aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, February 27, 2006
I didn’t really have an opinion on the question of whether or not New Orleans should celebrate Mardi Gras. I do now.
It was totally the right decision to do it.
I’m among those who think that New Orleans has fallen off the national map too quickly. They’re not getting the kind of help they should be.
Not only have they earned a break to celebrate in their tradition, Marti gras puts them back on the media map. I hope it helps.
Six months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a city of revelry --- and a city of despair. A city where some neighborhoods are up and running, and others are a wasteland. A city where some have found a new calling, and some can no longer cope. Robert Siegel and Michele Norris report from New Orleans.
UPDATE: Harry makes an excellent point in the comments; what’s true for New Orleans is doubly true for the Mississippi coast!
Close down all groups to ban a gay group. Then cheat!
That’s what a White County High School did.
Last week the Georgia House passed a watered down Parents Permission to Participate bill widely understood to be targeting gay-straight alliances in high schools.
This week it is alleged in a lawsuit filed today by the ACLU and students that a ban has been unfarily applied in order to keep a gay-straight alliance from meetting on school grounds:
In the ongoing battle to reinstate a gay-straight alliance club at White County High School in northeast Georgia, the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday filed a lawsuit in federal court against school officials, claiming they illegally banned the club. Several students, led by The Advocate’s 2005 Person of the Year, Kerry Pacer, started the club to address rampant antigay harassment at the school.
Last year school administrators reluctantly agreed to let the club form after several months of stalling when the ACLU of Georgia stepped in and negotiated on the students’ behalf. A few days later school officials announced plans to ban all noncurricular student groups for the 2005-2006 academic year.
The GSA, called PRIDE, hasn’t been permitted to meet on campus this school year, but several other clubs-including a shooting club and a school dance team-continue meeting at the school even though they don’t participate in activities relevant to the curriculum, academic credit is not provided for participation in them, and participation in them isn’t required for any course.
...that he believed the clubs allowed at the county high school were legal and tied in some way to the school’s curriculum or athletics.
He said in June that the elimination of all noncurricular clubs had been in the works for months.
“Clubs have not lived up to what they are supposed to be doing. ... Plus, we want to focus on academics this coming school year,” he said at the time.
Uh oh, the update
Well, I guess the bottom line is that if you ever wake up with sudden complete hearing loss, go to an ear, nose and throat specialist immediately.
I got to the doctor at about 11 a.m. today. Great doctor, I like him. That’s good because I gather I’ll be seeing a good bit of him over the next few days. He gave me great gobs of information; I could only absorb so much, but what I get is that there are only two possible causes of my hearing loss: a brain event or an infection of some sort.
We don’t think it a brain event (my term, I don’t recall what his terms were but what he said was that if it is the brain it could be one of many things so I’ve reduced all of it down to “brain event"). I’m not exhibiting other neurological symptoms; if I were I’d be in the hospital. As it is, I have an MRI at 4 to rule this option out.
The other option, the infection, also could be a number of things. Herpes was in there somewhere though he said not the kind of herpes we’re used to, maybe 7 or 8? He also said the word “stroke” though that might have been under the heading of brain event. The trick with the infection is to treat it aggressively and quickly because, and here’s the rub, the earlier and the more aggressive the more likely the possibility of recovering hearing.
I never heard the word “full” as in recover full hearing, but he seemed to indicate that there was a good shot at recovering my hearing. So I’m taking the meds but the problem is that the vertigo and dizziness is so severe that nausea is a problem - sorry if I’m being too graphic. Now I’ve got to take meds to help me keep the meds down.
Interestingly, the computer is my friend in this regard. By focusing on the screen, the doctor explained, I minimize the vertigo and dizziness. In fact, as I sit here typing I have virtually none. His office has wireless so I was blogging away (corrected my misspellings in the previous post) and emailing my friend in New York (who, in typical New York fashion, was saying, “get out of there and get to Emory in Atlanta!")
If the MRI turns out bad I’ll head to Atlanta. I wonder if they have wireless at Emory? Otherwise I’m staying here in the good hands of the good people who are taking good care of me. Remember, I believe that genius is evenly distributed, we just don’t know it yet.
UPDATE: The MRI’s all clear.
Parsing the MySpace backlash
Wired has a major article on MySpace that finds the media and politicians who criticize the site are guilty of scapegoating and overreaction:
The spate of MySpace-related sexual predation stories undeniably has the feel of an epidemic, and it stands as the most persuasive evidence for the “parent’s worst nightmare” viewpoint. But put in context, it’s also the most overblown.
In actuality, the incidents that have been publicly linked to the site are dwarfed by the overall number of such cases historically prosecuted nationwide. An August study by the National Center for Juvenile Justice estimated there were about 15,700 statutory rapes reported to law enforcement agencies in the United States in 2000, based on an analysis of data collected by the FBI. That amounts to 43 cases per day. In fact, with a reported population of 57 million users, MySpace is arguably safer from such crime than other communities that haven’t been the subject of the same scrutiny. One example: California, which averaged 62 statutory rape convictions per month in the late 90s, in a state population of 33 million.
We’ve been down this road before:
Parents in the 1950s were horrified to discover that the comic books their children were reading contained violent and sometimes gruesome cartoon imagery, leading to congressional hearings and the formation of an industry “comic book code” that held titles to wholesome standards.
In the 1980s, parents opened their kids’ bedroom doors and were buffeted by heavy metal music, leading to another round of panic and “Parental Advisory” labels on albums. In the ‘90s, it was rap. In the wake of the Columbine massacre, wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt to school could be grounds for suspension.
This time, though, the target of the crackdown is content created by teens and not just consumed by them.
The very design of a teenager’s MySpace page can be shocking to adult eyes. A highly customizable amalgam of blogging, music sharing and social-discovery services, a typical page is a near perfect reflection of the chaos and passion of youth: a music-filled space, rudely splattered with photos and covered in barely-legible prose rendered in font colors that blend together and fade into the background.
“The profiles are hideous,” says a technology specialist at a southern Oregon school district that’s recently started blocking the site for safety reasons. “I’ve seen yellow text on a red background before.”
I am aware that there are real issues to be explored here, but (anecdotally & locally) I see a huge dollop of anti-technology bias in educators’ discussion of the topic.
We need to embrace and understand this part of the modern landscape that is not going away, then work from there to help teens negotiate the terrain appropriately.
Reports of blogging’s demise are bosh
Jason Fry in the Wall Street Journal:
Recent weeks have seen the rise of a cottage industry in Whither Blogging? articles. New York magazine cast cold water on newly minted bloggers’ dreams with an examination of the divide between a handful of A-list blogs and countless B-list and C-list blogs that can’t get much traffic no matter how hard their creators work. Slate’s Daniel Gross spotlighted signs that blogs may have peaked as a business. And a much-discussed poll from Gallup concluded that growth in U.S. blog readers was “somewhere between nil and negative.” From there it was off to the races, with all manner of commentators weighing in, led by the Chicago Tribune, which smirked its way through an anti-blogging editorial that got Mr. Gross’s name wrong while taking odd potshots at Al Gore and snowboarding.
Reports of blogging’s demise are bosh, but if we’re lucky, something else really is going away: the by-turns overheated and uninformed obsession with blogging. Which would be just fine, because it would let blogging become what it was always destined to be: just another digital technology and method of communication, one with plenty to offer but no particular claim to revolution.
My bet: Within a couple of years blogging will be a term thrown around loosely—and sometimes inaccurately—to describe a style and rhythm of writing, as well as the tools to publish that writing. This is already happening: One of the chief problems with some chronicles of blogging’s demise is their confusion about definitions, a confusion that’s mirrored in efforts to measure blogs’ popularity or to say anything that can apply to bloggers as a group.