ShellyBlog Shelly Brisbin's life consists of several long tails. She writes about them here.

July 23, 2008

Baby Booze Blogger’s First Steps

Filed under: Cocktails and Spirits — Shelly Brisbin @ 11:22 AM

In the past couple of years, I’ve become a spirits and cocktails enthusiast. I’ve toured distilleries in Kentucky, sought out great bars when I travel, and collected bottles of spirits, liqueurs, and assorted drink-making stuff. As some of you know, I’ve been writing for a blog called The Spirit World, and I’ve added a mixology segment to Shelly’s Podcast.

Last week’s Tales of the Cocktail absolutely filled my brain with information and inspiration. And it filled a couple of bags with mini-bottles, recipes, books, and bar tools. It’s going to take me weeks to sort it all out. And since I’m a newbie in the mixology world, I’ve been digging into the schwag bag enthusiastically, not with the jaded perspective I usually bring to technology schwag. Also, min-bottles and recipes are more interesting than t-shirts and keychains. I’m just sayin.

I found many things in the Tales bag I’d never heard of, much less tasted, and I thought it would be fun to go through some of it with you. My plan is to write up some mini-reviews for your reading pleasure, and maybe introduce you to some spirits and recipes you haven’t seen before. I have no affiliation with any product manufacturer, and the reviews will be those of a relative newcomer to the discerning evaluation of booze. But, as they say, I know what I like.

July 16, 2008

Reporting from the road

Filed under: Testbed of the Ancients — Shelly Brisbin @ 4:16 PM

Mobile post sent by ShellyBrisbin using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

Reporting from the road

Filed under: Testbed of the Ancients — Shelly Brisbin @ 1:12 PM

Mobile post sent by ShellyBrisbin using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

July 15, 2008

Reporting from the road

Filed under: Testbed of the Ancients — Shelly Brisbin @ 3:25 PM

Mobile post sent by ShellyBrisbin using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

Reporting from the road

Filed under: Testbed of the Ancients — Shelly Brisbin @ 2:05 PM

Mobile post sent by ShellyBrisbin using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

Reporting from the road

Filed under: Testbed of the Ancients — Shelly Brisbin @ 11:32 AM

Mobile post sent by ShellyBrisbin using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

July 14, 2008

Blogging in New Orlenas

Filed under: Announcements,Cocktails and Spirits — Shelly Brisbin @ 10:32 AM

This week, I won’t be so much blogging against social media orthodoxy, or political silliness as I will be blogging for the pure joy of doing it. I’m attending Tales of the Cocktail this week in New Orleans. I’ll be filing dispatches for The Spirit World on all things booze-y, and sending observations here, too.

July 11, 2008

The Weekly Umbrage

Filed under: Politics and Public Affairs — Shelly Brisbin @ 10:25 AM

The two “stories” we’re supposed to care about in the political world this week are Jesse Jackson’s overheard whispering, and Phil Gramm’s accidental statement of what he truly believes. Will this summer ever ever end?

Lemme tell you how a person who does not watch TV experienced the Jesse Jackson kerfuffel. I’ve heard bleeped versions of Jackson’s Fox News whisperings on several radio programs and podcasts. In at least one case, the audio had been enhanced. You know what? I never once understood what he said. I caught “black people” and a beep that covered Jackson’s allusion to Mr. Obama’s anatomy. So here’s my question. On TV, were there captions? There must have been. Else how could you understand a single bleepin word?

Doesn’t anyone else see the ridiculousness of this whole situation? Here you have audio of such poor quality that it requires digital enhancement and freakin captions? Wouldn’t it just be easier for all the “news” outlets to bug their green rooms? I’m sure the sound would be better, and the quotes probably just as juicy.

As to Phil Gramm (my former Senator, I’m sorry to say) blurting out that we are a nation of whiners, I can’t get too worked up. Does anyone doubt that this is what conservative Republicans believe? And let’s face it. When it comes to eminent economic crises, and the need for government to be seen doing something, whether it solves the problem or not, we are whiners. People on my side of the aisle though, knowing a good election issue when they see one, immediately set up the umbrage corps, dispatching members of Congress to express their outrage at Gramm’s comments. Obama’s Dr. Phil line was among the lames, if you ask me.

Far from truly wishing him to be thrown off the McCain bus, I suspect most of the Dems planning counterattack would love for Phil to stick around. That boy is a walking gaffe machine, as well as being a primary architect of the deregulated environment that precipitated the current hosing and economic crises. Oh, and um, the bigger issue? He’s a lobbyist fora foreign bank. Don’t the Rs hate that kind of thing?

It’s never the important stuff that gets you in trouble. It’s always the sound bite. So what else is new?

Hey, can I pick the scandal next week? Here’s what I want. I want a recording of Barack Obama leaving a really pissed-off message on Jesse Jackson’s answering machine. There should be cursing and threats, and a suggestion that Jesse is gay. Oh, and I’ll give a million imaginary dollars to the first politician who calls people whiners for complaining about gas prices.

That’d be awesome!

July 10, 2008

Female Bloggers are a Diverse Bunch

Filed under: New Media and Tech — Shelly Brisbin @ 11:45 AM

I was excited to find a link to a list of the 50 most influential female bloggers. Of course, such lists are both totally subjective, and super fun to read. I was very proud to see that the Top 20 includes Blogger & Podcaster Magazine interview subjects Arianna Huffington, and BlogHer founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins, and one of my very favorite contributors to the magazine, the irrepressible Lorelle VanFossen. I’m choosing to ignore the presence of viper Michelle Malkin. To each her own, I guess.

Aside from gilding my own lily, I bring up the list because I was impressed by the diversity of subject matter represented there. Other “most influential” lists, the kind where you get 48 guys and two women, tend to be weighted very heavily toward tech and political blogs. There are plenty of women on the new list that fit this description, too, but you’ll also find self-help experts, international issues advocates, knitters, moms, and a lot of entrepreneurs who have turned one blog into many. Four women who are primarily podcasters—three tech-focused, one about sex—also made the list.

An RSS feed of the most influential female bloggers would make for fascinating, challenging, and diverse reading.

Update: It’s been brought to my attention that Playboy put out a “hottest female bloggers” list. Glad I didn’t know that until now. I’d have to make some sort of allegory to the list I featured, and that would just bore me and you.

July 8, 2008

No Twittering in Congress: Censorship or Good Government?

Filed under: New Media and Tech,Politics and Public Affairs — Shelly Brisbin @ 4:06 PM

When I learned that Texas Congressman John Culberson is a Twitter user, I began following him right away. I suspect that the Congressman and I, a conservative Republican from my own state, would agree on very little. But his Twitter persona, is open and “human”. The posts are neither boring advertisements for his own accomplishments, or spin-filled obfuscations. And he respond to a lot of other Twitterers. That’s more than I can say for the bots that represent other Twitterfied polticians. So what if we don’t agree on policy. He knows how to Twitter effectively, and he gives me a window into the workings of the greatest deliberative body in the world, the Congress of the United States.

Today, Culberson sent a series of Twitters alerting his followers (that just sounds a little creepy in a political context, but I digress) to a letter (pdf) written by the chair of a Congressional subcommittee regarding the posting of video (and by extension, other media content) to non-house.gov domains. The letter basically proposes that members of Congress not be allowed to post video to external sites from within the Capitol or other federal facilities, in accordance with the body’s franking rules. Franking, for those of you who can’t remember your high school government class,refers to communication, usually by mail, from members of Congress , to their constituents. Regulations both provide members free postage. Franking also governs the rules under which members’ official Web sites are hosted, and content that’s allowed on those sites. The idea is to clearly demarcate official communication (allowed) from electioneering or campaigning (not allowed).

The letter, larded up as it is with jargon and committee-speak, seems to say that members of Congress (and staff) should be disallowed from freealnce social media posting for the same reason that they can’t update their campaign Web sites, make fundraising calls, or stuff those direct mail pieces from their Capitol offices. The letter actually reads a lot like corporate policies against using personal email accounts, or making personal phone calls at work. Video and social media posting, the letter posits, are not part of the members’ official duties, if they’re posted to external Web sites that may have commercial or political content.

This is a conflict worth some serious thought. I would be surprised if the franking rules have kept up with Internet communication. I really like being able to read a Congress member’s Twitter posts. I might even enjoy watching his or her Qik videos, if I did that sort of thing. But how would I feel if, say, my congressman spent time liveblogging committee hearings instead of participating? And how would I feel if, let’s say, access to the members’ social media output were restricted based on contributions made to his or her campaign? Not happy.

The solution is not to call the evil Democrats (one subcommittee chair = “the Democrats”?) out as censors, but to undertake a rewrite of the franking rules that takes social media reality into account. It is certainly possible to create rules that, as they do for telephone calls, allow members of Congress to communicate just as the rest of us do—with no prior restraint, and no unnecessary restrictions—while still allowing voters to feel confident that their elected officials are not running 140-character re-election campaigns from the floor of the House. I’m confident that forward-thinking members of both parties will support such changes, if people like Mr. Culberson, and his Twitter followers seek to educate, rather than demonize. On that, he and I could agree.

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