aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Enhanced Lance again
Allegations surface again that Lance Armstrong (seen here riding past our student center in the Tour de Georgia last spring) took performance enhancing drugs, this time from a 2004 test of 1999 urine samples. For now I choose to believe it’s not true. But I continue to question our privileging “natural abilities” over those worked for, built, earned or acquired through whatever means.
Last time around I said I thought this kind of thing “the reasonable result of a system of coaches, trainers, scientists and businesses creating new drugs, and fans applauding the results of their use” and pointed to this Slate story which asks, If steroids are cheating, why isn’t LASIK?
A week ago, Tiger Woods was celebrated for winning golf’s biggest tournament, the Masters, with the help of superior vision he acquired through laser surgery. What’s the difference?...scores of pro athletes have had laser eye surgery, known as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). Many, like Woods, have upgraded their vision to 20/15 or better. Golfers Scott Hoch, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, and Mike Weir have hit the 20/15 mark. So have baseball players Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Cirillo, Jeff Conine, Jose Cruz Jr., Wally Joyner, Greg Maddux, Mark Redman, and Larry Walker. Amare Stoudemire and Rip Hamilton of the NBA have done it, along with NFL players Troy Aikman, Ray Buchanan, Tiki Barber, Wayne Chrebet, and Danny Kanell. These are just some of the athletes who have disclosed their results in the last five years. Nobody knows how many others have gotten the same result.
Does the upgrade help? Looks that way. Maddux, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, was 0-3 in six starts before his surgery. He won nine of his next 10 games. Kite had LASIK in 1998 and won six events on the Champions Tour over the next five years. Three months after his surgery, Irwin captured the Senior PGA Tour Nationwide Championship.
Would it be cheating if Lance’s cancer had resulted in the loss of a leg and he had a bionic leg now instead? Enhancement is a fascinating fuzzy subject worthy of deeper consideration.
Via James Joyner.
UPDATE: Lance responds.
Tammy has four sons serving in Iraq right now with the Idaho National Guard - Eric, Evan, Greg, and Jeff. Last year, her husband Leon and another son Aaron returned from Iraq where they helped train Iraqi firefighters in Mosul.
Tammy says this - and I want you to hear this - “I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn’t ask for a better way of life than giving it for something you believe in.”
America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruitts.
Take that Cindy Sheehan!
First he goes to Republican stronghold Utah, now Republican stronghold Idaho. Is that really where the message is most needed? Still no sign of a call for shared sacrifice.
Goodbye network TV, hello networked TV
A household with 300 cable or satellite channels has access to 7,000 hours of programming a day, almost 3 million per year. That’s a lot, but it’s only a fraction of the 31 million hours of total annual programming. Every major cable company is making investments to allow TV to be distributed over the Internet, giving you access to each one of those 31 million hours. And then there’s this year’s 36-fold explosion in consumer-generated video on the Internet.
This onslaught is already turning the entertainment business inside out. More music videos are being watched on AOL than on MTV. Procter & Gamble is cutting down on pricey 30-second TV spots to beef up the online presence of its packaged goods. TV Guide announced in July that it would drastically cut the amount of space it devotes to listings, an acknowledgment that viewers now turn to the Internet and onscreen programming guides. And CBS is squaring off in a content-indexing smackdown with Google. Meanwhile, the guy down the block has turned his backyard into a back lot, his basement into an edit bay, and he’s landed a global distribution deal - with his ISP.
For its part, Yahoo! is working with SBC and Microsoft on an IPTV/fiber-to-the-curb initiative called Project Lightspeed that uses Yahoo! software to deliver video-on-demand, instant messaging, photo collections, and music. Meanwhile, chief executive Terry Semel, who spent 24 years as an executive at Warner Bros., has recruited a crew of network personnel in Santa Monica to crack open the contractual vaults containing 50 years of rights-encumbered TV and film archives. And Yahoo! has already become the Internet home of broadcast fare like Fat Actress and The Apprentice. “They’re clearly thinking of themselves as the fifth network,” says Jeremy Allaire, founder of Brightcove, a Net video distribution startup.
What about content by you and me?
[Bradley Horowitz, senior director of Yahoo!’s Technology Development Group] has figured out a way for micro-producers to get their video content indexed and seen. It’s a self-publishing protocol called Media RSS. Niche content creators syndicate their content with an MRSS feed, which includes metadata about the work. The information goes out to subscribers just like a blogger’s RSS feed and incorporates video and audio.
With the encouragement of Jeremy Zawodny, a prominent blogger Horowitz calls the company’s “inside outsider,” Yahoo! made sure MRSS was open and nonproprietary. Thanks to that hands-off policy, MRSS has caught on: Both Google and AOL encourage content creators to use MRSS to help their search engines identify and index video.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Google, the new Microsoft, to be added to the S&P 500?
Daniel Gross speculating on why Google is doing a $4 billion secondary public offering:
At some point in the near future, Google will probably be added to the S&P 500. So, why would the potential for inclusion in the S&P 500 spur Google to issue new shares? Once S&P announces it’s adding a stock to the index, it sets off a frenzy. Within days, all the people who manage S&P 500 funds-none of whom owned the stock before-will have to rush out and buy Google.
The folks at Google-and their investment bankers-probably figured this out months ago. Now, if you were a smart company and you wanted your stock to trade cleanly and smoothly, you would try to make new supply available in advance of a projected announcement. And the one surefire way to ensure an adequate supply is to sell a big chunk in a secondary offering. Indeed, the offering promises to increase the supply of Class A shares by about 9 percent.
Google’s a smart clean smooth company. Alas, word in the Times today is not everyone in the Silicon Valley thinks so:
It was not that long ago that Google reigned here as the upstart computer company that could do no wrong. Now some working in the technology field are starting to draw comparisons between Google and Microsoft, the company in Redmond, Wash., that Silicon Valley loves most to hate.
And Microsoft has become the gentle giant:
In the 1990’s, [Joe Kraus, a founder of the 1990’s search firm Excite] said, I.B.M. was widely perceived in Silicon Valley as a “gentle giant” that was easy to partner with while Microsoft was perceived as an “extraordinarily fearsome, competitive company wanting to be in as many businesses as possible and with the engineering talent capable of implementing effectively anything.” Now, in the view of Mr. Kraus, “Microsoft is becoming I.B.M. and Google is becoming Microsoft.”
I met Paul Lynde in a club in West Hollywood in 1976. Afterward I’d see him around but I have hardly any recollection beyond that he was a drunken letch. He typified a kind of apparently out but deeply closeted gay man that seemed to me all too prevalent in that place and time. That was after his 11 appearances on Bewitched but I don’t even know, was it before his starring role in the Center Square?
The host of the show, Peter Marshall, makes a good point in our book about a little bit of Lynde going a long way; too much of him was overkill. That helps explain why Paul’s sitcoms never went anywhere, but why his zingers on “Squares” got him so much notice—pretty much solid raves from the get-go, from both the audience and the producers. He was an immediate smash… The writers on “Squares” took great pains to pen jokes in Paul’s voice. But there’s a lot to be said for what Paul’s great delivery did for those lines. They would have sounded mighty lame coming from anyone else.
Steve Wilson & Joe Florenski, authors of the new Lynde biography, Center Square, on his legacy:
J.F.: For most people Paul is just a funny footnote of TV history. Like a character in the new “Bewitched” movie or as the butt of jokes on cartoons like “The Simpsons,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and “American Dad.” But it’s not a stretch to say “Will & Grace,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and other gay television shows are Paul’s legacy. Way before any of them, Paul was getting away with being gay on a daily basis on TV—an unheard of feat back then.
S.W.: But here’s something sad: The sign proclaiming Mount Vernon, Ohio, as the birthplace of Paul Lynde was recently changed to read: “Home of Daniel Decatur Emmett, Author of [the song] ‘Dixie.’” Maybe we can start a petition to get the old sign back. Or, at the very least, to hold a Paul Lynde day.
Er, before posting I realized that I think it may have been Charles Nelson Reilly that I met, Paul I just saw around. But Reilly I don’t recall as a drunk, just a letch. All of which may say more about me then either of them.
Wallace & Stewart
The first thing he talks about is Steve Carell’s amazing success with The 40 Year-Old Virgin (which is a hilarious film… I cried so hard from laughing). Carell used to be a sidekick on The Daily Show—okay, not even a sidekick… more like a minion… serf. Wallace asks Stewart how he felt when he saw the box office results in the paper and saw the film debuting at #1 with $20-some million. Stewart says that his heart grows three sizes. Wallace goes on to ask (wait wait, who’s interviewing here?) Stewart if he’s ever starred in a film that’s debuted at #1 before. Does having a trailer and access to the craft service count as being the star? Maybe not… Stewart says that he’s been a serf for a film that’s opened at #1 (Big Daddy). He admits to being a bad actor. Wallace asks if there’s any envy towards Carell (seriously, man… Who’s asking the questions?).
Stewart aside, I’m interested to see what the political take on that movie is. A hilarious potty mouthed film about trying to get a middle aged virgin laid that turns (predictably) romantic (the love interest is a hot divorced grandmother) says it’s ok to be a virgin. (Or does it?)
That’s a message the Right might like but somehow I don’t think so here. No telling if Wallace actually saw it. If he did would that qualify him as a South Park Republican?
Credit card war
If you missed it [I did], check out Linda Bilmes’ piece in Saturday’s New York Times that calculates that cost of the Iraq war--from the start through the next five years--will top $1 trillion (or $11,300 per American household). I’m sure people can quibble with some of her numbers. But what was striking--beyond the grand total--was that more than one-fifth of the amount is attributed to financing costs. Yes, because Bush is financing this war with one big credit card--rather than paying for it with, say, taxes--the cost will be an extra $200-plus billion. For that amount, we could give every Iraqi almost $10,000 each.
Monday, August 22, 2005
On Cindy’s commercial, and the Rave
Yesterday the Washington Post reported on the ClearChannel-owned ABC afiliate in Utah refusing to run the Cindy Sheehan ad saying that it was an “inappropriate commercial advertisement for Salt Lake City.”
The night before Utah Sheriffs with helicopters, assault rifles, tear gas, and camouflage-wearing soldiers shut down a Rave.
As it happens, this passage from copyfighter Larry Lessig’s important book, Free Culture (free PDF here), speaks to both. Long for a blog, I hope you’ll read it:
[p. 166] In addition to the copyright wars, we’re in the middle of the drug wars. Government policy is strongly directed against the drug cartels; criminal and civil courts are filled with the consequences of this battle.
Let me hereby disqualify myself from any possible appointment to any position in government by saying I believe this war is a profound mistake. I am not pro drugs. Indeed, I come from a family once wrecked by drugs-though the drugs that wrecked my family were all quite legal. I believe this war is a profound mistake because the collateral damage from it is so great as to make waging the war insane. When you add together the burdens on the criminal justice system, the desperation of generations of kids whose only real economic opportunities are as drug warriors, the queering of constitutional protections because of the constant surveillance this war requires, and, most profoundly, the total destruction of the legal systems of many South American nations because of the power of the local drug cartels, I find it impossible to believe that the marginal benefit in reduced drug consumption by Americans could possibly outweigh these costs.
You may not be convinced. That’s fine. We live in a democracy, and it is through votes that we are to choose policy. But to do that, we depend fundamentally upon the press to help inform Americans about these issues.
Beginning in 1998, the Office of National Drug Control Policy launched a media campaign as part of the “war on drugs.” The campaign produced scores of short film clips about issues related to illegal drugs. In one series (the Nick and Norm series) two men are in a bar, discussing the idea of legalizing drugs as a way to avoid some of the collateral damage from the war. One advances an argument in favor of drug legalization. The other responds in a powerful and effective way against the argument of the first. In the end, the first guy changes his mind (hey, it’s television). The plug at the end is a damning attack on the pro-legalization campaign.
Fair enough. It’s a good ad. Not terribly misleading. It delivers its message well. It’s a fair and reasonable message.
But let’s say you think it is a wrong message, and you’d like to run a countercommercial. Say you want to run a series of ads that try to demonstrate the extraordinary collateral harm that comes from the drug war… Can you be sure your message will be heard then?
No. You cannot. Television stations have a general policy of avoiding “controversial” ads. Ads sponsored by the government are deemed uncontroversial; ads disagreeing with the government are controversial. This selectivity might be thought inconsistent with the First Amendment, but the Supreme Court has held that stations have the right to choose what they run. Thus, the major channels of commercial media will refuse one side of a crucial debate the opportunity to present its case. And the courts will defend the rights of the stations to be this biased.
I’d be happy to defend the networks’ rights, as well-if we lived in a media market that was truly diverse. But concentration in the media throws that condition into doubt. If a handful of companies control access to the media, and that handful of companies gets to decide which political positions it will allow to be promoted on its channels, then in an obvious and important way, concentration matters. You might like the positions the handful of companies selects. But you should not like a world in which a mere few get to decide which issues the rest of us get to know about.
For the record, I do not agree with Cindy’s message. I don’t want our troops brought home now. But I do think that in a free culture, as ours purports to be, the ad should be shown.
What country is this?
The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd. I was kind of in awe and just sat and watched this thing circle us for a minute. As I looked back towards the crowd I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. At this point, everyone was fully aware of what was going on . A few “troops” rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone “get the fuck out of here or go to jail”. This is where it got really sticky.
No one resisted. That’s for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing… bad scene.
From several previous experiences with Rave parties of this size, a large amount of drug use and underage consumption of alcohol occur. In addition reports of sexual assaults, overdoses, firearm violations, vehicle burglaries, and numerous individuals drive from the party under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.
Utah County Sheriff’s Office Detectives interviewed several females that had attended a prior rave party in the Utah county area in the past month that had been sexual assaulted. These females stated that the combination of drugs and alcohol made them fear for their safety due to the groping and sexual assaults that occurred during the Rave party. In the last year alone one near fatal shooting was investigated by Utah County Sheriff’s Office at a similar party.
I find comments like “it was verified that more than 250 individuals were at the party” questionable as well. Verified by who? How?
Keller “blasts” Posner
In his recent New York Times Book Review piece, Richard Posner “swallows almost uncritically the conventional hogwash of partisan critics on both sides: that “the media” (as accused from the right) work in tireless pursuit of a liberal agenda, and that they have (as accused from the left) become docile house pets of the Bush administration because they fear offending the powers that be,” says Times executive editor Bill Keller.
The Posner piece is still online. (How does the Times archiving work anyway? News stories stay a week, movie reviews forever, books forever? I can’t quite figure it out...) I recommend reading it. I quoted it approvingly when it appeared in July and stood by it when others trashed it.
I read a lot of blogs and don’t always know when I’m reading left or right. I may recollect that the right liked it (or maybe not) but I know that I thought it was darned good and largely on point. Which is not to say that I agreed with everything in it.
I read it thoroughly then and with all the comment should read it again but until I do my impression remains that folks don’t like the particulars and are thereby missing the overall message, which I read as a positive one.
Google builds rather than buys
Another reason I like Google:
The 4,100-employee company that the three computer scientists have built has maintained a marked predisposition toward building and not buying its future. Indeed, its acquisitions to date have exclusively been of small technology start-ups led by designers whom Google wanted to hire.
That is a marked contrast to its two main competitors, the Microsoft Corporation and Yahoo, which have recently turned to high-profile acquisitions to enter new markets.
Google’s preference has been instead to try to create new markets from scratch or to redefine existing ones when it enters them.
Meanwhile, the ever-vigilant Cory suspects stealthy monitoring of clickthroughs:
There’s some very subtle clickthrough tracking going on at Google. Just before you click on a link on a search-results page, at the “on mousedown” event, Google rewrites the links in its search results with a long redirector URL that is presumably being used to track which search results are being selected most often.
Updates to his original post suggest a more benign purpose. One from a Koz I hadn’t read before:
I believe the letter-salad you’re seeing is related to google’s personalised search & search-history features… If I want to turn it off, I can click my account and then Delete personalised search. I don’t know if my experience is different because I’m logged into gmail, but it doesn’t look like anything evil is happening here.
Star Trek phone
The only surprise here is that it took so long:
Sona Mobile and Viacom Consumer Products are set to offer a Star Trek communicator-themed mobile device that will let users make calls, play video clips, play online Star Trek games and surf the internet.
The cool gadgetry on the classic TV series has made dreamers drool since the first time Captain Kirk barked the words “Beam me up, Scotty!” into his little black box and snapped it shut. But this is the first time Viacom, which owns the rights to the TV and movie franchise, has put its licensed imprint on such a device.
The special-edition Star Trek Communicator Phone is part of the ramping-up of events and promotions tied to the 40th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise next year. But the timing was also right because “the technology is better now,” said Sandi Isaacs, VP of interactive at Viacom Consumer Products. “With the prior generations of handsets and mobiles, it was really hard to give consumers a rich experience.”
Viacom and Sona are still finalizing details of the look and features that the communicator phone, due in stores Sept. 30, will sport. But fans can expect the devices to chirp and beep with ringtones that mimic the familiar sounds of the communicators used in the Star Trek TV series and movies.
New recruiting ads
Recruiting ads typically depict life in the military as a really fun first-person shooter game, one that happens to look good on a rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©. Recently, the “Army of One” spots showed off some of the awesome, adrenaline-pumping jobs that soldiers can have-mostly jobs that don’t involve being shot at.
But this new set of four ads (one of them is in Spanish) takes a quieter approach. Gone are all the choppers and night-vision goggles. They’ve been replaced by kitchen tables and conversations. This campaign seems aimed less at potential recruits than at their parents. And, sure enough, the press release describes the spots as “influencer-targeted.” Apparently, most kids won’t enlist until they’ve had a serious talk with Mom and Dad (or a teacher, or a coach). These ads are meant to make that talk go down easier.
Most other ads paid for by the government have very different goals. In PSAs about drugs, drunk driving, smoking, and teen sex, parents are unfailingly urged to shield their kids from danger. Here, they’re being asked to throw their kids right in harm’s way.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Of Pandas and People
Last January in Dover, PA, in the schools my two nephews attended, the school board required ninth-grade biology teachers to read an Intelligent Design statement. The teachers refused so administrators read it instead.
The statement cites “Of Pandas and People” as a reference work. In the New Republic (paid subscription required, extended excerpts in the extended entry), Jerry Coyne notes the clear religious connections to Pandas:
Pandas is published by the Haughton Publishing Company of Dallas, a publisher of agricultural books, but the copyright is held by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) in Richardson, Texas. Although the FTE website scrupulously avoids mentioning religion, its articles of incorporation note with stark clarity that its “primary purpose is both religious and educational, which includes, but is not limited to, proclaiming, preaching, teaching, promoting, broadcasting, disseminating, and otherwise making known the Christian gospel and understanding of the Bible and the light it sheds on the academic and social issues of our day.” ... Charles Thaxton, the “academic editor” of Pandas, is the director of curriculum research for FTE and a fellow of the CSC. In a proto-ID book on the origin of life, Thaxton argued that “Special Creation by a Creator beyond the cosmos is a plausible view of origin science.”
Coyne thus expects a clear win for the eleven Dover parents who brought suit. The September trial is to be held in a courtroom in Harrisburg, PA, the town in which I was raised:
Barring a miracle, the Dover Area School District will lose its case. Anyone who bothers to study ID and its evolution from earlier and more overtly religious forms of creationism will find it an unscientific, faith-based theory ultimately resting on the doctrines of fundamentalist Christianity. Its presentation in schools thus violates both the Constitution and the principles of good education. There is no secular reason why evolutionary biology, among all the sciences, should be singled out for a school-mandated disclaimer. But the real losers will be the people of Dover, who will likely be saddled with huge legal bills and either a substantial cut in the school budget or a substantial hike in property taxes. We can also expect that, if they lose, the IDers will re-group and return in a new disguise even less obviously religious. I await the formation of the Right to Teach Problems with Evolution Movement.
Emphasis mine. Details of Coyne’s arguments in the extended entry.
Flying the flag
I live in a family-oriented neighborhood. My problem is my next-door neighbor flies his gay pride flag in his front yard. Because we have a lot of families with young children who do not need to be subjected to that kind of thing, I have asked him numerous times to remove it.
His response is it’s a free country and he does not subject anybody to his lifestyle.
I strongly feel that in a neighborhood devoted to children’s morals and the way life should be, he should not be allowed to have that flag in his front yard for everyone to see. I threatened if he didn’t take it down, I’d call the police. I feel it’s harming the children to see that flag flying, especially on a busy street that everyone travels on. What should I do?—RIGHTEOUS IN NEW CASTLE, PA.
And applaud Abby’s response:
DEAR RIGHTEOUS: First of all, calm down. Your neighbor is hurting no one, and “young children” will not understand what the flag symbolizes. Unless there are codes, covenants or restrictions in your neighborhood governing the display of flags, your neighbor has a right to hoist his banner. Rather than picking a fight about something so insignificant, you should concentrate on cultivating your own garden and stop obsessing about what’s going on in his.
I fly the Rainbow flag from my house, alternating it with the American flag. My suspicion has long been that many people around here don’t know what it means. But even if they do and are in agreement with Righteous’ sentiment, I’m not sure they’d take action.
Here the Confederate flag and the old Georgia State flag are frequently flown (and Ten Commandment signs dot many yards). These people know first hand what it’s like to have others try to take down their symbols.
Put a Rainbow flag on public property and you’ll see righteous outrage, but on private property, I think they’d let it be.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Asking around, I hear disagreement. I think it’s coming from our own biases. Yes, the reflex is take it down. Thinking it through, they’ll come around.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Bill Kristol, a smart man I rarely agree with, on The Newshour last night:
I think it’s grotesque. I think the left has found a new weapon to oppose the president and the war, and that weapon is martyrdom, and they are using the death of a soldier in this case and the mother’s grief over that death to try to, obviously, rally support, as Mrs. Sheehan has made perfectly clear to get the troops out of Iraq. Her complaint isn’t that we aren’t grieving enough over these young men and women who have died; it’s that President Bush isn’t following her preferred policy alternative.
Yes, she’s trying to rally support for her preferred policy position. She, like all of us, has every right to do that. What’s key here is that her preferred policy position is rooted in her experience of loosing a son in war.
What’s really grotesque in this instance is that Kristol, after claiming that the left is “using the death of a soldier” to make a point, uses the death of a soldier to attempt to score his own left-wing media bias point:
Tom mentions this woman from Georgia whose son died. We’ll see how much attention the media pays to Linda Ryan, the mother of a Marine who died, who’s very offended by what Mrs. Sheehan is saying. Are we going to now pull out competing mothers, competing widows? I think—it’s just grotesque, I think.
Uh, who pulled out a competing mother?
Oliphant on Sheehan: It’s not antiwar
More from Tom Oliphant last night on The Newshour:
I don’t think this has anything to do broadly with antiwar sentiment or even bring the troops home. I think, through an odd confluence of events, Cindy Sheehan became a metaphor for America’s impatience, frustration, and ambivalence about the continuing American involvement. It’s much bigger than her. And I don’t think it has anything to do with antiwar sentiment, per se. That’s involved, but that doesn’t account for the phenomena… There is exactly one Democratic senator who is even in favor of setting a date. There are a handful of Republicans and Democrats in the House who are in favor. This is not an antiwar movement. It is a frustration movement.
The one, Russ Feingold, may prove to be so popular among those impatient, frustrated, ambivalent Americans that we can expect a good number of pols to follow. And I’m guessing they’ll come from both sides of the aisle. Recall please that I am explicitly not anti-war, though I wouldn’t have supported it had I known then what I know now.
I don’t agree with Oliphant. I think it is anti-war.
I expect history will show that President Bush’s biggest mistake was not truly leading us into war. Taking advantage of the pro-American sentiment after 9/11 to rally the world to our side instead of hubristically telling them that we’re taking charge. Focusing on the real terrorist threat rather than invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.
Were we to succeed, the damage would be undone. But we continue to leave failed leaders in charge, try the same old same old and blame the media for not looking at the progress, while back-peddling and reducing expectations. Instead of building resolve we’re twiddling it away. For that I do now and will forever more blame Bush.
Georgia’s Cindy Sheehan?
Tom Oliphant last night on The Newshour:
I think it makes sense to suggest that America’s about to meet another woman. Her name is Patricia Roberts, and she comes from Georgia, and her son was the first kid from Georgia to die during the invasion. And she’s been active in opposition to the American involvement in Iraq since her son died two years ago. And she apparently is on her way to Texas to fill in for Cindy Sheehan.
So I did a Google search. Not a lot there:
It is traveling day for Evelyn Allen and Patricia Roberts, two mothers who lost their sons to the war in Iraq.
“We just don’t know the truth behind the war,” Allen told 11Alive’s Jerry Carnes “We’re at a standstill. Why is it going on? We want to know why.”
Allen is the mother of Jonathan Shields who was 25 when he died in Iraq. Patricia Roberts is the mother of Jamaal Addison, who was killed at the age of 23. With The mothers boarded a plane at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, bound for Crawford, Texas. They’ve joined in a protest there in front of President Bush’s Texas ranch, demanding that president Bush end the war.
Interesting that they’re both black. I don’t know the numbers, but I am under the impression that there are a disproportionate number of blacks serving. Many I know here are ardent supporters.
I’m buying me a Mac Mini!
The sleek Mac Mini from Apple Computer costs $499 at retail, but the total sum of the parts is less, says research firm iSuppli.
Analysts at the research firm dissected one of the Mac Mini computers and estimated that the total component bill likely comes to $274.69.
“With manufacturing costs added, the total rises to $283.37,” iSuppli stated in a recent research note.
First off, I’d like to see equivalent numbers for any Dell machine (as there is no equivalent Dell machine) and for other electronic items sold at retail. But more:
The total does not include costs for intellectual property, software, licensing fees, shipping, marketing or other expenses, so Apple’s total bill for putting a Mac Mini together is actually higher.
“In general, the Mac Mini’s high level of integration makes it one of the most cutting-edge systems iSuppli has ever dissected,” iSuppli stated.
I don’t know what percentage of Apple’s profits the Mini might be but my guess is not much.
It is a darned good machine (my former boss in NY has one--at work!) that takes up no desk space (I’ve got a small house) and is perfectly adequate for photos, music, email, blogging and web surfing—the things I use a home machine for. (I’ve even edited video on Macs with less muscle, so while not ideal for that, it’s doable.)
I.T.’s antipathy for it is a symptom of their benchmark mentality and distance from the actual user’s needs and experience. It is affordable high-design and functionality and allows folks like me, who want to own both platforms, or those who just like Macs, a good entry-level option.
I say if you like it, buy it!
Missing in action
Have I mentioned that I’m working real hard? Through last weekend and late every day this week.
So I declared that yesterday I was going to leave work early. Fat chance—I not only didn’t leave early, I missed lunch! I get cranky when I don’t eat. And migraines. Last night’s was killer.
Given that, I hardly had a moment for blogging. And I have so much stored up to say! But still, this weekend I’ve got to catch up with work on the house. I hope to pick back up to my normal posting goal (4 a day, some with substance*) in the coming week.
*Of course I believe all my posts are substantive. In this instance I’m defining “substance” as something more than a “check this out.”
Friday, August 19, 2005
Gay Batman art illegal?
Carrie McLaren at Stay Free Daily:
D.C. Comics is going after a Chelsea art dealer, demanding that it cease and desist from exhibiting Mark Chamberlain’s series of “gay Batman” watercolors. As Kathleen Cullen of Kathleen Cullen Fine Art explained to Artnet, “D.C. Comics wants me to hand over all unsold work and invoices for the sold work!”
I hope she told them to make their own gay Batman watercolors.
More images from Artnet (if they stay--they’ve also also received a cease-and-desist). And check out Carrie’s Illegal Art: freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age.
From Artnet news:
The use by fine artists of mass-market and commercial cartoon imagery goes back decades—both Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol were pursued by photographers for copyright violations (the artists tended to settle), and Jeff Koons famously litigated the String of Puppies case all the way to the Supreme Court (he lost). The Walt Disney Co. brought an infringement suit against Dennis Oppenheim for using small statuettes of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in his sculpture Virus, with mixed results—the artist was forbidden to sell the work but allowed to exhibit it.
Homey messy home
Whatever happened to wireless glamour? The same thing that tends to happen to every other kind of glamour: We got tired of it, because it was too much work. The grace, mystery, and idealism that give glamour its power aren’t terribly compatible with everyday life, at least not the way most Americans want to live it. And when we’re furnishing our homes (or our dorm rooms), we often prefer a comfortingly homey mess to glamour’s impossible grace.
She quotes from Culture and Consumption II:
Respondents used a very particular set of adjectives to describe “homeyness.” A favorite characterization of the homey place was to say that it looked “as though someone lived there.” The terms “informal,” “comfortable,” “cozy,” “relaxed,” “secure,” “unique,” “old,” “rich,” “warm,” “humble,” “welcoming,” “accommodating,” “lived in,” “country kitchenish” were all used as glosses…
The enemies of homeyness...were easily characterized. One respondent described an ornately formal living room as “cluttered up with a whole lot of fancy stuff” and therefore unhomey. The terms used to characterize unhomey homes were “pretentious,” “formal,” “stark,” “elegant,” “cold,” “daunting,” “sterile,” “showpiece,” “reserved,” “controlled,” “decorated,” “modern,” and even “Scandinavian.”
With the floors and painting done, this weekend we complete the furniture move. I expect it will be homey.
The consequences of using aid as a weapon
If economic aid is withdrawn whenever countries refuse to do what the US dictates, it pretty much destroys any good will created by it, since it makes it clear it is just a weapon, not something representing values other countries should be loyal to in a crisis.
If those countries can get a better deal—and China is starting to offer it—why shouldn’t they take it, since the US has just forfeited any moral superiority to China by choosing to use the denial of economic aid as a weapon of domination.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Blogger and Word
Google released a Blogger for Word Toolbar. I like the idea; would love one for Movable Type (though for the moment I use a Mac and that’s not supported). But I really like how it came about.
Last July, a few of us visited the Democratic National Convention to see political bloggers in action. Many were using Microsoft Word to post their reports. It was a multi-step process that didn’t look like fun, but for citizen journalists, punctuation, spelling and grammar are important. That got the Blogger team thinking about how to help Word users to become bloggers.
Via CNet News.com. And spell-checked in Word.
I’m making my way through Jerry Coyne’s 27 page Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name, the case against Intelligent Design in the New Republic this week. (Subscription only.)
Some comments on theory:
It is important to realize at the outset that evolution is not “just a theory.” It is, again, a theory and a fact. Although non-scientists often equate “theory” with “hunch” or “wild guess,” the Oxford English Dictionary defines a scientific theory as “a scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts.” In science, a theory is a convincing explanation for a diversity of data from nature. Thus scientists speak of “atomic theory” and “gravitational theory” as explanations for the properties of matter and the mutual attraction of physical bodies. It makes as little sense to doubt the factuality of evolution as to doubt the factuality of gravity.
When applied to evolution, the erroneous distinction between theory and fact shows why tactics such as the Dover disclaimer and the Cobb County textbook sticker are doubly pernicious. To teach that a scientific theory is equivalent to a “guess” or a “hunch” is deeply misleading, and to assert that “evolution is a theory, not a fact” is simply false. And why should evolution, alone among scientific theories, be singled out with the caveat “This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered”? Why haven’t school boards put similar warnings in physics textbooks, noting that gravity and electrons are only theories, not facts, and should be critically considered? After all, nobody has ever seen gravity or an electron. The reason that evolution stands alone is clear: other scientific theories do not offend religious sensibilities.
I’ll have thoughts and comments when I finish the article…