Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes

In this political season, Tip O’Neill’s observation that all politics are local struck me when I received an email last night alerting me and about 50 other neighbors to a developer’s efforts to build condominiums on a small lot in our quaint Cape Cod village.

The impact of email on local activism has been huge in the last year, with calls to arms being issued for opposition to piers in the crowded bay, a proposed wind farm in the center of Nantucket Sound, and other issues, which in years past, would have required phoning, petitions, and public meetings where the opposing side would have had little, if any, concerted strategy.

The availability of online petition services such as icount and ipetitions is a tool for local activists has the potential to transform the red-faced shouting of town meetings and other anachronisms of New England democracy into a much smoother process. For Wal-Mart haters, the tools are powerful – the issue is whether local officials and regulators will give them any credence.

Kick Off

“As a former reporter – 13 years at Forbes, four at PC Week, four at daily newspapers – I still have a verbal itch to scratch, and this is the leg of the couch I choose to do it on.”

Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes et aegro in corde senescit. – Juvenal

Juvenal wrote that an incurable itch for scribbling [cacoethes scribendi] takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breast.

Oliver Wendell Homes wrote: “So many foolish persons are rushing into print, that it requires a kind of literary police to hold them back and keep them in order.”

It is said that 12,000 so-called blogs are launched every day. Here’s yet another.

In the mid-90s such efforts as these were known as “online diaries.” The late Suck.com had its way with them back in 1996.

“These gonzo journal-ists
scattered the contents of their
lives across the information
highway and now simply wait for
rubberneckers to crane for a
view of the twisted wreckage of
their minds …”

Having succumbed to the “tipping point” meme of this political silly season I gave in and set up an RSS feed reader and subscribed to those blogs commended as the best and brightest. Sigh. The reader – SharpReader — notifies me in ever-more-irritating popups, of new postings from everybody from the New York Times to some guy named Fred – all pig-piling onto the latest newsflash like word paparazzi. The good stuff, the focused stuff, shows some real reporting, and is not someone’s bloviations on current events.

So what’s my point in greasing the ways, knocking out the chocks, and swinging the champagne bottle against the prow of my ship?

Boredom, a cluttered mind, and a terminal case of cacoethes scribendi.

As a former reporter – 13 years at Forbes, four at PC Week, four at daily newspapers – I still have a verbal itch to scratch, and this is the leg of the couch I choose to do it on.