Archive for the ‘heroines’ Category
My heroines! Goddesses, saints, angels, sisters, mavens and mentors in life, literature, and media.
Posted by contentgrrl on April 8, 2011
I love lists. I’ve used so many systems: daily checklists on my tear-off-a-day desk calendar from the ’80s, Franklin Covey and Success Management Institute in the ’90s, FlyLady’s Control Journal in the 2000’s. Post-it notes to be rearranged and updated daily on my wall. Folders/binders front and center for each duty or project, with immediate next steps clipped on top. Calendar time reserved for a couple of weeks ahead when I need to devote my attention and dissuade distractions and ding reminders.
And I gotta say I’ve accomplished a lot: master’s degree, happy career, healthy family, some spiritual development along the way, and forays into wide-spread interests. Not perfect by any means; always room for improvement.
Now I’m an iPhone app hound :P, especially for recurring tasks so I don’t have to write them down again.
My two current faves:
- At home, I use [url=http://www.homeroutines.com/]HomeRoutines [/url]for its program inspired by [url=http://FlyLady.net]FlyLady.net[/url] to encourage good household and decluttering habits. I am motivated to fill up those stars!
- For both home AND WORK, I use [url=http://www.epicwinapp.com/]EpicWin [/url]for its chores to-do lists inspired by role-playing games (RPGs). I build (“level up”) character in real life for quests, and feats of strength, stamina, intellect, social, and spirit. I use mine for work and various project to-dos.
I also get virtual loot, and can update Twitter and/or Facebook as follows: “I’ve been doing my chores and just scored a Undercover Shrubber – Epic Win! http://bit.ly/ao6xRS”. I’ve got several work to-dos slated there.
One site I have liked for fitness and diet is [url=http://www.sparkpeople.com/]Sparkpeople[/url]. But it is so rich in content, tools (menus, calorie counters, tracking databases, reports) and community (login point spinner, groups, blogs, forums, gifts, statuses) that it can be overkill. Eventually it becomes a time-sucking distraction from actually getting out and burning calories.
I keep falling off the wagon there. I tried to simplify – merely log in to note that yes I’ve exercised for 20 minutes today, and I’ve drunk 8 glasses of water, and eaten 5 fruits & veggies. The SparkPeople iPhone app is more about logging calorie intake and burnoff, which is not my program.
Now I can do my three simple daily health to-dos on my iPhone in HomeRoutines and/or EpicWin.
How do you get things done?
What do you do to build your own real-life character?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Posted in games, grrly, heroes, heroines, performance, project management, tools, writing | Tagged: app, app hound, calendar, checklist, chore, control journal, diet, EpicWin, feat, fitness, FlyLady, Franklin Covey, game, GTD, HomeRoutines, iPhone, list, mission, organizers, Post-It, quest, recurring, RPG, Sparkpeople, Success Management Institute, to-do | Leave a Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on July 2, 2008
When researching Leia: the heroine’s journey through hairstyles, I found a SuperShadow plot synopsis of what is supposed to be George Lucas’ upcoming trilogy. I am disappointed, for several reasons:
- Leia’s son is named Anakin, and Luke’s son is named Ben. Namesakes smack of laziness, and make for confusion among fans (Did you mean Anakin Skywalker or Anakin Solo? Ben Kenobi or Ben Skywalker?). I’d rather see a creative wordplay honoring both Padme/Amidala and Anakin (Padkin? Dalkin?)
- There’s no character growth. The focus is on the aging Luke, Leia, Han, and so forth. As much as I want to see Leia grow into the matriarch she’s born to be, and a Jedi in her own right, Lucas makes her and Han minor characters. Sure, their children have to step up and do them proud, but there’s no real drama here, or tension.
- There’s no romantic tension. Oooh, one scene tossed in with Ben and his girlfriend on the Kessel Run, but it doesn’t add to the story arc.
- No interesting new world being explored, except maybe an old Sith stronghold.
- The thought that Jedi would even think about using a weapon that unleashes a black hole on a system turns my stomach.
- More clones, but not all that sinister. More Sith, but I found myself almost rooting for them as underdogs.
- Out of the edges of space comes a new enemy pouncing to conquer the Republic during a post-rebellion turmoil. I wonder that it’s not that dastardly Trade Federation again.
Next, I’ll look at what I think are better ideas.
Posted in culture, heroes, heroines | Tagged: George Lucas, Jedi, Leia, Sith, Star Wars | 4 Comments »
Posted by contentgrrl on January 4, 2008
Yesterday, the National Academy of Science and its Institute of Medicine published a report, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, touting new fossil evidence for evolution and emphasizing that non-scientific creationist positions have no place in public school science classrooms.
The report emphasizes the need to teach evolution. That’s just in time for consideration by certain state education boards (including Florida and of course, Texas, which I’ve already mentioned in “teaching the controversy: first Texas science classes, then the world”) who are considering adding or adjusting standards for teaching evolution in their curriculum.
The book, which can be read online for free, also takes the stance that creationism and its repackaged intelligent design alternatives are not science, and thus should not be included in public science classrooms:
Despite the lack of scientific evidence for creationist positions, some advocates continue to demand that various forms of creationism be taught together with or in place of evolution in science classes. Many teachers are under considerable pressure … to downplay or eliminate the teaching of evolution. As a result, many U.S. students lack access to information and ideas that are both integral to modern science and essential for making informed, evidence-based decisions about their own lives and our collective future. …
…[T]he science curriculum should not be undermined with nonscientific material. Teaching creationist ideas in science classes confuses what constitutes science and what does not. [page 43]
The conclusion emphasizes that the science of biological evolution forms the basis for biomedical sciences, ecology, and some engineering fields that are profoundly important for the health and welfare of future generations.
Science and religion are different ways of understanding. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of both to contribute to a better future. (page 47)
Why can’t we all just get along? Because we — both fundamentalist and atheist, both anti-evolution and anti-creationism — say hurtful and defensive things that turn us away from each other.
In the Dover, Pa., case, duly appointed judge upheld the evidence presented by the plaintiff (Kitzmiller) to declare a certain school-board required statement promoting an Intelligent Design text unconstitutional. Afterward, the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson said “to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God — you just rejected Him from your city.” It seems so unChristian and hateful of him. Just because Robertson didn’t agree with the results doesn’t mean that a loving God would retaliate against the faithful citizens of the town where the case took place.
And yes, I’ve heard my share of “infidels” discounting and insulting creationists. Them’s fightin’ words.
I for one am glad that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” If parents and church thought leaders want somebody to teach intelligent design, something clearly the realm of religion, shouldn’t that be part of their Sunday School curriculum?
I found the story originally on beliefnet news, Importance of Teaching Evolution Noted. There is an interesting set of reader comments there. The Associated Press story also appears in Dallas Morning News.
Posted in citizen, community, culture, heroes, heroines, learning, persuasion | Tagged: creationism, curriculum, dover, education, evidence, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, intelligent design, Kitzmiller, National Academy of Science, nonscientific, school board, science, standards, teach, teaching the controversy | 2 Comments »
Posted by contentgrrl on December 8, 2007
My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:
Second on my list is Playhouse Disney.
When we watch TV or record shows for the kids, typically it’s from Playhouse Disney because they don’t have to watch third-party commercials for things they don’t need like toys that make noise and junk food. Little Einsteins is for learning about music, instruments, composers, dancing, and art. Handy Manny is about being helpful, solving problems, and using the right tool for the job, with some Spanish sprinkled in. Of course, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a new classic. And Captain Carlos is my hero, for encouraging my kids to avoid junk food in favor of a healthy diet, so they can have more energy, sharper thinking, and better sleep. Some of the games on this site are really creative, and that’s why it’s high on my list.
Posted in games, heroes, heroines, learning, reading, What They Play | Tagged: disney, free, fun, games, kids, learning, playhouse, preschool, TV | Leave a Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on December 7, 2007
I’m going to show a lot of grrly geekiness here. My family just watched the old Empire Strikes Back again the other night. And it occurs to me that this trilogy is not just about the transformation of Luke Skywalker as a hero. It’s about Leia Organa, his sister.
Sure, with Luke’s story arc, you see elements of the Hero’s Journey. I’ll pull from Joseph Campbell as well as Tarot Journey of the Hero here. There’s the calls to adventure (Leia’s “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” and Obi-wan’s “You must go to the Dagobah system and find Yoda to begin your training.” and “I am your father.”), meeting allies (the droids, Ben & Han, Leia, Yoda), the perilous rescues (Leia on the Death Star, and again in Cloud City, and Daddy Anakin on the new Death Star), the catharsis/toppling of the tower (Death Star, Cloud City, Death Star again).
But with Leia, it’s not so much a coming of age story. It’s a heroine’s journey. Is it coming into matriarchy? I dunno. But I do notice her hairstyles. At first, her style is very regal yet severe: a very straight part down the middle, and huge “cinnamon buns” over her ears. She’s very alone, very closed, and very uptight. OK, that serves her well during capture and torture, right? Once she’s in the position to reward her rescuers, the braids cascade. And when she’s getting a rebel outpost ready to evacuate icy Hoth, her braids are a crown. But did you notice? Nobody among the rebels salutes her, or anyone else for that matter; it’s like, as my husband chimed in, “We’re all equals here, and we’ve all got our jobs to do.” And she becomes more receptive to Han, until she can’t let him freeze without him knowing that she loves him. And then SHE works to rescue HIM, taking down Jabba the Hut just about by herself in a long braid, a gold bikini, and a chain. When they’re all celebrating with ewoks after the last Death Star explodes, Leia’s hair is completely down, with a new hope dawning that she and Han are on their way to a true union beyond limiting dualities, and generations to come who are strong in the Force.
I do wish George Lucas would get on with the final trilogy (it looks like Episode 7 is the Hidden Circle, and here’s the plot). As soon as he can find a screenwriter who can do dialogue well. He’s got the special effects down, and the music, but I’d love for him to finish with a script that’s truly worthy of the epic.
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Posted in culture, grrly, heroes, heroines, music | Tagged: Anakin, braids, cinnamon buns, Cloud City, crown, Dagobah, Darth Vader, Death Star, dialog, dialogue, Empire Strikes Back, epic, Episode 7, ewok, geek, George Lucas, grrl, hairstyle, Han Solo, hero, heroine, Hidden Circle, Jabba the Hut, Joseph Campbell, Kenobi, Leia, Luke Skywalker, matriarch, Obi-Wan, Organa, Princess Leia, rescue, salute, screenplay, screenwriter, Star Wars, Tarot, union, Yoda | 1 Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on November 28, 2007
Why can’t I stop writing about games? Well, I saw another great post from a gamergrrl, Kat@ttack, Female vs Male MMORPGs.
It turns my stomach to see some of the stereotypical marketing to girls for toys, games, and TV. But I’m glad to see more strong heroines popping up all the time: Handy Manny’s Kelly, Dora the Explorer, (you can tell how old my kids are, can’t ya?) Lara Croft, Diablo II’s amazons/sorceresses/assassins, the reinvented BSG’s Starbuck/Roslin/Boomer/Six/Cain, the reinvented Bionic Woman, The Closer’s Brenda Johnson, and anything from Joss Whedon’s body of work (Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, Zoe, Inara, River, Kaylee).
It’s too bad none of these strong heroines are moms. It seems you have to be single to explore your options and save the world. Moms in epics and games are always the lesser characters who sob loudly, protest against their sons being taken away, or roll their eyes and get back to mothering. OK, there’s an interesting exception in BSG’s Sharon “Athena” Valerii (not Boomer, who tried to snap the child’s neck), and I look forward to more there.
I’m a gamer mom myself, and so is my neighbor, who looks and talks conspicuously like Morgan on G4TV. I don’t have girls to raise; between dear hubby, dear sons, and dear dog and cat, I’m surrounded by testosterone.
But I’ll thankfully stand on the shoulders of the feminists from former generations who made a difference. Because now, all we really have to do is confidently, quietly do what we do best and it will earn the respect of our fellow gamers and colleagues, or at least those who matter. We can confidently, quietly widen our circle of influence. Will that change the tide of the stereotypical marketing machine? Maybe not immediately, but there’s hope.
If I’m too Pollyanna about this, or missing some heroic moms in entertainment, feel free to squawk back at me.
Posted in culture, games, grrly, heroines, marketing | Tagged: , amazon, assassin, Battlestar, Bionic Woman, Boomer, Brenda Johnson, BSG, Buffy, Cain, Closer, Cordelia, Diablo II, Dora, Dora the Explorer, feminist, G4TV, Galactica, gamer, games, generation, girls, Handy Manny, heroines, Inara, Joss Whedon, Kaylee, Lara Croft, marketing, MMORPG, parenting, River, Roslin, Six, sorceress, Starbuck, television, toys, TV, Willow, Zoe | Leave a Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on November 28, 2007
I ran links to a gamergrrl’s manifestos in my post about misguided gift shopping lists of games. But what appeals to gamergrrls about actual gameplay? Developers and fellow gamers, I can offer my own likes:
- I love customizing my avatar. Oblivion has some great tools to customize facial features and other characteristics that make up the personality. Even the Tiger Woods game did a fair job with avatars, and gives you the option to buy new clothes. The faces, hair, and physical proportions still need work, and the wardrobe is definitely appropriate for the golf course (not in a good way). My dear husband recreated himself, me, and our young sons in his game. I kick total butt on all courses onscreen, even if I refuse to pick up a putter in real life.
- I love building a well-rounded character. In Baldur’s Gate, I hated when my husband focused on one characteristic like strength to the detriment of charisma and agility. That may be the influence of my time management training, between Franklin-Covey and the Paul J. Meyer system. Even though Diablo II had a rather limited set of characters, I loved building up points so I could use some of the treasures. Lara Croft seemed fairly well-rounded already (;^), but I would have liked to build more than just quest stats, and build skills. A well-rounded character should be rewarded; I think Oblivion did this well, as did Torment.
- I love an intuitive interface. I keep seeing these getting better and better: navigation through movement and physical skills, interaction with the environment, talking with other players and non-player characters, selecting spells and weapons, and shopping for stuff. Oh, and thanks for letting me customize the keys I use. Now if only I could use those Lara Croft or basketball moves in real life.
- I like beautiful gamescapes, but not to the detriment of gameplay. It’s another thing that makes a game immersive. I won’t say I love beauty and art and graphics, because lately a lot of engines favor looks over substance.
- I love clever music. Portal’s closing credits are a hoot (see it on YouTube). Diablo’s themes for various levels haunted me all the time.
- I love allies. In Planescape Torment, they gave me much more than your standard fighter/wizard/archer mix of allies. I could actually have conversations with these allies, learn more about the world, discuss the pros and cons about what our troop was doing and could do next. I could even learn new skills (like thievery, weaponry, magic, eloquence, and so on).
- I love a story with a good plot. I want to immerse myself in a story. Again, I’ll use Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Longest Journey, Dreamfall, and the Myst series as good examples. Actually, Star Wars Academy was another. You move the plot forward by the choices and actions you make.
- I love both laughing and crying. This may be an extension of plot, but it comes up with dialog as well. Planescape Torment actually moved me to both laughter and tears, and not just because I’d been awake for far too long. (BTW, laughing and crying are my litmus tests for a good movie, and extremely rare in a game).
- I love dialog that moves the plot. Not the “Wait, I’m a Medic” or “Thanks” and “You’re Welcome” of the new Crysis that Morgan reviewed last night on G4TV. I have to admit that I like the multiple-choice dialog from Baldur’s Gate II, where you made friends and enemies and affected your charisma points by the dialog choices you made. And I’ll say again about Oblivion, while I love using humor, flattery, boasting, or coercion to win over non-player characters, I’d much rather have a good Whedonesque screenwriter write the actual banter, which would give me some better examples that I might want to try out in real life. Oh, and the voice acting has to be good. Sure Lynda Carter (of the original WonderWoman) can do well as an Orc in Oblivion. But some sound bytes are downright annoying.
- I gotta touch everything. I want to explore every square yard/meter of a level or landscape for treasure, and clean it up by killing all the Big Bads and their minions. In that, I differ markedly from my husband (and young sons). Have you seen that comedian, Defending the Caveman? It’s the difference between Hunters and Gatherers, and I am the latter.
- I love puzzles that make me think and apply what I already know in new ways. Go Portal. Go Myst. And, to some extent, go Tomb Raider, in terms of using Lara’s skills to get to where she needs to go. But most games are still limited when it comes to what you can pick up and use in the environment; a recent exception is Half-Life, where you could break all sorts of things, lift them, push and pull, with a very user-friendly interface.
- I love when the game’s karma rewards or punishes moral choices. Baldur’s Gate punished you for selfish choices by dropping your Charisma so low you couldn’t get anybody to give you information or sell you stuff. Oblivion lets you explore being a thief, an assassin, a soldier, a mage, and so on, all in the same game, but completing each faction’s quests definitely has its rewards, and I’m not sure I want immorality rewarded so much; I’d like to see something decremented like your ability to restore life force or mana when you disrespect property, life, or earth. As much as I like Grand Theft Auto as entertainment, it puts a knot in my stomach for how rude Tommy & CJ are, the foul language they and their NPCs use, the disrespect for women, and oh, yeah, the stealing, killing, and outright destruction. There are games where you get to play the cop, but he’s usually an anti-hero, one who’s out to get speeders or break all the rules. Are there any good detective or FBI profiler or spy games? I haven’t really looked.
- I love learning something that reflects real life. I’ll say again, my absolute favorite RPG is Planescape Torment (1999) for its exploration of philosophies (such as anarchy, hedonism, entropy, chaos, order, freethought, cabalism, and so on) through gameplay, dialogue, and plot. I also learned about biology and ecology in an old Gaia simulation. I actually learned a thing or two about using golf clubs from Tiger Woods. I’ve even learned a few things about combination shots and English from the old Virtual Pool. It’s too bad that Guitar Hero is only a dumbed-down version of the Dance steps. It doesn’t actually teach you how to play chords. If it did, I’d be all over that. I could really get into a sim for learning how to sail or fly a small plane. I was even lucky enough to be involved in developing simulation training for telecom field network troubleshooting for SBC, now at&t.
Any other manifestos around?
Posted in culture, games, grrly, heroes, heroines, humor, learning, marketing, persuasion, What They Play, writeroll | Tagged: allies, archer, art, assassin, avatar, Baldur's Gate, banter, Big Bad, character, charisma, choices, computer games, Defending the Caveman, Diablo, dialog, dialogue, Dreamfall, Elder Scrolls, explore, fighter, Gaia, gameplay, gamer, gatherer, girls, golf, Grand Theft Auto, graphics, grrl, GTA, Guitar Hero, hunter, Lara Croft, learning, level, litmus test, Longest Journey, manifesto, marketing, minions, music, Myst, Oblivion, Planescape Torment, plot, points, Portal, puzzle, reviews, serious games, shopping, software, thief, Tiger Woods, treasure, Virtual Pool, Whedonesque, wizard | Leave a Comment »
Posted by contentgrrl on November 26, 2007
Yesterday, I happened to watch both Disney’s Peter Pan with my preschoolers and SciFi’s Battlestar Galactica Razor with my husband. And I realized that the films are oddly related.
At the beginning of the Peter Pan movie, the narrator states, “All of this has happened before and all of it will happen again.”
It’s a line that comes up in Battlestar Galactica again and again. In the Razor movie, a Cylon hybrid (possibly a god?) said it to Kendra Shaw before she blew them up. And other characters (Leoben, Six, and Roslin) have said it or paraphrased it, according to one fansite, Sacred Scrolls – Battlestar Wiki.
And the Peter Pan Wikipedia entry has this note:
Ronald D. Moore, one of the executive producers and developer of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, has cited this film as the inspiration for one of the recurring themes of the T.V. series concerning the cyclical nature of time. The first line of the film, “All of this has happened before and all of it will happen again,” has been featured prominently in the Battlestar Galactica series as a piece of scripture often repeated by characters.
In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan The Original Story, the prose opening is “All children, except one, grow up.” All children who live, that is; every family I know has lost a child in the last few generations. And all children who are not autistic or otherwise developmentally retarded. And all who are not Cylons, born and resurrected fully grown.
I like the film opening line better. And I like the way it manifests in Battlestar Galactica. It signifies how most of us go through the same stages, finding and losing a sense of magic, dreaming the same archetypes from our collective unconscious, working our way through a spiraling cycle of time throughout history.
Posted in culture, heroes, heroines, learning, writeroll | Tagged: archetype, Barrie, Battlestar, collective unconscious, cycle of time, Cylon, Galactica, happen, Leoben, magic, Peter Pan, Razor, Ronald. D. Moore, Roslin, sacred scrolls, Six | 9 Comments »
Posted by contentgrrl on November 21, 2007
Just in time for the holiday shopping rush, I ran across one lazy AP news item. It paid lip service to how little the industry knows about what girls like in games. Then without further ado, was a short list that had no surprises: Sims, Guitar Hero, Disney Princess, Imagine Babyz, and Hannah Montana Music Jam.
Yes, I know that a large number of girls are still brainwashed into emulating pink and purple princess rock star babysitters. But I would have loved to see more about why the industry knows so little about girls and women, and markets so little for them. I’ll leave the rant to others: There is some research about how game makers are dissin’ the women. And then there’s the GamerGrrls Manifesto, Part One and Part Two.
What about Portal? It’s a great puzzle, set in a first-person shooter world, but instead of shooting bullets, you shoot portals and use gravity and momentum to avoid obstacles and projectiles, and make your way to the next level. My character was a female form, and the system’s voice was a fun female voice. Even if that system voice got increasingly neurotic, it was intentionally funny. And the music and lyrics over the closing credits is totally hilarious. My only problem with this game was a little bit of nausea that has been the norm in any game where your perspective changes from moving from 2-dimensional maps to coming in from above and having to reorient yourself. Just like in Descent’s spaceships (from the ’90s). The nausea probably means it’s time to take a break. But if my 4-year-old son can play it, so can any girl or boy of any age.
What about Tomb Raider Anniversary? Forget that Lara Croft’s physical proportions are modeled after every Barbie doll and superheroine that ever was. Lara’s got skillz. And the play control is so much more user-friendly, that after only a little bit, you can get over the mechanics of how to control movement, and dig into exploring those tombs. And even if you played the original, you’ll be surprised by what’s new.
What about Dreamfall and the original Longest Journey? It’s got plot. It’s got great characters, and pretty good dialogue. It’s got great puzzles. It’s got incredible immersion into another world. And both games feature commendable heroines.
Speaking of puzzles, you can’t go wrong with Myst (1995), Riven (1998), Myst III Exile (2001), Myst IV Revelation (2004), Myst V End of Ages (2005), and Myst Uru Live Online (2007).
For Role-playing games, I’ve played the heck out of Diablo II Expansion (2001), where I liked building up my character and treasure chest and Baldur’s Gate II (2000), where I liked the dialog, plot, characters, and team strategy play.
I’ve got to give Elder Scrolls Oblivion (2006) marks for character building. You can go with a less combative character of any sex or race you wish. One of my favorite features is getting people to reveal more information or give you better prices: you win them over either with humor, flattery, boasting, or coercion; I’d never really thought of my encounters that way. It’s a bit of a roll of dice, though. I’d rather see them come up with real dialog examples that you could model in real life.
My absolute favorite RPG is Planescape Torment (1999) for its exploration of philosophies (such as anarchy, hedonism, entropy, chaos, order, freethought, cabalism, and so on) through gameplay and plot. And dialogue (OMIGOSH what fun colloquialisms)! I loved having a little guide who’s always with you to talk about what the next step might be.
I hope you don’t mind that I’m so PC-oriented. Coming up, I’ll talk up some games my kids love to play for free.
Posted in culture, games, grrly, heroes, heroines, learning, marketing, music | Tagged: Baldur's Gate, Barbie, Diablo, Disney Princess, Dreamfall, Elder Scrolls, games, girls, grrly, Guitar Hero, Hannah Montana, Imagine Babyz, Lara Croft, Longest Journey, Music Jam, Myst, Oblivion, PC, Planescape, Portal, puzzle, Riven, Sims, Tomb Traider, Torment, Uru | 7 Comments »
Posted by contentgrrl on November 13, 2007
I can’t believe it. My little subscriptions to GovTrack.us finally showed me the story I’ve been looking for on federal procurement. And it gave me the impetus to find other sites that are fun to use as a citizen, including FantasyCongress’ play on FantasyFootball.
With GovTrack.us, I like the ability to subscribe to actions by specific representatives or senators and specific topics related to legislation, since from year to year and House to Senate the actual titles and numbers are unlikely to stay the same.
GovTrack. us Nov 7, 2007 – Bill Action
Passed Senate: S. 680: Accountability in Government Contracting Act of 2007
Passed Senate by Unanimous Consent.
Washington Watch focuses on a bill’s cost per average family (or person, and so on), has space to comment on the bill, vote for or against, and find more information.
With FantasyCongress, the same way sports fans play with their teams, citizens can play with their government. “Only at Fantasy Congress can you draft, bench, or trade a Member of Congress. ” A Senator’s page shows his or her stats, legislation, amendments, maverick votes, and so on. A bill’s page shows the party slant based on votes, and a shiny graphical representation of its stage in the legislative process (it looks like a sport league bracket).
The example I’ve used in comparison, S.680, is only of interest to me for a story I’m writing. Similar legislation has been proposed for many years, and I was surprised to see action on it.
Federal Contracting Rules. S. 680 would amend various rules on using noncompetitive and sole-source contracts, including restrictions on the contract period for noncompetitive contracts and limits on the use of sole-source contracts. Imposing restrictions on the length of noncompetitive contracts and limiting the use of solesource contracts could increase the costs of administering contracts but also could lower procurement costs by encouraging the use of other acquisition practices.
The site for Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., has an article that gives some good detail. S.680 includes provisions for a more professionally trained acquisition workforce, stronger competition in federal contracting, and accountability for the resulting value of the purchases, and more transparency to curtail waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayers’ money. Two key provisions affect software system houses (like the company who writes my paycheck) and trading partners (like our customers and my audience):
- Strengthen effective oversight and transparency when “sole source” contracting is appropriate by requiring publication of notices at the “FedBizOpps” website of all sole source task or delivery orders above the simplified acquisition threshold within ten business days after the award.
- Rein in the practice of awarding contracts missing key terms – such as price, scope, or schedule – and then failing to supply those terms until the contractor delivers the good or service, by requiring contracting officers to unilaterally determine all missing terms, if not mutually agreed upon, within 180 days or before a certain percentage of the work is performed.
The senators also touted the bill as an answer to the Department of Homeland Security’s reliance on contractors, which was possibly why it got enough attention to pass.
Posted in citizen, games, heroes, heroines, marketing, writeroll | Tagged: citizen, contracts, FantasyCongress, federal, games, government, GovTrack, homeland security, legislation, procurement, purchasing, S.680, solesource, statistics, Washington, watch | 1 Comment »