Surfing for Madeleines
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 99 17:20:44 -0700
Subject: Surfing for Madeleines
Surfing for Madeleines
by Madeleine Begun Kane
I want to be Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Not that I'm power
hungry or anything like that. Hey, cut out the snide comments ... and that's
My problem is we both bear the same first name with its triple-e spelling.
And every time I ego-surf, I find Madeleine Albright's links a lot more
exciting than mine.
If you're lucky enough (and modest enough) to be unfamiliar with
ego-surfing, please let me explain: It's the dangerously addictive act of
throwing your name into a search engine and seeing what spews out. This can
produce just about anything. Like an old news item noting your engagement
to your now ex-spouse. Or a long forgotten Usenet message that reminds you
to never again drink and post.
Now if you're a writer, there's actually a justifiable business reason to
ego-surf: It's the cheapest way to find out who's published your stuff
online without permission ... let alone payment. And professional writers
do (in theory, at least) write in order to earn the occasional buck.
So ego-surfing can help writers track down publishers who pretend there's
no such thing as copyright law. Armed with our proof, we send invoices ...
which they promptly ignore.
Now that you know the rationalization for throwing our names into search
engines like AltaVista.com, Hotbot.com, and FindTonsOfCrap.com, it's time
for the real reasons. Writers ego-surf because:
a. It's a great way to avoid writing, while deluding ourselves into thinking
we're doing actual work; and
b. It produces lists of links to our name, allowing us to imagine that
millions of people are reading our work, laughing at our every word,
applauding our brilliance, and wondering why their local paper carries Dave
Barry ... when it could be carrying us.
In my particular case, it's also a great way to keep up with Madeleine
Anyway, I was ego-surfing the other day when up popped a Reuters story about
Madeleine Albright's jewelry. Now I would have thought Madeleine Albright
would be the one woman untouched by fashion commentary. She's just too
formidable to associate with fashion. Okay, it might cross your mind to
wonder who let her out of the house dressed like that. Then you'd remember
who she is, and it all makes sense.
Before I could work up a good feminist snit, I read that Secretary Albright
uses brooches to signal her negotiation stance. According to Reuters, if
she wears a dove brooch at the negotiating table, "it usually reflects her
keen desire to promote peace between warring adversaries. But if she's
sporting an eagle, the symbol of American strength, then watch out."
Secretary Albright's clever use of jewelry even inspired an exhibit entitled
``Brooching it Diplomatically: A Tribute to Madeleine K. Albright,'' made
up of brooches designed by different artists to symbolize various
negotiating positions, both whimsical and serious.
Secretary Albright's brooches also inspired me to take up jewelry design.
In fact, I've already sketched out my first piece: an aspirin bottle shaped
brooch bearing the words "Not Tonight Dear -- I have a Headache."
It may not help me win any points at the bargaining table. But wearing it
will surely garner me a good night's sleep.
Copyright 1999 Madeleine Begun Kane
© 1999 Peter Langston