Sunday, October 30, 2005

How Much is a Blog Worth?

Yeah, I know -- every time I have gone a long while without writing, I come up with the one of these goofy quizzes. This one is based on research that analyzes the worth of a blog based on links:

My blog is worth $2,258.16.
How much is your blog worth?

A famous blog like Juan's is "worth" over a million. I put that in quotation marks, because no matter what anybody says, a thing is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it -- and as far as I know, nobody ever buys blogs. It seems to be based on what companies that advertise in cyberspace pay for links. More info here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Baha'i Individual Initiative and Varqa Magazine

Back in the days when I was an enrolled Baha'i, there would nearly always be, circulated at Feast, various pamplets advertising from companies whose market consists largely of Baha'is: Kalimat Press, Oneworld, Special Ideas, etc. that sell Baha'i books, jewelry, prayer beads, promotional materials like t-shirts and bumper stickers. When I was Secretary, I used to get that stuff in the mail all the time. Selling Baha'i items means that a company is trying to reach a niche market, to say the least, and these companies do this with the permission of the institutions. Kalimat, for example, was once described in a UHJ letter as having "privileged access" to the Baha'i community. But without that "privilege", it would be nearly impossible to reach Baha'is at all, except for repeat customers. Membership lists are not given out, except to Secretaries who are asked to keep them confidential.

Well, a few years ago, a Baha'i gentleman, as a labor of love, revived the children's magazine Varqa. It is not so much a "Baha'i magazine" like Brilliant Star, but a magazine based on Baha'i principles. Here's the description:

Varqa International Children's Magazine is a full-colour literary magazine for children ages 7 to 14 and is entirely advertisement-free. Varqa, whose name means “dove,” the symbol of peace and bearer of good news, is dedicated to the spiritual and intellectual development of children. It strives to generate hope and constructive energy for the future of humankind inspired by the principles of the Bahá'í Faith, namely:
unity of mankind
unity of religions
the equality of women and men
the independent investigation of truth
celebration of social justice, diversity, cultures, creativity, and art
universal education
appreciation of nature
protection of the environment

Like many projects taken on for idealistic reasons, it is barely staying afloat. However, this man, who knows some of the UHJ members was told that the House will not allow him to promote his magazine through the LSAs. This was done informally and orally, so there is no paper trail. One House member told him this, claiming that the others were on his side. Without access to local Baha'i communities, the magazine is cut off from promoting to its primary audience.

The administration says that it encourages individual initiative, but I hear stories like this all the time, where individual initiative is simply squashed. My feeling is that you have to be the "right" individual. As I understand it, no reason was given for this prohibition. Somebody up there doesn't like this guy personally? They don't want competition to "official" Baha'i magazines? They don't like a magazine based on "principles" rather than directly teaching the religion? Who knows?

Anyway, those of you out there, Baha'i or not, who have young children should check this magazine out at their website, and consider subscribing or otherwise offering your support.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Running on Fumes

Siskiyou County, the subject of this article, is quite a ways north of me, but still close enough that this story could be considered "local", even though it appears in The Nation. When I'm driving north I have a clear view of Mount Shasta, even though I'm still in what the article describes as "the flat farmlands of California's Central Valley". I'm familiar enough with the area that I know what this article is talking about -- Siskiyou County is large, mountainous, and the small towns in it are widely separated. It's a tough commute from town to town, on curvy mountain roads even in the summer -- worse in the winter. Years ago, we had to cancel a planned trip to Ashland in April, because the roads were snowed over. It isn't like driving 70 m.p.h. on straight freeway, like we do in the valley.

Anyway, this is a good report on the impact of soaring gas prices in an area that has little public transportation and is already economically depressed. Just click on the title for the article.