aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, February 19, 2005
I’m with New Jersey
We’ve all seen the Blockbuster ”Celebrate the end of late fees” ads. It turns out that what they really mean is “an 8 day rental and if it’s not back you buy it.” But then:
The company said due dates at its 4,500 U.S. stores would remain one week for games and two days or one week for movies.
New Jersey’s AG filed a lawsuit. It wasn’t a bad campaign. If they’d honestly made clear the qualifiers in the ads they wouldn’t be in this mess.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Everyone’s getting down on Google
First I got a ”Very Important, please read!” email from three people telling me that Google has a “new feature” that let’s you type someone’s phone number in and get back a map to their home. Horrors! This from people in Manhattan, which is about the easiest place to get around without a map that I know of. (The feature doesn’t work where I live - and believe me, you need a map to find me here.)
...say you’re browsing a web page with numerous addresses on it. AutoLink will turn each of those addresses into direct links to the Google Maps database.
More horrors! I’m with A Bluegrass Blog, Autolink is good, not bad. (You can set it to Yahoo or Mapquest if you change a setting.) And while we’re on it, I wasn’t upset about Microsoft’s “Smart Tags” either.
Copyfight & Copyfight
There’s Copyfight the blog. ("Here we’ll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development and technological innovation that creates—and will recreate—the networked world as we know it.")
And Copyfight, the documentary project. (A video released under “a permissive Creative Commons license to allow file-sharing.” And a website “as an index of videos related to copyright reform… available for the public to download and edit.” Tutorials too.)
Says one of the other, ”Marvelous." I’ve bookmarked both.
Bush family values
This administration couldn’t care less about gay kids commiting suicide, but we’re supposed to look the other way when they coddle gay hustlers, and gay hustlers coddle them?
UPDATE 2/23: Gay Orbit reports that gay is back.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Some of us think it’s a choice
At least this one of us does:
Yep. I said, “choose.” And yes. I think that our sexual orientation is a choice...I am thrilled to have chosen lesbianhood. I consider myself a gay activist. I feel like I am privileged to be gay. But gay men and lesbians still get upset when I start talking about choice, and I believe it’s because they think I’m saying that everyone is straight and some people choose to be gay. Not at all. I think everyone is bisexual, and people choose to be gay or straight.
She essentially confines her examples to women, even as she applies it to both genders. I’m inclined to agree with those who imply sexuality is more fluid among women than men, and that for more and more of us it is a choice. But I promise you, for this one of us, there was no choice.
Yea Maureen Dowd!
Read the whole column. She was rejected for a press pass:
I’m still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the “Barberini Faun” [A TRIFECTA!] is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?
At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I’d been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986 [SINCE ‘86!] no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he’d renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months. [BACKGROUND CHECKS TAKE MONTHS!]
Was “Jeff Gannon” cleared by the same people who cleared Bernard Kerik?
I know the F.B.I. computers don’t work, but this is ridiculous. After getting gobsmacked by the louche sagas of Mr. Guckert and Bernard Kerik, the White House vetters should consider adding someone with some blogging experience.
Just a suggestion.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was not a fan of her years as a Clinton-basher.
Sidebars, blogrolls & why I blog
This site is a work in progress; I’m pleased with the progress. Most recently I’ve been working on sidebars. On the left is my ”Blogroll," powered by Blogrolling. It could use some arranging and sorting, but each and every one of them is a blog I’ve enjoyed. I urge you to visit all of them. On the right, sites I visit regularly, people who have influenced me, organizations I respect, or things I’ve found interesting. One day soon I’ll add advertising; on both sides.
A section I’m particularly pleased with is “On Blogging” over on the lower right (and detailed below). There you’ll find a collection of links to resources that have helped me build this blog, and inform how I conceive this blog. I recommend them to anyone who wants to put together a blog of their own.
I look at my blog as a garden; the sidebars are two flower beds. Now that they are seeded, I must tend to them, cultivate them and prune them from time to time to ensure that they will bloom, blossom and grow. Thank you Basil of Basil’s Blog for working out my alignment issue; and Harry of Kudzu Files for solving my blogrolling problem.
I’ve also added a post here on why I blog. It’s lifted unedited from my old blog where it was originally posted when I first started blogging on December 7, 2004. If you’re interested, check it out.
Yea Frank Rich!
Read the whole column. He knows what the story is here:
How this happened is a mystery that has yet to be solved. “Jeff” has now quit Talon News not because he and it have been exposed as fakes but because of other embarrassing blogosphere revelations linking him to sites like hotmilitarystud.com and to an apparently promising career as an X-rated $200-per-hour “escort.” If Mr. Guckert, the author of Talon News exclusives like “Kerry Could Become First Gay President,” is yet another link in the boundless network of homophobic Republican closet cases, that’s not without interest. But it shouldn’t distract from the real question - that is, the real news - of how this fake newsman might be connected to a White House propaganda machine that grows curiouser by the day. [EXACTLY!] Though Mr. McClellan told Editor & Publisher magazine that he didn’t know until recently that Mr. Guckert was using an alias, Bruce Bartlett, a White House veteran of the Reagan-Bush I era, wrote on the nonpartisan journalism Web site Romenesko, that “if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover.” (Otherwise, it would be a rather amazing post-9/11 security breach.) [SECURITY BREACH!]By my count, “Jeff Gannon” is now at least the sixth [6!] “journalist” (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration’s “marriage” initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting,” went the script) pretending to “sort through the details” of the administration’s Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such “reports,” some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country [50 NEWS BROADCASTS AROUND THE COUNTRY!] and have now been deemed illegal “covert propaganda” by the Government Accountability Office.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Check your credit report
Here in Georgia, you can do it for free courtesy of Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act:
(C) Each consumer reporting agency which compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nation-wide basis shall furnish to any consumer who has provided appropriate verification of his or her identity two complete consumer reports per calendar year, upon request and without charge;
Why now? Because hackers hacked the Georgia-based credit reporting company ChoicePoint’s database and stole the personal information of thousands of consumers. Only in California are they being told.
In California they have a law obliging companies to inform customers when their personal information falls into unauthorized hands. Choicepoint has “no plans to contact people outside California.” All of this via Kevin Drum who suggests we…
Remember this the next time some corporate lobbying group whines about excessive regulation. If you don’t regulate them, they won’t act like nice guys all on their own.
And you sure won’t get your free credit reports either!
UPDATE: Now ChoicePoint is telling everyone, because they’ve discovered (!) that customers outside of California may have been affected. All the media attention had nothing to do with it I’m sure.
Here’s today’s Morning Edition profile of ChoicePoint, “the privacy friendly company.” If you worry about company database collection of personal information, you’ll want to listen.
Where’s the liberal media?
Such questions are evidently of little concern to our liberal media outlets, whose leading lights prefer to deliver prim lectures about the unwarranted invasion of Mr. Guckert’s private affairs and his victimization for his conservative views. In fact, everything known about him comes from material he posted on public Web sites, but that’s beside the point.
Emphasis mine. I just hadn’t thought of that simple fact before.
Microsoft is updating its Internet Explorer browser, building its Windows AntiSpyware Beta tool free with it, according to remarks by Bill Gates, the software giant’s chairman at a security conference in San Fransisco.”We have a dialogue to make sure that we’re understanding exactly what people would like to have us do in Internet Explorer, and what we’ve decided to do is a new version of Internet Explorer, this is IE 7, and it adds a new level of security,” said Gates.
Oh, and, have you checked out Google Maps? Cool.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
A dialogue with my friend Basil, a real son of the south, has prodded me into this: If it isn’t obvious already, I’m a big believer in “outing.” I think the work of blogs like AMERICAblog, blogACTIVE and Raw Story is important work, well-suited to the blogging format. Why’s that? Because blogging is an activist activity. Bloggers are not journalists.
Me, I’m a hobbyist, a concerned citizen engaged in civic discourse, an interested observer sharing my thoughts, an agitator aching to have an impact, I am all of that. But I am NOT a journalist and journalism is not my model. To measure me by that standard is to mistake what I do.
Now back to outing…
I fully expect in my lifetime to have friends who are what we now would refer to as “artificial life forms.”
Would it surprise you to know that I’m not a big fan of copyright law? It’s supposed to encourage artists to create, but the only beneficiaries I see are corporations and stars. How has it helped any struggling artist you know?
Over at BookForum, in an excellent article, ”Righting Copyright: Fair Use and ‘Digital Environmentalism’,” Robert S. Boynton writes:
While it was once believed that Marxism would overhaul notions of ownership, the combination of capitalism and the Internet has transformed our ideas of property to an extent far beyond the dreams of even the most fervent revolutionary. Which is not to say that anything resembling a collectivist utopia has come to pass. Quite the opposite. In fact, the laws regulating property-and intellectual property, in particular-have never before been so complex, onerous, and rigid.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” But what started as an incentive “has been overshadowed by the logic of reward, the thinking being that if my work continues to have value, why shouldn’t I profit from it for as long as I want?”
And there you have it, the stifling of creative expression through excessive duration and exorbitant fees for even minimal use. The failure to recognize the derivative nature of creative expression. And the erosion of Fair Use in favor of “pay per view” sales opportunities. We the people object! Here’s the proof…
Monday, February 14, 2005
Gannon & Plame
If there are questions as to whether “Jeff Gannon” did or did not see a classified State Department memo referencing Valerie Plame, it’s because “Gannon” himself has given conflicting accounts. David Brock, who broke the “Gannon” story at Media Matters for America, documents and details the various iterations of “Gannon’s” claims.
Meanwhile, John Aravosis at AMERICAblog hasn’t stopped. Here, from his suggestions for press follow up, are my favorites: 1) gay hypocrisy, the growing number of gay Republicans willing to promote an anti-gay message; 4) Where is the mainstream media? Would they be more likely to cover the story if the hooker were a woman? I’m thinking so!; and 5) Propaganda White House. This is part of the larger story of this White House using media, and fake media, to impose lies on the American people.
What will it take to make the media follow up?
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.”