24 August, 2012

My Animal Legislation Wish List (Because We Can't Give Animal Abusers The Death Penalty)

Animal lovers may be the only people whose "love" causes the suffering, neglect and brutal deaths of the beloved. People who love rare coins or lava lamps or antiques and must fill their homes with these things don't cause suffering and death but people who "love" animals and feel that they just have to "own" pets are actually perpetuating animal suffering and death by providing puppy mills and breeders with a financial incentive to bring more cats and dogs into a world that already has more cats and dogs than it is able or willing to care for. So let me repeat what I said in my 1 July 2010 post: if you love animals, help reduce the commercial demand for dogs and cats by refusing to feed the breeding beast. Don't buy a cute kitten at a pet store. Don't buy a precious puppy. When your current pet dies, don't get another pet. Instead, consider becoming a foster home for rescued dogs and cats while their rescuers find them permanent homes. 

As a systems thinker, I know there are only two ways to reduce the number of neglected, abused and suffering animals. The first way would be to reduce the population of humans who breed animals, neglect animals, and torture animals and to reduce the number of irresponsible pet owners who don't spay and neuter their animals leaving them free bring more cats and dogs into a world for humans to abuse or neglect. 

But, as appealing as it is, hunting down and killing the people who neglect and abuse animals is illegal and would land the people who eliminated the abusers and neglecters in prison where we couldn't rescue and foster animals who need us which leaves us with one other way to reduce the number of animals who suffer neglect and abuse at the hands of humans: We must reduce the number of animals available to the abusers and neglecters. Toward that end, I've compiled a little legislative wish list which I intend to share with my state legislators. 

1. Pet "owners" would be required to spay and neuter their pets or pay a stiff fine. Attention Bonnie Brown, Barb Hatfield, et al., Google SB 250 and find that New York City already passed this kind of spay/neuter law and Californians are working on a statewide SB 250 spay/neuter law.

2. In West Virginia, it would be illegal to buy or sell an animal that comes from any puppy mill or other breeding facility - even if that facility is owned by the Governor's family - and it would be illegal to operate such a facility in West Virginia.

3. People found guilty of abusing or neglecting animals would never again be allowed to own or keep animals and would receive a punishment similar to the treatment they inflicted on the animals they mistreated. People who starve animals would be sentenced to starvation nearly to the point of death. People who light animals on firer would be tortured with fire. People who beat animals would be beaten nearly to the point of death. People who tether their dog to a stake in the yard and leave it shivering in the cold and deprived of food, water and companionship could be chained on the courthouse lawn for a week or so in the middle of January. People caught trying to provide food, water or comfort to them would tethered in like manner. 

Political candidates who strap their pets to the roof of the car would be similarly "kenneled", roof-topped and driven to Canada where, if they're lucky, someone would hose them off. 

You get the idea. I don't know any judges but if I did I would ask them why they don't sentence animal abusers to punishments similar to their crimes. 

To find out who represents you, go to http://www.legis.state.wv.us/ and tell your elected officials that, since it would be illegal to reduce the number of humans who abuse and neglect animals, you want them to introduce legislation that reduces the number of animals available to the abusers and neglecters.
Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments - even if they come from animal abusers and neglecters - but Higginbotham At Large does not publish anonymous or pseudonymous comments from anybody.

23 August, 2012

Open Letter To An Undisclosed Advisory Board : How To Promote Your Events Without A Budget Or A Marketing Guy

Your recent hand-wringing discussion about how to publicize your events was painful to hear. I was just a guest so I couldn't offer advice but I wanted to stand up and shout "Why are you pretending that you're still living in a time when you couldn't get your message out unless you owned a radio station, a newspaper or a TV station or unless you paid those media gatekeepers to publicize your events?"

In an age when every one of you can instantly notify hundreds of people abut your events through Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or through your own personal blog or website, you're like a man who freezes to death in the middle of the forest when he could have gathered some sticks, built a fire and kept warm.

While I like your idea of buying a sign, I'd like you to start using the free means of information dissemination that are already available to you.

And don't wait for your org's marketing department to do this for you. You can do it better, faster and cheaper yourselves. Let me prove it to you.

A few years ago I was part of a community-based effort to provide a job search seminar/workshop to help "older workers" who had recently been "right-sized" out of their jobs and were experiencing age discrimination as they attempted to find new jobs. We put together a coalition of headhunters, staffing agencies, a major university and, of course, AARP.

The AARP rep told us AARP would take care of publicizing the event. They had been involved in these workshops before and they knew that if they sent 5,000 post cards to members in the area they'd get about 30 attendees. Yeah, that's right; AARP's plan was to spend a lot of money to send 5,000 pieces of mail and only get 30 attendees. Phooey on that.

Had we left it to the AARP marketing department, we would have provided a workshop for about 30 older workers when we knew we should be reaching HUNDREDS of older workers. So we didn't leave it to AARP's marketing guy. We did it ourselves and we reached hundreds of older workers - and we did it at almost no cost at all.

First, we took advantage of "Earned Media". I took it upon myself to write a simple media release which I sent to a handful of radio stations, newspapers and TV stations. I think I mailed about 10 releases at my own expense. As a result of these media releases, I was invited to be a guest on 2 local radio talk shows and was given free space in 2 local newspapers.

And, of course, we used social media. Linkedin. Facebook. (I don't think any of us had Twitter yet but you do.)

Registrations for our older workers job workshop went through the roof. Even after our university partner provided us with a larger venue we had to waitlist hundreds of people and repeat the workshop. It was a smashing success. The only people who weren't happy were the AARP experts who had been shown up by our amateur efforts.

Don't freeze to death in the middle of the forest and don't wait for your marketing people to come save you. You can build your own fire.  Let's see, there are 12 people on your board. Let's say each of you types your event as a  "status update" and puts it on your Facebook pages, your Linkedin pages and your Twitter feed. Let's say some of you put it in your blog or your personal website. How many people will you reach? Hundreds? Thousands?

St. Albans is a small town. It's easy and free to reach most of the households in town. Don't pretend you don't have the means. I just told you how to do it.
Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments but only publishes comments from identifiable submitters. In other words, no pseudonymous or anonymous comments will be published.

No Strategy In Dennis Adkins' "Strategic Plan" For WVPBS

I didn't hear any strategy in the "strategic plan" Executive Director Dennis Adkins presented to the Educational Broadcasting Authority - his bosses - at their Wednesday 22 August meeting. I attended that meeting in hope that I might hear Adkins' strategy for bringing WVPBS into alignment with its stated mission and its stated vision or even a strategy about how to re-engage individual donors who have stopped giving to WVPBS because there is apparently no one at WVPBS who has dusted off and read the mission and vision statements lately.

Higginbotham At Large will be mailing copies of their mission and vision statements to some of the members of the Educational Broadcasting Authority which has oversight of WVPBS. 

See those mission and vision statements below.

"MISSION: West Virginia Public Broadcasting satisfies the human need to learn. Our programs nurture personal growth and civic responsibility, respect people's intelligence, and promote life-long discovery." - from the West Virginia Public Broadcasting website. (http://www.wvpubcast.org/about.aspx)

"VISION: West Virginia Public Broadcasting, through our unique programs and services, will empower people to broaden their perspectives, appreciate their history and become active in their communities. Using the power of public service media, we will create more informed, more educated, more motivated, and more prosperous citizens who will build a better West Virginia for our children and grandchildren." - from the West Virginia Public Broadcasting website. (http://www.wvpubcast.org/about.aspx)

--Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments but anonymous and pseudonymous comments will not be published. 

18 August, 2012

St. Albans Public Library May Become The First Solar-Powered Library In West Virginia

The St. Albans Public Library may very well become the first solar-powered library in West Virginia and the first West Virginia library with a solar-powered charging station for electric cars. According to David Koontz of the St. Albans Public Library Advisory Board, the project is already funded thanks to a donation from the late James Delforge. In other words, no taxpayer funds would be used for this project. 

I learned of the proposed project when the Kanawha County Public Library Board held its 13 August meeting at the St. Albans branch where MTVSolar's Colin Williams and Lisa Mitchell made a presentation about the proposed project to install enough solar panels on the roof of the St. Albans Public Library to supply the electrical needs of the library with enough power left over to recharge electric cars.

For more information about solar power, visit www.mtvsolar.com.

For more information about the Kanawha County Public LIbrary system visit www.www.kanawhalibrary.org.
Higginbotham At Large reads all submitted comments, HigginbothamAtLarge only publishes comments of identified commentors. For example, a pseudonymous comment from "BurnMoreCoal@CoalIsWestVirginia.Nut" would not be published but a comment from JosephHigginbotham@Gmail.com would be published.

03 August, 2012

Here's What WIll Happen Next In The Chick-fil-A Controversy

I proved prophetic about the Chick-fil-A flap. In my July 25 and 27 posts I said that Dan Cathy's remarks about gay marriage would drive Chick-fil-A's customer base of Republican evangelicals would flock to their nearest Chick-fil-A and show thank Chick-fil-A for validating their homophobia by buying more Chick-fil-A food. Furthermore, I said that Dan Cathy knew exactly what he was doing and that the Left's response to Cathy (Chicago refusing to grant them a permit to open a restaurant, for example) would only result in greater same store sales. Over the last week conservative politicians have covered their desks with Chick-fil-A food, evangelical and conservative customers have formed long lines around Chick-fil-A restaurants in a show of appreciation to the chicken chain that validated their homophobia and hatred for gays. 

In short, Dan Cathy executed a brilliant business strategy: by attacking gays, he cultivated the right enemies and made more money. In Republican and evangelical towns where most of his stores are, the only marketing plan better than getting publicly rebuked by Rahm Emanuel would be getting rebuked by President Obama himself.

As I said in my July 25 and 27 posts, there is a symbiotic, money-making symbiotic relationship between those who support gay marriage and those who oppose it. So here's what's going to happen next: Lefties who don't understand evangelicals because they don't actually know any and Lefties who haven't yet figured out how the world works will continue to play right into Dan Cathy's brilliant and cynical money-making plan by denouncing Chick-fil-A and calling for boycotts. On the other hand, Lefties who understand the Lefty-Righty symbiosis will just as cynically use Chick-fil-A's financial contributions to anti-gay organizations and Chick-fil-A's public record of unfair labor practices toward gays to open the wallets and checkbooks of Lefties who don't understand how the world works and don't know  any evangelicals and,therefore, don't know how evangelicals react to public shame and humiliation.

Further, Republicans and Evangelicals who want to monetize evangelicals' desire to show appreciation to Chick-fil-A for validating their homophobia, will flood Chick-fil-A headquarters with franchise requests. Cynical Southern evangelical politicians will shore up their base by publicly assuring Chick-fil-A that their restaurants are welcome in their Hootervilles. Simply by reading the mail, Dan Cathy will be able to identify the geographies where his kind of people are eagerly awaiting their opportunity to show their gratitude and appreciation for validating them.

Wow, following Christ is easy these days. There was a time when following Christ might involve suffering or death or acts of love and righteousness but now all one has to do to demonstrate his Christianity is to denounce gay marriage or buy a chicken sandwich.

And here's what won't happen next: Minds and hearts will not be changed by the brilliant and cynical anti-gay statements of Dan Cathy or by the shrill reaction of The Left. The American people no longer think, they simply shop for and then align themselves with other people who validate them.
 Higginbotham At Large will be happy to publish comments from identified commentors but Higginbotham At Large will not publish comments from people who try to hide behind a pseudonym or nom de guerre. Higginbotham At Large has no use whatsoever for enemies who don't have the courage to put their names on their comments but Higginbotham At Large would welcome critical comments from The Right Enemies if those enemies are willing to use their real names.