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This is entry I wrote the day I discovered they expected money from me. After that I wrote in other places; and the book I mentioned should be published in the Kindle store by Friday the 4th.

Hotay. I couldn't get to the site yesterday - I got up an hour later than usual, and got RSS Slammed, and by the time I could even think about trying to write my wife turned on the TV and there was just no head space to get into writing at all. Plus The Challenge has introduced us to the software that we'll be using to write our Kindle books, and so there's writing that needs to on over there as well. I barely got my outline imported into it with all of the other stuff going on. And today's Challenge videos were already talking about editing and prettying up our products, so I'm already sooo behind. It's starting to tick me off! It's not like I don't already have ninety-seven other things to do or get done -- stuff to read, things to do around the house, blogposts to write, four Twitter accounts PLUS FaceBook PLUS emails PLUS RSS feeds. Ye Gods, people, When am I going to catch an everlovin' break?

So here I sit pounding stuff out just to get into the habit of doing so. I cut my fingernails yesterday to give me an advantage while typing -- the long nails were hitting every key but the ones I wanted them to -- so hopefully that will give me an advantage when I do this stuff. It doesn't seem to be working so far, though, considering the amount of backspacing and correcting I'm doing. So much for 'freewriting' -- that's something I've never been very good at. But I want to get better, I want to work on it, I want to be able to just pound out a blog post at nearly the speed of thought and then spend time editing the sucker; and that's why I started this whole process in the first place. I haven't yet spent any effort writing to a timer, though The Challenge recommends it; but I started this thing at 10:15, and it said at 10:20 that I had 173 words. I don't know if that's good or bad, but from what I've seen in the forums it seems about average. Not that I'm the world's greatest typist -- I look at my fingers, which is a huge no-no -- but I used to be able to type close to 60 words per minute, so I can't be that bad. I just have to get into practice again. Thus, the reason I'm here.

I don't know if I'm going to get the full amount today. I'm already late moving out into the living room; and my wife just announced breakfast, so that's the end of that. No hitting the limit for me today. But at least I started, and that's better than I did yesterday. More tomorrow.

Or maybe not. This place aims for 750 word a day, not all at one shot, so here I am during my soap to finish up. I've been watching Days of Our Lives since junior high, thanks to my mom, so I probably know more about the doings of the people in Salem than the current writers do. I've spent the morning switching between my Twitter accounts, my emails, RSS feeds, and Facebook, and only now have I gotten caught up. I've got to figure out how to thin this stuff out! I've been removing Twitter feeds that fill up too much of my timelines; I need to do the same to my RSS feeds and Facebook likes. It's tough, though; I like what I'm reading on FB, and the most egregious twitterers are the news services, and deleting them means I lose the news as well as the annoying retweets of what they think is important. Pains in the butt. But I need more time! I have things to write, things to do! I can't just sit here trying to absorb everything that crosses my screen. I'll keep things in mind as they go by; and with the tools I'm using, unfollowing and unliking are easy, so anybody that ticks me off can go away pretty immediately. I just need to take the time to do these things as I'm reading. Then I can have more time to concentrate on making stuff that might actually make life at home more pleasant, or that might make me some real live money. That's my goal: measurable productivity rather than sitting on my tukkus just consuming and giving myself a headache. That's the plan. (750 words)

As part of the Challenge this year we were told to do freewriting, and I found 750words.com, and typed into it for a couple of days -- until they told me I'd have to pay for it. So I'm archiving my entries (all 2 of them) here. This was written on September 10.)

So -- free writing, huh? Cool. And I don't have to worry about putting it out in public on one of my websites! Definitely cool. (Ahem.)

So I'm doing the 30 Day Challenge, and my topic of choice for my Kindle book is Divination with What You've Got -- the idea being that you can do divination without all the fancy decks, supplies, robes, rituals, or any of that stuff that the oh-so-serious UberPagan likes to have around to feel important. Just about any home has something somewhere: playing cards, dice, dominoes, even a pen and paper! And if you go for a quick walk or look outside it's easy to find sticks or stones to use, or you can look around the house for pente/flowerpot stones or even pens and pencils to perform basic yes/no divination. I'm planning on covering lots of options for yes/no, plus some more advanced stuff with cards and paper (numerology, geomancy), and for stones if someone wants to get into that (make your own rune set!). The guidelines for the Challenge recommend a 40-page book, which would mean chunking down these topics (I can easily do 40 pages on runes or geomancy or numerology alone), but I really think that the selling point of this book is going to be a reference for what you have on you. I may skip some of the more involved stuff and just go with what's simpler, to keep it shorter and to see if the idea sells. Some of the more involved stuff mentioned above can easily go into their own books if there is interest. I'm hoping in the following days to use my new daily writing habit to get some of these chunks down in flow of thought form, for later editing and piecing together as parts of the Kindle book. With luck, it will go together easily at that point.

I'm experimenting with a couple of new things at the same time, and hoping that by linking them to the Challenge I'll form a habit that will continue after the Challenge is over. I signed up to lift.do, which is a place to keep track of daily activities so that they will form habits; it would be nice to get to the point where I do a few "normal" things without thinking. And then I signed up here, because this place will keep track of the fact that I'm actually writing. I have so many ideas, and they float through my head and sound really good in my internal voice, but if I don't actually get them down into pixels they don't do me or anybody else any good. This way I'm hoping to preserve my thoughts to turn them into books and blog posts, to just get my mind and fingers used to the idea of typing again, to make said typing a regular habit and to actually get some work done instead of just keeping up with my RSS reader all the time. Ed Dale says that "fueling up is not work," and that's most certainly true, but it's all I've been doing for the last -- what is it, 3, 4 years now? -- and it's way past time that I do something about that. I'm really glad that this is a private place to let lose; I'm equally glad that you can go get posts made at other times, so if I realize that I wrote something useful a few days after I write it, I can go back and get it for editing and posting in public. But first I have to teach myself how to type again, how to get the flow of words going, and for Pete's sake, how to get all the way to 750 without running out of gas! I'm so close! Just a few over a hundred. This is not going to be quite as easy as I thought. I just hope that as time goes by, I'll fill less of my posts with drivel at the bottom just to fill up the space. I might actually have something important to say one of these days -- but today is not that day. So close -- 700 now! So I need to take notes on playing card divination, and as many dice divination techniques that I can find; I need to dig up my meanings on dominoes; I need to figure out just how I'm going to format this book so that it's shortish but useful, and avoid the comments I've seen about 'not enough meat.' So there. (763  words)

My virtual friend (or vfriend) @CCSeed just twittered, "what's your purpose for engaging in social media? You have one, right?" and soon after my vfriend @ChrisKnight tweeted, "If you don't increase the speed that you deliver your website user experience, search engines are going to rightfully cache you out." I think they're talking to me.

See, I get up in the morning, turn on my computer, go through the night's FriendFeed and Twitter streams, and read the 40+ items waiting for me in my Google Reader. (For the last week this has taken me about three hours.) Then I keep up with those three services. Add the occasional dip into FaceBook, and if I want to, I can make this the entirety of my day; and lately, I have been. I always feel cruddy in the winter, and my definition of "crappy day" has gotten really sketchy lately, giving myself the permission to let my minimum effort become my standard. @CCSeed had started his questions with, "what's your best strategy for not getting distracted on social media?", and my thought was "Distracted by? It's what I get distracted from! Other than MiLady and my StepDaughter, it's my entire social life!" How sad is that? "I love my computer ; all my friends are in it."

And it sure as heck doesn't help me towards my goals. I have six different blogs, three of which I'd like to make some money from; I have plans for a small personal empire, for Pete's sake, and I'm not getting anything DONE! I'm learning a lot, but I'm not putting it into practice; I'm sharing a lot in my FriendFeed lifestream, and in the Popular Delusions room, but that's not making me any money, is it? I need to concentrate on the other end of the funnel, where the stuff goes OUT, not in. I have enough coming in to give me a headache; it's taking the time to DO something about it -- write about it, promote it, distribute it, discuss it -- that I'm not taking. I have the time; but I'm not using it. And that has to stop.

I'm great at making lists, but lousy at crossing things off of them; I spend more time wondering what system to use to keep stuff (PDA, Outlook, notebook, file cards . . . ) than I do generating things to keep. I have list of posts I  want to write . . . lists of plugins to investigate and tweaks to make to my blogs . . . lists of things to do and to write and to explore. Writing them on a list, or in a Task note, or on a mindmap isn't DOING them. It just makes me feel guiltier as the lists grow longer.

There's a lot of resistance there. Am I really still carrying around that, "I can't win, I can only not lose" meme that got hammered into me as a kid? I KNOW I can do this; why aren't I DOING it? Just how lazy am I? And do I really buy that "I'm building my brand" excuse I've been handing myself?

Because @ChrisKnight is right. If I don't get off the stick, my blogs are going to go the FAIL route, and the last thing I want to do is blow this chance to make enough money to stay home and play in my very own sandbox. I'll have to go get a JOB, and jump onto a different type of hamster wheel altogether, one that I've been on before and that I don't like very much.

I wish I had a conclusion, a final resolution, for this rant. But I don't. I have no clue how to get over this wall. Heck, I've only recently realized the wall is there. And today, thanks to my vfriends @CCSeed and @ChrisKnight, I'm trying to figure out how to get over this thing. Time and my lifestream will tell, I guess. Thanks for listening to me rant; and any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

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We just got screwed by the Community Energy Project. Below are the facts:


Because we are living on MiLady’s disability pay at the moment, and we were running out of our savings, in November MiLady stopped by the Community Energy Project, which she drives by on a regular basis, to see if they could help us. They offered help with weatherization; and because MiLady is disabled, they offered to install it for us. An appointment was made for an initial assessment visit.

When the two gentlemen showed up for that appointment on December fifth, the first thing said inside the house was the observation that we were smokers. This was deduced by the sight of the ashtrays in the living room; neither of us were smoking at the time. MiLady pointed out the air cleaner running in the corner, and made him the same promise that we make all servicepeople visiting the house: that the air cleaner would run before they got here, and that we would not smoke inside as long as they were here. She showed them our windows, which have the scars of her last weatherization attempt several years ago -- which did not work out. They got the window measurements that they needed, added an aerator to our kitchen tap, made an appointment for the week of December 15th, and left.

The day of the appointment was the first day of snow in Portland’s Winter Storm; they called and said that they could not keep their appointment, which was understandable at the time. They offered to drop off the weatherization materials, but MiLady reminded them of her disability and the futility of her previous attempt. The person on the phone made a remark about the difficulty of finding people who wanted to work on a smokers’ home; MiLady reminded him of our promise to clean the air before they arrived and not smoke while they were here. He said he’d call and reschedule.

We waited for him to call. We didn’t put up our Christmas tree or any of our decorations because they would block windows he would need access to. We suffered through the Portland Winter Storm as best we could, because we had to. And still we waited.

We received a call from the Community Energy Project in mid- to late January, scheduling an appointment to do the work on February third.

On February second, we received a call informing us that they would not keep their appointment, because we were smokers. MiLady reminded him of the promise of the air cleaning and not smoking; he said that they still would not work in a smoker’s house. MiLady accused him of discrimination, and he said that they were still willing to drop off the supplies so that we could do the work. Rather than saying what was on her mind, MiLady said “Fine” and hung up the phone.

On the afternoon of the second, a car from the Community Energy Project pulled up, and a guy got out and quietly walked up our stairs, slid a box of weatherization kits onto the porch without a sound, and quietly went back to his car to drive away. There wasn’t even a knock to let us know there was a box on the porch; if I hadn’t been near a window, I would have missed the whole thing. I guess they didn’t want to talk to us.

They dropped off 11 window kits – and we have 14 windows. They apparently didn’t even check their notes when they filled the box.


Now for the editorial:

These people had multiple chances – beginning at the initial interview – to tell us that they wouldn’t do the work. We would have been upset, but we wouldn’t have wasted so much time, and we wouldn’t have missed our Christmas, if they’d been upfront with us.

Is this the new way for Oregon charities to save money -- to deny help to people because they smoke? Do they realize that low-income people are the segment of the population most likely to smoke, as well as most likely to need their help? Why the $%@#! are they foisting their morality off on us? And make no mistake – it is morality. There would have been ZERO chance of inhaling secondhand smoke while they were in our home. There are no health reasons involved here. Just an unjustifiable paranoia combined with micro-managing babysitter laws, adding up to “legal” discrimination and the creation of second-class citizens that can’t go ask for help because they know they’ll never get it.

It’s possible that they put us off like this in order to have the legal backing of the new Oregon smoking law when they finally told us that they weren’t going to do it. Lovely thing to put a disabled person through, wouldn’t you say?

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A few days ago my StepDaughter came back from school and asked if we'd moved her bike. "How could we?" we replied. "Only you have the combination to the lock." "Well, it's gone." "WHAT?!?"

Some *long-winded character description full of swear words* came up on the porch in the middle of the night, cut her bike cable, and took her bike away. MiLady didn't hear them, and she sleeps in the living room. (Curse the day we had the porch steps replaced! Now they don't squeak.) They left our two electric scooters, and every other piece of flotsam on the porch -- they just took the poor college student's bike. Great work, guys.

I have three (only three? Well, only three BIG) questions:
  1. Why steal a bike from the porch of the poorest house in the neighborhood? Our yard is overgrown, the place needs paint, we get no help of any kind, we barely leave the place -- how in the Nine Worlds could a thief look at this house and think "That'd be a great place to steal from!" ?!?
  2. Why steal a bike in DECEMBER? It's not like this is prime bike-riding weather. She was just talking about how much bus money she could save in the spring -- just before the bike grew legs and walked away.
  3. Why steal a bike bought in a variety store? It's not like this was a 97-gear top-of-the-line mountain bike -- it was on sale for $70 when she bought it, and the price sticker was still on the thing. It was transportation, not a hobby, not anything extreme. What the Frell?
So we'll be spending money we don't have soon to go up to CityBikes and get something refurbished. MiLady wants to have her keep it in the shed; I don't mind leaving it on the porch, as long as we use some of that noisy heavy-duty steel chain to tie it down. Regardless, so much for gentrification. But next time, guys, steal from someone who has something worth stealing, huh? Try to pick on someone who makes more than you do, not less. I feel kinda like that business owner during the LA riots a few lifetimes ago -- "I know you're pissed at them, but why take it out on me? I'm one of you!" 8-((
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Right now, as I type, people all over the country are starting simultaneous rallies to oppose Proposition 8, the "Marriage Definition" measure that passed in California, and I assume the other "anti-gay" measures that passed in several other states. It's been a long time since I wished I was at a protest. Today I wish I was in downtown Portland. But with MiLady's health being so iffy, we won't make it. But we're there in spirit.

I don't see these measures as 'anti-gay,' but as anti-PEOPLE. When was the last time this country passed laws saying that certain people can't do certain things? I believe it was the 50s, and the qualifier was based on their skin color. Those were deemed unconstitutional in the fullness of time; I'm sure that these bigoted laws will suffer the same fate. But not any time soon, unfortunately. There are some segments of the American population who seem to thrive on hate. And since it's verboten to hate based on (born-into) gender and skin color, they've found a new group to make into pariahs. Why do they have to hate anybody? I don't know, but it seems to be practically genetically ingrained (or culturally ingrained -- but that's a bigger topic I won't go into as I don't want to handle the hate mail and death threats). The best rant I've seen on this is from Keith Olbermann -- I threw it on my Tumblog, I liked it so much. (It's about the third video down . . . I wish tumblr would let me point to specific posts!)

The problem seems to be with the word itself. The religionists don't want people sullying their "marriage" with our own "marriages." It's about the dumbest thing I've ever heard -- as a sign I saw in a newspaper photograph said, "We never voted on YOUR marriage!" -- but it's their sticking point, so we'll go with it.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution says, in part, that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Since these laws currently deprive citizens of the privileges or immunities that come with being a legally recognized couple, they're unconstitutional. Plain and simple. To become a legal couple, you go fill out forms in your local office, you wait the required amount of time, then you get somebody to sign the form with two witnesses, and send the stuff in -- and you're recognized.

My favorite solution (and I've seen a lot of other people suggest it as well) is to separate this legal process from all the other crud that's become attached to it. Whether or not you're "married," by whichever church or sect you're into, should not be a part of it -- you want to be a legal couple, go fill out the forms. If you want a church service, or to have your High Priestess marry you, go for it -- but it will have no legal standing unless you fill out the forms. (Gee, just like today!) Separating the legal from the "religious," in my view, is the only way this is going to work. Then the religious will have no point to gripe on, and everyone who wants to be a legal couple can be. It's a silly dream, but it's mine -- I think I'll keep it. Until then, I'll sit over here and think good thoughts for everyone -- while I'm silently chanting, "Go, Protesters!"

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On the night of November 4th, I laid in bed and listened to something I had never heard before in my life -- the sounds of spontaneous celebration. Yelling and drumming and honking and cheering. One guy going down the street honking, Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep. My brain immediately supplied the words -- Yes we can, Yes we can . . .  It was tough to sleep with all that hope and excitement in the air.

I was privileged enough to see President-Elect Obama's speech live on TV; it was the first time I wasn't forced to wait till the next day and depend on transcripts or jerky YouTube videos. (You can read his speech here -- the page includes a video link, and if you use it, I hope your transfer rate is better than mine!) It was just the kind of speech I've come to expect from him: dignified, gracious, hopeful and forward-looking. I found a couple of places where he's restating things that have been said by others, and found the "church-style" read and respond ("Yes we can!") kind of amusing, but it sure does work for firing up the crowd! A great speech, overall, and a really high standard to set for oneself in a brand new job. A lot of us will be keeping an eye on him to see how he measures up to his promises.

There are a lot of people out there right now that are frightened out of their wits -- they've been told for months that if Obama gets elected their country will go right down the toilet almost immediately. I was very glad that Obama was thinking of them: "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too." They'll see eventually that their worst fears -- and the fears their leaders pumped into them -- aren't coming to pass. Terrorists won't wind up in the government, there won't be welfare handouts, the country won't be given away. But it won't be an overnight paradise, either. Obama was right to call for more work, and a spirit of sacrifice. (I heard Kennedy's "Ask not..." bit in my head during this part of Obama's speech; he'd probably be pleased at the analogy.)

So I reveled in the joy of my neighborhood on Election Night. There's a new hope, a new spirit that maybe we can finally get something done around here to make the country the nation of freedom and enterprise it was always meant to be. Yes we can -- if we work at it. No resting on laurels allowed! Let's go!

[I woke up the next morning in a much fouler mood, upset about the way that things were reported that night; if you're interested in my rantings and ravings, you can read them here.]
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When I started the Thirty Day Challenge in August, I was introduced to a lot of new social media platforms: Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Stumbleupon, Squidoo, Tumblr, Fark and Furl, just off the top of my head. And I was also introduced to FriendFeed; it was a place you could funnel all of your other online activity to, so you could see (and search) your "lifestream" in one place, and see what your friends were looking at, writing, and saving. It allowed you to "like" and comment on other peoples' entries, or leave notes on your own; and with the "Rooms" feature, we at the 30DC could ask questions of each other and share resources. (Oftentimes people would get more or faster help through the 30DC FF room than they did in the 30DC forum.) So I thought of it as the "bottom of my online funnel," and kept up on what my friends and fellow Challengers were up to and what they were recommending -- and I found a bunch of good resources that way. I still do.

Enter Twhirl: a desktop application that shows you messages from certain services as they come in. The 30DC had recommended this for Twitter, but I eventually found out that it could be used for FriendFeed, too. Now I had FF entries coming up as regularly as my Tweets; and I got more involved in helping others (and having fun doing it). For a while there, I got more FF entries than Tweets. The community was building.

When I decided that I needed a dashboard that handled IM as well as Twitter (and my new FaceBook account -- I do like Digsby so far!), it meant that by not having Twhirl up I would lose my instant access to FriendFeed -- then FF came in and saved the day for me! They've just introduced Real-Time FF, and gave a link to open up a mini-window! So now where I used to have two Twhirl windows open to one side of my browser, I have Digsby and the FF mini-window, giving me the same real-time feeds (with less distractions, even) with the same amount of software up.

And the conversations are flying! A lot of people like and are using this new feature, and the posts and comments coming up are encouraging discussion. In FriendFeed you get to not only interact with the people you follow, but with the followers of the people you follow; the discussions are interesting and wide-ranging. I've found my visits to forums are down; my "need" to go find people to talk with is much less with everything going on in FriendFeed!

This place is no longer "just an aggregator;" nor is it the bottom of any type of funnel. In a discussion this weekend, I referred to Twitter as the bulletin board and FF as the water cooler; "Twitter announces, FF discusses." It's like hanging out in the library with your friends and discussing the things you find on the shelves. Of course, what starts with "Look at this neat thing I found (or wrote)," can wind up going just about anywhere -- that's part of the fun! I highly recommend it.

(To see all of the sites I'm on, check out the About Me! page at LJFWolffe.com)
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Yesterday morning I came this close to writing about filming crazies as a campaign tactic. I'd seen two videos in the space of four hours that showed McCain supporters affirming that they believe Obama is a terrorist because of his heritage and his name (his name? Does that mean that everyone named Smith belongs in horseshoe-making?), and one person at a rally mad as hell because the Socialists are taking over the country. (Does he even know what a Socialist is? Or is this the new buzzword because we can't call people Communists any more? I have no clue.) I was beginning to wonder if "outing" these people to the country would be a good idea; maybe showing undecideds what type of people are supporting John McCain would wake them up.

Now I'm glad I didn't write the thing. I read a piece last night talking about the fact that McCain supporters not only believe this stuff, whole-heartedly, they're mad as hell about it. They've been convinced that the current financial meltdown is the fault of the Democrats, because they've been the majority in Congress for the last two years (as if they were supposed to be prescient; as though the problem wasn't set up years earlier by deregulation, among other things; as if the Democrats were the only ones who could do anything about it, despite having to actually get stuff passed and approved by the President). They're thoroughly convinced that anything other than Voodoo trickle-down Reaganomics will send the country straight to Hell in a handbasket. And that's just the stuff I know about.

These people aren't partisans or supporters; they're rabid fanatics with a "religious" fervor usually only seen among people like Palin's Spiritual Warfare crowd. If there's anything I know about fanatics, it's that you can't talk to them, you can't "make them see reason;" they know what they know and even trying to tell them any "facts" that don't jibe with what they know just brands you as a heretic who doesn't know what they're talking about. Those of us who believe in reasoning and calm discussion and weighing facts based on independent analysis are simply "unbelievers" to them, and are considered downright dangerous.

We might just be in trouble here, folks. Reason won't work with these people. If there are enough of them, McCain will get elected and this country will go right into the toilet. And because they believe with such fervor, there's no shifting them. It's tough to stay positive knowing that . . .

[Edit: Apparently I'm not the only one who's noticed this. For more insightful writing than I can manage, take a look at Jonathan Capehart's "McCain's Chilling Dance with the Dark Side" in the Washington Post.]
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Here's a little tidbit for you. It being Sunday, I'm spending a little time with Google News (Much easier -- and cheaper -- than the Sunday papers). According to them, FOXNews posted a news item 10 hours ago (now) entitled, "Conservatives Begin Questioning Palin's Heft." That link is the same as the link on Google News; if you click it, you'll get taken to FOXNews . . . to their 404 page. It offers you the option to go to their Election News page; on that page there is currently no mention of this story at all. None. Zip. Zero.

Hmm . . . isn't that interesting? I should have clicked on it the first time I saw it; I first noticed the 404 about 4 hours ago, when it was an unedited 404 page; it was just now that I got the specific 404 that led to the News page. It seems that either someone posted without permission or someone took exception to it and had it taken down, or someone is hacking Google News. Somehow I doubt the latter, considering the source. I do have an extreme bias towards multiple news sources with differing points of view being respected, so I suppose that should be taken into account. Still -- I find it very interesting that a negative report about the Republican VP nominee has mysteriously disappeared from FOX's website. I'll leave the conclusions to you -- I hate letters from lawyers.
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