Couldn’t resist a link to this post from an old colleague, Mark Shenefelt, with whom I covered news in Boise years ago. Shenefelt now is an editor at the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, and he writes here about the cost of health care, some of his experiences, and some of its implications.

Posted here not solely because of his kind words toward the end . . .

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Got an inquiry from a friend (in the conventional sense) about becoming a friend (in the specialized sense) with someone on Facebook. He and the other person have had political differences, but he got the invitation to be “friended.” What to do?

Each to their own tastes. But – and yes, we here are on Facebook, and Twitter too among other things – the basic take here is that being someone’s “friend” on Facebook is a little different than the traditional type. A friend on Facebook is someone you choose to keep in touch with, and may or may not be more than that. The question: But would I throttle back on my opinions if I know that so-and-so might see them? Response: If they’re on line anywhere, they may be seen. A whole generation of politicians, among others, is about to learn that the hard way. (The rule here: Write nothing, post nothing, anywhere, that isn’t essentially open to the world at large. You’ll find your desire to keep it private is in inverse proportion to the likelihood of its emergence into unwanted hands.)

Facebook and Twitter do raise a variety of questions for certain categories of people. A question for bloggers and other writers (journalists included): To what extent is a Facebook post or a Twitter tweet “on the record” – quotable elsewhere? A point not yet really resolved.

The next blog post here will make use of Tweets someone else has posted. Probably, those tweets were intended to shared with the world at large. If not, we’ll probably find out soon enough.

Via a Facebook post, a link to a pair of essays by two Idaho journalists, Kevin Richert and Marcia Franklin, on the ethical and journalistic issues of social communications. The main takeaway: There’s a lot yet to be worked out.

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In the next three days, we’ll run posts on our picks for the person of the year in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. A quick word on these first.

They will be along the line of the influential persons lists we did for some years in Idaho, at least in matters of criteria – and but for the fact that we’ll be naming just one person.

The idea is not honorary, not necessarily an indication of goodness or of excellent achievement. The idea is to name someone who somehow or another threw a curve into the very recent history of their state, affecting it on a substantial level for good or ill. And someone whose actions were specific to them, not necessarily undertaken by whoever might have been standing in their shoes – someone without whom their state would have been different than it actually is right now. The thing is more an invitation to consider not necessarily what made the big headlines but what mattered in the Northwest over the last year.

Let it be not a conversation ender, but conversation starter.

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You may have noticed that we’ve done a little sprucing up, code-wise. We’ve operated with a sound WordPress package for more than three years, but we haven’t upgraded its core engine in all that time. So things have become increasing scratch/patch. And after a while, a little shaking out helps.

What’s here is, for the most part, much like what was here yesterday – from many of the basic elements, you can see this is still Ridenbaugh Press. But there’s been a little reworking under the hood, and will be a little more. The site’s purpose and content, though, go on.

Let us know what you think.

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Aquick note here that the hiatus over the last week-plus is over, and we’ll be resuming something at least resembling a normal posting regimen hereout. The hospital stay is over.

Those two little words (pulmonary embolism) that delivered such a wallop and afforded such intimate exposure to hospital procedures, 9-1-1 realities (those guys and gals really are life-savers), drugs and tests and so much more, have also had this upside: PEs (at least in this case), as life-threatening as they are, also can be straightforward to deal with and (at least in this case) involve no massive surgeries or anything especially invasive or even very life-changing. As medical crises go, this one has worked out benignly. So far at least. Though we’ll likely be taking it easy for a while.

Many thanks to everyone who sent in a comment, e-mail, card or otherwise got in touch. Your thoughts were, are, deeply appreciated.

And back to the news . . .

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We’ve added a new widget to the site – scroll down and to the right, you’ll see the PolitiFact.com truth-o-meter. It’s not strictly a Northwest thing, but we think it might be useful.

There, you’ll see statements made by or about candidates, and marked as truthful, halfway or (in the really bad cases) “pants on fire.” And you can click through to the main site and check out whatever statements you might have heard by or about the candidates, to see what the background and facts are.

A good many people have difficult sifting this stuff. The truth-o-meter might actually help.

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Outlaw TalesAmoment here to draw a little attention to the book just added on the right-hand column of this page: Outlaw Tales of Idaho, written by your scribe and published by the Globe-Pequot Press. The precise date of “publication” isn’t entirely clear, but the actual sample books have arrived by UPS and the book is up on the G-P site as well as on Amazon.com.

It consists of stories about some of the dirty deeds (mostly though not entirely non-political) in Idaho history, up to about Prohibition. The stories were fun to put together – a variety of topics ranging from death in the wilderness by bushwhacker, to a Civil War-era political argument that got way out of hand, to the state’s foremost mass murderer (of the kind known as black widows). The good people at the Idaho Historical Society, and others who had worked there or frequented the place, were greatly helpful in collecting data and pictures.

So, it’ll be over there on the right-hand column for a while to come. Just in case you were wondering.

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Posting here has been a little slow the last week – it’ll pick up shortly – largely because it came from some distance, in place and in mind. Simply, Ridenbaugh Press spent the last week-plus in Costa Rica.

We’ll not get here in any long report about it – the subject of this site is the Pacific Northwest, where the ocean water in this season is too cold for swimming or wading (it was in the 80s down there). Here, we’ll note a couple of things. One is that a report on what we saw down there has been posted (and more pictures will be coming soon).

And note that those recent posts on Northwest politics and related matters over the last week or so (from departure on March 4 until return to Portland this morning) were researched and written in a small hillside city in Central America. The world really is getting smaller.

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This blog gets quoted elsewhere with some regularity, but we’ve not seen much specific analysis of who gets quoted where. (Other than more general tools like BlogNetNews, where we happen to rank Number 1 on this week’s Idaho influence survey.)

What follows is partly a bit of horn-blowing but also commentary on the regional blogosphere.

The Idaho Statesman at Boise runs a feature called Other Voices, edited by Editorial Page Editor Kevin Richert, which sometimes includes comments from emails sent to the paper but usually comments from the area’s blogosphere. Boise conservative blogger Adam Graham decided to count the numbers of recent quotes in Other Voices, and came up with this list:

1) Randy Stapilus-15 [Ridenbaugh Press]
2) Adam Graham-9
3) Betsy Russell-8 [Spokesman-Review]
3) Bryan Fischer-8
5) Red State Rebels-7
5) Mountain Goat Report-7
7) Idablue-5
[8] Huckleberries Online 4
[8] Fort Boise-4
[8] Dennis Mansfield-4
11) Joel Kennedy-2
11) Clayton Cramer-2

His speculation on why the numbers ran as they did: “My theory is that it comes down to a basic lack of conservative voices. To have an interesting round up of other opinion, conservative voices are needed, or otherwise it’s just one side and no real debate. Thus, while I’ve been quoted more often, Richert has keep things pretty much even by quoting quite a few liberal bloggers.”

Richert’s view is similar: “He has it pretty much right. My goal with Other Voices is to serve up a diverse discussion on the issues, in real time. I’m trying to present a good mix. Especially since both Graham and Fischer frequently criticize Statesman editorials or my ID Quicktakes posts; my top priority is to give our critics prominent play, in print and online. And there’s another reason you see a lot of Graham and Fischer in the Other Voices feature. Frankly, there aren’t many conservative bloggers around these parts. I can pick and choose from a larger pool of liberal/Democrat bloggers, so I do.”

Our sense is that the situation is similar in Washington and Oregon: Liberal blogs simply outnumber conservative blogs, and we find ourselves revisiting the conservative blogs probably a little more often in consequence.

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Drawing your attention to our latest page, “At the churches,” a list of major churches around the Pacific Northwest – primarily those called megachurches.

The idea is not that they’re politically active (though some do have roles that relate to politics in various ways). More, the idea is that these churches are major contributors of ideas in our society, developers of world views that in turn come to influence voting patterns and political activity, even if only very indirectly. We’ve been quietly watching activity in this area for a while; in the weeks and months to come, you’ll see somewhat more posts here on this subject. Consider this page an opening of marking of territory of interest.

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Everyone else seems to be checking out, or posting, the blog ratings generated by Mingle2, which generates movie-style ratings for blog sites, based on the language found in them. So here’s how we rate as of this morning:

Free Online Dating

Mingle2Free Online Dating

Same as some newspaper blogs, though we’d imagine quite a few of the more intense Northwest political blogs would rate an R. (Has the Stranger’s Slog tried this yet? Might blow the Mingle2 circuits.)

We should note that a few days ago when we first tried out the rating system, we emerged with a PG.

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