aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, February 14, 2005
Wal-Mart favors from Bush DOJ
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer agreed to pay $135,540 to settle federal charges that it violated child labor laws in Connecticut, Arkansas and New Hampshire. As part of the agreement, revealed yesterday after it was secretly signed in January, the Labor Department agreed “to give Wal-Mart 15 days’ notice before the Labor Department investigates any other ‘wage and hour’ accusations, like failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.”
Emphasis original. Then, following up, there’s this clear and convincing articulation of why ”the deal smells like rotting corporate sludge.”
A gay hustler in the White House
It sure does look like the “Jeff Gannon” that was issued individual daily press passes for two years by the White House was once a gay hustler. John Aravosis at AMERICAblog has the goods, more than you ever wanted to see. (Rated X).
UPDATE: The plot thickens. A McClellan link?
TiVo time-shifting is such that I just watched The West Wing episode featuring an appearance by Lawrence Lessig (as played by Christopher Lloyd). I bumped this episode up above others I’ve yet to watch after reading on Lessig’s blog how he came to be a character: “Lots of speculation and fantastic praise about the West Wing gig. It was a hoot to watch. But in two seconds (I’m late for a meeting) let me put this in perspective...”
I enjoy The West Wing, even as it has been deemed passÃƒÂ© by Wonkette. (”Wow, The West Wing is still on?” Good I don’t live in DC.) This far from Broadway, the show’s the only way I get to see Kristin Chenoweth. Sans song: I loved her first as Sally in the under-rated Broadway musical production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
I’m always looking for good quality drama to add to my TiVo lineup. Please, if anyone has a suggestion, pass it on. Via comment (below) or email (in sidebar).
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Tomorrow Maya comes out
Today in The Washington Post:
Her parents have known that Maya is a lesbian since they found a copy of the Washington Blade, the gay weekly, in her room and confronted her at the end of high school (she went to Oakcrest School for Girls, a Catholic school in McLean run by the church’s highly devout Opus Dei movement.) Ever since, Maya says, her parents have told her that her sexuality is wrong and sinful.
Indeed. For example:
During his failed campaign last fall against Barack Obama (D) for the Illinois Senate seat, Alan Keyes lashed out at Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Cheney. Keyes told a radio interviewer that Mary Cheney was a “selfish hedonist.” Then, without having been asked anything about his own family, he volunteered that “if my daughter were a lesbian, I’d look at her and say, ‘That is a relationship that is based on selfish hedonism.’ I would also tell my daughter that it’s a sin and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her deal with that sin.”
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Regulators in bed with the regulated
Railroads aren’t the only industry with close ties between the regulated and the regulators, but this, one can only hope, is a particularly egregious example:
The inspector general, Kenneth M. Mead, said in the report, dated Dec. 10 and obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act, that it was wrong for [the Federal Railroad Administration’s acting chief Betty] Monro to have shared a house on Nantucket, Mass., with the Union Pacific lobbyist “at the same time the agency you represent is, among other things, proposing and settling millions of dollars in fines against that railroad.”
Mr. Mead said he found no evidence that Ms. Monro, a longtime friend of the lobbyist, showed any favoritism toward Union Pacific. But he did note that Union Pacific had “the highest average number of train accidents” of the four major railroads from 1998 through 2003, yet it was inspected “proportionally less, ranking third.”
A friend sides with Newsom
Not all of my friends in New York are happy about Bloomberg’s “I-back-it-but-I’m-appealing-the-ruling-anyway” gay marriage stance. One sent this article about San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom blasting Bloomberg:
“I think if you believe something, you’ve got to act on it,” Newsom said at a press conference on Thursday. “If you don’t believe in it, don’t act on it. But don’t say you believe something and then do everything to stifle that belief.”
The note that came with it said, “This is how I feel!”
An untimely passing
Community Media has suffered a great loss with the untimely death of Dirk Koning, Founding Director of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center. He died of complications during a heart procedure. From the Grand Rapids Press:
Koning was hired to run the fledgling GRTV public access television station in the early 1980s. That station grew into the Community Media Center on Bridge Street NW, operating two cable channels, WYCE-FM, Internet service provider GrandNet Services, and the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy.
At the time of his death, Koning was trying to create a wireless network offering free, high-speed Internet access in Grand Rapids and several suburbs. He also was raising $2 million to expand and create services at Wealthy Theatre.
Dean and the Noise Machine
At the DNC Winter Meeting today, Howard Dean will be elected Chair. A Gallup Poll out yesterday shows virtually unanimous support. 90% of DNC members think Dean will do an excellent or good job. Says Kos:
Looks like we’re going in with a full head of optimism.
Now get ready for the Corporate Media’s and Right Wing Noise Machine’s anti-Dean barrage. It’s coming.
Chris Bowers’ agrees, after pointing to instances where it’s already happening, he urges action:
We can’t let this stand. I know that right now it seems like we are fighting political war on about twelve different fronts at once, but today I am asking you to step up and take action to defend Howard Dean and the Democratic Party from the coming Noise Machine onslaught.
The Mainstream Media believes that Democrats should become more like Republicans in order to win over my Red State home. I believe that’s bunk; there are liberals here, we want to make more of them. But the corporate media storyline is we must move more towards Republicans and that’s what they’ll run with; Dean doesn’t suit them.
We’re in a tie, Democrats and Republicans nationwide, and the way to break the tie is not to become more like the other side. We’ve got to convince some of them, not all, just some, that our ides are better. Democrats must be Democrats, true to their values and responsive to their invigorated grassroots, to win.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Don’t read “Blog”
People who pick up the book “Blog” are likely to think that it’s about blogs. For the most part, it’s not about the Internet phenomenon of blogging, the term for individual or group Web-based chronicling and instant publishing. Rather, this book is a sustained effort of partisan hackery aimed at further eroding trust in what the author Hugh Hewitt calls “mainstream liberal media,” which for him means anything to the left of Rush Limbaugh. This regurgitated mantra, in the hands of skilled marketers, can be applied to the latest hot brand - in this case anything to do with blogs.
And from the Crooks and Liars review, samples of his rightward tilt:
Pg. 108: on Atrios, Hugh says: Hard left, incoherent, actually. But big traffic.
On Daily Kos: (brief history).... He is also an off the wall lefty, willing to say anything.
Pg. 113: A final word on ideology and the blogosphere: there is currently a talent gap. The political left is seriously behind in the promotion and development of bloggers with insight and good humor. It maybe that the early entrants such as DailyKos, Atrios, and Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo have set a tone of self importance combined with coarseness that has repelled would-be bloggers, or that Peter Principle bloggers with energy but not enough talent have taken up valuable shelf space.
C&L concludes: “I find it outrageously hypocritical (I’m not really outraged) to read a guy that stands on his soap box, preaching about the aspects of “liberal bias” when he’s as guilty as “sin” in promoting his own version of right wing propaganda.”
More Bush fake media exposed
Now that I have only basic cable, I depend on the web. The “Jeff Gannon” story is owned by the bloggers. And they have the video:
Here’s Wolf Blitzer on CNN with the first post-resignation story.
Here’s Catherine Crier on Court TV with David Brock.
Here’s a sampling of the softball questions with a transcript of McClellan’s expalnation of how he got his White House press pass.
This is must-see TV. (With Crooks and Liars who needs cable?)
John, of AMERICAblog has done great work on this story. He emphasizes it’s not a sex story, it’s another Bush fake media story. Kos has done great stuff too, gathered under the Daily Kos Republican thread. Without the blogs, this story would not have shown up in the mainsteam media (CNN, NYTimes, Boston Globe and my guess is the Sunday chat shows).
Lynne Cheney a liar?
From blogACTIVE - the photo alone is worth the click: Yesterday on Fresh Air, listen here, “author & historian” (?) Lynne Cheney denied writing a novel about lesbian lovers. Did she? Judge for yourself; WhiteHouse.org has the pertinent parts.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Nathan Newman points hopefully to the Montana State Senate, where the new Democratic majority is debating a bill to fight Wal-Mart’s low wages.
Here, low prices trump low wages. Our Super Wal-Mart opened nearly a year ago. There are those who hate it and stay away, but for the vast majority, blissfully unaware or dismissive of the store’s critics, it’s the shopping venue of choice.
If you doubt the evils of Wal-Mart, a must-read is the comprehensive December New York Review of Books, “Inside the Leviathan;” a must-view is the excellent Frontline documentary, “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” You can view it in its entirety online.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
I missed it
Hating the cable company. A rant.
Colloquially, there is Cox cable in Macon, and “sucks cox” cable here.
Everyone here hates the cable company, with good reason. High prices. Poor quality. Arrogant service. That’s Charter Cable, situated in a tiny little building off the Gray Highway with one puny satellite dish and an antenna to pull in the Macon broadcast stations. Reception is truly awful.
So I’m home at lunch today and the cable company calls.
“I’m calling to find out how your cable reception is and to...”
At that I interrupted.
“It’s the worst reception of any cable company I’ve ever seen.”
“Well, then, can you go to your TV and tune in channel 30.”
This, I do, thinking that maybe they are checking the signal through my $6.95 + tax monthly digital box. Turns out, “I don’t get channel 30.”
“Okay. I captured that. Now I’d like to extend an offer...”
“Wait, wait, wait. I don’t get channel 30. You ‘captured’ that? What does that mean?”
“Well, some people who are on Analog Basic are actually receiving Extended Basic. You are on Analog Basic and I can offer you a special price on extended basic...”
I wanted to !@#$%&*; instead I got off the line. Don’t call me telling me you want to “find out how the quality of my signal is” when what you’re really trying to do is find out if I’m stealing cable service and when you find out I’m not, try to sell me more service!
I recently downgraded from my $50 monthly extended service when I realized that I had 30 South Parks and a dozen Daily Shows stacked up on my TiVo. Give me a la carte pricing please. Oh, of course not, thank you very much gutless FCC for ignoring what the public wants and granting the cable co’s their every wish. Grrr.
I should point out that I worked with the cable industry for 12 years and was part of the team that negotiated the public access requirements of the New York City Time Warner Cable Franchise. Now that’s a cable system!
One last point. Charter High-Speed Internet is notoriously awful. I get DSL through Altell. The DSL is great. But Alltel? That’s a rant I’ll save for another day.
Ahhh. Now I feel better.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
From me, last week:
Andrew Sullivan asked the other day, in the first of many post-hiatus posts, why not an anti-abortion amendment? In light of the president’s gay-marriage-mention in last night’s [State of the Union] speech, I thought it worth pondering. Is gay marriage even more important than abortion to the Religious Right? Really?
As if the 13 states passing anti-gay marriage amendments wasn’t enough to sour me on our lurch towards a more direct democracy, today we have the Virginia House passing a gay marriage ban and here in Georgia they’re gutting Atlanta’s human right’s ordinance:
The Georgia House overwhelmingly approved legislation Monday that would bar the city of Atlanta from fining Druid Hills Golf Club for refusing to treat partners of gay members the same as spouses of married members.
As it happens I’m reading Fareed Zakaria’s ”The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.” In it he explains that democratic elections are not necessarily synonymous with liberty. “Democracy is flourishing; liberty is not.” He defines liberty as including the rule of law, the rights of free speech and religion and the protection of minorities. These liberties, he says, require the constitutional limitation of democratic power.
His book “is a call for self-control, for a restoration of balance between democracy and liberty.” We sure could use a dose of that in the Gay Marriage debate. Not likely. From the preface:
Slavery and segregation were entrenched in the American South through the democratic system. From the founding of the republic, those who abhorred salvery faced the problem that the majority of southern voters defended it passionately. In the end, slavery died not because it was lost in a vote but because the forces of the North crushed the South. Eventually the Jim Crow system that succeeded slavery in the South was destroyed during the 1950s and 1960s not by democracy but despite it. Although the final act of emancipation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was passed by Congress, all previous progress took place through the executive branch’s fiat-as with desegregation of the armed forces-or the Supreme Court’s writ-as with school desegregation.
A conservative makes the case against ID
I understand why biologists get angry and frustrated with ID-ers. All the ID arguments have been patiently refuted many times over. The ID-ers response is to come back with… the same arguments.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Wonkette, Wolfe & Bush
Wonkette takes a break from writing her book to doubt that President Bush is really reading Tom Wolfe’s novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” I’ll pass on that and note instead that Mr. Wolfe, who voted for Mr. Bush, was invited to speak at the White House last year in a salute to, among others, our own Flannery O’Connor.
Getting Mayor Bloomberg to say unequivocally where he stood on the issue of gay marriage had become a kind of sport among City Hall reporters this time last year. Journalists were in tacit agreement that during each of the mayor’s thrice-weekly question-and-answer sessions, at least one question on gay marriage should be posed. Then the scribes would dutifully write down the mayor’s latest duck-and-weave on the issue.This weekend he stopped ducking.”I think people have the right to love, to live with, and to marry whoever they want, regardless of their sexual orientation,” the mayor told an audience Saturday at a function of a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign.
That from the New York Sun today, which has the story behind the politically dangerous decision to make the statement. He’s accused of trying to have it both ways because he’s also appealing the lower court ruling granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage.
I’m glad to have the statement and fine with waiting for the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, to rule on the appeal.
A bumper sticker on a local pickup truck reads, “At least it’s still legal to smoke in my car.” This in a town that defeated a No Smoking ordinance a few years back. Here we have No Smoking sections but, with no meaningful space dividers in the small local restaurants, smoke wafts freely through the entire space, including the No Smoking sections.
One man is credited with defeating the ordinance, a local restaurant and bar owner who has recently been buying up all of downtown. A nice enough fellow, he argues that the ordinance would have covered only the downtown restaurants and not his prime competition, the popular chain venues outside of downtown. But maybe the ordinance would have helped his business.
In the same year the smoking ordinance was defeated here, New York passed the toughest smoking ban in the country. No smoking in any indoor public spaces. Period. James McBratney, president of a local restaurant and tavern association there considered the (moderate) Republican mayor who championed the ban a billionaire dictator with a prohibitionist streak that would hurt small businesses like his.
Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, Mr. McBratney sounded changed. “I have to admit,” he said sheepishly, “I’ve seen no falloff in business in either establishment.” He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: Customers actually seem to like it, and so does he.
But not just he and his customers; even smokers like the ban:
...a vast majority of bar and restaurant patrons interviewed last week, including self-described hard-core smokers, said they were surprised to find themselves pleased with cleaner air, cheaper dry-cleaning bills and a new social order created by the ban.
The smokers I know here, and there are many, might find themselves agreeing. None I know wants to keep on smoking. Friends in Macon won’t smoke in their own home, choosing instead to sit on a cold screen porch in winter under an electric blanket to watch TV. Just the same, I don’t expect a no smoking ordinance will pass here any time soon.
Welcome: My new weblog
I started blogging on December 6, 2004 over on my personal website. A few weeks ago I decided to seperate my personal site from my blogging site and to build this one, a “real” blog. Here I’ll have a blogroll, an about page, email link, sitemeter and comment validation to fight spam.
As you can see, all of those features aren’t up and going. I was fiddling and diddling and realized that if I didn’t move soon it would take me forever to get this site ready. So today I take the plunge. If in these next few weeks as I build the site out you experience technical difficulties, I hope you will bear with me.
As always, thanks for visiting and please come back!
Sunday, February 06, 2005
APRIL 2008 UPDATE: So much has happened since I wrote the post below I should really write an entirely new one. I will when I have the time! I invite you to email me and I will be happy to share my advice and experience. To review quickly, in 2006 I changed blog platforms from Movable Type to Expression Engine. If I had it to do over I WOULD NOT DO IT. I broke every single historical internal link (they remain broken to this day). I had built up traffic and have never recovered from that move.
I also switched web hosts because I was using so much bandwidth so I moved from ICDSoft to Network Solutions. Another HUGE MISTAKE!!! I would never do that again. I spent all of 2007 limping along. At the end of the year I hired E.Webscapes to help redesign the site and move back to ICDSoft. I think ICDSoft is the greatest and will never leave again. I have a half dozen sites there now. As for E.Webscapes, that disaster is chronicled here. Be forewarned. I genuinely think Lisa Sabin-Wilson acted negligently and in bad faith. After five months, a busted site with lost data, no new design and a designer missing in action she did refund my money with $50 extra.
I thoroughly enjoy blogging and have learned a great deal. It enriches my life and I have strategies for addressing my ongoing technical challenges, but they are many. I’ll try to update this post with more when I can.
ORIGINAL FEB 2005 POST: I’ve worked in and around technology for all of my professional career, but only recently have I been so hands on. Last spring I was asked to build a website for a friend in New York. Shortly thereafter I decided to build my own. I started with Front Page but moved quickly to Dreamweaver, and got some help from students and friends.
My web hosting service is icdSoft. Love them! They have great rates, great features and great customer service. Answers to service tickets within minutes, 24/7 (slower if you need an engineer, which has only happened to me once). I found them through a google search, checked out their ratings, and couldn’t be happier. I have four sites with them now.
When I started building my blog, I had no idea what I was getting into. I started with a Dreamweaver tutorial that was way too complicated and much more than I wanted. But I figured that I could adapt it once I built it. After a few days I learned quite a bit but threw in the towel and moved on. I found Movable Type through a Google search, vaguely recognizing the name from all the sites I read. If I were doing it now I might happen upon Blogger but I would recommend Typepad, just because of my fondness for parent company SixApart and all they do. But I wanted to build the site myself so Movable Type was the right sollution for me.
I’m now on my second Movable Type blog. I couldn’t be happier. I LOVE THEM! The Movable Type people. It’s free if you’re just doing a small blog. I like it’s features. The support forums are good. Be sure to join the Professional Network, it’s free (today) and a great resource. I find Learning Movable Type Tutorials and Tips for Beginners very helpful. I got my style from Blog Fashions free blog styles (I modified this one). My first blog used this one from MovableStyle.com.
I use Blogrolling for the blogroll on the left. I tried to upgrade but the form wouldn’t accept any of my credit cards, I wrote them several times and never heard back. I don’t know what’s going on with them but have read several high profile complainers. I used Sitewizard for the email page and am very pleased (even as I’ve yet to work out the error checking). And last and probably least though I get a great kick out of it, I built my Favicon using favicon.com’s beta online image editor. It is a very cool piece of online software.
I think that covers it. Now it’s on to blogging!
You could be wondering, I did, why blog? For me, I set up my website so that I could have a way of keeping in touch with, and being found by, old friends and colleagues. I spent my entire adult life in New York; for 25 years I was the only Windish in the Manhattan phone book (now there are none). If someone, anyone, wanted to find me, all they had to do was look. Everyone knew I was and would always be a New Yorker. But look, here I am in rural Georgia. Won’t they be surprised! So one reason I’ve staked my claim to the Internet space is to be found.
The blog is an extension of that and more: it’s a way to stay intellectually engaged both with my far away friends and with the world of issues and ideas. In New York I felt very engaged; I was constantly involved in rigorous conversations on the issues of the day. Even at work we had a tradition of lunches together during which we’d debate issues, sometimes heatedly. I looked forward to a monthly Internet industry salon that I contributed to through the peak of the Internet bubble.
Here I’m just as engaged, but I rarely have the conversations I once thrived on. I still subscribe to my magazines, watch the news programs, and read the blogs that get me all fired up. I’m as fired up as ever; with nowhere to let off steam. So maybe my blog will help with that. Maybe it will open up whole new worlds. Maybe a new day’s dawning. So with that swell thought, here goes…