aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
An election to watch:
A battle over a policy requiring that ninth-graders in this rural community learn about “intelligent design” in biology class is being fought on two fronts - one political, one legal.
In a federal courtroom in Harrisburg, 20 miles away, a judge is hearing arguments in the sixth week of a landmark trial over whether the concept can be introduced in public school. The non-jury trial is expected to conclude Nov. 4; it is unclear when the judge will issue a decision.
At the polls in Dover, voters will render their decision Nov. 8 on whether to retain eight of the nine Dover Area School Board members - all Republicans - or replace them with a Democratic slate whose platform calls for removing intelligent design from the curriculum.
Republican voters outnumber Democrats in the district nearly 8-5. But party affiliation may not matter in the election: While the challengers are running on the Democratic ticket, half of them are actually registered Republicans, according to a spokesman.
Blake Irving, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft gave a demo of Windows Live and I have to say, I was mighty impressed (despite the fact that he had lots of the technical kind of snafus that only happen of course when you are presenting in front of a lot of people). Think of Windows Live (which is up and running now in beta at the link above) as kind of a like a My Yahoo!—but on steroids. Perhaps most impressive to me was the ease at which RSS is integrated into the site. Basically you just use Windows Live to do a search on any subject and in addition to web search and blog search you have an option to search RSS. All of the known RSS feeds associated with a search term come up and you can easily subscribe simply by dragging the feed over on to your personal Windows Live Page. Impressive.
Windows Live represents the strongest offering I’ve seen yet with the potential to roll RSS out to the masses. Everything on Windows Live revolves around a simple drag and drop page layout. You can even bring in other Web 2.0 services like Flickr photos, etc.
There were so many new Web 2.0 type services incorporated into Windows Live that I had a hard time keeping up.
Better than Google:
Also demoed was Windows Live Local which is kind of a cross between Google Maps and Yahoo! Local. This service is supposed to be available later this month but the mapping software that I say was better than anything I’ve seen from Google yet, including a feature called birds eye view, which rather than only letting you see an overhead satellite shot, actually brings you in at an angle to see a much clearer shot of what you are looking for.
Alito defender of gay rights
Three decades before the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex, Alito declared on behalf of his group of fellow Princeton students that “no private sexual act between consenting adults should be forbidden.” Alito also called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in hiring.
As a federal appellate judge, Alito has built a scant record on gay-rights issues and a mixed one, at best, on privacy matters generally, in the view of civil liberties advocates who are still examining his opinions.
He got it right on electronic privacy too (except in the particular suggestion of a license from the federal government for computer systems).
Kids are content creators
My experience is the Freshman are even moreso than the Seniors. Pew today:
American teenagers today are utilizing the interactive capabilities of the internet as they create and share their own media creations. Fully half of all teens and 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations.
Teens are often much more enthusiastic authors and readers of blogs than their adult counterparts. Teen bloggers, led by older girls, are a major part of this tech-savvy cohort. Teen bloggers are more fervent internet users than non-bloggers and have more experience with almost every online activity in the survey.
Via Cory at BoingBoing.
Were we lied to?
The Moose calls yesterday’s Senate action creative political theater and observes that it brightened the spirits of a frustrated Democratic base. But then he asks:
But, alas, the Senate action raises the question - does the Democratic Party really want to re-litigate the arguments to go to war? Maybe so, but keep in mind that many Democrats voted to grant authority to the President to go to war. And most still stand by that vote.
This author argues that while the Bushies went to war with insufficient troop levels and mishandled the post war situation, it was inevitable and just that Saddam was removed. In the post-9/11 environment any American Administration would have erred on the side of vigilance concerning Saddam’s threat. That may not have been wise, but it wasn’t a case of lying and massive deceit.
I was a supporter of the war too, and wanted Sadam removed. But because it was “evident and just” does not mean that the timing was right or that we sholdn’t go back and look at the lead up to the war.
The Moose apparently assumes re-litigating the arguments would result in everyone standing by their same pre-war positions, and that of course there was no lying or massive deceit. I’m not so sure.
We know now that Sadam could have been contained while a world coalition was built. We know that our strategy, the administration strategy, a neocon fantasy combined with Rumsfeld’s vision of a retooled military, did not work in Iraq.
A different strategy, one rooted in military experience and real intelligence as opposed to ideological distortions justified by faulty commissioned intelligence, may have been a winning strategy. A different strategy may have resulted in fewer casualties and a more stable Iraq.
But most importantly, if we were lied to through manipulated facts to achieve a predetermined end, if 9/11 was a retrofitted justification for an old vendetta, that absolutely should be investigated.
LATER from AP: White House ducks pre-war intel questions.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
$2 shows are good for network TV
Slate on the implications of downloaded TV:
As iTunes and its inevitable competitors offer more broadcast-television content, producers won’t have to depend on couch potatoes as their only audience. They also won’t have to compromise their programs to meet broadcast requirements. Episode lengths can vary as needed, content can be darker, more topical, and more explicit. If the networks are clever, these changes can supplement broadcast programming rather than replace it. Audiences already expect director’s cuts and deleted scenes on DVDs. It’s not hard to imagine that the networks might one day air a “broadcast cut” of an episode, then encourage viewers to download the longer, racier director’s cut the next afternoon.
Nor will episodic programs have to be self-contained to remain accessible to new viewers. While DVDs now give viewers the chance to catch up between seasons, on-demand television will allow anyone to catch up at any time, quickly and legally. Producers will no longer have to choose between alienating new viewers with a complex storyline or alienating the established audience by rehashing details from previous episodes. (This would be especially critical for plot-intensive shows like Alias, which has been forced to “reboot” its plot several times to make it accessible to new viewers.) If they’re smart, the networks will realize this is not only feasible but extremely profitable. Rather than recapping relevant details from previous episodes ("Previously on Alias ..."), we may soon be encouraged to buy our way up to speed ("Before watching tonight’s Alias, download Episodes 4, 5, and 6.")
Read the whole thing.
In an article on the differences between Alito and Scalia, TNR says there are notable differences between the two, and has this on Scalia’s brand of judicial conservatism:
There have been prickly justices in the past, but Scalia is on a bench of his own. He never misses an opportunity to refer to his colleagues in generally dismissive terms, regularly questioning in his opinions whether they have actually read the Constitution while calling them “perverse” and “irrational.” While his professed disdain for judicial activism often leads him to dismiss the power he wields, he wields it with evident glee--overturning acts of Congress at a higher rate than his liberal colleagues, such as Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer (whose rate is the lowest and is precisely half the rate at which Scalia tosses out Congressional enactments). Only conservatives Kennedy and Thomas, according to data compiled by Paul Gewirtz and Chad Golder, beat Scalia on this measure.
UPDATE: Slate says, If you’re a liberal, you’d prefer Scalia.
Three hours after President Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, a conservative ”Catholic-based advocacy organization” fired a warning shot at liberals. “Given the likelihood of a vigorous debate, we remain steadfast in our insistence upon a fair and dignified process free of any attack on Judge Alito’s Catholic faith and personal beliefs,” said the group’s president. “Early attacks by left wing interest groups are particularly worrisome.”
As evidence of the early attacks on Alito’s faith, the group pointed to Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ nothing. The only basis for alleging an anti-Catholic inquisition was the uproar over Alito’s defense of abortion restrictions. This is the GOP’s new victim shtick: Nominate pro-lifers to the courts; brag that they’re simply upholding abortion laws favored by a majority of voters; and when liberals complain, accuse them of attacking a religious minority.
It’s their way of life:
The way in which Hollywood crosses the boundary between the make-believe and the real world takes myriad forms. Consider, for example, 20th Century Fox’s creation of an “Extraterrestrial Highway” in Nevada. In 1996, in preparation for a publicity campaign for the movie Independence Day, Fox executives persuaded Nevada Gov. Bob Miller to officially dedicate Nevada’s Highway 375 as a safe haven for extraterrestrials who landed their spaceships on it. Fox then placed a beacon on the highway near the town of Rachel, Nev., pointing to “Area 51"-which it described in a news release as the place where the U.S. military operates “a top secret alien study project.” To make sure that the story received wider circulation than just Fox News, the studio arranged for busloads of reporters to see the putative periphery of “Area 51.” Even though there is no such military base or “Area 51,” the “Extraterrestrial Highway” resulted in hundreds of news stories about alien visitors. Not only did this help publicize Independence Day, but it fed into the long-standing paranoid fantasy about government machination to conceal space invaders from the public.