Anti-Choose Civility Has Gone Commercial?

I received an email from a friend of mine who saw a new, very crude take on the Choose Civility bumper magnet.

Choose to Kiss It? Maybe it's a person who works for Senate auto insurance?

Some More Brotherhood Against Choose Civility

Over the weekend, I finally saw my first Choose Hostility sticker on a car. It was rigged up by printing out Host and pasting it over Civ on the original car magnet. Pretty imaginative. I was driving, so I couldn't take a photo.

Then, today, over at JessieX's blog, I saw a new entrant - Choose Insanity. They have some car magnets as well, but also have some fun photos that poke fun at some of the quirkier aspects of HoCo. Welcome!

No Matter the Verb, Hostility is the Word

A reader sent me a picture he snapped while out and about in the County. It looks like Embrace Hostility has a little competition in the bumper sticker market...

That's ok, though. I hardly earn anything for each bumper sticker sold at the Embrace Hostility store. So long as people are doing something with Hostility, then we're in business.

Revoking One's Civility

It sounds like there is a reaction to the movement to start the removal of Choose Civility car magnets around the County. Doug Miller of the Howard County Times has spotted it:
One of our loyal readers informed me today that someone took one of
those “Choose Civility in Howard County” bumper magnets off the car of a mutual

So does someone who commits so uncivil an act as theft then apply
this thing to his own car, admonishing others to behave themselves?

Could this magnet swipe be the work of a new kind of thief, one who
steals out of a sense of irony?

I would imagine it would either be (a) irony or (b) the friend knew that this person was acting in an uncivilized fashion. I mean, really, why should hypocrites be allowed to keep the Choose Civility magnet on their car? If you're a jerk, you shouldn't be allowed to have the bumper magnet.

Better still, how about we have the right to issue add ons to the bumper magnet? Kind of like this...

HoCo Library Admits Choose Civility is Just About Driving Better

We've been saying all this time that Choose Civility really comes across as nothing more than getting people to drive better. (Which they don't. In fact, they seem to drive worse because of an air of self-assurance that they're better than you because of the bumper sticker, so they can cut you off. After all, you're you.)

Anyway, we got confirmation in visual form from the library in Glenwood. This was passed along by a watchful reader:

This Movement Has Reached Ridiculous Proportions

Somehow, I got on television for this junk. Recently, I was interviewed by Kathleen Cairns of Fox 45 in Baltimore about this blog. She and I talked for 25 minutes or so, and I got about 20 seconds in the piece. It's TV - that's how it works.

I found my part of it hilarious that was the 20 seconds that she chose. Seriously, it was A Current Affair and The Daily Show at once - but on LOCAL NEWS. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode in which Homer is charged with sexual harassment, when really he just took the gummy Venus de Milo off of the butt of the babysitter. He went on "Rock Bottom" (think Hard Copy) to tell his story. The story was wildly edited to mince his words. The funniest part was that there was a clock behind Homer during the taping. So when the re-edit was done, it moved wildly against the actual time sequence of what Homer said. Too bad I said nothing even remotely "controversial." This was all they could do or they would've wasted 25 minutes of their lives. It that way, it was symbolic of Choose Civility.

And I thought it was equally entertaining that Kathleen was willing to put Choosing Civility to the test. I suggested in our interview that civility is so much more than just 25 rules. She demonstrated it in her piece, though in a way that wasn't really civility. I mean, there are kind homeless folks that wash windows. In New Jersey, people have to have their gas pumped by someone else. It was nice to see an attempt, but proved that the idea of what civility is and what is better behavior than that is easy to miss.

Anyway, if you want to watch the video, here's the link. If you came here because of the story, welcome and I hope you enjoy it. And, if you don't, then be like other people who have scratched their head about this and be civil about it.

Choose Civility, Howard County Citizen!

Choose Civility in Howard County is no longer. Now, you are being directed to Choose Civility. Instead of showing a geographical preference for where civility should be, the HoCo Library has chosen a directive approach by renaming the program "Choose Civility, Howard County, MD." Personally, I would have preferred an exclamation point at the end. It would look a lot less dictatorial and more inviting.

And then there's this nugget:
The new magnets also will have a logo, a circle of people celebrating that resembles a snowflake or a star.
Oh no. Did they not see the post about the OBX stickers? Now I have to redo the banner of this blog! C'mon!

Also, I was quoted in the piece as the only idiot in the County dumb enough to challenge the civility standard. The HoCo Times acknowledges my existence, but Choose Civility's website still doesn't have any of most posts under their "What People Are Saying" links. :(

You Know About Those OBX Stickers?

If you've ever driven on the east coast of the United States, you're bound to have seen one of these:

They're the universal sign that you have visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  And they're also the universal sign that you think you're ultra cool for having visited the OBX.  And it's the universal sign that you are definitely, absolutely not cool at all.  As someone who lives there full time told me once:

No one who actually lives in the OBX and knows the OBX has an OBX sticker on their car.

So, that slogan should probably carry over to Choose Civility.  After all, most people who have the car magnets can't seem to drive very well.  They may or may not be civil.  Perhaps, then, the credo should be:

No one who drives well or is truly civil has a Choose Civility car magnet on their car.

Embrace Hostility (Sort Of) is Catching On

Again, stuck in a rut in the Columbia Flier's opine page, I saw a great letter to the editor from Heather Vaughn called "I'll take safety over civility on county's highways." Basically, she takes people to task for having a Choose Civility magnet and then driving like crap.
I wondered, when you decide to go to the Howard County Library to pick up your Choose Civility literature and car magnet, do you also choose to drive like a complete moron once you slap that sticker on your bumper? I understand being conscious of your driving and trying to be civil to others while on the road, but does that sticker magnet make your car go only 35 miles per hour on Route 29 in the left-hand lane, or swerve to cause being cut off on Broken Land Parkway, or run the red light on Harper's Farm Road?
Heather's dead on here. But it also brings up another good point. Basically, people in the county are associating Choose Civility with driving smarter. Was that really the point? Is this money well spent?

If You're Going to Complain, Make It Worthwhile

I was poking around Explore Howard and the Columbia Flier's editorials the other day. I saw one from December 31, entitled "Time for developer to clean up undeveloped property." The writer, Jay Bonstingl of Wilde Lake, complained that WCI hasn't done anything to beautify the lot where the Plaza Residences were going to be/might not be in downtown.
Visible to all who come to Town Center, this large lot has languished for many months as a blemish in the heart of our otherwise beautiful city. Ground moving equipment was parked there for what seemed like years. Adjacent sidewalks are still torn up, and large strips of ugly black plastic attached to the chain link fence still flap in the breeze, day after day, week after week. The scene is reminiscent of an abandoned inner-city lot.
You gotta be kidding me. I live in downtown, run on the loop around the mall frequently, and pass this lot everyday. I don't even notice it. It's a nicely mowed, grassy lot with a plastic fence around it. Obviously, Jay hasn't spent a lot of time in the more abandoned parts of Baltimore.

What more do you want?

A forest? Then people would complain that their view of the mall is obstructed.

A playground? Oh no, that'd be a hazard for children.

This is one of the few cases where Dr. Forni's very obvious rules for behavior needs some reiteration.

A Civil Curtain Call for Embrace Hostility?

Well, on another blog, I was accused of going too comformist. Really, talking about real estate development issues will make anyone sound like a square - even if it does interest me. I took the roast in jest and embraced the hostility. Didn't think too much of it.

But, then, I saw today that I got a curtain call from I'm not dead yet.
I would like to plead and beg for the writer of the Embrace Hostility In Howard County blog to start it back up again. We need some power, some force to fight all the "Choose Civility" individuals out there. Bringing back this blog would really be the Civil thing to do.
I can't fight a good idea. Ok, I won't close up shop. What's it matter anyway? If you've read this blog or Columbia Now, you know who's doing the writing. So, consider Embrace Hostility in HoCo back up for business. Sorry, Columbia Talk - I've been talked out of retirement.

I only posted like twice a month anyhow. I can definitely do smartass twice per month.

Embrace Election Results in Howard County and the USA

I am a registered Republican - one of few in Howard County - because I am a person who believes in fiscal responsibility and that the role of government is to bring us together to solve common problems that we cannot solve on our own. I am socially liberal and think that Americans can best be served by a government that can provide them with base-level acceptable standards of living. It's a tough position to hold given the divisive and poisonous partisan politics in this country.

Republicans and Democrats cannot seem to come together to find sensible solutions to common problems. This campaign seemed, in many ways, to represent that divide more than the elections that resulted in George W. Bush as our 43rd President for two terms.

Tonight's result of the election of Barack Obama as President-elect of the United States will hopefully lead to a mending of that division. While this country may now shift center-left, almost 50% of this country is center or right. We citizens must remember this as we move forward, and I implore our elected officials to do the same.

At the same time, Republicans centrists such as myself have to realize that this election also presented a stark contrast within our own party. We could see it in the ticket that represented our party. John McCain and Sarah Palin could not agree on how to run an election and neither could factions of opinion within the Grand Old Party.

John McCain could not decide if he was the Maverick of 2000, or the man we see now. If the man that delivered his concession speech tonight was the same guy who ran for the last 21 months, perhaps this election would have been closer and the country better off for having heard a well-articulated alternative to the eventual winner.

Centrists can enrich this two-sided discussion. We have ideas, too, that can contribute to the American political and policy debate. Perhaps now really is the time to claim some legitimacy in the American political landscape. Maybe people like me should combine our minds and our ideals, and find a place at the table. It is my hope that, one day, I would not be branded by a letter next to my name, but rather welcomed to the discussion because of the capabilities and thoughts that I have.

I wish President-elect Obama the absolute best because I do feel that he represents many of the things that this country needs and craves. I hope, too, that he has learned from the recent history of the Clinton administration and by the results of this election that progress requires compromise and earnest debate. I believe that President-elect Obama has the wisdom and judgment to know this and to govern accordingly.

The reality is that this country will face challenges way larger than the election of a single man to one office. Our nation faces a deep set of challenges, and the solutions to them will require the contributions of millions. If we can commit as a nation to facing these challenges with humble minds, pure hearts, and endless devotion to a greater cause, then we will be better off than we are today. We can do it. The United States has always been a nation that has found a way. Again, we will find a way as a country to grow and prosper and shine to the world as an example of what can be. Yes, we may disagree on the antidote, but we will cure what ails us because we have to do so.

As a nation, for our survival, we must overcome our problems. And we will. We will.

Congratulations to Senators Obama, Biden, McCain, and Governor Palin. Our country is richer for the debate that this campaign spurred. With great hope, I believe that this country will grow even stronger for the result.

Solciting Prostitution is Not Subject to PM Forni's Rules

Apparently, soliciting prostitution is "illegal" in Howard County. What a crock.
Howard County police charged 10 people with soliciting prostitution in Jessup Oct. 16 following an undercover operation along Route 1, county police said this week.

During the operation, female officers in plain clothes stood near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Cedar Avenue -- identified as a problem area by citizens -- to determine whether they would be approached and offered money for sex, police said.

This totally goes against choosing civility, and several of PM Forni's 25 rules of civility.

What about rule 18, "Avoid personal questions?" How about personal questions like, "Are you soliciting a prostitute, sir/madam?" Those are pretty personal to me.

Or maybe rule 15, "Respect other people's space" - space to solicit prostitutes.

Then again, the raid reminds people of rule 21 - "Think twice before asking for favors."

Cancer Should NOT Be Treated With Civility

Everyone knows someone that has been impacted in some way by cancer. That's not scientific fact, but probably pretty close. In addition to the physical toll it takes on those that suffer from its impacts, it also causes psychological and emotional distress to millions. The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is putting on a fundraiser to generate money for the foundation.

Here's the details from Explore Howard:
Oct. 26: Screw Cancer, fundraiser to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. 6-9 p.m. $75. Trapeze Seafood, Grille & Tavern, 8180 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton. 888-393-3863.
From the Ulman Fund site:
Join us for an evening of food, fun and discover the quality of fine screw-top wines as The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults supports those stricken with cancer. For over a decade, UCF has enhanced lives by supporting, educating; connecting young adults and their families thriving against this deadly disease.
On my golf blog, Waggle Room, I have recently started a charity auction program to benefit the American Cancer Society for the products that the blog reviews. I fully stand behind this fundraiser and I'm sad that I can't make it.

Embrace Hostility Forum?

I've been thinking about this and I think it would be kind of fun to get people together from all parts of Howard County (and beyond) to talk about the Choose Civility stuff. I don't mean that I'm going to host a forum with someone exclusively holding my point of view - cough, cough, Howard County Library - but rather an open forum where people who are advocates and naysayers of Choose Civility in Howard County could talk. With or without booze. Maybe with pumpkin carving, like they're having at Merriweather. So, what'd'ya say?

Cute Little Anecdote

I was doing my quarterly perusal of the Choose Civility website because they update the site with links to stories that they find about themselves. There's a joke in there somewhere, but anyway, a woman named Karen Kleinz has a piece in NSPRA network publication from September about Choose Civility. It's largely the same cursory stuff - tolerance is great (although a lousy standard), everyone should be considered, think about society, etc. But, this part at the end was great:
Of course, often it's very young children who teach us the most powerful lessonsa bout acceptance,inclusion, and kindness. I was reminded of this at the NSPRA Seminar this past July. One of our Canadian members brought his son [Ben] to the Seminar and shared with me that his son was quite impressed with the campaign displays of our candidates for NSPRA President-elect and the Chesapeake Chapter's politically-decorated hospitality booth (complete with life-size cut outs of McCain, Obama and Hillary). So when they found themselves on an elevator with one of the NSPRA candidates, Ben whispered to his dad that "the guy on the elevator with us is famous!" He thought our candidate was running for President of the United States. After his dad explained the difference, unfazed, Ben marched right up and offered his endorsement anyway.

I bet Ben doesn't think our President is a moron.
Earlier in the piece, Karen talked about seeing a bumper sticker calling GWB a moron. But I honestly don't get the connection to this story. Am I a moron for not getting it? I mean, I think GWB has done a terrible job. And what's wrong with thinking that?

Choose Civility Sponsors Conflict Resolution Program

This from the Baltimore Sun:
The Howard County Library and 40 community partners in the "Choose Civility" initiative - an effort to make the county a national model of respect, consideration, empathy and tolerance - will sponsor a program on self-interest and societal interests, "Why Looking Out for Number One Doesn't Work."

The seminar, which teaches conflict-resolution techniques, will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Central Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Candace A. Olds of Howard Community College's Conflict Resolution Center will speak.
I have nothing against a good negotiation. In fact, in graduate school, I took multiple conflict resolution and negotiation classes as part of my degree program. I found them fascinating. So, I am actually going to give kudos to the Choose Civility people for doing something clever with their initiative.

But, the title of the seminar is all wrong. Negotiation theory today really dissuades people from using the zero-sum game concept - meaning that there has to be a winner and a loser. The title is implying that looking out for yourself doesn't work. In fact, that's not true at all. Looking out for yourself does work in negotiation and dispute resolution when you also attempt to look out for the interests of others involved, where compatible.

The reality is that you should look out for you. Your interests matter. The will of the majority is not always right. Other should be respected and their experiences, opinions, etc, considered, but that doesn't mean that looking out for you should be thrown out the window. Each individual has a right to weigh in - even if incorrectly. There are absolutes sometimes.

There Is a Line Between Civility and Stupidity

The Howard County police are advising people to take the valuables out of their car thanks to a recent string of car break ins.

What are people leaving in cars?
The thefts continue in part because valuables are left in cars, according to police, including such items as GPS units, laptop computers, stereos, portable music players, purses and briefcases.
I know that Howard County is a nice place to live, and crime is low, but even I would at least have to consider stealing some of that stuff if it was in plain view in a car.

As Jimbo Jones said on The Simpsons, "Five finger discount!"

Heavily Democratic HoCo is Very Civil

It's election season and there's nothing like a good political fight to completely ruin any level of civil discourse, action, or livelihood. Elections really tend to reduce us to petty children arguing over things that most of us really don't grasp all that well. And, like chimps, what do people do when they don't understand? Throw shit everywhere. Vandalize political signage.

From the Columbia Flier:
As the presidential campaign enters the final month, local Democrats and Republicans are complaining of repeated vandalism to their campaign signs.

Howard County Republicans reported that 12 4-by-8-foot signs, valued at $125 each, had been either pulled down or vandalized in some way since the party began putting them up Sept. 13.

Howard Democrats have not yet erected larger signs, but a party leader said Oct. 6 that in the previous week alone, 38 yard signs, valued at about $1 each, have been vandalized.
Both parties appear to be the victims of the vandalism, er, political expression. But, nothing like using this as an opportunity to take a shot at the other side!
Michael McPherson, chairman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, said Democrats had not filed a complaint with the police. “Democrats don’t believe in burdening the police with this kind of activity,” he said. “I’m worried about muggings and purse snatchings and people being killed.”
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

PM Forni Chat with Washington Post

The WaPo rag had an online chat with PM Forni on Friday. Here's some of the lowlites:

Arlington, Va.: Is there really data that says we're less civil today than we used to be or is this just another "trend" built on anecdotes that the press loves to play up? If there really is evidence, what are the causes?

P.M. Forni: There is plenty of evidence that we are dealing with plenty of rudeness. Less civil than we used to be? Difficult to say for certain. Causes: anonimity, stress, lack of time, lack of restraint.

Way to answer the first question.

Here's a good one:

spot the err, OR: Dear Dan and P.M., I am extremely polite to everyone all the time. Why is everyone else so rude? I just can't understand why others are not as polite as I.

P.M. Forni: They may have not been trained in good manners. They may have less self-control than you do. They may be reacting to stress. They may shifting the burden of their insecurity upon you in the form of rudeness.

Then the real expert - the WaPo staff writer - steps in the talk about the real point of the question:

Dan Zak: Is this a trick question? Looking at life with an "I'm better than everyone" attitude ain't a good starting point. I'm no expert, but I think civility and politeness can't be preceded by haughtiness.

And that's exactly why I'm against this whole concept. The guy who is covering the concept knows it better than the guy who wrote the book.