to one toilet and two beds (well, three, if you count both mattresses on my brother's bunk bed. I gave up on sleeping in his room because it was weird and also because he doesn't pick up his toys, so it was just a matter of time before I either stepped on his Game Boy or tripped over his digital doggie and did a header into his dresser. Sweet.

My mom decided to remodel her room, where, by the way, nothing was broken (unlike the kitchen, garage, hall bath and my brother's room which has only one working outlet, the one on a 9 inch wall between his bed, closet and door, arggggh!). So she has all the bathroom fixtures ripped out and had someone tile it. Then that sat around for weeks and someone else painted the room itself. At that point, she still hadn't picked out a toilet, though she'd insisted I go with her to home improvement places (to buy HER toilet, for HER room, in HER house...makes sense, right?) and we always came back empty-handed.

Now the guy who painted said the guy who tiled screwed up and at some point he's going to redo it. I don't know when. At least she finally bought a toilet, so when the tile is re-done, we'll have two again. For some reason, we always have to pee at the same time. I have enough bladder problems without this much toilet competition.

Have I mentioned that all of this coincided with the 6 weeks of illness? I could barely get out of bed long enough to cook dinner, but she wanted me to move furniture, drain and disassemble our waterbeds (they are made of real, solid wood, the heaviest furniture I've ever dealt with) and move the parts to the beds out to the patio. Good thing I didn't or we wouldn't be able to sell them after the rains the last week or two.

I had started getting used to sleeping in my bed again, but this last week it's been freezing. I guess I never noticed before, since I was on a giant, heated bed before. I'm starting to think the heat is the house's latest casualty. Unless I turn it up to 100, it never stays on long enough to get warm. To maintain a comfortable temperature, I have to leave it on 85 overnight. It used to be fine at 75 or so.

Anyway, my bed is made of this hard, dense wood, but it was reasonably comfortable with a King-sized fluffy comforter folded in quarters, lengthwise. It looks all kinds of psycho:

In my waterless waterbed

The funny thing is I just saw Help on DVD at Dorothy's a few weeks ago and remarked that the first time I saw it I wanted John Lennon's bed. It's a little dugout in the floor with a lamp, phone and everything else he might need. Since the bed has high sides, it sort of feels like that. This might be a good thing for me, since I'm prone to falling out of bed.

OK, I lie. I fling myself out of bed. Even when I lived here and slept in a water bed, where your weight holds you down, so you're surrounded in the bed's firm, yet pliant warmth, I could get enough momentum to throw myself onto the floor.

It is probably a good thing that I don't share my bed on a frequent or long term basis. I've talked, walked, argued, peed and even had sex in my sleep. I guess if I had one addiction, it would not be food, but sleep. I've learned to function almost fully while unconscious. Told you I was talented.

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3:16 AM
I am...a lesbian, Internet porn star -- check that out!

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Monday, January 29, 2001

4:22 AM
I am...going to link to some nasty sites, be warned before you click!

It all started with a junk email:

Subject: Fwd: Watch As Hot Teens Get fucked By there Pets!

I couldn't decide what was more disturbing -- the subject matter or the Their/there/they're bug. I clicked on the link and the last thing I expected to find was actual animal porno! Since I'd received it on my AOL account, I figured it was one of those links that you click on that detects your AOL passwords.

I cannot believe that I ever worry about offending anyone or being too off the wall, when stuff like this is out there. Beastiality, people! Oh, and do you know why this site is called Farm Sex Mania? Because FarmSex.com was already taken! ACK!

This also brings my whole lack of dating ability into question. Maybe I'm too boring? I don't know. I just can't imagine how people whose idea of a hot time is suffocating snakes can find love, let alone gainful employment and I'm lacking on both counts.

What's up with that?

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6:53 PM
I am...not sure why people bother with fat activism if it's only to coo and hover all over the few man in the community. One would think we'd see the folly of that from watching our skinny sisters waste their lives.

Next time someone tries to lecture me about how if I just lost weight, I'd find someone who could love me I'll point them to:

Exhibit A
Catherine Zeta-Jones + Michael Douglas

Exhibit B
Angelina Jolie + Billy Bob Thornton

These are both smart, hot as hell women and look at what they married. Now, I'm not saying that women should become shallow, but isn't it a little funny that the very fabulously gorgeous women that we're all supposed to envy (according to People and Us, which should be called Them) end up with old, wrinkled men?

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Images and text © 2000 Erica Jackson. All rights reserved.
Reproduction without prior permission is prohibited. Respect mah authoratah!




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