aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, May 02, 2005
Pat Robertson on This Week
Pat Robertson was on This Week yesterday. I saw it. Crooks and Liars has it so you can see it too. Everyone’s commenting. With good reason.
Here’s What’s Left has the transcript, sans comment; Joe Gandelman smells a skunk. The Carpetbagger Report has a concise roundup and suggests we beg to make Pat a permanent guest. Think Progress comments on Pat’s view of Hindu or Muslim judges, “I’m not sure...” (John at AMERICAblog comments too) and the judiciary is worse than Al Queda. Both Atrios and Kos comment on that one too.
But I guess my favorite is Media Matters quoting Pat that God won’t stop a tsunami—but he might respond to Gay Days with an earthquake:
Responding to a question from ABC host George Stephanopoulos about why a God “so involved in our daily life” would allow a tsunami to kill hundreds of thousands of people, Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, replied: “I don’t think He reverses the laws of nature.” That statement, on the May 1 edition of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, conflicts with other meteorological comments by Robertson, who has repeatedly linked natural disasters to the will of God.
After Orlando, Florida, city officials voted in 1998 to fly rainbow flags from city lampposts during the annual Gay Days event at Disney World, Robertson issued the city a warning: “I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. ... [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.”
The Carpetbagger, “Robertson may be stark raving mad, but his influence within his party is still strong, which makes yesterday’s televised lunacy all the more significant.”
PC v Mac
This morning a colleague wrote “Wow!” and sent me this link:
AppleÃ‚Â® today announced that the Cobb County [Georgia] School District has selected Apple as its supplier in the largest ever one-to-one computer learning initiative. The district’s program, named “Power To Learn,” plans for Apple to provide iBookÃ‚Â® G4s to every student and teacher in the district, starting with deployment this fall of more than 17,000 iBooks for teachers district-wide and students at four high schools designated as demonstration sites. Pending school board approval, the second and third phases of the program will equip all Cobb County high school and middle school students with iBooks beginning in 2006, resulting in a total deployment of 63,000 iBooks.
Later CNET had a decidedly less positive spin. They point out that “Apple still needs school board approval to enter the second and third phases of the district’s program” and note that school districts act unpredictably:
Last week in Richmond, Va., for example, the school board of Henrico County Public Schools voted to buy from Dell and drop its Apple one-to-one laptop program, which allows schools to buy a laptop for every student in a particular grade. The school board cited “maintenance, technical support, software and price” as the factors behind its decision.
The story ends with what I believe is the real reason more people aren’t switching to Macs:
“We wrote into our (bid requirements) more rigorous support and training provisions,” said Jay Dillion, a spokesman for the Cobb County school district. ”We also required Apple to pre-load Office on all our iBooks. That was one problem Henrico faced. They didn’t have Office and wanted it.”
It’s a sign
Renee Jenkins of Elkins, West Virginia had anti-Bush/Cheney signs in her yard:
“I was actually taking a nap, and there was a knock on my door, there was a West Virginia State Trooper and a Secret Service agent,” she says, identifying them as Trooper R. J. Boggs and Agent James Lanham. “They asked to come in. And I let them. And they started interviewing me.”
Jensen, who at the time was running for city council, asked why they were there.
“Apparently someone had made a statement that I’d been canvassing door to door and had said I wanted to cut President Bush’s head off,” she says. “I told Agent Lanham that I was running for city council, but I hadn’t started my door-to-door campaign yet and I never had said anything like that.”
This didn’t satisfy them, though.
“They conducted an extensive interview about my background, my family, and any political organizations I belonged to,” she says. “I told them I belong to the ACLU and that’s about it.”
They continued to pry, she says.
Agent Lanham “asked me several times to sign a form about releasing my medical records, and I refused,” she says. “That was kind of annoying. And he asked to search my house. He didn’t have a search warrant, but I said go ahead. And they took some pictures of me and some pictures of my signs.”
Before they left, she says, “I had to sign a statement that I never threatened the PresidentÃƒÂs life.”
Republican pressure at CPB
The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence.
Without the knowledge of his board, the chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, contracted last year with an outside consultant to keep track of the guests’ political leanings on one program, “Now With Bill Moyers.”
In late March, on the recommendation of administration officials, Mr. Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member, corporation officials said. While she was still on the White House staff, she helped draft guidelines governing the work of two ombudsmen whom the corporation recently appointed to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
An architecture of freedom
Ithiel de Sola Pool‘s 1983 study of the effects of communications technology on social, political, and economic life, Technologies of Freedom, was a defining read in my understanding of the structure of communications technologies. Similarly, Lawrence Lessig‘s 1999 Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, now undergoing a first of its kind online collaborative update, transformed my understanding of the methods of regulating human behavior.
Before Lessig I was familiar with the big three: Law, the old favorite (make it illegal or not); The Market, the new favorite (make it expensive or not); and Social Norms, once the darling of the social conservatives (make it shameful or not). Having lost that battle social conservatives (who don’t fancy the soulless market either for such things) have turned with a vengeance to the old favorite, law.
To these three Larry Lessig added a fourth, one I hadn’t conceptualized before and the one that is, in fact, the most potent of all - architecture. The architectural form his book focuses on is computer code:
...there is regulation in cyberspace, but that regulation is imposed primarily through code...Some architectures of cyberspace are more regulable than others; some architectures enable better control than others. Thus, whether a part of cyberspace-or cyberspace generally-can be regulated turns on the nature of its code. Its architecture will affect whether behavior can be controlled. To follow Mitch Kapor, its architecture is its politics. [p.20]
Architecture as regulator is, of course, nothing new - Robert Moses famously built low bridges over his parkways to keep the teaming hordes from taking busses to the beach, and we’re all familiar with the regulatory intent of the Medieval moat - but it hadn’t occurred to me in that way before.
Today we have the media industry, to enforce its near total victory in the copyright arena, developing and implementing a variety of architectural schemes that fall under the umbrella term Digital Rights Management or DRM (for more start at EFF and Wikipedia) which means things that on their face sound good, sometimes are not. From PVRblog this week:
The Open Media Network launched Tuesday with a broad plan to enable many things we’ve been talking about here recently, like downloadable television shows, movies, and podcasts. Marc Andressen (a Netscape founder) is on the board and when I first heard about this, I assumed it would be a lot like Kontiki, a DRM-friendly media distribution system that keeps you from doing anything with files once you’ve downloaded them (I recall the first time I saw Kontiki, their product boasted features that would automatically delete downloaded movies after playing them x number of times).
The site doesn’t work for me in Firefox and won’t let me download a demo movie (which even includes “DRM” in the filename). In Internet Explorer, I’m asked to install a custom activeX control from a company I’m already having trouble trusting. Oh, and it’s windows only.
There’s action on the hardware side, too. From Dan Lockton of the Cambridge-MIT Technology Policy program who is working on a dissertation on “Architectures of Control” (via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing):
Examples with primarily commercial control intentions range from the technology-intensive-such as Hewlett-Packard’s alleged use of embedded chips in printer cartridges which ‘expire’ the cartridge, even if unused, on a certain date, thus forcing the user to buy new cartridges-to the simple, such as the Audi A2’s bonnet which cannot be opened by the car’s owner, only by an Audi dealer.
There are, equally, numerous examples with more socially beneficial intentions, such as breathalyser or seat belt interlocks for car ignitions, blue lighting in nightclub toilets (to make intravenous drug use difficult), and growing opportunities in terms of coercing consumers to behave in more environmentally friendly ways-e.g., products could cease to function if the intended operation would cause excessive energy use.
The only way to an architecture of freedom is through an awareness of the architecture of control. Let’s all please be sure to pay attention.
Ralph & The Red and Black
Ralph Reed, a former Georgia state Republican Party chairman and candidate for lieutenant governor in a primary race that’s gettting a little rough (and still a Microsoft consultant) has a “checkered” past at The Red & Black, the student paper at the University of Georgia. From Outside the Tent:
According to an article that appeared in the October 1996 issue of Esquire (summarized here), Ralphie wrote an article for the newspaper entitled “Gandhi: The Ninny of the Twentieth Century.” (One might wonder why Ralphie might have chosen some more obvious candidates for this title other than Gandhi, but I digress.)
An alert student at the University noticed that Ralphie’s column bore more than a passing resemblance to “The Gandhi Nobody Knows” by Richard Grenier published in the March 1983 edition of Commentary. (One wonders what devout Christian Ralphie was doing reading a publication of the American Jewish Committee, but I digress again.) According to a letter written by the student “every assertion, every quote, and several seemingly original Reed phrases may be found directly or in slightly modified form” in the Grenier article.
Ralph was fired from the paper shortly thereafter. Ralph’s response at the time (according to an article from Time Magazine quoted here) was to say that the letter exposing him constituted “the most shocking, profane form of personal attack I can imagine.”
A desperate housewife takes the stage
Jackson’s Junction has the White House Correspondents Dinner video: “George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later...”
Luckily, she’s not running.
UPDATE 5/2: Elisabeth Bumiller in the Times today, “She brought down a very tough house, and she humanized her husband, whose sagging poll numbers are no match for her own...her zingers showed how much the White House relies on her to soften her husband’s rough edges at critical moments, much as she did with her extensive travels and fund-raising in the 2004 campaign.”
And [big surprise this] Laura Bush has never seen Desperate Housewives.
Creative energy & edge
In Everything that’s wrong with Broadway, I said I missed “new, young, raw, creative energy and edge...in the small venues that are everywhere in New York.” Here’s an example of what I meant, from LA:
The performance of Dancing Barefoot at ACME went well. I guess about 35 people came, and we had a great time together. It was about 40 minutes too long, but luckily for me, (and the audience) I performed for probably the only audience in the world who wouldn’t mind such a long show...It wasn’t until I was driving down Beverly, near Highland, that I got that familiar rush of excited anticipation that comes before I do a show for the first time...it was just me, a mic stand, and a stool with some water on it. We put a color wash across the back wall that we could change when the stories changed (flickering orange for Inferno, red for flashbacks, and blue the rest of the time), and used spotlights to isolate me. I dressed in all black (if you saw ACME Love Machine, it was the same costume I wore for Untitled Office Sketch Number Nine.) After the show, I got several compliments from people who thought the staging was cool. Honestly? I thought it looked pretty cool, too. Mike and Travis did a great job putting it together.
Keep up the good work Wil!