October 20, 2009

Let's play with Referendum 71!

Background: Referendum 71 is being voted on in Washington State. If passed, it will allow state-registered domestic partners to receive the same legal rights as those who are married, under Senate Bill 5688.

Statement of Partiality: I'm voting for approval of Referendum 71.

The Fun: Let's look at Referendum 71's statements for and against, straight out of the handy voter's booklet from my mail!

Who Had the Best Headings? Statement For used three straightforward headings, all clear and concise: The Domestic Partnership Law Protects All Washington Families, What is Included in the Domestic Partnership Law?, and Who Supports the Law? Statement Against used four headings that relied on an anxious attack of exclamation-slanted prose (!) such as: Reject Senate Bill 5688 to Protect Children! and Reject Senate Bill 5688 to Preserve Marriage!

The Winner: I have nothing against exclamation points, but I prefer my voter "information" without blatant exciticism, so Statement For wins round one.

Who Used the Fewest Quotes? Statement For used one quoted segment for a summation statement in what appears to be an effort to let the reader know where an opinion has been expressed, as opposed to the otherwise factual information they were sharing. Statement Against quoted one state senator twice, and a representative once, and then put quotes around words like, "family unit," "husband," "wife," and "gender neutral."

The Winner: Statement Against could have shared any factual information it wanted to about the bill, but instead chose to give me three statements of opinion from state legislators. Then, they started talking about "husband" and "wife" and how the bill is going to redefine those words. Fact check: the bill doesn't redefine them. It essentially says, "Hey, let's treat some of these terms as though they are equal to any member in a domestic partnership or marriage instead of rewriting every single law using those words." That quote was mine, and the winner of this round is Statement For.

Which Side Presents the Most / Best Facts? Statement For says this bill will allow domestic partners death benefits for partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty, the right to use to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner, pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees, victims' rights, and more. Statement Against says "Marriage [...exists...] for the greater good of the social order," and "Marriage is about providing the most stable and healthy environment in which to raise children," and that this bill will "confuse children and likely result in public schools influencing children to accept a new definition of the 'family unit' so that same-sex partners will be a recognized norm." Of course, I don't understand how children would be confused if the definition of "family unit" was a recognized norm. It sounds like Statement Against is the one that's a little confused. They're obviously pro-marriage. And they also claim that this bill is "primarily about homosexual marriage." According to Statement Against, this bill gets more people that much closer to marriage, so you'd think they'd be for it, since they're all gung-ho about marriage being vital to the social order and all that.

The Winner: Anyway, come on, now. You know who the winner is. Statement Against wrote a very entertaining statement riddled with unsupported opinion and contradictory lines of thought. Statement For wrote a measured, level statement in support of a bill that should never have been challenged in the first place. Go Referendum 71!

October 06, 2009

How to Write Online


Short sentences are good. Short paragraphs are good, too. End them quickly.

October 01, 2009

Is Anyone Out There Actually Having a Windows 7 Launch Party?

Background: Microsoft's Windows 7 promotion is centered around convincing people to host a Windows 7 launch party. You can find out more about that by watching this video and trying not to throw up.

Scary Observation: Supposedly, people are doing this. In fact, according to a regional Windows 7 launch party map, there are easily over 10,000 people hosting parties in the United States, alone.

Hypothesis #1: The number of parties is a highly fabricated number.

The Scant Evidence: As Windows XP pretty much made Vista obsolete, I'm having trouble believing there are that many people interested in Windows 7.

Hypothesis #2: A large number of the comments left on this page were actually left by Microsoft marketing personnel.

The Scant Evidence: There just aren't enough typos on the comments page. I find it hard to believe that Windows fans have an higher-than-average rate of typing and grammatical accuracy.

The Request: If you are hosting a Windows 7 launch party or if you know someone who is, give me details! I want to know everything--like, why? Was it for the "party pack"? Do you love Windows? Was it an excuse to try out a new operating system so you figured, why not? I will respond with non-judgmental interest. I only want to know more.