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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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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 an order.

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,, and, 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 Albright.

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.

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