Monday, January 28, 2008

A Bit of This and That

Y'know how it is when you clean out your junk drawer, and you have a lot of nitnoid stuff that doesn't fall into any one category? Well, that's today's blog post.

I'm adding a new link to my "Links and Blogs" list for a discussion blog called "Sellout". This is a new site that's dedicated to the business side of being an artist. The more I read, the more I find that's worth reading. Lots of good discussions in here about all different facets of being a struggling working artist.

A few weeks ago, I decided to find out what all the fuss is about "social networking" sites. So I signed up for three: FaceBook, Art Scuttlebutt (hosted by Art Calendar magazine), and LinkedIn. Now that I've played with them a bit, I've developed some thoughts.
- First, I am not impressed with FaceBook. It isn't as open as I thought it would be. There's too much time and space on useless stuff (Example: every time I log in, it asks the question "What are you doing now?" What kinda question is that? What the hell do you think I'm doing? I'm on the FRICKIN' COMPUTER!). And when the first "discussion" entry I see reads (and I'm quoting here) "yo foodlion skatepark rocks yo" ... well, let's just say that I passed the skateboarding age quite a few decades ago.
- Art Scuttlebutt is okay. It lets you get your work out in front of other artists. I've only seen one non-artist on there ... meaning that it might be good for general discussion, but if you're looking to drive business to your web site, you've probably got a long wait. There are a few very interesting artists there. Think of it as an unjuried group show at a nationwide local arts council and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
- LinkedIn has proven to be a surprise. This is a networking site for executives. There are very few fine artists enrolled, so I seem to be a bit of an oddity (well, that's nothing new ...). The surprise is that it has already become the #2 source of referrals to my web site. I initially put up a half-assed profile that didn't say a lot, but then started seeing more and more LinkedIn referrals showing up on my Google stat counter, so I spent some time polishing my profile into something respectable. And when I started building my own network on there, I found quite a few old Navy buddies plus some of my art-world friends. I figure that if I keep getting looks from all these execs, sooner or later, somebody will have some kind of project for me. Let's hope! Overall, LinkedIn is a very good professional networking site.

George Bush's final State of the Union address comes on in just a little bit. The best thing about it is that it will be his final State of the Union address.

We saw a good movie over the weekend. "The Hunting Party" stars Richard Gere and Terrence Howard as a couple of journalists in Bosnia in 2000. They're trying to find an accused Serbian war criminal (based on Radovan Karadzic), ostensibly for an interview, only they get mistaken for a CIA hit squad. The story is loosely based on the true experiences of a group of five reporters. Much of the movie was filmed in Sarajevo, and it was really cool for me to see how the city has developed since I was there as part of the peacekeeping forces in 1996. I thought the flick was highly entertaining ... not an Oscar-winner by any means, but certainly better than most.

One political note about Bosnia. An unanswered question raised in the movie was why the UN, NATO, and all other forces had not gone after accused war criminals like Karadzic and others (like Ratko Mladic). There were a few conspiracy-theory ideas bandied about, like Karadzic had the goods on some US people, so he was allowed to live as long as he was quiet. Well, that's not true. When the peacekeeping forces went into Bosnia in 1996, the NATO leader was Admiral Smith. His idea was that we were there to build peace. Everything else was secondary. But the cease-fire between the Serbs, Bozniaks, and Croats was extremely tenuous. At one point, a low-level Serb general literally took a wrong turn on the road, wound up at a NATO checkpoint, and was arrested. The Serbs went ballistic and the whole peace process damn near fell apart. It was that close. But even in spite of that, there were calls from all over the world for us to go after Karadzic and Mladic. ADM Smith said no. He stuck to his policy of building peace first and worrying about bringing K&M to justice later. It made sense then. Now that we're twelve years on, it probably still makes sense. Peace in Bosnia is balanced on a knife edge. Do you want to have people getting on with their lives while K&M wander around Serb territory? Or would you rather have a resumption of civil war while K&M go through a war crimes trial in the Hague for ten years? I don't think K&M are worth it.

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