When You Get a Chance to Thank Someone, Take It: SOPA, Charlie Dent, and Me

Over the weekend, I had a chance to tell US Rep Charlie Dent of the PA-15th that I appreciated the way his Washington staff engaged me on the SOPA issue when I called.  I also thanked him for coming out against the bill.

Was the aide I spoke with the day Wikipedia went dark just doing her job?  No.  She was doing her job well.  The process was engaging, and given the number of calls that office surely had that day, it could have gone another way entirely.  I’m thankful that it didn’t.

Did Congressman Dent have to come out against SOPA?  Not really.  Even though the bill was dead in the water halfway through the day, or perhaps because the bill was dead, the Congressman didn’t have to comment one way or the other.  But he did, and I’m glad he did.  If I can take the time to call their offices and request a certain outcome, I should take the time to thank my elected officials for heeding the will of the people when I get the chance.

The politics here in PA-15, like the politics where you live, are complicated.  Here, we’re talking about redistricting, an NIZ, significant urban renewal, significant needs among the homeless, the working poor, and, yes, the middle class.  We’re also talking about significant opportunities.  Your communities are faced with some of the same challenges and rise-to-the-occasion kinds of moments.  Some won’t like that I’ve thanked Charlie Dent for anything, and others believe he’s the congressional candidate best positioned to help PA-15 through the change that’s coming.  That’s politics.  That’s people.  But I believe we’re called to civil discourse, and I believe that civil discourse begets itself, even as the smut that passes for political information propagates at dangerous angles.

Charlie Dent got SOPA right, and I’m glad I got to tell him so in person.  If that opens the door for more discussion about other pressing issues, all the better.  That’s all part of my job, and all part of yours.

Sundry Literary Notes Brought to You by Social Media

Image by youngthousands via Flickr

Add Hunger Mountain to the list of literary journals that charges a reading/submission/administrative fee for non-subscribers.  I don’t know how recent this change is, but I submitted to HM a few months ago without a charge.  It’s either a recent development, or, you know, the real reason for that kind rejection letter.

The Believer just tweeted “8000 Facebook fans!  When did that happen?”   Good for you, The Believer.

Sufjan Stevens on Spotify is my submissions soundtrack.  As in literary submissions, not cool grappling lessons.  That would be hilarious.

How Google+ Sees The Allentown Arts District and Environs

I just started on Pinterest because I’m looking for an intuitive, visual way to tell the story of the arts infrastructure in Allentown.  I pinned pics from a Google+ gallery, which turned out to be a less intuitive process than I supposed.  To really make the Pinterest board look the way I want, I think I’m going to have to upload pictures individually, and that’s sort of not the point of Pinterest.  The more I think about it, though, the more Google+’s default layout for this album feels exactly right.  Check it out here.


The New York Times Exposes Apple, Foxconn, and the 2 Percent

Tim Cook, Apple COO, in january 2009, after Ma...
Tim, you can fix this in an instant. Stop subsidizing the human cost of your devices.

In this case, the 2 percent refers to this:

Fortunately for the bottom line, the touch-screen hungry public doesn’t seem to mind: “In a national survey conducted by The New York Times in November, 56 percent of respondents said they couldn’t think of anything negative about Apple. Fourteen percent said the worst thing about the company was that its products were too expensive. Just 2 percent mentioned overseas labor practices.”

So, 2 percent of people responding to that November survey had the dangerous conditions in the Apple production line on their radar.  Hopefully, that’s starting to change. Unfortunately, conditions on the ground in China aren’t.  Read the NYT‘s huge, detailed portrait of these conditions, published yesterday, here.  Thanks to New York Magazine for the heads up.  Thanks to Mike Daisey for putting this on America’s moral agenda.  We’ve been talking about it here for over a year.  When I wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on The Huffington Post after Steve Jobs’ passing, I didn’t know that one of Cook’s former gigs at Apple was “guy in charge of finding the cheapest production lines possible” and “guy who found Foxconn.”  Still, Tim, the challenge stands.  Change Apple’s ethics abroad, and create your own Apple legacy now.

The State of Our Union Tomorrow, Today

I just posted this on Facebook and wanted to share it here:

I didn’t watch SOTU, but I’m optimistic. Not about Democrats or Republicans. Not about elections or debates. About something money couldn’t buy but the economic crisis helped us see: here and now, most of us want to be better than we’ve been. Most of us are committed to being more fair, more open, more compassionate…more generative. The economy still scares me, maybe now more than ever, but the renewed capacity I’ve seen in people to give even from what little they have so that those with even less might have something…I believe in that. I believe in love. I believe we’re called to live God’s future in the present. I believe we must, and I believe we can.