Sunday, October 08, 2006

Brag by this rookie

Bragging is for rookies.  Right now I am such a happy rookie that I'm going to certify my rank by bragging right here on the blog.

One of my works was quoted -- yes, one sentence was excerpted and had my name attached to it.  I saw it, and you can, too!   :)

The quoter: "The Libertarian Mystique" by Juanita Ramirez
The quoted: "Activate Freedom: Live Libertarian" by Christy Ann Welty

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Polls are like casinos (Part 2)

One Voter's Adventures From Primitive Pleb To Savvy Sovereign

... continued from Part 1 (Saturday, September 23) ...

The first several times I voted, I looked just like the people I usually see at the polls ~ serious, bored, and somewhat tense.  Although I had researched and carefully considered, there were still lots of question marks.  I felt the weight of the future decisions "my" candidates would make if they won their races.  Serious business, this delegation of decision-making.

After putting that much effort into voting, I felt obliged to follow up by reading the results the next day.  I happened to notice a peculiar pattern in my ratio of input to output.  As one election cycle followed another, I learned more about issues and candidates and adjusted my selections accordingly.  But as I gained more and more awareness, the candidates I selected got fewer and fewer votes, until I had a better chance of winning a lottery jackpot than my candidates had of winning their races.

Being a mathematician of sorts, my attention was piqued by this puzzle. Might these events be correlated?  I commenced to muse...

My first theory is inspired by an old joke known among number-nerds like me, that is, that the state lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.  Going a step further with that reckoning, one concludes that voting is community service for people who are bad at logic.

Heretical, maybe even blasphemous, to say this in a nation of loudly touted democratic ideals, but bold is my mode, so I'll say it again: One is as true as the other.

... to be continued ...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Polls are like casinos (Part 1)

One Voter's Adventures From Primitive Pleb To Savvy Sovereign

Going to the polls is like going to the casino, with less noise, fewer strobes, no food, and longer lines.  I fully agree it's not the same thrill, but voting is less work and more fun when your purpose is to entertain yourself.

... to be continued ...

OGM: I'm listening...

Hi.  Christy Welty's busy, so I've just been sitting here, waiting for your call.  Now that we're connected, I want to hear everything!  So tell me; I'm listening...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Votedown at the OK corral

I voted earlier this evening (on Tuesday) in our local school board election.   Noticed lots of little changes.   The voting booths had new digs in the room right beside the room that the last school district election was held in.   The voter registry had new printouts on standard copier paper, not the green-and-white-striped oversized paper that goes through old-fashioned spoke-fed printers.   The printouts had bar codes next to the name of each registered voter, lending an aura of product processing (some call it efficiency) to the atmosphere.   There was a brand-new vote counting machine, one of those electronic devices.

Some things had not changed since the last school district election ~~

Each voter still got to mark a sheet of paper with their choices.   There is a very active and alert group of voter advocates in this county who insist that paper ballots not be replaced by all-electronic systems.   They believe a paper trail helps maintain the integrity of voting system.   (They were proved right just 3 months ago.)

The volunteer poll workers were efficient and kept traffic going through the office at a steady pace, and even near the end of the day after repeating their instructions hundreds of times, they continued to be pleasant to interact with.

Yet, same as the last election, the atmosphere was tense, but it didn't seem to come from the poll workers.   It seemed to come from the voters.   Taking part in this exercise seemed not just a chore, but a contest.   And I suppose it was.   Same as the last election, it was a contest between the spending large and spending less.

It's too bad people take this exercise personally.   On the other hand, how could they not?   One side wants to reach into people's pockets to take more money, and the other side wants their money left alone.   Of course it gets personal.   When one's money gets hijacked by taxes because of other people's votes, it kinda gets one's undies in a bunch.   It would be really nice to say, "If you want to spend money on your pet projects, go right ahead, have yourself a ball and invite all your friends, but leave me and my money alone!"

But Iowans act so civil and polite to each other ~ especially the kind of Iowans who show up at the polls thinking that if more people vote for a hijacking than vote against a hijacking, then that hijacking must be fair.

I suspect this is why so many people don't vote.   Voting doesn't establish truth or justice.   In most elections these days, voting merely establishes what kinds of charades get played during the following season.

I refuse to take the holdup personally.   It's easy for me -- I have very little earnings or spendings to tax.   But I can't help but think that the people who vote for more taxes do have a grudge against anyone who doesn't agree with and share their spending priorities.   Why else would they try to force other people to pay for their choices?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

OGM skip feature

I just found out from a friend of mine who is a regular caller that pressing "1" during an OutGoing Message interrupts the message and sends the caller directly to the tone.  It works for my answering machine.  I called two other friends to try pressing "1" during their recorded messages: it skipped the message on one machine but not the other.

Time saver tip:
A recorded message may not give you a menu of digits to press, but if you want to skip the message, try pressing "1".

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Red and green confetti of ethics in telecom

Saw that Fairfield got compared to San Francisco again, this time for our supply of media: "Cable Operators Blast Handling of Rural Broadband Initiative," Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2006, see the second-to-last and last paragraphs (emphasis added):

Critics say many of the practices criticized by the inspector general are continuing. For example, the lawsuit notes that in November a $9.5 million loan was approved to Local Internet Service Co., known as Lisco, to provide broadband service in Fairfield, Iowa, a market with two broadband providers, Mediacom, of Middletown, N.Y., and Iowa Telecommunications Services Inc., of Newton, Iowa.

“We’re basically talking about a third wire going into the home,” says Rocco Commisso, Mediacom’s chief executive. “Even San Francisco doesn’t have that.”

The cable operators, Mediacom and Iowa Telecom, say that these federal loans are increasing the risk to their own investments by unfairly subsidizing their competiton, e.g., Lisco. I do feel sorry for cable operators. This federal subsidy, just like every federal subsidy, is immoral and unfair. On top of that, cable operators are snarled in reams of regulations that make doing business more of a miserable mess than a daring adventure.

But I would have more pity for them if they took a stronger stand to oppose and reduce the snarl of red tape in the cable industry and in communications in general. Instead, they regularly lobby for "a level regulatory playing field", which is a handy, seemingly blameless way to reduce the threat of competition from upstarts. Like Lisco.

Red tape and greenbacks make such colorful confetti going through the ethics shredder. After it all settles to the Capitol building floor, any fix involving more confetti of either color will be far from "fair".

Anybody got a broom and dustpan to sweep up this mess? How about a shovel and a dumpster?

OGM: Amazing limited time offer

I have only a few seconds to describe this amazing limited time offer brought to you by the message service of Christy Welty.  Now ~you~ can create the kind of message you've always wanted to by combining your personal charm and carefully crafted phrases on a state-of-the-art recording of enduring quality that will preserve this momentous occasion until the next deletion.  Don't delay ~ this offer is available only until the next inspiration.

OGM: Greetings, caller of Christy. Ann. Welty.

Not all of my OutGoing Messages are controversial.  Some are just strange, like the one before last.  Here it is for posterity.  One caller said it sounded like the announcements at Chicago O'Hare, which is where he heard it while trapped between flights.


Greetings, caller of Christy. Ann. Welty.

You have established contact with Ms Welty's personal verbal transceiver.  It's function is to record your present oratory emissions for her future auditory reception.

The portal will be open for a maximum of four minutes immediately subsequent to the 988 cycle tone.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The echo chamber of politics

So I wonder where his mind is.  Some anonybody commented that my last OutGoing Message [OGM] sounded "slutty".  So I wonder -- what does a heat wave do for him?  Maybe he stays cool and dry because he's an android, but not me.  Hot weather makes me wet and sticky.  It's a fact.  My pores are healthy and active, thank you very much.

In further analysis, this person was kind enough to tell me how my constituents would feel, and informed me that my OGM would lose more votes than it would gain.

So I ran that scenario through my head.  I said to myself, "Suppose I were the kind of city councilor who would run my OGMs through a Vote Counting Censor.  I happen to know that citizens hardly ever call me on city business, but for the four or five people per year who do, I would tailor my personal expression for these total strangers.  Even though I have a lot of fun making up these messages and getting feedback from my friends, instead I'll get stiff and square and humorless because total strangers expect that of their politicians."

Gotta take a crack-up break here.  Ew-w-w, (shudder), HAHAHA, that is SO not me.  And it's a very sad statement about what people expect of their politicians.  But back to the scenario.

Let's say I decide to be a stiff, square, humorless politician, because that's what people expect.  So I squeeze some juiciness out of my personality, and I cut off some quirky edges, and I (gag me) start wearing suits, or at least start wearing underwear.

You like that picture?  Blah, I say.  Oh, but it wasn't YOU or ME we were worried about, was it?  No, on the contrary, we need to be concerned about unknown strangers who might or might not call me, who might or might not vote in the next election, who might or might not get sweaty during heat waves, too.

So I become a stranger to myself in an attempt to appeal to faceless strangers.  The callers would have to be faceless strangers because anyone who knows me really knows me, faults and quirks included.  I either appeal to a person or not, and my little OGMs are not going to change that.

When a person contorts into something strange and unfamiliar to oneself, how do you think that feels?  What kind of strain does that put on one's psyche?  What does it do to their level of tension?

And here's the most important consideration for you as a faceless stranger to politicians who try this: what do you think it does to their voting record?

I'll tell you what went through my mind during this thought experiment.  "I changed into something else to get votes.  It feels shitty, but that's politics.  But now my perspective is changed.  I'm a better person -- spotless, straight and narrow, and I never say 'shitty' out loud.  I get votes because I'm a better person.  And the world needs better people.  So I'm going to pass laws to make everyone a better person."

The inner self says, "Amputating and twisting my parts was painful, but I did it for the people.  It's only fair that the people have to do it now, too."

That's how you end up with a whole country full of politicians and people with psychic amputations and twisted parts, with emotional contortions and chronic tension.

How about we lighten up and laugh a little at harmless eccentricities of politicians (and everybody else, for that matter).  And be very, very careful about giving your vote to a politician who is trying too hard to get it.  That politician's effort will exact a very dear price from you.

Meanwhile, I'll record my eccentric OGMs, and eccentric commenters can tally the vote-getting/losing potential of each OGM, and we'll both get our jollies.  After all this fuss, however, some callers might never even get a chance to hear my steamy OutGoingMessages.  During the hottest, sultriest days of the year, in my uncooled, breezeless, sweltering apartment, I lie motionless on my couch in an attempt to generate least heat.  In this pose, my hand happens to hover near the phone, and when it starts to ring, I pick it up instead of letting it go to message.

Won't miss a beat of scandal, though:  I'll do it in the nude.

Friday, August 04, 2006

OGM: This hot sultry weather

Mmmmmm... this hot sultry weather has me all wet and sticky.

I'm Christy Welty.

I hope I get your message before I melt... completely.

Experiments with OutGoing Messages

Some people like the outgoing messages on their answering machines to be plain and simple.  Factual.  Predictable.

Others like their outgoing messages to be outgoing -- friendly, warm, and sociable.  Maybe even uplifting or sensational.

Mine used to have a stern monotone stating only the facts.  Even I didn't like to listen to it when I called home.  Then I heard a friend's OGM that sounded so warm and friendly, I felt uplifted for hours.  So I thought, "Her message is a Very Nice Thing For This World.  If more of those were scattered about, more people would feel much better after hearing them."

Then I heard a different message -- an anonymous pre-recorded one.  You've probably heard the same one.  Every time I heard it, I smiled a little bit, because it sounded so, well, it sounded like it came out of a red velvet bedroom.  Anyway, I thought, "His message, in that female voice, is a Very Nice Thing For My Imagination.  If more of those were scattered about, more people would feel tingly and happy after hearing them."

With all this inspiration, I started experimenting with OGMs.  I've found I like a mix of both factual and friendly, but I also like OGMs to be interesting, engaging, maybe eccentric or even erotic, but always at least technically socially acceptable.  Like me.  :)

So for those interested in experimental OGMs, I'll post mine as I change them, using "OGM:" as the first part of the title, so they can easily be skipped by people with no interest.  I put one constraint on my OGMs: I state my name, so people who don't know me and who are trying to reach me in my official capacity as their city councilor will know they have the right number.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Don't Be A Victim

My second motto for living is "Don't be a victim."  I adopted it in the early nineties when a mob of anti-gunners was pushing to disarm peaceful, law-abiding U.S. citizens.  I'd heard about the experiences of people who had been disarmed in other countries.  After their guns were turned in, they became instant cash machines for hoodlums.  Burgling, robbing, and mugging went from being very risky stints (as in risking one's life for each attempt) to highly profitable enterprises (as in raking in cash with no resistance).

So I figured if anti-gunners had their way, predators would automatically assign me the rank of "victim."  That assessment could only be confirmed by my physical appearance -- female, 5'3", 120.  While the fight over gun rights raged for months, I had plenty of time to contemplate my potential future as prey.

Though laws of this land can brand me as prey,
they can't make me choose to give up or give way.

I decided to join a karate class -- Shorin Ryu, the toughest class in town.  I figured if the laws of this land branded me as prey, the least I could do is make a predator regret the attempt to exploit that situation with me.

I learned a lot during that year with Sensei Kutcher.  There was let-it-drip training, where I learned to let sweat drip down my face without losing focus, without moving a muscle, except perhaps winking away a salty drop.  This may not sound like much, but it brings consciousness to your chosen priorities.  What's more important -- wiping away that inconvenient trickle or remaining vigilant for your opponent's next move?  What's more important -- exercising discipline by letting it drip or giving in to habit/impulse/urge and bringing ten pushups on the class for your lack of self-control?  Let-it-drip-training demands mind over matter in a way that your whole being appreciates.

Training was more than just sweaty-skin-deep, however.  During arm-toughening, I learned to handle more pain than I'd ever experienced by registering continuous blows not as "pain" but as "sensation".  I found previously unknown tolerance for bone-bruising hits and then found previously unknown resilience to push further, always further.  (These were very handy things to know during childbirth a few years later.)

There was always the choice of quitting, of leaving, of allowing myself to feel overwhelmed.  Looking around and seeing the other students continue, though, I knew that I would be consciously choosing to be overwhelmed because my body was reporting that it was not yet overwhelmed, not quite.  It could take one more hit, throw one more punch.  My body could do it -- but would my mind choose discipline over the urge to surrender?  What became unavoidably clear to all of us is that surrender is a choice of the mind, as is discipline.

Every training maneuver, every rule of the dojo, every command from the sensei, was based on a simple fact of life and our chosen path:
(1) Victimhood is a choice.
(2) Don't be a victim.

When you go through a class like that, truths are driven deep into your muscles and bones.  Your mind and body are introduced to your power of choice over your reactions to circumstances.  Circumstances, like inconvenience or shock or pain, are various arrangements of elements in your environment.  Circumstances are stimuli, they are catalysts, but they do not control your responses.  You alone have power over your responses... if you choose to use it.