aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Mired in the mud
Bush’s “both sides ought to be properly taught” answer to a question about the “growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design” at a “round table” with Texas reporters a couple weeks ago has resulted in a bunch of magazine pieces that I’m only getting around to reading now.
I.D.Ã¢â‚¬"whose central (and easily refuted) talking point is that certain structures of living things are too intricate to have evolved without the intervention of an “intelligent designer” (and You know who You are)-enjoys virtually no scientific support. It is not even a theory, in the scientific sense, because it is untestable and unsupportable by empirical evidence. It is a last-ditch skirmish in a misguided war against reason that cannot be won and, for religion’s sake as well as science’s, should not be fought. If the President’s musings on it were an isolated crotchet, they would hardly be worth noting, let alone getting exercised about. But they’re not. They reflect an attitude toward science that has infected every corner of his Administration. From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group-one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That’s why the White House-sometimes in the service of political Christianism or ideological fetishism, more often in obeisance to baser interests like the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and defense industries-has altered, suppressed, or overriden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./ AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention… In this White House, science’s name is mud. And, unlike those intelligent designers in the sky, all this crowd knows how to do is sling it.
A budding anti-war movement
Dave Fried on the modern protest movement:
Cindy Sheehan held a press conference this morning from Crawford, and I was impressed by the differences between the current anti-war movement and the one during the Vietnam War. The current protests are for the most part peaceful, well-groomed, re made up of people of all ages, overtly patriotic (displaying the American flag nearly everywhere), and remarkably polite.
Here in nearby Macon:
About two dozen people from across Middle Georgia lit candles, prayed and sang in Macon’s Washington Park on Wednesday in an anti-war ceremony.
“Twenty-five hours ago I sent out six e-mails and we have about 20 people here,” said Macon dentist Lindsay Holliday, who organized the vigil.
The local event was among hundreds of candlelight vigils held across the nation Wednesday calling for an end to the war in Iraq. The effort was spurred by one mother’s anti-war demonstration near President Bush’s ranch.
Kelly O’Donnell just reported that “hundreds answered Cindy Sheehan’s call” in New York City’s Union Square. Given their relative sizes, the Macon turnout is impressive.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Turn the newroom on its head
Nashville’s third-rated local news station, WKRN-Channel 2, is the first newsroom in the country to move to a comprehensive “VJ” model, wherein the TV news staff is told, as Rosenblum puts it, “to forget everything you know or think you know about television because everything you know is wrong.” Videographers who were once responsible only for shooting film are now charged with reporting stories, often even nuanced public policy news that they’ve never before needed to understand in any sophisticated way. Conversely, reporters who have never shot film in their lives are given cameras and laptops and trained to shoot as well as report, edit their own packages, etc. It turns conventional TV newscasting on its head.
Still more on Target
Target has long viewed itself as floating above the rabble. It was founded in 1962 by the Dayton brothers, a family of Minnesota department-store magnates, who feared that upstart discounters would move into the Twin Cities and undercut them. Douglas Dayton scoffed at those who would “trumpet democratic price cuts on cheap merchandise"-i.e., Sam Walton, who was founding his Wal-Mart empire down the road in Arkansas. The Target chain, the Daytons decided, would exude the mild pretension of a low-end department store rather than the folksiness of a high-end dime store. (The now-famous “Tar-zhay” pun, emphasizing Target’s exalted place in the discount world, dates back to the store’s founding in 1962.) By the mid-1980s, Target executives had begun describing their market niche in the press as “upscale discount.”
Target was a financial marvel, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that it began to amass cultural capital. At the behest of marketing head John Pellegrene, Target courted high-end designers to class up the stock. Of the dozens that would enlist (Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo Giannulli, etc.), the biggest “get” was the postmodern architect Michael Graves, who consented to design a line of furnishings and kitchen gadgets in 1999.
The article talks about Target’s appeal to New Yorkers. Last December I noted Target’s lack of appeal in my town.
By: Me Company. Their website is cool too.
Target’s New Yorker
My New Yorker arrived today. WOW!
FOR the first time in the 80-year history of The New Yorker magazine, a single advertiser will sponsor an entire issue… The Target ads, in the form of illustrations by more than two dozen artists like Milton Glaser, Robert Risko and Ruben Toledo, are to run only the one time in the issue. They are intended to salute New York City and the people who live - and shop - there.
The drawings in the Target ads will feature subway motifs, street and park scenes, a dog walker, a cocktail party, even a bridge rendered as a shoe. All the ads, not surprisingly, feature the Target bull’s-eye logo in one way or another, like a giant game of ring toss with the Target targets circling a skyscraper.
“We had a list of New York icons” that might appear in the ads, Ms. Gralnek said, but in the end “these were the rules we gave the artists: the ads had to use the Target bull’s-eye and had to have New York themes.”
The artists were also asked to draw using only three colors to help the ads stand out: red and white, for the Target logo, and black.
The ads are way cool! So much so that I’ve yet to even look at the table of contents.
Update: My favorite.
I would like to see a call for some sort of sacrifice. Not a draft. A draft is not workable. But I wish I saw more senior administration officials out there trying to persuade young people to enlist.
I wish we had a tax increase to help pay for this. Even if, you know, you could construct and economic theory that says you don’t need a tax increase to pay for this, some sort of sense that when you go to war you’re asking people to give.
And I also cannot explain to you why it is that the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian decoration that we’ve got, went to Tommy Franks, who was a civilian for about a year or so after before he got it. So it wasn’t clearly for his civilian achievements. To George Tenet, who, again, a wonderful guy and patriotic and smart and all that, but who presided over two major intelligence disasters. Or Ambassador Bremer, who, again, you know, dedicated, patriotic fellow, but who was not a success in his job.
Those three guys got the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That’s just wrong.
Like father like son
“I’m determined that life goes on,” Mr. Bush said stubbornly.
That wasn’t the son, believe it or not. It was the father - 15 years ago. I was in Kennebunkport then to cover the first President Bush’s frenetic attempts to relax while reporters were pressing him about how he could be taking a month to play around when he had started sending American troops to the Persian Gulf only three days before.
On Saturday, the current President Bush was pressed about how he could be taking five weeks to ride bikes and nap and fish and clear brush even though his occupation of Iraq had become a fiasco. “I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life,” W. said, “to keep a balanced life.”
The Presidency is a bully pulpit; the signal he sends is precisely as he’s said, and all of us must be forgiven for following his lead.
“It’s also important for me to go on with my life.” Me, me, me. My, my, my.
So we have a war with no sacrifice. Tax cuts. Failed officials given the Medal of Freedom. And we’re surprised by the result?
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
With friends like these
On Gold Star snubs
The Cunning Realist on snubbery:
I’ve been trying to remember if there have been any significant historical examples of an elected official refusing to meet with an average citizen. As it so happens, one example from the recent past has some interesting parallels to the Cindy Sheehan story.
In the early months of Hillary Clinton’s term as senator, a story “broke” that she had snubbed a group called “The American Gold Star Mothers” that had come to her office in Washington seeking a meeting. The Gold Star Mothers is a group of mothers whose sons and daughters have been killed while serving in the military (note that this is not the same group founded by Cindy Sheehan, which is called “Gold Star Families For Peace”). The story of the alleged snub first appeared on the website Newsmax.com, a sort of quasi-legit underbelly of the Right. Its homepage currently features Michelle Malkin, Bill O’Reilly and Mike Gallagher in its “Pundits” section. You get the idea.
The usual cast of keyboarding smearsters latched onto and ran with the story, and a massive email campaign mysteriously started that pushed it---emails, by the way, that somehow continue to find their way around the internet in great numbers even now.
Via Kos: “Hillary snubbing Gold Star mothers is an act of utter betrayal to the troops, but the same from their president spurs oppo research on a Gold Star mother. To them, Bush can do no wrong.”
Gas guzzlers get a break
Brew’s post wondering why we’re going to exempt large SUV’s from the fuel economy standards gives me the opportunity to point again to my Heat Wave post quoting James Wolcott’s 100F post:
“As the world warms, we expect more and more intense tropical hurricanes and cyclones,’ said James McCarthy, a professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University.”
But if the climate is changing, attitudes are cemented in place, especially in the Red State of Denial.
“What hasn’t changed in the United States is the lack of concern about climate change, said Ross Gelbspan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of two books on global warming, most recently one titled: Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil And Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis—And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster.”
UPDATE: Slate points helpfully to TerraPass (Eek! the site talks at you!) where “For a yearly fee of around $80 [they] will offset the damage your SUV does to the atmosphere by spending your money to reduce industrial carbon emissions and to promote the spread of clean energy.”
And send you a decal and a bumper sticker too.
When I first heard about the laptop program I thought it was a good one. I still think it is one legitimate and cost effective way to handle educational technology needs. In response to a lawsuit, a judge halted the program on July 31.
On Sunday the school board moved to terminate its contract with Apple Computer. AJC:
Cobb County schools Superintendent Joseph Redden said Monday he will respond in detail to an investigation that found his administration “deceived” the public by choosing Apple Computer to supply a controversial program with thousands of laptop computers.
Redden, in an afternoon press conference, slammed the report, submitted to school board members over the weekend by corporate investigation specialist Kessler International, as “filled with speculation and circumstantial conclusions.”
He also said it “attempts to evade any responsibility for harm caused to the hard-working, dedicated individuals it impugns.”
My sense is Superintendent Joseph Redden, described as morally and ethically upstanding, believed in the idea. People who didn’t like the program and the voter-approved tax to fund it went to court.
I said then and believe still now that we need to give leaders those rights and obligations required to do their work, then butt out! Hold them accountable for the results but let them do their work.
They voted on it for crying out loud!
Monday, August 15, 2005
Robo-Cat partially paralyzed cat HOAX!
UPDATE: I guess I’ve got to get cable again. Elvis was a Comedy Central skit--and I beleived it! I’m in good company; I gather Cory did too…
Today Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing points to a real augmented animal:
Elvis the Robo-Cat is a housecat who lost the use of his rear legs in a traffic accident. His owner, an amateur roboticist, has built him a motorized platform that Elvis controls by means of his front paws in order to move around the house.
The roboticist tells the story in this video.
Hillary “a stone cold lock in 2008”
Chris Bowers says “the ‘Why Not Hillary’ question will haunt every other Democratic contender in 2008:”
If any Democratic candidate is going to muster any traction against Clinton whatsoever, they need to answer all of the following:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Prove that really are a progressive alternative to Clinton. You are not going to out-centrist her, especially in a primary.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Prove that you can go through the Republican Noise Machine wringer and come out clean, like she has, but like so many other Democrats have failed to do.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Prove that you can bring new voters into the Democratic fold.
Some candidates and potential candidates can answer some of these questions, but I don’t think anyone can answer them all yet. Until someone can answer them all, Hillary should be considered a stone cold lock in 2008.
A fan of Jamie Kane, an online alternate reality game from the BBC, posted a Wikipedia entry that others suspected was a viral marketing ploy by the BBC. Within 24 hours Wikipedia’s “hastily self-correcting” nature kicked in and the entry was amended.
Boing Boing tells the story. It includes the game fan’s statement:
Please do not use my edits to slander the BBC. If this were part of a viral campaign, the grammar of the article would almost certainly be better. I suspect the article would have been created at the same time as the game started also. Jamie Kane was mentioned on several blogs on Friday - did not one of you consider it was created by someone who reads such things? I’m nothing more than a student. I’m sincerely apologetic for purposefully omitting the true nature of Jamie Kane.
I say screen ‘em!
The TSA is considering relaxing security screenings of airline passengers to allow razorblades and small knives, limit patdowns and let you keep your shoes on.
It’s also considering exempting several categories of passengers from screening, including federal judges, members of Congress, Cabinet members, state governors, high-ranking military officers and those with high-level security clearances.
Educated Guesswork says that’s a bad idea. Here’s why:
[C]reating a complete exemption from security screening for one class of people suddenly makes it very attractive to be a member of that class. This raises the question of how hard it really is to impersonate someone in that class. There are 535 members of Congress and plenty of federal judges and people with high-ranking clearances. There’s no way that screeners are going to know these people by sight, so they’ll be checking ID. It’s probably not that hard to forge one of these IDs well enough to pass a cursory security check at the airport.
Even if we ignore the security issue, there’s an issue of principle and incentives. The current security screening in this country is fairly onerous and Congress is charged with overseeing that. If those restrictions are too onerous for Congressmen to endure, then why aren’t they too onerous for the rest of us. On the other hand, if Congress is exempt from these restrictions, what incentive do your representatives have to value people’s inconvenience appropriately?
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Times technology: Size, spam, & will a fad fizzle?
Lots of good tech in the Times today. Let’s start with the Yahoo Google size debate:
On Sunday, researchers at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications attempted to shed light on the debate by performing a large number of random searches on both indices. They ran a random sample of 10,012 queries and concluded that Google, on average, returned 166.9 percent more results than Yahoo. In only three percent of the cases did the Yahoo searches return more queries than Google. The group said the Yahoo index claim was suspicious.
Next up, the joys of catching spammers:
“As a result of spammers’ obfuscatory techniques,” the F.T.C. reported, citing one major Internet service provider’s experience, “amassing the required evidence for one lawsuit required eight people who expended approximately 1,000 hours of work.”
Litigation costs “can range from $100,000 or less (when the spammer is easily identifiable) to more than $2 million (when the spammer mounts an aggressive defense),” the commission’s report continued. “Not surprisingly, some I.S.P.’s believe that lawsuits against spammers are an expensive and often fruitless way to stop spam. Instead, these I.S.P.’s expend the bulk of their antispam resources improving their filtering technologies.”
The experts say filters are the way to go and that as they get better the number of eyeballs reached will become “too few to make spamvertizing a worthwhile marketing strategy.”
Finally, is podcasting a fad that’ll fizzle?
Marc Freedman of the Diffusion Group predicted that 56.8 million people would be using podcasts in 2010. “Podcasting will be a common feature, integrated into browsers and digital media players,” he said.
But Ted Schadler of Forrester Research predicted that 12.3 million households - about 30 million people - would use podcasts by 2010. His forecast assumes that many early adopters will give up on podcasting and that others will never pick it up.
More Mac service issues
Last week Timothy Noah searched in vain for an iTunes support phone number, today Dan Gillmor describes dealing with Apple over a product flaw. It’s a defect with the 15" PowerBook that Apple must be aware of:
The situation involves the machine’s USB 2.0 ports. In at least some cases, they do not supply enough power to operate peripheral devices, specifically external hard drives that works just fine with other computers including other Apple laptop models.
The service people at the store where I bought the machine, apparently unaware of the problem, tried hard to help me. In the end, they basically threw up their hands and told me to live with a computer that does not work as advertised or get a different one. The company’s phone support people have been politely unhelpful, for the most part, but have also refused to address the core issue.
In the end, I’m forced to conclude that the machine model line is simply defective in at least this one way. And I can live with it. But Apple’s stonewalling with me and other customers is just one more reason why I’m losing faith in a company that I’ve supported with my wallet for a long time.
The cult of the Mac is such that devotees accept the problems, while arguing that Macs are better than PCs and don’t fail.
My experience is they do fail. As it happens, I have that PowerBook model. Buy the AppleCare package, though in this instance it wouldn’t solve the problem.
Justice Sunday’s Catholic irony
This event is full of ironies. For one thing, the key guest speaker from Justice Sunday I, the man leading the charge for Bush’s judicial nominees, Sen. Bill Frist, has been conspicuously excluded from this one, even though it’s being held in his own state. That’s his punishment for (a) failing to invoke the “nuclear option” during consideration of Bush’s Court of Appeals nominees earlier this year, and (b) flip-flopping more recently on stem-cell research.
For another thing, this very sanctimonious event will be graced by Tom DeLay, a man who’s under so many legal and ethical clouds at the moment that a thunderstorm may break out over his head the moment he mounts the rostrum tomorrow.
The main irony? That the main beneficiary, Judge John Roberts, is Roman Catholic:
This is, of course, richly ironic, since the theological and denominational ancestors of the conservative evangelical Protestant leaders most prominently on display in Nashville frequently and vehemently made the opposite argument against earlier Catholic political figures.
The evangelical Protestant inquisition of John F. Kennedy in Houston in 1960 is the most famous example of conservative demands that a Catholic leader swear absolute fealty to the principle of separation of church and state. But there was an earlier and much more savage inquisition back in 1928, when Al Smith, the first Catholic to be nominated for the presidency, was bitterly opposed by conservative Protestant ministers, especially in the South, for the possibility that his faith might somehow affect his policies in office.
As it happens, I’m currently reading an interesting book (Happy Days Are Here Again, by Steve Neal) about the 1932 presidential campaign that has a short but fascinating section about Smith’s persecution for his faith, and his brave but futile response. And here’s what the preeminent American Catholic political martyr of the 20th century had to say:
“I recognize no power in the institutions of my church to interfere with the operations of the Constitution of the United States or the enforcement of the law of the land. I believe in absolute freedom of conscience for all men and in equality of all churches, all sects, and all beliefs before the law as a matter of right and not as a matter of favor. I believe in the absolute separation of church and state.”
Today, peculiarly enough, such views are considered by the likes of the Justice Sunday crowd as “secular humanist,” “anti-Catholic,” and “anti-Christian.” It’s clear that poor Al Smith, were he resurrected today and lifted to public office, would again suffer persecution from the same people, but for the opposite reasons.
Via Armando at Kos. Emphasis his, with my concurrence.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
In for the long haul
While I marched in support of bringing our brave soldiers home during the early 1970’s, I’m sort of a Howard Dean type on the Iraq disaster. Before the stupid, stupid, stupid decision on March 19, 2003 - I was very opposed to invading Iraq as I listened to our generals who were trying to convince President Bush that invading Iraq was a gift to bin Laden.
Since the fall of the tyrant known as Saddam Hussein (who had zip to do with 9/11), Howard Dean has argued we must finish what we started - or else give a bigger gift to bin Laden. President Bush done in Crawford seemed to be saying he agreed with this sentiment. But Bush has two habits: (1) say one thing and then another; and (2) do whatever is politically expedient at the time regardless of the horrific long-term consequences to the interests of the American people.
“Declare Victory and Come Home” was one of my favorite blurbs some 35 years ago. Today, it would be an incredibly stupid thing to do…
I wasn’t opposed when we went in. I believed the president and argued with friends who did not. It turned out he was wrong and most likely manipulated facts to get support for us to go in.
If we leave the country in the lurch to placate a disaffected public the damage done, and bin Laden’s gift, will be even greater.
Well, that’s not precisely right. Armando at Kos, Steve Gilliard at The News Blog, Jerome Armstrong at MyDD, Oliver Willis at Oliver Willis “Like Kryptonite to Stupid” and Duncan Black at Atrios (in a post that otherwise makes a good point) got all outraged, indignant and upset because attorney and political consultant Erick Erickson called Cindy a “whore.”
But he didn’t call her a whore, even if he did apologize before coming out swinging again. He called her a “media whore” and not a one of my liberal compatriots put quotes around that. Rather, it was just whore. He called her a whore!
Dare I say that common wisdom, as reflected in this Wikipedia entry and this one, makes a clear definitional distinction between “media whore” and “whore?” I have loads of disagreements with Erick and RedState and I don’t think Cindy Sheehan is a media whore, but Erick does (or did, now she’s a moonbat) and Neal Boortz does too.
There’s plenty to criticize in what they wrote. That criticism is undermined somewhat I’d say by the technically accurate but ultimately deceptive omission.
SEE ALSO: For an analysis of the impact of Sheehan’s antiwar protest, check out Joe Gandelman’s High Noon For George Bush And Cindy Sheehan.
Comment problems continue
So now I find that the sign in is giving folks trouble! Evidently it’s not always working as it should. I’m trying to find a solution. I’ve turned off MTBlacklist, which very well may have an update or an answer to my problems, if only I had time to track it down.
I just tried this:
I set Moveble Type to require comment registration, then rebuilt the site. All posts up to that time require registration. Next, I turned off the comment registration requirement and did NOT rebuild the site, hoping that means all posts going forward will not require registration, while old ones will.
If this works, and assuming the large majority of spam comes to old posts, I can repeat the procedure weekly. Keep your fingers crossed. Or make a suggestion of something better if you can!
UPDATE: It’s working… comments welcome again! A stopgap, but a welcome one. Now it’s on to Trackback spam.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The solution is buggy. I’ll have to find another.
A nightingale sings
Friday, August 12, 2005
It could have been worse
I’m not fond of the headline, Lutherans reject “sexually active” gay clergy:
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Leaders of the 5-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America narrowly rejected on Friday the ordination of sexually active gay and lesbian clergy during a biennial national assembly in Florida.
Assembly members voted 503 to 490 against a provision that would have accepted gays and lesbians who are in “life-long, committed and faithful” relationships into the clergy.
The vote maintains the church’s current policy of ordaining unmarried clergy only if they are celibate.
And they voted down same sex “unions:”
On a second hot-button issue, the assembly by a 2-1 margin passed a resolution—criticized by many as ambiguous—addressing the blessing of gay and lesbian unions.
Interpreted by some as allowing same-sex unions and by others as maintaining the status quo, the resolution keeps the denomination’s stand against official church blessings of gay and lesbian unions.
But the resolution also gives some assurance to local parishes and clergy that they will not be penalized for performing blessing ceremonies, stating that the church will “trust in and continue dialogue with pastors and congregations who are in ministry with gay and lesbian persons.”
The vote was 670 for the resolution and 323 against. An early attempt to more explicitly approve same-sex unions failed by a nearly identical vote, 665-334.
Add TiVo Inc. to the list of companies trying to wed the Internet to television. The digital recording company will soon allow customers to download TV shows to their set-top boxes via the Internet - even before the shows air on TV.
TiVo has struck a deal with the Independent Film Channel to transmit several of the cable channel’s shows through a broadband connection as part of a trial program. Participating customers will begin receiving the shows next week, said TiVo spokesman Elliot Sloane.
My TiVo is shut down for the first time in years while we do the floors! Endgadget has screenshots.