aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Times editorial: Where’s the governator now?
For years, social conservatives have accused judges of deciding social issues that should be left to legislators. Now Mr. Schwarzenegger wants to ignore his Legislature and leave gay marriage to the courts or the voters at large to decide.
He relies on a fig leaf: five years ago, Californians voted overwhelmingly for a ballot measure that recognized only heterosexual marriages as valid. A statement by the governor’s press office declared, “We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote.”
That ignores the fact that five years is an eternity in the fast-moving arena of gay rights. Even though 61 percent of the voters approved the ballot measure, recent polls show that the electorate is now evenly split, with Democrats and independents favoring same-sex marriage and Republicans strongly opposed. The Legislature is hardly a renegade body if it roughly mirrors popular opinion.
Mr. Schwarzenegger also seems to have forgotten that this nation was founded as a republic, in which the citizens elect legislators to govern on their behalf. Such representative democracy is especially important when it comes to protecting the fundamental rights of minorities, who may face bigoted hostility from some segments of the electorate.
The customer is always wrong
Wendy quotes from the Times today lots of things that the Apple, Cingular, Motorola, iPod phone (called the Rokr E1) doesn’t do, which are, she observes, “the things a customer would most want.” For example:
Incredibly, though, you can only store 100 songs on the phone, tops, no matter how much room is left on the card… The companies aren’t especially forthcoming on the reason for the 100-song limitation, but it’s not hard to imagine Apple worrying about the Rokr’s impact on the sales of real iPods.
The guide takes a close look at popular online music services provided by Apple, RealNetworks, and Napster 2.0, as well as Microsoft’s “Plays For Sure” DRM campaign. In an effort to attract customers, these companies try to obscure the restrictions they impose on you with clever marketing. Unfortunately, bypassing these hidden restrictions to make perfectly legal uses puts you at risk of liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
If you’d rather listen to music on your phone than grouse about these engineered limitations, there’s always the open-source TCPMP for Treo or WinCE, which not only plays MP3 and OGG files, but videos too.
From my email
The tiny Nano—which Jobs unveiled in customary grand fashion, with a videoconference chat with Madonna and a live performance by an unapologetic Kanye West—may be bigger than any of us imagine. It’s true that at $249, the 4 GB model is, on the face of it, not that great a value. A full-size iPod—a 20 GB model that holds five times as many songs—can be had for only $50 more.
But the iPod Nano is breathtaking. Thinner than a No. 2 pencil, weighing less than $2 in quarters (these are Jobs’ own stats, approximately confirmed in my encounter with a display unit), the Nano looks cooler than any other iPod—and probably any other electronic device—you’ve ever seen. Do looks matter? They seem to matter to Apple’s customers.
The iPod Mini, which the Nano replaces, was Apple’s most popular device (and was, therefore, the most popular MP3 player in the world). The Mini did so well not because it was cheap, or because it carried a lot of music—its storage capacity and price tag were about the same as the new Nano—but, people say, because it looked good. And if a significant number of Apple’s customers are interested in a great-looking thing, the Nano, which is far prettier than the Mini, should warm their hearts.
UPDATE: The ad is another great looking thing from Apple. Duncan has it
Rejected campaign ad
Fox 5 in NY has rejected a political ad from openly gay Democratic candidate for Manhattan Borough President. The candidate, Brian Ellner, says he was told it’s because the ad is “disrespectful to the office of the president.”
The ad is here.
[p. 166] 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.
I think that’s problematic on its face, but when applied to campaign speech it’s downright antidemocratic.