December 10th, 2007


A view from the Presidential Election Trenches of Iowa

I have hung up on about 10 pollsters this week, and we've gotten at least that many calls from campaigns. To be completely honest, I'm extremely interested in who becomes president, but I sure can't work up any enthusiasm for being active in the whole thing. Maybe I should but going door to door with pamphlets or making phone calls sounds awful to me.

Sean, on the other hand, is volunteering for Obama, and was a driver for Obama's swing through Iowa last week. He got to talk to some of Obama's top campaign advisers. One interesting thing he's been hearing -- everyone in Iowa who has to deal with Clinton's campaign hates them. They are apparently rude and arrogant with everyone. In fact, the facility staff at several places both Clinton and Obama have appeared have told the Obama campaigns they're supporters now, because of how badly the Clinton campaign treated them.

What Iowans want -- and I'm sorry we seem to have so much say in the process, but there it is -- is a candidate they like, respect, and think can win nationally. Of course the issues matter, but frankly, if you disagreed strongly with anyone of the front runners for the Democratic nomination you should probably be a Republican instead. So the likability factor is pretty big, and people like Edwards and Obama way more than Clinton.

My anecdotal impression is that Obama is going to come in first, perhaps by double digits. Not only is there a huge buzz about him among Democrats and young people, I know conservative Republicans -- some in my own family -- who are so disenchanted with Bush that they're going to change affiliations and caucus for Obama. Hillary doesn't come off as very genuine here, and she has apparently surrounded herself with assholes, and she is about to be schooled.

Should be fun to watch. Tired of all the bullshit coverage on television. They DO NOT talk about issues, it's all about Poll numbers.

FWDing Job Opportunity ...

My friend Jason sent me this. I don't know anyone myself who fits the description, but it sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you fit the bill.


Do you love storytelling? Are you playful? Do you have a natural talent for online communication? Can you speak and write in both English and Spanish, French, German, Japanese, or Mandarin Chinese?

We are seeking five community leaders, or “assistant puppet masters”, for an upcoming alternate reality game.

As an assistant PM, you will help us create online media, develop the game narrative, and moderate our community of players.

- The work is largely online, and it can be completed from anywhere in the world. We will work together virtually via email, instant message, wikis, and Skype.
- It is a part-time internship position that lasts for six months (February – August 2008).
- It comes with a stipend of $10,000 USD (or $1600 USD/month)

Primary responsibilities will include:
- Working with me to develop a character that you will play online for the duration of the game
- Writing “in character” blog posts, emails, and instant messages to players, in your primary language
- Creating (and appearing in) “in character” first-person online videos, similar to You-Tube webcam videos, in your primary language (if you do not have a webcam, we will provide you with one)
- Moderating an online discussion forum of players, in your primary language
- Providing me with English translations of important forum posts, emails, etc. that you receive
- Creating short weekly reports in English summarizing your community’s progress in the game, and helping me understand how to make the game and story more exciting for your community
- Additional opportunities to exercise your individual creative strengths, as you let us know what they are!

Language skills required:
- You enjoy writing.
- Your primary language is German, French, Spanish, Japanese, or Mandarin Chinese.
- You are fluent in English as a second language.
- You are comfortable doing casual written and oral translation between your primary language and English. You do NOT need professional translation skills; just enough to help me understand what is going on in your community, and to occasionally provide your community with short translations of English-language content.

Technology skills required:
- You are comfortable blogging.
- You are comfortable using or learning online social software (for example: Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, wikis)
- You know how to use a webcam, or are willing to be trained.
- You have a personal computer with very reliable, high-speed Internet access.

Fun skills required:
- You can stay in character convincingly in both text (prose) and video. Of course, we’ll make the character A LOT like you to keep it simple!
- You are confident and interesting in front of a webcam. (You don’t have to “act” -- just be as engaging as you can.)
- You enjoy getting in the minds of your players to figure out what they’re thinking and if they’re having fun.
- You have general knowledge of alternate reality games and online narratives such as lonelygirl15, I Love Bees, Perplex City (… or you can do a quick Google and Wikipedia search and learn enough to send me a convincing letter!)

Time commitment:
- This will be a very flexibly scheduled, part-time position. You can choose the days of the week and the times of work, including weekends or evenings.
- You will be expected to contribute on average 16 hours per week, for a period of approximately six months (2/15/08 – 8/15/08).
- Because we will be creating a character based on your likeness, you must be comfortable committing to the entire project, and capable of serving as an assistant PM the entire duration of the game. (Otherwise we will have to kill of your character – and that could really wreck the story!) So please apply only if you will be available this entire six months time period. We can work with you to make certain weeks “lighter” work weeks, but overall this internship requires a six-month commitment.

Please send to
1) a letter explaining your interest in this position, including any relevant course work and previous experience as a player or creator of interactive media
2) one or more links to something you have created online – for example, a blog, a video, a website, a social network profile, photographs – to help us get a sense of your personality online
3) a resume, if you have one handy; if not, just tell us briefly what you’re studying, where, and what you’re good at

What will they think of next?

Here is Capitalism and Marketing At Its Best: Creating a need for an item no one ever thought they needed. I'm not a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but I think the least valid criticism is based on her purported image as a lesbian or castrating bitch. But still, when I saw this I laughed. I'm so ashamed.

PS: Who still buys nuts and opens them with a nut cracker?

PPS: Part of what makes this so funny is that first visual impression of a 'wide stance.' Then you notice the serrated inner thighs. The psycho-sexual politics of this artifact are truly deep.

PPPS: This site thinks they're so fooking clever -- somehow they disable 'right-click and download' on all their catalog images. But it is worth browsing, for all the wonderful kitsch.

My absolute favorite is 'All of life's problems can be solved through prayer' T shirts. Not that the T Shirt itself is that funny, but the fact when I first looked at the page, I thought it said 'All of Life's Problems Can Be Solved Through Prayer T Shirts."